September 18, 2013

The Waning Romance with Social Media

The social media love affair has lost some of the appeal for authors. What was once seductive and exciting has become a duty. Most of us want to rekindle the sparkling relationship, but we don’t know how. The sad fact is; authors have come to rely on the economic mechanisms social media offers in its ability to grasp a vast audience that they otherwise could not hope to reach.

Sure, there are thousands of books, blog posts, services, and software packages designed to educate, and relieve some of the load, but none realistically have a solution for jaded customers overwhelmed by the amount of free books on their Kindle. Leaving many of us feeling like Stepford husbands and wives to our social media accounts.

Overall book sales are down by 27%. Let’s face-it, free days still get more attention than most anything in the magic bag. Besides, we are all competing to fill up that Neilson Chart.

Recently, free day lost me the support of a successful author that has opened several doors for me, and I respect the idea that giving something away for free makes it harder to charge for it later. I would like to say in the future I will give up the free days. I have given them up in the past. Truthfully, it is unlikely that I will not be seduced back into giving away books through social media. It still works, albeit not as well as it did in the beginning.  It does appear that it is dwindling.

It is not hard to see the evidence of the stress among authors. Sales within groups have exhausted their limited audience. After all, we might just be “preaching to the choir.” Do readers that don’t write turn to social media to gain information about books? Many authors are expressing discord with members of their formerly supportive circles. This is erupting into all-out social brawls most of us experienced in middle-school. Perhaps, we were unrealistic in our expectations.

So, what does work? The answer is reaching readers. How do we reach readers? Can we band together to gain readers, instead of approval from overtaxed authors in the same dilemma?  I know when I really connect with readers that aren't authors I gain a surge in sales, but like everyone that is not easy and often means getting out or marketing my work in other places besides social media.

But, wait a minute, we sure can’t let the valuable resources of the internet and social media go to waste. What about Goodreads? Is it losing its bloom to the jadedness induced by too many freebies? Is there a way to run a book site that does not become invaded by too much promotion?  I’m still looking and thinking. What about you?