One game our new dog seems to enjoy is playing “Find.” Of course, whatever she’s sent to find needs to have some kind of food associated with it, but she’s pretty good at finding rawhide chews or Kongs filled with peanut butter. As writers, what do we have to do to get people to find us? Rubbing ourselves with peanut butter probably isn’t the answer.
I’m an opinionated, stuck-in-her ways old lady, and my normal response to things is to wait—usually until I’m the last one to join in, and that particular “thing” fades away (or goes out of business) as soon as I join. But, I’m not completely adverse to trying new things. I bought a NOOK Color on pre-order, after all. And my new computer is so “new” that there were hardly any customer reviews.
Two words that predominated the NINC conference were reach and discoverability. “How to sell more books” was rarely the topic. As a matter of fact, they warned against using a book cover as a profile picture. What’s the difference? People don’t want to be slapped upside the head with “buy my book” promotions. They’re probably more willing to get to know you.
I know, especially after seeing what limiting distribution did to my book sales with some of my earlier publishers, that for me, it’s a simple matter of, “If you’re not there, they can’t find you.” But this “they” should be discovering you, not necessarily your books. And how can they discover you? If you’re not a well-known author with physical books in places people shop, it’s hard to get noticed. Right now, the answer seems to be: Social Media.
As writers, we have to learn to step back from trying to connect tweets, ads, or Facebook posts with sales. Instead, we have to strive to get people to know us. With the Internet at our fingertips, we have the potential to reach tremendous audiences. But what’s the best way to do it?
My first publisher required suggested a blog and a website. With one short story to my credit, it seemed a bit of overkill, but I went ahead and started blogging. I found I enjoyed it. (I hope you do, too.)
Next up was MySpace. Tried it, didn’t like it, and left. Facebook? I knew nothing of its origins, but it seemed so “high school” with ‘friending’ people. (Later, I found out it began as a college enterprise, so I wasn’t that far off—and considering my age at the time, there was little difference between high school and college “kids.”) But I joined. And, as some of you know, even accumulated enough ‘friends’ that I had to start an author page. Now instead of looking for friends, I’m looking for people to ‘like’ me—still sounds kind of high school, but that’s the way the game is played.
Twitter? What’s that? A bunch of people sharing what they had for breakfast? No thanks. And yet, here I am on Twitter, although I don’t think I’ve shared my breakfast menu yet. I’ve got a couple thousand followers there, and sometimes it’s a fun place to be–like the office water cooler.
And now, due in part to discussions at NINC, and in part to my guest blogger, Larissa Reinhart, who explained it from a different perspective in her post, I’ve got a Pinterest account. I played around with it, and we’ll see what that does to my reach. And if anyone here wants to tell me how to use it, I’m willing to learn. For now, I’ve stumbled through by trial and error and created a few boards, being careful to post only those images I have permission to use—which means most of them are mine! I’m curious to see how this might extend my reach. But, I’m there, so if someone finds me, then it’s probably a good thing.
One important lesson I’ve learned, is “Never say never.”
Causes Terry Odell Supports
Pro Literacy Worldwide, The Nature Conservancy, The Adult Literacy League, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society