I guess the one major thing in a writer’s bag of tricks I haven’t commented on yet is the use of social media. These days, every author needs a blog, a Goodreads account, a Facebook page, and a Twitter account to network with readers and build a following. It’s not that I don’t do these things, or some of them, it’s that I’m not very good at it yet.
Take this blog for example. I started it on May 17, 2015. It’s not a unique idea, but it seemed there ought to be quite a lot of interest in how a tyro writer negotiates his way into publication (or not, of course). So I’ve posted away for two weeks, and waited for the world to come to me. But of course they haven’t. I don’t mean you, you’re reading this. I mean all the others. It has been viewed 90 times, by 30 distinct visitors – 82 of the views were from the UK, and 5 from the US; the other 3 were untraceable. I have 3 followers, 5 likes, and only one view led to a click through to my book.
Early days, I tell myself. I’ve mailed all my friends in my writing groups. Now I need to work my other networks. An author needs, as I said, several online networks. Facebook and Twitter are the big ones. I still don’t have a Facebook account, I’m not sure why. I will one day. Two weeks ago, I didn’t have a blog. I do have a Twitter account, but I never tweet. I’m verbose. I can’t think why I’d want to express myself in 140 characters or less. So that’s why I started to blog instead.
There are some other key social networking sites that authors should know about. And I’m on them. Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com) is probably the most important. Goodreads is the world’s largest site for readers and book recommendations. I’m not sure how many members it has. It reported 20 million in 2013. So you can potentially connect with over 20 million readers. Of course I don’t.
I have four friends, four people have liked book reviews I’ve posted, and four people have added my book to their lists and two people rated it. That’s not too many out of 20 million. Yesterday I only had three friends. I made the fourth one by joining a couple of Goodreads groups. This is going to be harder than I thought, but I seem to be on the right track. Of course you don’t just join Goodreads (or any other social networking site) and say “hey guys, you need to read my book, it’s awesome.” Nobody appreciates being marketed at like that. You get respect by being a member of the community, posting reviews of books and joining in discussions.
The other site I joined is Wattpad (http://www.wattpad.com). It’s basically a site where writers can connect with readers who want to read free stuff. There are stories of authors having their work ripped off from there, but nothing more than rumours. I posted the first three chapters of A Prize of Sovereigns there, and then provided a link to the site where it’s being serialised. I’ve got 4 followers, 7 people who rated it, and 6 who left comments.
Apart from the Facebook page, I’ve got a presence on the right social networking sites. You should probably get all of those. So, I’ve got three followers for this blog, four followers on Wattpad, and four Goodreads friends – 12 down 19,999.988 to go.