Guest Blog – Lois Winston

 Does Anyone Really Enjoy Social Media? 

mosaic_v003_x1000I’m both traditionally published and indie published, but because I’m not a household name and pulling down huge advances for my traditionally published books, I’ve had to do just as much promotion for them as for my indie books. Promotion eats up a lot of an author’s time, time that should be spent writing the next book, and I often wonder if it really works.

I’m not a salesperson. The three weeks I spent one summer pedaling Fuller Brush door-to-door (yes, I’m dating myself) were three of the most excruciating weeks of my life. Most writers are introverts by nature, and introverts don’t do well when it comes to trying to talk people into parting with their money.

But unless you promote your books, no one will know they exist, especially if you’re indie publishing. Those indie books aren’t sitting on bookstore shelves where they might attract the attention of browsing customers. And that’s where social media comes in. Readers can learn about our books via Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, and whatever the social media du jour will be next week. Some authors choose to concentrate their promo efforts on one or two social media site; others embrace them all. But does social media really help authors sell books?

Several weeks ago I released Mosaic Mayhem, the second novelette in my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mini-Mystery series. These books are e-only companion works to my traditionally published Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series which has received starred reviews from both Publishers Weekly and Booklist as well as having been nominated for a Book of the Year Award from ForeWord Reviews. Crewel Intentions, the first Mini-Mystery, was released the end of November and had sold 225 copies through the first week in August. Mosaic Mayhem, was uploaded to Kindle, Nook, and Kobo early Saturday morning August 3rd. It went live on Amazon later that afternoon. By the next day it was also up on Kobo. Barnes & Noble took nearly 48 hours to make it available for Nook. Apple dragged their heels for a week and a half before it went live on iTunes.

Both of the mini-mysteries sell for $1.99. The full length novels sell for $14.99 as trade paperbacks and anywhere from $7-15 for the ebooks, depending on the title and vendor. The mini-mysteries are quite a deal in comparison.

By Monday morning Mosaic Mayhem was #7 on Amazon’s list of Kindle Craft & Hobby Cozy Mysteries. On Tuesday it was #2 under Hot New Releases. Sounds pretty spectacular, doesn’t it? But here’s the catch: at that point I’d sold all of 12 books on Amazon. 12 BOOKS!

That Wednesday I composed a tweet with both the Kindle and Nook URLs included. I’m not one of those people who constantly sends out “buy my book” tweets. Most of my tweets are about the interesting articles and guests who appear on my blog or retweets of interesting things I read on other tweets. I don’t like to hit people over the head with promo. Remember, I’m an introvert by nature. However, I went on the various Yahoo groups I belong to and asked people to retreet for me. I added @anasleuth, my Twitter handle, at the end of the tweet so I’d be able to track the numbers. Twenty-four hours after the first retweet went out I’d had my tweet retweeted to 146,791 people. At thirty-six hours that number had increased to 160,591. Again, sounds pretty impressive, right?

When I was first out of college, I worked in advertising. I remember a statistic concerning direct mail marketing that claimed result of 1-3%. In other words, for every 100 sales brochures sent out, you could expect that 1-3 people would buy your product. Using that stat, I should have sold a minimum of 1,467-1,605 copies of Mosaic Mayhem, although I would have been happy with 1/10th of 1% (146-160 books.)

Care to guess how many additional books I sold within that 24 hour period? Three on Amazon and two on Barnes & Noble. Pretty dismal, right? And yet at that point Amazon still had Mosaic Mayhem ranked #17 on the Kindle Craft & Hobby Cozy Mystery list. Obviously, the paradigm no longer applies in the new cyberworld order.

So what’s the takeaway here? I’m not convinced social media is worth all the effort authors put into it. Does it work for some authors? Probably. Does it work for most author? Probably not. I will continue to tweet about my books occasionally and ask people to retweet my tweets because you just never know, but wouldn’t it be nice if all authors had to do was concentrate on writing the next book?

Mosaic Mayhem

An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mini-Mystery

The second novelette to the critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series.

So much for a romantic getaway…When cash-strapped mom and reluctant amateur sleuth Anastasia Pollack is offered an all-expense paid three-day trip to Barcelona, her only worries are whether her passport is still valid and arranging care for her semi-invalid mother-in-law during her absence. However, within hours of landing in Europe, she finds herself staring down the barrel of a gun and needing to convince a Spanish crime syndicate they’ve got the wrong person. Why do people on both sides of the Atlantic keep trying to kill this pear-shaped, middle-aged single mom, and magazine crafts editor?


Buy Links





About Lois:

lois-winston-low-res-fileAward-winning author Lois Winston writes the critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series featuring magazine crafts editor and reluctant amateur sleuth Anastasia Pollack which Kirkus Reviews dubbed, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” Lois is also published in women’s fiction, romance, romantic suspense, and non-fiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Visit Lois at, visit Emma at, and visit Anastasia at the Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers blog, Follow everyone on Twitter @anasleuth.


78 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. PJ Sharon
    Aug 29, 2013 @ 07:54:34

    I’ve had similar experiences with social media and advertising in general. I usually get minimal direct sales from my SM efforts and only temporary jolts with paid advertising. Much of the problem with SM is that most of our contacts are other writers. Yes they are readers, but they are very busy readers and we can’t all buy every book that comes down the pike. I think the trick to successful Sm marketing is gaining a following of your target audience–people who are looking for what you have to sell and are willing to shout it out to all of their friends. That’s why e-mail/newsletter marketing is so important. The problem there is that people are so inundated with emails and market media, they are hesitant to sign up for yet another newsletter. I don’t know what the answer is, but a tipping point is coming. I can feel it! And not in a good way…


    • Lois Winston (writing as Emma Carlyle)
      Aug 29, 2013 @ 12:09:48

      I think you’re right about that tipping point, PJ. It’s so hard to know what to do and what not to do. What works for one author fails miserably for another.


    • landragraf
      Aug 29, 2013 @ 15:20:36

      Thanks PJ for stopping by. I’d agree that appealing to your direct market, that dedicated target group, may be the place to start.


    • cathleenrossCathleen Ross
      Aug 30, 2013 @ 04:27:26

      Very interesting column, Lois. I think the numbers on best-seller lists depend on the actual list. Some return big numbers. I love social media, really genuinely enjoy it. I think the trick of self publishing is having lots of things to buy that are good quality and also selling to publishers. Over the years that seems to be working for me.


  2. Barbara Monajem
    Aug 29, 2013 @ 07:59:56

    That about sums it up, Lois. I don’t mind doing the occasional blog, and I enjoy Facebook, but social media in general is too time-consuming. I’d much rather spend the time writing the next book!!


  3. morganmandel
    Aug 29, 2013 @ 08:04:13

    The sad thing is that now we have to give away books to get noticed. Not only that, we have to pay sites such as BookBub or our freebies won’t get attention.
    It’s a tough and expensive business.
    Morgan Mandel


    • Lois Winston (writing as Emma Carlyle)
      Aug 29, 2013 @ 12:13:33

      Morgan, I think one of the biggest problems is that authors have gotten sucked into the mentality that they have to give away books. I don’t think it’s working. I’ve heard too many readers brag about how they don’t think they’ll ever buy another book because there are always so many free ones to choose from.

      As for BookBub and other paid advertising sites, I’ve stayed away from them. They’re too much of a crapshoot as far as I’m concerned. I know some authors have done really well with Bookbub ads, but others haven’t even broken even.


    • landragraf
      Aug 29, 2013 @ 15:23:26

      Giveaways are a nice perk, but not always required. Here on our blog we like to giveaway a copy of the books we review because we want to share them with other readers. Indies books are chance readers have to be willing to take.

      Paid ad sites, I don’t know about those. I’ve heard the horror and the success stories like Lois mentioned.
      Thank you for stopping by and commenting.


  4. Angela
    Aug 29, 2013 @ 08:12:53

    What a great post, Lois. You said what a lot of authors are probably thinking! Thanks for sharing.


  5. suziewp
    Aug 29, 2013 @ 08:30:37

    I really enjoyed this post, Lois and I agree that it would be nice to just get on with the job of writing and like you, I shy away from the hard sell when it comes to these things.

    But I also try and remain positive. So whilst we might only attract one or two extra readers through our social media efforts, on a positive note, this is one or two extra readers that we wouldn’t otherwise have had.

    Plus the likes of Facebook and Twitter offer a great opportunity to interact with our readership and if mine’s anything like me, they love finding out snippets of information about the writer behind the book… Unless it’s just me who’s nosey? x


    • Lois Winston (writing as Emma Carlyle)
      Aug 29, 2013 @ 12:19:25

      Thanks, Suziewp! Every new reader is a joy, and I keep hoping my efforts continue to attract them. I don’t do Facebook, though. I’ve vowed to be the last person on the planet not on FB. I don’t like the way it’s run and that it’s a haven for hackers, child molesters, bullies, and assorted other creeps. I’ve heard that FB is one of the easiest sites to hack into, and I’m appalled at the increase in tween and teen suicides that are a direct result of FB bullying. So no FB for me. Whether this hurts my book sales or not, I don’t know, but based on what I’ve seen, I don’t think it does.


    • landragraf
      Aug 29, 2013 @ 15:24:58

      Suzie, thanks for coming to the blog and also for being the super positive voice. Like you I think every little reader counts and there is not such thing as bad publicity right. Any attention means attention for your stories. I’ll follow the breadcrumb trail to possible delicious story-telling if you leave me one.


  6. janieemaus
    Aug 29, 2013 @ 08:44:50

    I’m not sure either. And we have to work our butts off!


  7. Jane Leopold Quinn
    Aug 29, 2013 @ 09:51:39

    I appreciate your remarks about book and author promotion. I, too, am ambivalent. I try to do what I can, but what’s enough and what’s not enough. Glad to hear someone else wonders…


  8. marilynm
    Aug 29, 2013 @ 10:04:05

    I’ve decided just plodding along works as well as most anything else. I think the days of the freebies bringing in sales have petered out.


    • Lois Winston (writing as Emma Carlyle)
      Aug 29, 2013 @ 12:23:36

      I definitely agree, Marilynm. A year and a half ago my publisher gave away over 64,000 copies of the first book in my mystery series. The resulting sales of the second book were not enough to justify all those free downloads, IMHO. Likewise, I haven’t seen huge spikes in sales of my other titles the few times I did giveaways of my indie books and won’t be doing giveaways again.


  9. Terry Shames
    Aug 29, 2013 @ 10:04:55

    Lois, I love social media. I don’t think I would have gone onto FB and Twitter and Pinterest just to sell books. I went on because although I’m a writer, I have a social side, too. And I HATE to talk on the phone. So when I’m tired or need a break, it’s perfect for me to do a quick FB search to see what everyone is up to. I have been really mindful of not doing that thing I hate–touting my book again and again. I think it’s legitimate to put it out there the first few weeks, more than once—because if you just do it once, there are a lot of people who only check their social outlets occasionally and they might miss it. But after the first couple of weeks, I cut back drastically unless I got a particularly good review (not a Goodreads or Amazon review, but one in a recognized blog or magazine.)

    I have no idea whether it sold books. And although this is my first novel, it didn’t take me long to realize that worrying about every sale would make me crazy. So I’ve stopped looking at sales. I’m not even sure what the numbers mean anyway. I’ll continue to use social media primarily as a social tool and incidentally as a sales tool. That said, I’m as baffled as you about how to get noticed in such a huge market. I wish there was a formula!


  10. eliseinaz
    Aug 29, 2013 @ 10:23:20

    Too many writers think social media = promotion (aka advertising). People don’t participate in social media to read ads. People participate in social media to chat and get to know other people, maybe to learn something or get a giggle. That’s what makes it enjoyable.

    A writers group I participate in recently allowed a rare “linkfest” where everyone could post their social media links. (It’s a loop which strictly controls self-promotion.) As a result, I followed a bunch of new people on Twitter with my @EliseMStone handle. I’ve found that most of these people ONLY tweet about their books or their friends’ books. I unfollowed one yesterday who tweeted once per day–and it was always the same tweet: Check out my book! I have a rule of thumb which says that anyone who tweets three times in a row about their book is pretty much an automatic unfollow.

    As far as your sales results from tweets and retweets, you left out one factor in your marketing equation. That 1-3% return rate is on a TARGETED audience. I used to work in IT for a mail order clothing business. We sent catalogs to people who had bought via mail order before, not to everyone on the planet. Telling random people who might enjoy reading historical police procedurals about a crafting mystery is like whispering in the Grand Canyon.

    Do I promote my book on social media? Yes. Is that all I do on social media? Not at all. I don’t try to do everything. I blog because I like blogging. While I’ll sometimes write about writing, my target audience is readers and friends. I don’t give writing tips. I don’t give marketing tips. I write about life in Arizona, places I’ve been, random thoughts on topics that interest me. I use Twitter the same way. I found out I like Twitter and have fun with it. I don’t use them a lot.

    Would it be nice if all writers had to do was write? Oh, yeah! But that’s a fantasy. Like you said, the only way readers are going to know you have a book for sale is to tell them. If you think of social media as a gathering of friends you enjoy talking with, it can be fun. But if social media is such a chore, why do it? Life is too short.


  11. E. F. Watkins
    Aug 29, 2013 @ 11:18:53

    It is very hard today to know what kind of promotion works and what doesn’t. I’m especially baffled (though in a good way) by the fact that my two first novels have always outsold my five subsequent books, even though I put a lot more effort into promoting the newer ones. Plus, the first two have nothing in common except the word “dance” in the title (and neither is actually about dancing). Go figure!


  12. Sheila Boneham
    Aug 29, 2013 @ 11:19:12

    Thanks for confirming what I already thought, Lois. I haven’t tracked results as you have, but my sense has long been that so many people are shouting “BUY MY…” that individual voices are mostly lost in the din. I’ve pulled back a lot of social media, and am focusing on my REAL work – the writing. It will be interesting to see if I notice much difference in sales.


  13. Linda Cousine
    Aug 29, 2013 @ 12:24:08

    I’d love to hear that the necessity of social media is over! With the several “hats” I wear, I now have a total of 5 Facebook pages, a twitter account, a blog, a Pinterest page, and a YouTube channel. Between the blogging, the posting, the chatting, the pinning, and the hair pulling, I hardly have the time to write! Well said, Lois.


  14. Anna Drake
    Aug 29, 2013 @ 13:32:48

    I keep a Facebook writer’s page and a blog. I only have the Facebook page in case a “fan” should track me down. So far, only one person has done so, but she left me a very nice comment . The challenge for me is to receive enough likes that if someone does stop by, I don’t look like I live alone on Mars. (laughing here.) I also try to post things so that they think I might be an actual person and not just a writing drone. But, for sure, it all soaks up time.

    I like having a blog. I’ve seen at least one sale come from it. I tell myself there may be more. I think that’s another difficulty, there’s no way to know if any of this is doing any good. But I agree about the hard sell posts and tweets. Pointless. And yes, I’ve tried my hand at them.


  15. Elizabeth Samit
    Aug 29, 2013 @ 13:53:54

    I have avoided most social media because I read (and heard) it ate up a considerable amount of time. But, I did create a website to promote my book, “The Courage of Outliers”, and include a forum with tips on self-publishing for others to add their ideas. I have received only 2 comments as of 8/29/13–and I attribute this to the enormous quantity of other websites. Talking about my book face-to-face has been the only method that has generated purchases so far–despite the fact that readers have given me great feedback that they enjoyed the book!


    • Lois Winston (writing as Emma Carlyle)
      Aug 29, 2013 @ 15:36:00

      Elizabeth, one of the problems is that Amazon, B&N, and other sites have made it so easy for people to indie publish. There are hundreds of thousands of books out there we’re competing with for attention. All we can do really is keep writing and hope eventually word of mouth about our books spreads.


  16. Kate Eileen Shannon
    Aug 29, 2013 @ 13:55:07

    Interesting post. I have been discussing this subject just this morning. I went on Facebook originally to spy on my teenage son LOL but now all I do is promote for myself and others. I have serious doubts about much of it. I think the authors that do giveaways on blog posts/tours sell less than those who don’t. People comment on those posts in hopes of winning the book – and don’t immediately go over to Amazon to buy – because they might win. On the other hand, I just got an email from an author – who didn’t do a giveaway – thanking me because she sold more books that day she was on my blog than she ever had – even when she was taditionally published. Not a single comment but more books sold – if I told you how many we would all slit our wrists. I don’t think anyone has come up with the perfect business model yet.


    • Lois Winston (writing as Emma Carlyle)
      Aug 29, 2013 @ 15:40:17

      Kate, I’ve found that when authors do giveaways on my blog, it’s a real nuisance to track down the winners. Even though people post comments saying they hope they win, they don’t leave contact info and don’t check back to see if they have won. I’ve actually begun to discourage guests from offering free books for this reason.


      • M. A. Dunham
        Aug 29, 2013 @ 18:01:31

        I’ve often wondered the same thing about promotional books, Lois. Too often I see all of these social media how tos, and almost all of the are too vague to be of any help. I think it just underlines the point that you can’t brand books like you do potato chips, pushing them out with the same sort of promotional gusto. It’s a totally different field, books, even from other entertainment lines like movies, and writers need to be cognizant of that when trying to get their book out there.

        Thanks for coming over to IBRU with this discussion!

  17. landragraf
    Aug 29, 2013 @ 15:19:30

    Lois, I have to agree the hype isn’t all that amazing. But I will say that you start small and eventually, luck has a lot to do with it, something may launch out of the ballpark. It’s still a necessary evil to spread the word about the books, the tweeting, the facebooking, the self-less self-promotion.

    Thank you so much for such a great topic. 🙂


  18. Carolyn J. Rose
    Aug 29, 2013 @ 15:38:37

    I have the oldest cell phone on the planet and don’t text or tweet or even take calls on it – and that’s how I like it. I do have a Facebook page and I enjoy guest blogging. Otherwise my strategy has been to write another book and hope for word of mouth and remind myself that when I was a kid I dreamed of being a writer long before I knew there might be money involved.


  19. Lois Winston (writing as Emma Carlyle)
    Aug 29, 2013 @ 15:41:54

    Luck has a lot to do with it, landragraf. I’ve seen fabulous books that die a quick death and others that weren’t worth the paper they were printed on turn into bestsellers. It’s all a mystery.


  20. Deborah Macgillivray
    Aug 29, 2013 @ 16:08:50

    I actually enjoy it. I connect with readers on Facebook. I have found it is primary search for information when readers come looking. I had made a lot of new readers through people just getting to know “me”. I keep promos to a minimum. If they find you and enjoy information they will buy. Linkedin is another that works. Twitter doesn’t do much for me, so I have it linked to my Linkedin account. It actually updates when I update Linkedin (which also updates on page and MySpace etc).


  21. Terri Herman-Ponce
    Aug 29, 2013 @ 16:17:16

    I can’t tell you how often I feel that social media is a waste of time — unless you’re chatting with friends. I don’t see the value, seriously, except that it does one thing all authors need – WORD OF MOUTH. In that respect, it becomes priceless because folks are tweeting and FBing and all that stuff about our books. But I really don’t think our own social media habits change a darned thing. It’s the readers’ social media habits that do.


  22. carlbrookins
    Aug 29, 2013 @ 17:31:32

    Well, here’s the deal. Expectations and assumptions that social media will do or not do anything specific are (IMO) misplaced. Unless you can afford a large ad campaign and there is some evidence that boosts sales. Not to a profitable margin, you should realize. Like all of these channels, the channel owners are making the big money. To ignore social medial is generally a bad idea if you want to build a presence as an active author. But you have to discipline your time so SM don’t take over your life. You’ve head all this before, right? LAstly, overnight success as an author is the rarest bird in the forest. slow steady growth is almost a universal. And finally, every sweeping global statement about the effectiveness or lack thereof, of social media, is wrong.


    • M. A. Dunham
      Aug 29, 2013 @ 18:08:30

      I don’t believe the point here is to ignore social media or make sweeping global statements, Carl. As the author said herself, she’s still using it. But there is the idea that building up a Twitter campaign will really push those book sales every time, and it’s just not the truth for many authors. And that is a fact.

      Thank you for sharing your story with all of us, Lois. I enjoy reading about personal experiences with Social media and what’s working, and what’s not. I’ve no doubt the debate on if social media is a good selling widget or no for books will continue for a long time, but I suspect, like Landra said, that luck and how the tweets fall play a large part in it all.


    • Lois Winston (writing as Emma Carlyle)
      Aug 29, 2013 @ 21:09:05

      Carl, everything you’ve said is quite true. Thanks for stopping by.


  23. Polly Iyer
    Aug 29, 2013 @ 18:19:24

    Great post, Lois. I’ve done it all too. I’ve paid for BookBub four times and made money each time from the sales. The free books have found me readers who went ahead and bought my other books. As far as social media, I love Facebook, but I can really spend a lot of time on it, so I don’t go on as much as I’d like. I do Twitter but I don’t enjoy it. The one thing I don’t do is blog. I’ve been a guest many times, even on your blog, and I’m recycling some of my blog posts on Goodreads. I don’t see how long Amazon can continue with free books on KDPS. People have become spoiled and wait only for the freebies. Eventually, I believe there’ll be a change in their policy. With that in mind, I put my latest stand-alone with Untreed Reads to take advantage of all the other platforms. They also sell to libraries, and within a month, my book was in a few libraries. If I do well at UR, I plan to move all my books there.

    There’s no foolproof road to success. We have to keep trying everything. What do they say? Throw everything against the wall and see what sticks. I’ve seen a big drop in sales from this time last year. I don’t think I’m the only one, but eventually, writers will try other avenues to sell books. Like you, I don’t like face-to-face selling, so I don’t. No one said it would be easy. It isn’t.


    • Lois Winston (writing as Emma Carlyle)
      Aug 29, 2013 @ 21:13:45

      Thanks, Polly. I think you’re right about Amazon. I don’t see their policies staying the way they are for much longer. For one thing, Amazon isn’t making a profit, and no matter what Jeff Bezos says, eventually his shareholders are going to want to make money.


  24. Sasscer Hill
    Aug 29, 2013 @ 19:14:55

    The great thing about this blog, Lois, is the incredible number of replies you’ve received! I did enjoy this post as it looks closely at something all us writers worry about. Is SM worth it? I agree with the opinion that SM should be directed at our target audience. That has helped me to keep THE SEA HORSE TRADE as the number one book on Amazon’s list of horse racing mysteries for over two months.

    What does this translate to? The staggeringly high figure of one or two books a day at best. And I pay for Face Book promotions ($6.99) to go with many of my posts. So I’m losing money, but I believe it is imperative for me to gain a bigger and bigger audience as I work on my fourth novel and a new series character. But it will be some time before I know whether I should change the initials for Social Marketing from SM to S&M . . .


    • Lois Winston (writing as Emma Carlyle)
      Aug 29, 2013 @ 21:17:09

      Sasscer, it always amazes me as to which blogs push a button in people and compel them to post a comment. I guess this was one of those posts. I’ve refrained from buying ads for my books. I think it’s too much of a crapshoot, and I’d rather make a smaller profit than run the risk of losing money. But every author has to make that decision based on his or her own finances.


  25. litaharris
    Aug 29, 2013 @ 19:54:56

    This is a wonderful post. I am constantly told how important social media is but I would rather spend the time writing.


  26. Polly Iyer
    Aug 29, 2013 @ 21:29:28

    Just a note: I still put the last book on Amazon myself, just not on KDPS, which is what I’ll do if I decide going with a distributor works for me.


  27. vampwriterblog
    Aug 29, 2013 @ 22:21:09

    To me, the story is the thing…I love to enter into the world of guardian vampires I created (a totally unique world from what my few readers have said). I’ve had a great review from one reader and that kept me at it through my first three books (the third will join the first two on Amazon & Kindle in October). I was told that I had to write more books and do a LOT of SM (not being terribly computer literate at the time I wondered if they meant Sadomasochism). The more I’m pulled away from my writing by the SM thing (none of which I have seen any result from) the more I’m returning to my original question as to SM’s meaning! I was even turned down for doing a blog on one site, after they reviewed my 17 SM Sites; they said I didn’t do enough SM! Every time I see the letters SM I become more and more convinced it means “whips, chains and leather” (all of which are to be use on ME, without any pleasure involved). So I’m to the point where rather than a necessary evil, I just think Social Media is more like an Unnecessary Evil. I’m getting on to post major events happening with the books but that is all I’m henceforth commited to doing.


    • Lois Winston (writing as Emma Carlyle)
      Aug 30, 2013 @ 08:29:31

      Vampwriterblog, I think the takeaway here is that we all need to do what’s best for us. No one should be compelled to be part of social media. If you like it, go for it. If not, don’t. Hopefully, good books will always find an audience with or without social media. They certainly did way before social media ever existed. And if people like your books, they’ll talk about them on social media even if you aren’t on it.


  28. Cindy Sample
    Aug 30, 2013 @ 03:37:29

    Hi Lois. Thanks for sharing your data with us. After my publisher closed suddenly last month, I’m about to indie publish my short backlist within a day or two. All of your information and the comments here have been very helpful. I enjoy Facebook but rarely go on more than a couple of days a week because once on, it’s hard to stop checking out the posts. I do enjoy the interaction with others, especially when it came to designing my cover art. People sure have opinions! And lots of wonderful suggestions. As for Twitter, it seems like 90% of the tweets are “buy my book” tweets. I would love to purchase everyone’s books and I make a valiant effort to do so, but there’s a limit, and I think that’s what you and every other author have been bumping into. I just wish I had a great solution!


    • Lois Winston (writing as Emma Carlyle)
      Aug 30, 2013 @ 10:31:04

      Cindy, I know what you mean. I, too, would love to buy all the books that sound interesting, especially those written by people I know, but we all have just so much discretionary income. Now if I ever win the lottery…except, darn! You have to buy lottery tickets in order to win, don’t you?


  29. Mia Marlowe
    Aug 30, 2013 @ 08:06:44

    I look at my Twitter, FB, Goodreads and even the blog on my website as my way to connect with readers who want to know me outside the pages of my books. Whether any of it increases sales is anyone’s guess.


  30. Caridad/Charity Pineiro
    Aug 30, 2013 @ 08:28:26

    I actually like social media because for me it’s about being social. Yes, I do share info on my books, but I also share lots of other info that generates fun and thoughtful discussions with others. That’s my takeaway for social media – engaging with other people. If they buy a book, great. If no, that’s okay as well.


  31. Mitzi Reinbold w/a Mitzi Flyte
    Aug 30, 2013 @ 09:03:22

    I retired last year and find that social media has taken the place of my workplace relationships. I get online with my coffee (when I’m not in a college class) and read what’s happening with friends – old, new and virtual.


  32. Lois Winston (writing as Emma Carlyle)
    Aug 30, 2013 @ 10:42:53

    Talk about coincidence! Today’s Star-Ledger has a very interesting article comparing FB to food and sex. It was first published yesterday in the LA Times:,0,5660325.story


  33. authorpamelabeason
    Aug 30, 2013 @ 10:53:22

    Oh, thank heaven this isn’t only happening to me! I’m a hybrid author, too. After a long slog in SM, I tend to believe that the category you write in makes the difference between whether social media reaches your readers or not. Mystery readers seem to spend less time online, relying more on word of mouth recommendations, established reviewers, and libraries; while fantasy/sci-fi and romance readers–especially chick-lit and erotica fans–seem to spend more time “socializing” with others over the internet.

    I feel like I have a double obstacle to overcome because I write one series of outdoor adventure mysteries and another of animal-intelligence (signing gorilla) mysteries. The readers who are most likely to enjoy my books spend a lot of time outdoors in the natural world, not in front of their computers. Ack! My publisher isn’t advertising my books, so I’m trying all sorts of routes, including attending the upcoming Bouchercon conference in NY.

    The best thing I can say about social media is that I have made a lot of wonderful friends there, and I find all sorts of interesting books to read there, too. Doing guest blogs seems to help sales a bit, too. But overall, it doesn’t seem the best place to put very much of time. I’m a writer; I need to write.


    • Lois Winston (writing as Emma Carlyle)
      Aug 30, 2013 @ 13:02:19

      Pamela, I think you’re correct about genre playing a big part. Sci-fi, romance, and erotica readers were the first to embrace ebook, and I think that goes hand-in-hand with being early adopters of social media. Mystery readers still seem to prefer books made from trees and more traditional ways of learning about new books.


  34. Barbara Barrett
    Aug 30, 2013 @ 11:15:28

    Hi, Lois. I’m curious to know more about the “drop-off” in the pull of social media you and others have mentioned. What do you see happening – just loss of interest? What do you see as “the next big thing”? I have long believed there is a bigger role for television in the promotion of reading. The problem is figuring out how to get a book across to TV viewers, unless it’s dramatized as a movie or series; the two media, so far, don’t seem to mix (aside from Oprah’s Book Club, which I’m not dismissing or forgetting). I once ran across a cable show about books, which was basically a talking head behind a desk – boring. That’s not what I mean. I don’t know what I mean, but I don’t want to dismiss the idea.

    Barbara Barrett


    • landragraf
      Aug 30, 2013 @ 12:50:41


      I know what you’re talking about. I’ve often wondered how we can use television to drive reading, though reaching the target market is a challenge since readers are not always television watchers and vice versa.

      Thanks for stopping by!


    • Lois Winston (writing as Emma Carlyle)
      Aug 30, 2013 @ 13:11:21

      Barbara, I think people are getting over-saturated by all the social media they’re bombarded with daily. So they pull back. I know my eyes grow bleary reading Twitter feeds, and I rarely click on links anymore unless it’s something that really sounds interesting to me. I just don’t have the time. if something is interesting, I’ll retweet it, but most of what I’m reading usually falls into the heavy promo category, which I think is a turnoff for most people.

      As for the next big thing? If I knew that, I’d be in on the ground floor and making the most of it. 😉

      Television is an expensive medium for most authors. The only commercials I see for books are from James Patterson and Nora Roberts. There are lots of talk shows but few are interested in having guest authors unless it’s someone who has made it big like E.L. James. Kelly Ripa had a romance book club years ago, and the few authors who were lucky enough to be featured wound up striking it big, but the book club didn’t last very long. The cable shows about books are, as you said, boring. They also generally don’t feature genre fiction. They feature literary fiction, non-fiction, biographies, and memoirs.


  35. jeannieruesch (@jeannieruesch)
    Aug 30, 2013 @ 11:32:17

    I think looking at social media as an expected point of sale isn’t the best direction. Many (many) authors I see do nothing but promote their books when the time comes, and when they aren’t promoting, they aren’t engaging, they aren’t talking, they aren’t showing their personality to their social media community.

    Personality trumps sales on social media, always. My author twitter list is inundated with nothing but ads, ads, ads… That isn’t to say you can’t promote. But you should find a personal way to do it. If you want to mention a review you got for your book, include a personal thank you and show your excitement.

    And an author is investing more than 15 minutes a day in social media for business purposes, they’re spending too much, IMO. It doesn’t have to be hard, but social media absolutely can help you get your name and brand in front of people who might not otherwise know you. But if your name and brand is synonymous with BUY MY BOOK, it won’t do your brand much good. People will have tuned you out long ago.


  36. RoseAnn DeFranco
    Aug 30, 2013 @ 18:31:18

    Great post, Lois, and very timely. I’m currently obsessing over how much time to invest in online promotion. I’m wondering what your thoughts are in blog tours vs. social media. Do you feel it’s a great way to reach your audience?

    Wishing you plenty of sales!



  37. Gemma Juliana
    Aug 31, 2013 @ 14:13:42

    Lois, I’m amazed at all the comments – clearly this is a timely topic and many of us are shooting in the dark. Thanks for writing it. I’ve wondered about SM and if I’m wasting time doing SM promo. I never did SM before self-pubbing and don’t enjoy it. I find Twitter easier than FB. Have a FB page but don’t use it. I’ll continue working SM but not worry as much about it anymore. One of the biggest eye openers is that high AZ ranks (like #5 in crafting mystery niche) doesn’t equal high sales. I expected such targeted niches to show better sales.


  38. Charles Hurst-Author
    Sep 02, 2013 @ 17:17:21

    Here is what I see. Now be advised I launched the marketing campaign for a total of four weeks ago for THE SECOND FALL. First off like “The Creative Penn” states you have to work DAMN hard. Hours a night. Social, book blogs, website SEO strategy, research others who did well etc etc. Relentlessly. Hours a day. And which of us new published authors don’t have a full time job? So there is that. This is what I got.
    I got a five star review in a week or two with another interested. My website SEO is rising with hits as we speak as my blog. I use it all.
    This is what I see with other self published. This is not meant to be an arrogant remark, just an observation. They write a novel in their spare time in three months, don’t edit it and send it out on amazon, open the door for reviews, get slammed and cry on FB how cruel the world is. They keep asking other writers to edit for them on the writing groups out there in cyberspace. They aren’t marketing an image but commenting back and forth about their ex girlfriend, husband and what their kid did today that was cute. Other words, not taking it like a profession. Many are trying to get friends to write rave reviews or even buying them. People are wise to that out there it seems.
    I don’t solicit reviews from friends or buy them. I market continuously and write as well for the next book. And as the Creative Penn stated–it is damn hard, plain and simple. I have gotten some response–a lot of hours for a little. People ask me what do I think about the hours put in versus the trickle that came out.
    I tell them it is a start.
    Charles Hurst. Author.


  39. Alan Jankowski
    Sep 26, 2013 @ 10:30:32

    Been meaning to read this for the last few weeks, but been busy…anyway, I joined Facebook on Sept. 6, 2010 when I first took an interest in getting stuff published…the following day I answered my first submission call. I have to say, as far as publishing opportunities, it has been great for me…not so convinced about the marketing possibilities though maybe I’m just clueless and doing it all wrong (wouldn’t be the first time btw)…for instance, the vast majority of my FB friends are other writers, also with their own books to sell…too many groups over there consist solely of writers hawking their books to other writers in the group doing the same. I’ve read a few articles about mistakes writers make when using marketing tools like blogs…they tend to write about what they know, like the craft of writing, which is fine, except that it attracts other writers…and not readers, which is what they really want…I may be guilty of same…
    I have to say though I’ve learned quite a bit from social media in the last few years…and I’ve found Facebook to be unexpectedly fun…I wouldn’t have thought to join if I hadn’t taken up writing the year before, but I’m glad I did…
    As for it all leading to my great American bestseller…well, still working on that one…


    • Charles Hurst-Author
      Sep 27, 2013 @ 00:59:55

      I launched my own marketing campaign as well about two months ago with guidance from my self publishing company and their free manual.

      I found the same thing initially. A lot of people on Facebook badgering other writers to edit for them. They also spend a lot of time chatting about the cute thing their kid did today and how they hate their ex. Not a lot on marketing.

      I’ve seen a lot of unprofessionalism on the social media of scraping a novel out in three months with no editing, mistakes on every page (major ones), sending out for review and getting slammed. Then crying on Facebook on end.
      Personally, I’ve stayed away from writers’ groups. I have a blog/ezine that relates to my philosophy and use twitter a lot. Nightly. And it is a constant hours a night job.

      I’ve gotten some response– way more than a year ago when I published.

      And time will tell.

      Thanks for the insight Alan

      Charles Hurst, Author of THE SECOND FALL


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