In the past 12 months I have spent countless hours of my life on Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads. I’ve roamed around the blogosphere reading posts, leaving comments, tweeting links to interesting articles and writing for my own blog. If I were to delete every online account of mine tomorrow, would anyone notice or care? Being honest, I’d have to admit few would. And why should they? I have many blogs I enjoy, people on Twitter whose tweets and links amuse me, but if they upped and quit the virtual world and I never read another blog post or tweet from them again, I wouldn’t be broken-hearted, at least not for very long.
There is a pressure nowadays for authors to have a constant online presence, but I wonder how much it really influences book sales. Yes, it’s good to have exposure, but running a blog and posting links to your books fifty times a week on Twitter and Facebook may not necessarily lead to an increase in book sales and new readers. So, why do we do it?
For me, it’s very simple. I like having my blog. It’s my own small piece of virtual space where I can share what I’ve been reading, writing and watching. I love to interact with readers in the comments section. I also write the odd post about my own writing if I happen to be releasing a book or doing a guest post on another blog. Quite simply, blogging is fun. But what about other forms of social media? Are they just as entertaining and enjoyable, or a marketing necessity?
Twitter is probably my favourite social network. I meet so many people from all walks of life and I do feel a sense of community when I’m logged in. I use Facebook less, mostly to post links to guest articles I’ve written and my latest blog posts. I log in daily, as I do on Twitter, but I don’t stay very long. Facebook just doesn’t have the same draw for me. Then we have Goodreads. I didn’t learn about Goodreads until a year or so ago. As an avid reader, I find it strange now that I didn’t know it existed. I uploaded my books and found readers happy to review my work. It’s also a place where I can keep track of the books I find on blogs and want to read, as well as post reviews of novels I like. Overall, I enjoy these social networks, but even if I didn’t, I’d probably make sure I put in sufficient time on each site to keep my name out there.
The more hours I spend on Twitter, Facebook and blogging, the less time I have to knuckle down and do the real work or writing my next novel or short story. It seems marketing oneself has become as important as the product you are hoping to sell. I tell myself all the time to tweet less and write more, but Twitter and blogging can be addictive and hard to walk away from.
There are days when I want to quit: stop reading blogs, posting on Twitter and Facebook, plug out the internet connection so I don’t have to deal with a full inbox every morning. But you know what? I’m scared. What if being silent online does affect me adversely? So for the moment, I persevere, but perhaps one day in the near future, I’ll say goodbye to Twitter and Facebook and retreat into my writer’s cave.
I’d like to hear from other writers. I’m curious to know how important you think it is to have an online presence and if you believe it’s helped win you readers and led to an increase in book sales.
Emma Meade is the author of Under the Desert Moon, Night Sighs and the soon to be released paranormal anthology, The Awakening & Other Stories. Learn more about Emma from her author website, blog, and Amazon author page.