Sunday, March 11, 2012

a follow's not a book sale (though it's very nice): thoughts on social media

Over the past few months, INTERN has made a point of asking writer-friends and acquaintances about their experiences using Twitter, Facebook, blog tours, etc. to promote their books. So far, most authors INTERN has questioned have been ambiguous and even a little sheepish regarding the effectiveness of their social media efforts at garnering book sales. Meeting new writer-friends? Yes. Participating in a fun community? Yes. But selling more books to more readers? "To be perfectly honest, I don't know if it's making a difference or not" is a common confession.

Then this weekend, INTERN had an interesting conversation with a writer-friend whose first book came out in early 2011.
For the first six months the book was out, said writer-friend was determined to do everything she could to promote it. She blogged. She tweeted. She tumblred. She Facebooked. At her writer-friend's advice, she started a weekly vlog on YouTube, featuring goofy jokes, giveaways, and one-sided conversations with her cat.

After an initial spike in book sales following positive reviews in a couple of major newspapers, sales leveled out at 50-60 copies a week according to the Bookscan data provided by Amazon. In other words, no Da Vinci Code, but not too shabby. She kept plugging away, racking up an impressive number of blog posts and gaining a new follower or two every week (was that a lot? was the blog about to go viral? would those 76 followers get mad if she skipped a day?) Her vlog was doing OK too, with a hundred or so views racked up for the earlier videos and about a dozen views for the more recent ones (was that OK? how many views qualified as a success? how could there be 100 views but no comments?). Twitter was sort of fun, but it was unclear how much it was affecting book sales: she nevertheless gave herself a self-imposed minimum of five "original" tweets and five retweets or replies per day, and felt wracked with guilt whenever she missed her quota.

Six months in, she decided to run an experiment. In fifteen terrifying minutes, she obliterated her entire internet presence. Gone Facebook. Gone Twitter. Gone all sixty-seven blog posts and all twenty vlogs. Gone, even, the Group Discussion questions she'd written up for potential book club use, and the Resource Guide she'd spent hours putting together for readers who might want to know more about the issues addressed in the book. She even deleted the e-mail signature that linked to her book on Amazon and B&N.

Fast forward eight-ish months to two nights ago, when she and INTERN had this conversation. Her book sales since that night of rage? 50-60 copies a week. Occasionally 35. Occasionally 70. But most weeks, with a regularity that is almost freakish, somewhere between 50 and 60.

"I realized that the people who buy my book do not give a CRAP about my writing process or my favorite cupcake store. I don't know how they find out about my book. I guess people just recommend it to each other," she said.


The hype surrounding social media reminds INTERN of an ad she saw recently for Pediasure: "if you don't feed your toddler this nasty-looking vitamin-milkshake, you're putting him at a Disadvantage to other kids, who will surely grow Bigger and Stronger than he will!" In a world where you can do so much to promote your book (or rather, FEEL like you're doing so much), doing nothing or doing less is downright subversive.

How much do an individual author's social media efforts affect book sales? Is there a threshold at which social media becomes very effective (2000 followers? 5000 page views?) and beneath which social media doesn't have much of an impact? Is social media more important for building a long-term following than bumping sales on one particular book? Of the people who buy a certain book, how many are even aware of that author's social media presence?

Halfway through writing this post, it occurred to INTERN to look at her own book-buying habits. How effective has social media been at selling books to INTERN? A survey of the books INTERN bought in 2011 reveals:

-most of the authors whose books INTERN bought are either not on social media, or INTERN hasn't bothered to find out.
-INTERN bought several books by writer-friends she met online (by writer-friend, INTERN means a person with whom INTERN has shared ongoing, meaningful interactions—in other words, not just a person she follows).
-INTERN bought 1 or 2 books from writers she discovered on Twitter and Blogger but has not interacted with (by far the smallest category)

In short, INTERN follows plenty of writers whose books she isn't particularly interested in buying, and buys books from plenty of writers whose social media presence she isn't particularly interested in discovering. (INTERN feels vaguely evil confessing this, but why? INTERN is not so delusional as to expect that every person who enjoys her blog will also enjoy her books. A follow is a way to say, "your blog/twitter is interesting!" not "I do solemnly swear to buy your books, your friends' books, and your #fridayreads recommendations in all perpetuity, so help me God.")

Obviously, there are many authors for whom social media has been a crucial and undeniable asset (John Green's vlog comes to mind, and there are plenty of others). But now that INTERN has examined her own book-buying habits, she's more curious than ever: if a follow's not a book sale, what is it?

How many books have you bought as a result of social media (book trailer, tweet, blog post, blog tour, etc.)? How many books have you bought with NO input from social media? Are the social media book purchases from writers who feel like friends, or from other readers hyping the book? Do you buy every book from every writer you follow? INTERN wants to know!


  1. I've always gotten most of my books based on recommendations, but now those recommendations are coming from social media. It's not so much that I follow an author and then go buy their book. But I'm friends with other writers on Twitter and the blogosphere and Goodreads, and they recommend books through those media. My to-read list got a mile longer after I started reaching out and making connections with other writers and readers.

    1. It sounds like one function of social media is to provide a vouching system for books. This might be even more important than a particular author's follower count for predicting bok sales. Hmmm!

    2. Exactly. I filter out the tweets/fb posts/blog posts where someone is promoting a friend's new book and pay attention to those recommended out of the blue. At the same time, if a writer I like (be they published author or blog writer) likes another writer, I'm more likely to check out that other writer.

      If I find someone's blog that I like, I'll try to support that person in their other writings as well. Take, for instance, a certain title based on an GnR song that I bought because I believed in the blog writer who wrote it. (And then wished she'd written it a decade earlier so I could have given it to my son.)

  2. On the positive, I fell a little more in love with A.S. King because of her tweets and her blog. On the confessional side, I have a conscious decision stuck in my head to NOT buy the book of a self-pubbed writer who constantly tweets and retweets about her book. Quite the eye-rolling turnoff.

    Oh, and then there was the guy I unfollowed after he DMed me to tell me more about his wonderful book...

  3. Interesting food for thought, to be sure. I think the most significant key is pausing your efforts every so often to ask yourself very honestly WHO you're reaching, and allocating your efforts accordingly. Having 50 blog/Twitter/Facebook fans and followers who are librarians and teen readers/bloggers and booksellers is very different than having 40 followers who are college friends, 5 followers who are relatives, and 5 follow-bots.

    However, I also will point out that *I* bought not one, but two, books from INTERN after first discovering/being tantalized by her ability to channel a voice via her blog. :) Which is also perhaps food for thought in the "value of social media in publishing" conversation?

    1. Excellent points! All followers are not created equal—a reader-follower is different from a writer-follower is different from a publishing industry-follower is different from a follow-bot. A single follow could mean no book sale, or it could mean 100 book sales, depending on who's doing the following.

      This being said, INTERN absolutely does not mean to imply that the only way to judge the effectiveness of social media is in terms of sales after a book is published. As EDITOR so rightly points out, social media can matter at any time during the publication process...INTERN thinks the key with blogging is to do it for a reason other than potential book sales, so that it has value in its own right and you can enjoy the benefits of community/exposure/etc without getting hung up on sales numbers.

  4. I have bought books by bloggers I followed but maybe only a few here and there. I even bought the second book of a video blogger that I love, even though I thought her first book was boring. I'm not sure why, I think I felt guilty for enjoying her videos and not paying for them, so to speak. I do have plans to buy books by other bloggers I follow BUT most of them are not top of my list and following them doesn't make a difference as to whether they are top of my list or not.

    The one thing more likely to persuade me to read a book above all else is the recommendation of a book review blogger that I like and trust.

  5. How many books have I bought as a result of social media. Two. I have received about 4 free books I would have not otherwise bought, however, so take from that what you will.

    I blog, chirp, fakebook, and generally internet the hell out of my book... but not really for the sake of my book. Since I spend a lot of time online already it actually gives me something worthwhile to talk about. It's fun. If one of my followers happens to buy my book, that's really nice too.

  6. For myself and all 10 of my Twitter followers, this comes as a profound relief.

    And just in case you weren't already SURE that you were right, the CEO of Goodreads is here to back you up: Twitter and Facebook are fun for the fan club, but not great for hooking new readers.

    For me, the only "social media" that's had me buying books lately is my local writers' group. It's one thing to follow somebody on Twitter and hear about their book, but when you've shared a booth at IHOP, it adds an extra measure of "you know, it's not my usual genre, but you're really pretty swell - what did you say was the release date?"

    (To that effect: it's not my usual genre, but I can highly recommend Emperor Mollusk versus the Sinister Brain.)

    1. Hee, hee, hee! Your first sentence strikes such a cord for me!

    2. Well hot dog - I am so glad to know I'm not the only one still hanging out by the punch table! Let's sip Kool-Aid and watch the popular kids with envious, longing eyes, shall we?

  7. I write and I blog. But I blog to connect with other writers and to learn from the more experienced writers. I think the only social media outlet that determines which books I buy is Good Reads. And I don't even know if that's considered social media. I look at Amazon for new releases and see what others are reading on Good Reads. If a book looks particularly interesting to me I'll try to find that author's website to look them up and see about the book.

    If I buy the book and love it, I'll head back to that author's site to read about their writing process and things of that nature. But honestly, I won't buy a book simply because the author has a Face Book page.

  8. I just checked, and of the blogs I follow of authors with books out, I’ve read books of only half of them. And half of those I followed because I’d already read their book, so their blogs didn’t help with sales any.

    I remember one YA blogger did a poll, and only a third of her readers said they’d actually read her book.

    Then again, blogs and review sites get me to check out books I might not have heard of otherwise, and I wouldn’t have heard about your own book if not for this blog.

  9. If I really enjoy a book, I will, sometimes, look for a writer's online presence. And I have purchased books when a blogger I like recommends it (and I like the ebook sample, though I've ALWAYS waited and purchased the paper book), or maybe if I stumble upon the writer's blog tour and I liked what they had to say. But just tweeting or facebooking that you have a book for sale? It's just an ad, and I just keep moving on.

    The ONE exception to all this for me is Janice Hardy, whose blog was so helpful to me when I first started writing that I went and looked up her books, and then purchased them. But she also happened to write what I like reading.

  10. What an interesting experiment your writer friend conducted. I don't know why I buy the books I do. Recommendations. Pretty covers. Book placement in a store. Sometimes recommendations through blogs.

  11. I do think the key to social media is not the size of your following, but your approach. To sell books through social media, you need to 1) the reaching the right target audience -- ie, people will actually read your genre, and 2) pique your followers' interest about your book.

    And in this sense, I think the substance of your blog entries makes a big difference. I feel like random blogs about craft or cupcakes will not really make someone want to read your book. However, I seen some blog entries, usually talking about issues and themes related to their books, that seem more likely to convert into a sale. For example, Rae Carson wrote a nice article while back about body image in teen girls and talked about the role of body imagein in Girl of Fire and Thorns. Jessica Spotswood also wrote a very nice article on her own relationship with her sisters, drawing parallels between that and sisterly relationships in BORN WICKED. I'm guessing that entries like these, that tug on the emotions and say, "by the way, more of this in the book," are more effective. Likewise, things like cover reveals, mentions of interesting aspects of the story -- anything to make the reader curious ABOUT THE BOOK (not about the author, or the author's writing process, or the author's neuroscientific research... ahem) will better translate into sales.

    Will INTERN's following check out her book? I do think in your case, it will translate. Not perfectly, because not all aspiring writers read or enjoy YA, but like your lovely editor has already said, you have a very strong voice in your blog posts, which makes THIS follower, for one, intrigued to read INTERN's fiction.

  12. I usually discover an author's online presence through trying to find out when their *next* book is coming out, after I've already read the first one. If the author has a series I adore - Kresley Cole comes to mind - with many, many books, I'll seek out their online presence to find out more about them.

  13. Ah yes, and I also blogged about something similar at one point. The post got picked up by Galleycat, and the response was quite a bit more vehement than I expected. Angry response posts, etc... Quite an adventure.

  14. I haven't bought a book from Twitter yet, but I have been very tempted to. I did follow links to author websites but I can tell when a book has not been polished after reading a sample page or two. So that turned me off.

    Twitter will undoubtedly drive traffic to an author's website. If you know what you're doing you'll get anywhere from 20-40 hits per day as you're gathering new followers, and that's a conservative number. Your writing's job is to then sell these page visitors.

    The problem I see with people promoting their books on Twitter are things like, "5 Star review, a firemage blows up a bar and the cavalry is after him (insert link to Amazon)."
    VERY few writers actually talk to their followers, you know, chat it up, form a relationship, share their thoughts. Bond. I'm on Twitter most of the time and follow 4,000 people. Maybe I'm following the wrong 4,000 but I doubt that.

    And if your goal is to promote your book online, five tweets a day is a far cry from where you need to be, in my humble opinion. I'm not even published and I tweet approx. 300 times per day, back and forth, with followers.

    Social media (Twitter specifically) is not about establishing a bot presence, it's about socializing in a different media, and that does not mean pasting a one liner about a novel again and again and expecting a bite. It means actually reaching out to thousands of followers and talking to them. Making them laugh. Remembering their likes, dislikes, pets, etc..

    Then you will build trust, and a higher likelihood of a sale.

    And if that is too much to do, hey, no biggie. Great writing usually finds an audience, right?

  15. Tying in to my previous post on here, here's an example of a qualified Twitter lead:

    Message from 3/13/12 (today): Henrique Maia Braga ‏ @HenriqueFreeman

    @Rpharaon Hyi, i have many interest in your book "When Kings Fall". Whem will be published?

    (If anything I could send him a free sample and let him critique the final draft).

  16. For me the decision to buy/borrow/freedownload a book depends almost entirely on the book's premise. Goodreads is the place I find most of the interest-piqueing references that suck me into finding out more. (Rachel, I think GR is social media. For cool people.)

    The second way I find books might be through library and bookstore emails, or online communications from Shelf Awareness or Indie Reader.

    Third way: trolling through library sales and clearance racks for cheapo books, but only if I'm already interested in the author/the subject.

    If I look up at Mount TBR, it is also partially composed of a) books I buy to support writer friends and writers whose events I attend, and b) freebies from conferences, networking events and such.

    Conclusion: Facebook/Twitter may influence 2% of what I read. Goodreads, much higher.

  17. I think the blog/FB/Twitter mystique is driven by the industry. There are some authors who have achieved crazy good STOOPID sales and following through their online presence. For the most part, bestselling, best loved authors have the biggest online footprint, for obvious reasons. But every now and then, the "buzz" factor launches a book more than the author's existing fame or marketing efforts in the traditional vein.

    SOOOoooo...everybody who benefits from book sales is telling writers that you HAVE TO TWEET, BLOG, FACEBOOK, and whatever comes next. The fact is, it won't hurt you unless you have no filter (in which case it could hurt you a LOT). It might catch the interest of an agent or editor if you build a cool, hip internet image. Unless you have an especial genius for it, however, it won't sell books.

    At the end of the day, the internet image is not a shortcut. You still have to write something people want to read. And if you write something a LOT of people want to read, no one cares if you blog or tweet.

    It's like it always was. Only a few of the books out there will be the ones everyone is talking about. And if that kind of exposure could be manufactured with a system, well, more books would be plucked from obscurity.

  18. This is the question that haunts any commercial use of social media: is there any return on the investment of time and/or money? The truth of the matter is that it's much more akin to traditional networking and handshaking. One handshake doesn't equate to one sale, but it can generate referrals that do lead to sales.

    It also increases the author's discoverability. For instance, I discovered INTERN via this blog, and now I'm aware that she's written books. That awareness, too, doesn't necessarily equate to sales, but a reader is more likely to buy a book they've heard of before than one they haven't!

    1. Very good point! As my day job, I'm in charge of commercial social media for a non-book company. In a lot of ways, social media is like any other marketing: the goal is to find an audience of people who have a problem that your product can solve. Let's say you wrote a book about penguins. Traditionally, you'd throw an ad on TV in front of millions of people, figuring that a couple of them have got to be parents with a penguin-obsessed kid whose birthday is coming up. On social media, you can search and network and reach those same people through more "grassroots" (and completely free) means.

      As many people have said here already, JUST blogging/tweeting/facebooking/etc. may make you more friends, but more friends doesn't always mean more book sales. However, if you've thought through your social media sales plan, it definitely can work, and there are even ways to measure returns using online marketing software.

  19. I may be a freak of nature, but I buy books almost exclusively because I first heard about them via social media (and by 'social media', I really mean Twitter exclusively).

    Or because I had them highly recommended by my IRL-group of writer friends, but I met every single one of these fabulous in-person friends through Twitter, as well, so.

    1. fascinating! it seems like you're not the only one who's transitioned to a twitter-only (or twitter-mostly) form of book-buying (see comment below...)

  20. Probably eighty percent of the books I've bought over the past year I learned about via Twitter (either directly or in a blog post someone tweeted about), but almost never directly from the author. For me, Twitter is the new Recommended by a Friend.

  21. I do buy books from writer friends I've met online. Now, if I actually get around to *reading* them is a different story. My Kindle is chock full of unread "buddy" buys. But I won't buy a book that doesn't sound interesting to me no matter how much I like the author.

    As for if it has impact, I don't know. I built a pretty decent online presence (2k blog followers and about 3k twitter) over two years before my debut came out. But my followers were mostly other writers and I write erotic romance, which obviously is a niche that not everyone is going to be interested in. My book hit #2 on the Barnes and Nobles Trade Romance LIst the first two weeks it was out. My editor seemed rather surprised by that since I was a debut. So I think my online presence might have helped that some. I have had a lot of followers tell me they bought the book as well, and I have a lot more reviews on goodreads than other debuts that released the same day. BUT, how much of an impact is it really? Does it mean I sold 200 more books than I would've? And in the grand scheme of things, does that make a huge difference? I don't know. But having that little swell of support upfront can at least get a jump start of having others hear about the book through word of mouth and reviews.

  22. Roni: SO TRUE about the Kindle full of unread "buddy" books...INTERN has a virtual stack of those up to the roof :) This is why book sales made out of obligation aren't as valuable as book sales made to people who are genuinely excited about your book. the excited people will spread the word—the obligated people will forget all about it.

  23. I think when I read a book, I want to escape from what feels like the omnipresence of the internet. I very occasionally follow blogs of authors (Helen DeWitt is one) but in general I like the books I read *because* they are discrete stories, separate from the googletwitterbloggerstream.

  24. Interesting post!

    You know, I do think having a social media presence matters. I did some informal research a while ago, and all but one of the books in the top ten of the NYT Best Seller List were by authors who had a significant internet presence (and by significant, I mean blog followers in the thousands, not tens or hundreds). So, what I really mean by that is, it matters, IF you have a significant presence. I do think there is a "tipping point."

    However, developing a following like that is a skill. You have to be willing to spend the time to hone and develop it. Additionally, all the NYT Top Ten were good books to begin with. And if social media crowds out your writing time, then you have to ask yourself if it's worth developing that following.

    Additionally, as Molly O'Neil pointed out, it matters who your followers are. I attended a workshop on marketing by an author who targeted librarians and book bloggers, and her book ended up nominated for awards. And she didn't do this with her own blog, but by getting her book featured on book bloggers' blogs. So it's worth thinking about how we can use social media to our advantage, without letting it suck up all of our writing time.

    And then there's John Green, who I tend to think of more as an example than an exception. His debut novel sold consistently, but his vlogs (which appeal to the type of person who will like his books - he targeted his readership extremely well) helped him build a following of loyal fans who then promoted his next books. Now, he's a superstar. I think it shows how, if we're clever about it, we can use Social Media to build a brand for ourselves.

    All good things to think about, for sure.

  25. Here's what Steve Martin had to say on NPR today about promoting his books.

    "I thought if I had a Twitter feed and say I had a following of a 100,000, that means 100,000 of them would be interested in my book.

    "It was logical, but it didn't turn out to be true. It turned out if I had a Twitter feed of a 100,000, four of them were interested in my book. So, tweeting is really only good for one thing — tweeting. It is rewarding, because it's its own reward."

    (Ironically enough, he was on NPR to promote his book of tweets.)

  26. Another great post and set of comments that make me feel like a rubber-brained luddite. Can a luddite add anything? A luddite might confirm and enlarge.

    I've been out swishing around in the muddy waters of the blog-soaked landscape. That's about the scope of my reading. Since I've got a riveting day job, I can barely get through the New Yorker, much less anybody's book. I got a pile of books here that I ain't getting to. So back to the big muddy: the blogs are full of wise counsel about what to not do on a blog. (Try not to get dooced, for one thing. Nobody wants to hear about your struggles, for another.)

    Having Googled my way to THE INTERN, read enough of it to know I like/appreciate/get/respect this personality, and having learned that she has a book coming out, I would say I would buy her book and read it whatever genre it is, based on the material (the personality) on this here blog. A- yup. If I remember it in a year. Or if I live that long. Maybe in a year, I'll have some time to read. Let it be the last book I ever read. Paper or plastic?

    But before social media, we used to write emails to each other, and before that we wrote letters on parchment. We were writing back in those days, as we still are, and the same sorts of affinities and aversions emerged. My old dear friend wrote a YA novel back in the day. I read it. She was the first in our darned clever bunch to (self) pub a book. I thought, hmm. I wrote a gentle, nudging critique. I've dutifully read all of her books. (A long career, quite a few books.) Only one, which I put off reading for quite a while there, really speaks to me. I just sent her a ms, and of course, you can't get her to pick it up. (And she's even "in it" -naked!) So I think it comes down to affinities. Social media enable much communication, but the human knows what it likes. It won't go buy, willingly, that to which it is averse.

    Note to self: try to write something (or about something) that more people like. Maybe even: try to be somebody that other people can tolerate, not so "belligerently controversialist." (See. I can almost get through a New Yorker.)

  27. Social media has helped me discover the majority of books that are now my favorites. However, the recommendations came from my Goodreads friends and blog friends, not authors themselves. I honestly do not care about any kind of self-promotion, it will not encourage me to buy books. I will follow (possibly) the authors that I like, to know them better, but I do not think it works the opposite way. I would even go as far as to say that author-generated social media outreach has been effective, so to speak, only to promote their bad behavior, not their books.

    Tatiana (The Readventurer)

  28. I wrestle with this daily. No--hourly. And over on we wrestle with it often.

    I do subscribe to the idea that an average reader (meaning one who is not publishing obsessed, like me) needs to see a book crop up in a few places before she is moved to buy it. That theory supports working hard at a book blog tour, but not necessarily spending one's life on Twitter.

    Getting others to vouch for your work feels more effective that doing it oneself. Yet Only by following book bloggers around can you learn who might be the best advocate for your particular book.

    That's my theory today, anyway. By tomorrow I'll probably feel differently.

  29. Trying, by way of putting into practice some of the lessons learned here, or maybe just writer world wisdom and experience, I embarked on the reading of a 'buddy' book. I earned this buddy this morning, poking around at the FB site of my friend THE AGENT. (She deserves her caps, let me tell you.) I decided, since the woman will likely never rep the lowly likes of me, to actually write some of my patented ballsy stuff on her patented ballsy FB site. Boom. I got into a back and forth with another writer. He sent me a link to his blogged novel. (Blovel?) The experience I'm having is, well...

    These things can put one in a dilemma of civility and conscience, not to mention time management. One wants to be helpful, but one also can tell right away that if to sell a book you have to read a book, (and I don't have a book to sell yet, mind you), it is a business plan that is sure to fail. To be recommended on Goodread (which I also investigated ... my friends seem to only read "Harry Potter" ...), I think you have to write something , you know, good. I completely agree that obnoxious behavior is not going to garner interest.

  30. A few points...

    I learn about almost all of my books nowadays through social media via word of mouth recommendations. I don't buy all of them, of course. Couldn't possibly. I also do a lot of sampling from books I read about online either because friends have recommended them or they have linked to an article or interview with an interesting author.

    Writers who self-promote by tweeting their books are really tiresome if they do it wrong. I fall in love with the authors who are clever or interesting in a way that you'd have good chemistry with someone at a party. You wouldn't run up to me at the punch bowl and start saying "hey, hey, buy this, look at me, look at me!" Twitter is sort of like a big party and that's how I think people should treat it. Hang out, be clever, try to seduce people, learn about them so they want to learn about you. Play, have fun.

    A few tweeps I think do it really well -- Margaret Atwood (adorable, newsy, approachable), Neil Gaiman (pro-writer, enthusiastic, compassionate), and Steve Martin (just all-around funny). All three of those? I am way more interested in their careers and projects than I ever have been. AND, probably more importantly (for them), I am more likely to recommend things they do and retweet them because I think they will be universally interesting to my friends and followers.

    And can Twitter backfire? Oh yeah. There are a few writers I've unfollowed because, yes, the charming party goer can turn into a boorish buffoon with a lampshade on his head if he gets carried away.

  31. I LIKE this post. I like posts that confirm my thinking, even though I'm supposed to say that I like even more the posts that challenge me.
    But here Intern challenges CW, and we all know deep-down she's right.
    Seems that for certain genres, social media can be an effective selling tool. Specifically Romance and Erotica, and possibly certain religious markets.
    The literary types will only benefit from social media promotion if it is good for them, for the writer's soul. (Not sales, the other 'S.') That’s not a small benefit. Charging the batteries, feeling 'published' when the publishers resist you, having some kind-hearted remark make you feel you matter- these are real benefits.
    But don't try to sell that to Marketing.

  32. A lot of the books I've bought over the last three years is what I've heard about through blogs, and Twitter. I don't bother with Facebook. Then I spread the word to friends who don't do anything in the social media world. They depend on me to keep them in the loop with the latest YA releases especially.

  33. Just wanted to say, for what it's worth, that my two newest favourite books were both found out about on blogs. One was a reccommendation from another blogger, which led me not only to that book but also that writer's blog, and the other was a reccommendation from the second writer's blog about another writer's book.

    Personally, I buy my own books, not borrow them, and spending money on a book that turns out not to be love-worthy means that's one less book I get to buy and love elsewhere. So I lean heavly toward author reccommendations for books, and I get those almost exclusively on blogs.

  34. These are my thoughts exactly. I used to spend way too much time with my online presence. I now spend that time writing (or doing something else equally productive). Thanks for sharing.

  35. I'm not published, but I am working on a novel and trying to build an online presence, for the very reason touched on in your blog - because the world told me it was a good idea. I've got some Twitter followers, blog followers and Facebook likes, but am I under any illusions that 300 Twitter followers means 300 book sales? Absolutely not. It might mean 25 book sales if I'm lucky. But still, if I wasn't there, that might be 25 sales I might not already have. I've also been reaching out to other authors and featuring their books on my blog, in the hope that karma might come into play when I have my own book out (assuming I get that far) and I can get profiled on other author's blogs, and various other book blogs. I figure it can't hurt to start establishing these relationships now - and, if so many of your commenters have said, people buy books based on other people's recommendations, it might shift a few more copies.

    Is social media the be-all and end-all? Absolutely not. But have I bought books based on someone's tweets? Yes, I have. I don't spend huge amounts of time doing it, but like I said, so long as I'm not obnoxious about it, it can't hurt.

  36. I find quite a lot of the books I read/ buy these days are from someone on twitter recommending it... I still wander through the library and pick up whatever sparks my interest, or bookstores. But even then, for instance if the cover is horrendous or I'm not quite sure about the premise, If I see a blurb from and author I've been following on twitter, or an author who's books I read frequently and like, I'm much more likely to give it a chance. I also find myself justifying buying book instead of waiting for them to come in at the library if I've been following the author's tweets or blog... I guess because they seem more like a real person I'm giving my money to. I still read books from authors not online, but social media has definitely influenced me to try out a lot more books than I would have otherwise.

  37. Being that I'm just about broke, I unfortunately don't have much book-buying habits to speak of. BUT. For every single new person I follow--blogging, tweeting, facebook--if they put up information about their forthcoming, or recently debuted book, I'll at least check it out on Goodreads (read the whole blurb, etc.) I guess about 50% of these books end up being interesting to be and I add them to my "to-read" list. If I had the money, I guess I'd say social media impacts 50% of my book purchases?

  38. I bought "The Hunger Games" because of you. . . does that help?

    Louise Curtis (who, after three and a half years of daily blogging etc, has decided to start vigorously cutting back. I can always restart things if I get a book deal).

  39. I found this post incredibly interesting. I'm a marketing writer (and aspiring novelist, of course, thus my lurky-lurkiness here) and my involvement in social media is highly professional as well as personal. On the personal note: social media has had a decent influence on my own book purchases. I've stumbled on a few jems that were mentioned on Twitter, or blogs (but never, I think, Facebook.) I highly value the opinion of a lot of people I follow. I often check out the first few pages after a recommend on Amazon. Then, if it speaks to me, I run out and buy it. However, this isn't necessarily attributed to the author's presence, but the book's presence. Hmm. Something to think about!