Do Authors Really Need Social Networking?

In a word, yes! But don’t just take my word for it. Neil Nyren, Senior Vice-President, Publisher, and Editor in Chief of Penguin Putnam, talked about the importance of an author’s web presence in an interview at Murderati.com, a blog about “Mysteries, Murder, and Marketing.”

In The 4th Annual State of the Industry Interview,  mystery author JT Ellison, asked if an author would be wise to “drop social networking in favor of working on her book,” and how Nyren felt about “authors having to shoulder so much of the [self-promotion] load.”

Nyren said, “There’s no question that one of the essential ingredients in selling books is word of mouth. … as M.J. Rose always says, if people don’t hear about a book, they ain’t going to buy it.”

I agree. In today’s Internet age, social networking and blog tours are an integral part of getting the buzz out. Social networking is at its most effective when you combine several forms of social networking so they work together. Each platform is like a spoke to a wagon wheel. They are all connected by the outer wheel, but they all point to the axis of the wheel, which is your Website. That’s the most important part of your Web presence: Your Website.

“As a writer,” Nyren said, “you are the CEO of your own business. You should make it a point to learn that business and to do whatever is necessary to make that business succeed.”

Does that mean we have to do everything? Blog, Twitter, Facebook? Ack! Like many of you, I find it difficult to juggle all those balls and get any writing done. So, when the deadlines get tight, what falls by the wayside?

The answer comes in finding the right balance. “Because,” Nyren says, “a big part of that success rests in writing damn good books, and it’s tough to do that if you’re spending all of your time on promotion. Not to mention that some authors are better suited for some kinds of promotion than for others. Not everybody is born to Twitter. Find out what works for you – it’s going to be different for everybody – and learn as you go along. Observe, experiment, be flexible, don’t get hung up on trivia. And remember: The book comes first.”

Sage advice. The book comes first. Without the book, all the social networking in the world is pointless in terms of your career. On the flipside, without social networking – today’s version of word-of-mouth – your brilliantly written novel may never fall into the hands of readers who will love it. The question, though, is how to manage both when there’s only so many hours in the day.

So, authors (and readers), what say you? Is social networking is worth the time it takes? What works for you?

If you’re new to social networking and still learning the ropes, check out my previous blogs about Facebook and Twitter. And be sure to read: What’s the Point of Twitter.

5 comments

  1. Social networking is the single most powerful tool for published and unpublished authors. They need to learn to do it properly and they need to devote some considerable time to it – probably more than they’ve spent in writing their book in the first place.

    The book comes first?

    I’d say the book and social networking, in the present environment, have equal weighting. Social networking isn’t a cakewalk, make the effort to become proficient at it.

  2. It does take time. Especially in the beginning during the learning curve. Hence the inspiration for this blog. There’s so much out there about how to do social networking, but I wanted to created something geared toward authors. So, if anyone out there has questions, glance over my past posts on Twitter, Facebook, and Blogging. Or shoot me an e-mail. This site is all about authors pooling knowledge. So, thank you Ziggy, for jumping in.

  3. Ken K. Chartrand says:

    I don’t have my own web site yet ,but have been thinking about it awhile. I think that my new publisher will set me up with one. My latest book ,”The Lupine Effect”should be released this summer.

  4. You said all roads should lead to your website, but I find that counter-intuitive with my experience on Facebook and Twitter. FB fans don’t like links of any kind. They want to stay and play on that platform. And if you are always pointing to your website, it seems to violate the “only promote 20% of the time” dictum. Of course, website is always open for business and should include all key information, but I’m not sure that my use of social media has lead many people there. Thoughts?

  5. Kat Ellis says:

    Great post! I only entered the world of social media in September 2011 when I started blogging and tweeting, and as much as it has been an incredible help to my writing career (I wouldn’t have found my agent were it not for twitter!) it really is just a black hole for writing time. I’ve shied away from facebook and other social media for now so I can keep SOME time for writing!

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