books with Athena

books with Athena

Sunday, June 16, 2013

7 Ways Authors Waste Time "Building Platform" on Social Media


Authors are getting hammered with more and more demands on our time. We get escalating pressure to blog more! tweet more!! send more newsletters!!! churn out 12 books a year!!!! And don't query unless your Klout rating is as high as Justin Beiber's !!!!!

It's making us all feel as if what we do is never enough, as Nathan Bransford lamented last week.

"It never feels like there are enough hours in the day, or days in the weeks, or weeks in the months, or months in the year. Time slips away, and with it a chance to accomplish something or edge closer to your dream. Social media only adds to the pressure. 

People are completing novels and making New York Times bestseller lists and curing cancer while juggling on a unicycle and it all looks so effortless and who needs sleep anyway??"

I’ve addressed the problem myself in my post Why Are We Running as Fast As We Can to Stay in the Same Place? 

Porter Anderson of Writing on the Ether responded to Nathan with a post of his own, where he said,

“Remember the early XM Radio slogan? ‘Everything. All The Time.’ Are we really going to be able to sustain this?”

No. We aren’t.

We are creative human beings, not machines, and creativity is subject to departure without notice, leaving depression and anxiety in its wake. In succumbing to the pressure, we are abusing ourselves—risking physical and mental illness. Plus we’re increasing the pressure on all our colleagues by appearing to be that magic “unicyclist” Nathan talks about.

Thing is: A lot of the pressure comes from misinformation  and old news.

The online world reinvents itself at least every two years, and the creaky old publishing business has a hard time keeping up. They’ve jumped on the social media party train, but unfortunately, they sometimes jump on the caboose instead of the engine.

A lot of the things publicists and marketers are asking authors to do are time-wasters that have been overused, are no longer relevant, or have no impact on sales.

If you’re in a master/slave relationship with an agent or publisher, you may be forced to do this stuff.  But you can be excused for slipping a link to this post into your next email.

And if you’re an indie, you can ignore it all and do what actually works. (And please, stop trying to manipulate your fellow authors into doing this stuff for you.)

Right now what works is having lots of sales and freebies and—if you can afford it—advertising them on vetted newsletters like Bookbub. E-Reader News Daily or EBookBargainsUK. But next week it will probably be something different. This business is changing by the nanosecond.

The only thing that can be counted on to enhance your visibility as a writer is to interact with readers in a real, honest, and generous way on the social media platform of your choice, as Hugh Howey has showed us. He said he focused on the readers he already had instead of trolling the universe for more. When you create the kind of goodwill and loyal fan base he has, word of mouth spreads news of your books. That way you get those "1000 true fans" instead of amassing pointless lists of numbers.

Here’s stuff that doesn’t work, wastes time, and could lead to serious burnout:

1) Racking up 1000s of Twitter followers  

The only followers that matter are the ones who read your books and blogposts and interact with you. Any others are meaningless.

I’m amazed at all the spam I get offering to sell me followers. A "follower" whose identity has been obtained by fraud and sold is not going to be a willing customer.

Buying thousands of Twitter followers and calling it a “platform” is like renting a lot of empty safety deposit boxes and saying you’re rich.

And paying somebody to send out a stream of tweets saying "buy my book" to a bunch of strangers is pointless, too. I don't know anybody who has ever bought a book because they were ordered to in a tweet by a stranger.

An author with fifty engaged fans on Twitter is going to be far more effective than one with a thousand detached strangers, all of whom are purchased and/or are other authors racking up follower numbers, too.

Another thing that publicists and marketers love that will not gain you any readers: automating Tweets, especially auto-responds that say “buy my book, minion!” and asking your Tweeps to do your marketing for you. Auto-responses to a follow usually get an auto-unfollow, and publicists who insist you put one on your Twitter account are clueless.

2) Madly promoting your "Like" page on Facebook

People actually pay for ads on Facebook and give prizes to readers in order to get more "likes" for an author page. But a post on an author “like” page will only get a dozen or so views now—unless you pay extra fees—and you’re not allowed to interact on other pages or groups unless you have a personal page as well. This means a "like" page is far less important than it used to be.

It's probably a good idea to have an author "like" page so you have a Facebook presence—like having an ad in the Yellow Pages—but the number of "likes" has no impact on book sales. (Ditto Amazon author page "likes".)

A personal Facebook page is much more useful, but if you sign up for a personal page, you open a whole new worm-can. You're at the mercy of malevolent fellow authors who mark your blog links as “spam” in order to get you put into FB jail and block people from visiting your blog. There are no humans at FB to contact to report this kind of abuse. Believe me. I have sent at least two complaining emails a week to dozens of addresses. I have never had a response, and they still block this blog as spam.

At the same time, Facebook encourages real spammers, scammers and gamers who try to trick you into giving the personal information of all your friends so they can sell it to marketers.

And as far as privacy goes—you might as well live in a picture window like an Amsterdam hooker. (NSA, eat your heart out: Facebook has been invading our privacy for years in ways governments can only dream about.)

For me, Facebook is only useful to network with other writers in the various FB writing groups and to announce freebie and sale days on pages like Free Kindle and Nook Deals , 99 Cent Kindle Deals. (There are hundreds of these. It’s kind of a crapshoot which ones will work.)

Requiring an author to have a certain number of Facebook likes/friends is even more pointless than the Twitter-follower thing, since you have to pay to have any of these people see your posts.

NOTE: These days I think a writer can do much better finding readers on a smaller social network like RedRoom, SheWrites, or myWANA—sites where both readers and writers congregate and you can engage with people. (Goodreads can be good too, but they have a bully problem, and I find it incredibly hard to navigate.)

Even simply commenting regularly on blogs like this one can help form community and get your name out there. If I see a new book by somebody who's commented on my blog, or Kristen's or Nathan's—yeah, you bet I'm going to check it out. Much more than if I get a notice of a book launch from one of my 600 "friends" on Facebook.

3) Amassing a huge list of email addresses for a newsletter

I’ve resisted the pressure to start up a newsletter. I do send a private email to a few selected friends to announce new blogposts, but that’s it. That’s because I hate newsletters. They’re mostly rehashed content from blogs or websites and chest-beating self-praise.

A lot of spam-blocker programers seem to feel the same way, because most spam-blockers will block anything sent to more than ten addresses.

So I was so glad to run across a post from marketing guru Jon Morrow last week called "Why You Shouldn't Create a Newsletter."

“Newsletters are so 2005” is the way he put it. He says blogs are much more effective, and it’s annoying overkill to have both.

He says, “publishing [used to be] a one-way street. You wrote a newsletter, article, or white paper, sent it to your readers, and they either read it or ignored it. End of story.With social media though, communication now flows both ways. 

Yes, we still publish information, but now our readers respond back to us, leaving comments, sharing with their friends, and linking to us from their own blogs and websites. It’s a complete game changer. 

Rather than publishing an article you like and hoping your readers enjoy it, now you know what they think within a matter of minutes. You can also compare the response to different articles to see what your readers enjoy most.” 

He also points out that blogposts can be tweeted and shared with thousands, instead of forwarded to one person (if you’re lucky.)

In other words: newsletters are old news.

And as for sending them out to everybody who has ever commented on your blog or emailed you: just don’t. No matter how much your marketing department hammers you to do it. Not only is it likely to end up in a spam folder, but mass-marketing to people who are not your fans only annoys them.

Establish an enticing blog and enable email subscriptions to blog updates. It's more interactive and up-to-date than a newsletter and accomplishes the same goal.

4) Participating in expensive, grueling blog tours

I’m not against blog tours. My sales spike when I visit other blogs. And a professional blog tour organizer can be hugely valuable in helping you target blogs where your potential readers congregate.

But those big, month-long “blog tours” are usually too expensive to be cost-effective and often create an unpleasant experience for authors and bloggers alike.

Part of the problem is that the publicist or marketer who sends you on the “tour” is making money, and the tour host is making money—but the bloggers you visit aren’t making a dime. These are the people who are doing the actual work of reading, reviewing and interviewing. It can make for an unbalanced relationship that can cause bad feelings on both sides.

I know for a fact that many blog tour organizers do not do their homework, because they’re always writing asking me to review books.

Um, see any book reviews around here?

Ebooks do not have to be marketed like pbooks with a big splashy launch and a “tour”. You can build readership slowly, since e-retailers have infinite shelf space and your book won’t be returned if it doesn’t make huge sales in its first month.

That means the blog-till-you-drop $2000 blog tour is idiotic.

Instead, you can guest blog once or twice a month throughout the year. And instead of paying somebody to find the bloggers—who may be burned out by the time you show up—network with book bloggers in your genre yourself. Read their reviews and interviews and comment on them. Devoting a few minutes a day to “blog touring” instead of an intense, soul-crushing month will bring you better rewards.

Or visit five or six blogs at the time of your launch instead of fifty. A blog tour service that’s very affordable and allows for small tours is Black, White, and Read Tours, which was formed by three book bloggers who only charge a small amount for their time and have respectful relationships with the bloggers you’ll visit.

5) Blogging every day

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know how I feel about frantic, frequent blog-posting. I’m an advocate of Slow Blogging. You can read about the Slow Blog Manifesto here.

Advice to blog every day comes from the Jurassic days of the Weblog, when there were maybe 10,000 of them, not uncountable billions. Your readers can’t keep up. Bloggers who blog every day are likely to 1) Blather-blog, because they run out of things to say 2) Burn themselves out. 3) Have no time to write new books 4) Annoy readers with too many notifications of new posts.

I’m so grateful to bloggers who only have one or two great posts a month. I can enjoy their work instead of tearing through it or feeling guilty I'm skipping it.

A blog is the best place to establish a Web presence, build platform and interact with readers, but you can do that with weekly or bi-weekly posts.

Remember readers have lives. And chances are very good they don’t revolve around you.

6) Blog hopping

Blog Hops are big in the indie author community and can be fun. They're a good way for newbies to meet and network with other writers and get some blog followers when you're starting out.

But when you're a working, publishing author, a blog hop can be a huge time suck that offers little reward. They generally don't reach readers—just other authors, who are not your best audience.

"Hops" often involve a big prize like an iPad to be given in some contest that involves Tweeting frantically and making lots of comments on dozens of blogs. Everybody contributes a chunk of cash and some blocked author with nothing to do but Tweet and comment for a week gets an iPad.

Nice for the blocked author. Pointless for everybody else.

On the other hand, getting together with fellow authors in your genre to do a joint sale or promotion can be very successful, as I found out teaming up with other members of the "Official Chick Lit Group" on Facebook. We all posted an ad for the promo on our blogs, but didn't have to hop around to every blog or write timewasting posts and identical, inane comments. A much better use of everybody's time.

7) Worrying about your Klout, PeerIndex or other social media rating

Social media ranking systems like Klout and PeerIndex show one thing: how much time you spend on the Internet instead of writing books. If you're dealing with marketers who are in love with numbers for their own sake, I hereby bestow a rank of 10 million ARA points on each of you.

When somebody puts you down for not having a Klout rating over 80, just roll your eyes and say "Klout is so over. I have 10 million ARA points." Then get out the smelling salts. Big, meaningless numbers make these people swoon.
***

The best way to sell books is to write more books. Good ones. There may be authors who can actually churn out twelve good books a year, but I sure can’t. None of my favorite authors can either. A good book is thoughtful and reflects life experience.

If you’re chained to your computer, mindlessly Tweeting, blogging about your writer's block, and posting LOL Cat pictures to Facebook, you're not experiencing life, so you're not going to have much to write about.

Yes, we all have to be on social media. An author needs to have a Web presence, be Googleable, and offer fans a way to interact. But we need to be smart about it—and never forget our main job is to write those books.

What about you, scriveners? Do you feel pressured to waste time in frantic busy-work? What do you find sells books right now? Can you recommend a smaller social network where writers and readers can get to know each other? 

THIS WEEK'S BOOK DEAL

My publisher has made the Camilla box set ridiculously cheap for beach season. 

99 cents for three hilarious mysteries!

Available on Amazon USNOOK, and Amazon UK


"The Best Revenge, Ghost Writers in the Sky and Sherwood Limited are hysterical. Anne Allen will keep you laughing throughout, but in the meantime she dabbles her fingers in some topics worth some serious thought: sexism, weightism, lechery, murder, duplicity, homelessness & poverty to name a few. If you love to laugh, you'll like these three books. If you love to think, ponder AND laugh, be ready to fall in love"... C.S. Perryess

And if you want to read more of my deathless prose, I'll be visiting Alex J. Cavanaugh's blog on Monday, June 17, to talk about what inspired my latest Camilla mystery, No Place Like Home.

OPPORTUNITY ALERTS

1) Quirk Books "Looking for Love" contest.  They offer a $10,000 prize for the best quirky love story of 50,000 words or more. Visit the Quirk Books website to download the entry form or for further information. Quirk Books was founded in 2002 and publishes around 25 books each year. Their bestselling titles include Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Entries close October 1, 2013

2) The Lyttoniad contest for the WORST first sentence of a novel. This classic Bulwer-Lytton "Dark and Stormy Night" contest makes news every year. Each entry must consist of a single sentence but you may submit as many entries as you wish. E-mail entries should be sent to Scott Rice at srice@pacbell.net in the body of the message, Ariel 12 font. One e-mail may contain multiple entries. Entries will be judged by categories, from “general” to detective, western, science fiction, romance, and so on. There will be overall winners as well as category winners. No prizes that I know of, but lots of admiration from your fellow writers.  Deadline is June 30th.

3) The Hidden River Arts Playwright Award: $1000 prize 
Eligible: Any previously unpublished and unproduced full-length play. (And yes, full-length musical plays are also accepted!) The full script should be submitted, along with a synopsis and character breakdown. Any scripts submitted without the synopsis and breakdown will be disqualified. Musical submissions should include either a sound file, sent to hiddenriverarts@gmail.com, or a CD mailed to Hidden River Arts, P.O. Box 63927, Philadelphia, PA 19147. The music should be clearly marked and identified so that we can attach it to the appropriate submission. $17 entry fee. See website above for details (takes forever to load, sorry.) Deadline June 30th. 

4)  The Huffington Post's Huffpo50 is now publishing short fiction!   The rules: You must be 50 or older to enter. Writers can submit only one story per year, and all pieces must be 5,000 words or less. Send your original submissions, as well as your contact details, to 50fiction@huffingtonpost.com.

5) FREE book advertising to British readers from EbookBargainsUK (This really works. I used them for No Place Like Home after my freebie run, and my bounce was three times higher in the UK than the US because of the ad.)

DEADLINE EXTENDED! Lots of authors and publishers have had huge successes with their FREE or SALE books by advertising on BookBub, ENT, KND, POI, etc. But none of those target the UK, and their links go to US sites Brits can't use. But now there’s a newsletter for UK readers only. It links to all the big UK retailers like Apple UK, Waterstones and Foyles as well as Amazon UK. They don’t sell books direct or get paid for clickthroughs, so they don't have any restrictions on how many free books they can spotlight like BookBub and the others. So it's THE place to tell Brits about your book when it goes free or on sale in the UK. Since Brits have the highest number of readers per capita of any country in the world, this looks like a great idea to me: Plus: the site will be offering FREE book ads until June 30th, on a first come, first served basis. Remember this is for books you have on sale or free. 

And if you're in the UK, do sign up for their newsletter. It brings links to free and bargain ebooks—at the UK bookstore of your choice—in your inbox every morning. You can subscribe here.


We love your comments! If you can't get through Blogger's hoop-jumping, send me an email at annerallen dot allen at gmail dot com and I'll post it manually.

117 comments:

  1. And looking forward to hosting you tomorrow!
    My guest on Friday said her newsletter and author Facebook page helped her sell 300,000 books last year, but I don't think they started it as much as fueled the fire that was already burning. And some things work differently for different authors.
    I wouldn't even know what to say in a newsletter.
    I've always set up my own guest spots for my blog tours. The one this fall will be one week and then spread out throughout the rest of the year to maintain momentum.
    I have no idea what my ranking is for my blog.
    And my publisher told me from the beginning not to follow just authors and writers. I've always been grateful for my eclectic followers.

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  2. Unfortunately, I think the slow blogging only works if you're already getting a lot of visitors. If the blog isn't getting a lot of visibility, it starts to get even less, and people go away. A bunch of tried slow blogging after the post, and all of us saw huge declines in visitors, so we're back to blogging more regularly again.

    One of the major changes I made to social media was to largely move away from Twitter. It took forever to eek out a few conversations between all the spammy links (from writers!), and I never enjoyed it from the start. Blogging, at least, gets my common name in the search engines and requires less effort than Twitter. Then I can spend my time working on my stories. I currently have six on submission, and I plan to finish my book by Sept 22.

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  3. I choose to focus on the readers that I have that come every week to read the latest installment I put on my blog. I look upon them as my "reader sprouts". If one or two of them gives me a good review and starts a word of mouth then they will create other readers for me.

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  4. THANK YOU for this post!

    I desperately need more reading and writing time.

    One of my goals for this year is to cut back on blogging and social media. Your words make so much sense and have given me new-found reasons to keep going to reach my target.

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    1. Anne,
      Bravo. Thank you for your insights and common sense. I completely burned out trying to promote my book. Your post helped me so much. I am grateful to you.
      Best wishes,
      Holly Weiss

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  5. Alex--I look forward to the visit! I do know a lot of authors say their newsletter worked for them, but I wonder if that was a while ago. I've unsubscribed to all my newsletters in the past couple of months and other people may have done the same.

    As far as FB--I know it works for some people. But I don't think just racking up "likes" is what gets the results.

    Linda--I slow blog, but I do it on schedule. I've never blogged more than once a week and now I get 10,000 hits per post. It took patience, but meanwhile, I wrote and published 7 books. But if it's blogging more vs. Tweeting, I'd say you made the right choice. Blogging is a much better way to establish platform.

    I hear you about having a common name.:-) That's why I always use my middle initial. Good luck with the submissions!

    Vera--Each of us has to use social media in the way that works for us, and it sounds as if you've found your "true fans" through your blog. I have too. I think blogging is probably the best way to get your name out there.

    Carol--We can't escape social media altogether, but we can refuse to let it rob us of writing time!

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  6. Thanks, Anne. I am glad you found a way to get this on FB where I saw it as a friend of Martha Reynolds. I have posted and tweeted less and less as a matter of necessity. The best advice is to keep writing wonderful books.

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  7. Anne, Thank you for crystallizing all the snippets of truth that have been swinging around like monkeys in my head.

    My temperament doesn't promote the incessant tweeting,sharing,liking, posting. On the other hand, I love to comment on content that is helpful and eye-opening - this post is a perfect example.

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  8. Bravo! You wrote what I've thought for some time. It would be nice if writers could get back to spending more time doing what they should be doing--writing--and stopped spending so much time on the whole social networking thing.

    Still...it's hard to dispute the theory that social media isn't working anymore after a person tells you they bought your book after seeing something you wrote on Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter or your blog. Isn't gathering 1,000 followers worth all that work if it sells even 1 book? For some, the answer is yes. For others including myself, I don't know...

    In case it helps, I'm now off to post on Facebook that I have 10 million ARA points. Surely, that will impress someone enough to buy a copy of my book. ;-)

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  9. Well, that's a huge relief. Here I was feeling guilty that i wasn't doing enough online stuff (except fooling around on Facebook but that's mostly for fun).

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  10. I have such a hard time with marketing. As a new author on the cusp of publishing my first book (the publishers have been "moving it up the chain" so, fingers crossed) with two short stories published, I have been studying up on marketing and "building platform" and it all reads like a foreign language to me.

    So I fall back on my old standby: researching everywhere I can and trying desperately to learn a skill that seems like I can only have if it's innate. It's frustrating, since I'm usually such a fast learner. And the advice seems to change weekly with every emerging tool/technology.

    I'm told (by multiple people) that I should blog but I don't know what to blog about. That's something I need to figure out on my own, if I want it to have any passion to it, I know. I also know I need to interact with my readers, which seems logical. But most of all, I know I'm spending WAY too much time worrying about it and researching it when I could be, you know, writing.

    I have this ability to focus intensely but it doesn't shift well. Am I wasting my time trying to market at this point? Are all my efforts in the wrong direction? Maybe I should just schedule one day a week to researching/pondering all of the above instead of, well, every time races through my brain?

    I'm probably just being way too serious, over-analyzing, and rambling. I do that, too.

    Anyway, thanks for your take. I am definitely filing it away to share with my writers' group!

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  11. Well wow. This blog post has been up for a month and I'm just now stumbling across it! Where have you been all of my life Anne??!

    I've been doing exactly everything you have said in this blog, and it has been exhausting. I've watched authors do these activities, and new to the indie author world, I've simply repeated all of it.

    To no effect!

    And the latest thing I've been worried about is a newsletter. OMG, one more thing I have figure out unique content for, and I just don't have it in me--the whole Wasteland series out, an editor screaming for a serial that is not done yet (actually, he's been really nice, but I feel the pressure), two more books planned for completion by end of August, grad school coming up in the fall, and all of this social media...

    Well, you know! You wrote the blog! You wrote what I've been thinking about for the past two months but couldn't verbalize.

    Thank you so much for writing this!

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  12. And see, I am so out of it, today is June 16th, not July 16th....

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  13. Gayle--Thanks for coming over from FB in spite of the "spam" warnings FB puts on my links. Tweeting less and writing more makes sense to me.

    Consuelo--I saw your post on WG2E and thought you'd like this post! I think commenting on blogs and interacting on forums can do much more than random tweeting to nobody in particular. Just seems to make logical sense.

    Cindy--Social media DOES work. But you have to be smart about it. Just racking up numbers does nothing. As Consuelo says above, commenting on blogs can do a lot to help you make friends who will be interested when your book comes out. Way more than strangers whose names you purchased from some crook. Or those 10 million ARA points :-)

    Stephanie--Sounds like you're right on schedule. Jane Friedman, former publisher of Writers Digest says you should worry about platform until you're ready to publish. Marketing is silly if you don't have a product yet.

    Yes, you need a blog. But blogs can adapt to your changing circumstances. I have advice on what to blog about at different stages of your writing life in my book "How to be a Writer in the E-Age." And there's helpful stuff in my archives, too. Search for "how to blog".

    Stephen--This post just went up this morning, so you're right on time for the party. :-) Now relax and go finish those books. Plenty of time to market later.

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  14. Good Golly Miss Annie ... I feel better now. You just named all the things I hate that we are "supposed" to do. I told a "younger" (excuse the explitive) reader of mine ... "I'm too damn old to jog, run or hop anywhere." No blog hops, fests, feasts, or famine and not much of the others as well.

    Great stuff to level one's head and possibly save some folks from getting nightmares about what they should do :)

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  15. Anne—I have a love/hate relationship with SocMed and I suspect I'm not alone. Love Twitter & blogs. FB and Goog+ hold no appeal although I know some writers swear by them.

    A newsletter—which I don't have—looms like a dark, grey cloud. Should I/shouldn't I? A way to stay in touch with readers? Or just another soul-shriveling time sink?

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  16. Another excellent list, Anne.

    If I think a blogger/writer is a nice person, I'm much more inclined to mention their book to someone else. Nice=acknowledges readers and commenters and visits back.

    Some of those bloghops you mention are worth the effort because I met some of the better bloggers that way. Just select a few to keep in the flow.

    I'll definitely be checking in on Monday at Alex's. We like the Capt'n and try to drop in when we can. With a guest like you, I wouldn't miss it.

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  17. I was so glad to read this! It completely resonates with my personal feeling that I'm spending too much time trying to promote when I should be writing.

    I just finished two gruelling book tours, each one month long. They took a lot from my writing but helped the books garner some reviews. Were they worth it? Yes, to an extent, as I've become friends with several of the bloggers who featured me. I value those relationships a lot.

    I will likely do a smaller book tour next year, probably 1-2 weeks only.

    And learn to spend less time on social media!

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  18. I've spent the last half hour reading, clicking through, and coming back to read more. Thanks, Anne, as always!

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  19. Anne, just what I needed to hear. As an older writer, not older in the sense of writing for decades, but older meaning OLD, I don't have the time or the energy to do all of these crazy things on social media and have to limit my time on the net in promotion. I've found doing guest blogposts for LGBT readers has really paid off as well as participating in Yahoo readers and writers groups. I've even made new writer friends and we've been sharing our ideas. When I announce a new book from my publisher, I do it once on FB and Tweet it to the LGBT crowd, readers, writers and reviewers who have liked my books in the past. When I wrote for small lit magazines I did the same. Came back again and again to the journals and editors that liked my writing and published it.
    Great advice as always and it's working for me.

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  20. This is a great post. I hope you don't mind if I link to a related post in my own blog - 'Authors, agents, publishers and little gods.'
    http://mamcrae-author.blogspot.com.au/

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  21. Susanne--Sorry I missed you up there. FB is where the readers are--and everybody else--and you may indeed find your readers by "playing around" on FB. I didn't mean to put down its importance. Just to say that racking up "likes" doesn't mean anything.

    Ruth--Jon Morrow certainly thinks the newsletter is a worthless time-suck. I suppose it depends on the demographics of your readership. Or maybe it's all luck?

    DG--I agree that getting to know and like a person makes me a lot more likely to look at their books. Bloghops are great for getting to know other bloggers. But at a certain point, you know a whole bunch and you have to get back to writing.

    AD--Congrats on your stamina to make it through the tours. Now you know those reviewers, maybe you can concentrate on them next time, and only visit the ones you like best.

    Caroline--Glad you're finding value in our posts!

    Paul--You've got the formula for effective marketing right there: target your niche, interact personally and focus. 10,000 anonymous Twitter followers might only come up with one or two sales. But target a few blogs with your demographic and your sales could be huge.

    MA--Love those incoming links! I'll check out your blog.

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  22. Fois--I just had to fish you out of the spam folder again. Arrrgghh! What's wrong with Blogger's spam filter?

    I'm all for head-leveling. I just got laughed at on FB for saying that we should do things in moderation according to our abilities. Laugher said "I do this that and the other thing, while riding a unicycle and saving the world and if you don't you're just not trying." Pthhhhbbb to that. (How do you write a Bronx cheer?)

    We're all different and we can only do what we can do. We're all trying to create some art here. Art we hope somebody else will enjoy. THAT'S what's important. Not judging other people on their abilities to survive without sleep.

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  23. What a marvelous post. So glad I discovered your blog.

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  24. Anne--Thanks for posting The Truth™.

    My tale of woe is that I spent hours and hours and hours blogging (hours I could have been writing and publishing books and short stories). I've got a popular blog to show for it with posts I wrote a year ago still getting hits. However, I am here to tell you that my popular blog does not equal book sales.

    Most of my blog posts (the popular ones) were about true crime and paranormal because I thought it fit right in with my genre, which is paranormal mystery. Ha ha on me. Folks find my blog while googling this true crime case or that paranormal topic and are done with me after they read my article--which often took hours to research and write. That is, unless they want to complain. In that case, I get a crummy comment or a snippy email or hateful facebook message.

    I still blog, but not heavily researched topics. I keep it light. Those blog posts still take a good deal of time to write and don't get nearly the after-the-fact hits the true crime and paranormal posts get. Which stinks. I intend to keep the blog going because I worked so hard to build it.

    I've made myself a promise not to use up too much creative energy on it, though. Because one other thing I learned is that blogging uses up a lot of creative energy (for me). I'm not an outgoing person by nature, so I have to stretch myself to be personable and entertaining in that format. I've found that, when I'm putting a lot of effort into the blog, my writing suffers. I just don't have the energy for both.

    I've given up on using Facebook or Twitter for marketing. I rarely visit Twitter anymore. I enjoy Facebook to network with other authors, but I rarely interact with or meet readers there. I am trying a few things with Goodreads, but who knows where that will go? I need to make sure I don't spend too much time on it.

    I do think you're right about participating in a promo with other authors. I'm doing one of those later this month.

    I know this sounds like a big whine fest. I totally don't mean it that way. Life is a ride at your own risk proposition, and the learning curve in this business is both steep and endless. I accept that I just learned a time-costly lesson with the blogging. It could have been worse. I only said all this because I just wanted to share my experience with it all.

    Thanks again, Anne.

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  25. Yep, I totally agree with this list.

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  26. Fantastic. There's now so much I don't have to do I can write instead.

    BTW, when this came up via Facebook, I marked it as not spam. I hope lots of people do this since I know it's been a problem for you.

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  27. Anne Allen's Sunday post (and Ruth Harris's, too) make Sundays the best day of the week.

    Favorite line? There were plenty.

    "And as far as privacy goes—you might as well live in a picture window like an Amsterdam hooker."

    Well done, Anne!

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  28. Amen, Sistah! After I published my last book in March, I gamely limped along on my blog for another month and then gave up. I needed to re-group. No more Twitter, Goodreads, LinkedIn, never joined FaceBook. Just needed to "cleanse" myself of the clutter cluttering up my head.

    Now I find I use my time better, and have much better focus on what I'm trying to do/write/blog about.

    Thanks for another great post, Anne.

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  29. Excellent points, Anne. Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to reading the mysteries!

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  30. From Debbie Johansson on Google+
    6:21 PM

    "As always, great advice Anne! I think it's best to focus on the readers you already have - the rest will come via word of mouth and good writing. For some reason I can't comment on your blog, which is why I'm commenting here - and RT. :)"--Debbie

    Debbie--Sorry about the *&%@ Blogger hoop jumping. You're so right. That's what Hugh Howey did: focused on a small group of fans and they grew his fan base for him. Not because he whined, but because they liked his books.

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  31. Susan--Glad you found us. Welcome!

    Catie--You're right that a popular blog doesn't always equal book sales. That's obvious from the fact a lot of very popular writing blogs have "tip jars" and ask for donations. (I'm lucky my sales have had steady growth, but I'm not on the top of the bestseller list, either.)

    I'm not sure all those researched posts were wasted. Have you thought of repurposing them for niche sites and magazines? Or even some bigger print magazines? Something on a true crime or paranormal sighting might sell to a fairly high circulation journal. And reach a whole new set of potential readers... Or try submitting them as Kindle Singles. I firmly believe no writing is ever wasted. We keep having to try new, creative things, and not follow what worked last year.

    Lynda--Thanks!

    Elf--I can't thank you enough for fighting the stupid Facebook trolls. Every "not spam" sends them a message. Yeah--go write those books!

    Martha--You're a great FB friend! Thanks much. LOL.

    Robynne--I'm glad you're taking some time to take care of what's important. Nobody has more than 24 hours in a day. We're all human. And anybody who tells you you can do it all and churn out 12 books a year is either lying, in denial, or on some serious drugs.

    Christa--Thanks! And welcome.

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  32. I do not enjoy all the pressure to tweet, FB, Blog - basically hit all the internet forums for writers and hope everyone buys my book. I don't know, all this marketing and media hype that it takes to sell one book is daunting to me. I stick to the day job.

    .....dhole

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  33. Smashing post, and very reassuring!
    I'm too unwell to do any of those things, so it's excellent to hear I am not missing out.
    I do enjoy just chatting on Twitter, so I do that most. I'm living a fairly isolated sort of life.
    You've given me the first smile of the day so a big thank you.
    Viv

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  34. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  35. Ms. Allen, my sincere thanks for saying so much of what I always believed, but haven't had the foresight to realize or courage to say! Mea culpa, I avoided only some of the pits and fell straight into others. And when I felt in my heart that this stuff was stupid, I doubted myself and concluded I must just be bitter.
    And maybe I am! But everything you said about writing good books and doing what you think is best about social media should be engraved on a gold plaque. Thanks again- not for nothing, but I'm buying the mystery-comedy three pack just to prove I appreciate this post.

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  36. Anne, you must have been reading my mind! I've been starting to wonder if I had enough social media balls in the air (and falling to the ground). Apparently I'm not going to sink entirely into the mire of obscurity without a newsletter, which will free me up for generating more metaphors. Thanks for a helpful and timely post.

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  37. I found a link to this post on Google+, and boy, am I glad I clicked on it!

    This is the perfect post to read on a Monday morning, when I'm already overwhelmed by the day job, plus a never-ending list of "must-dos" for my book marketing.

    I've been a slow-blogging advocate since, well, forever. I post about twice a month, and never unless I'm absolutely moved to do so. Each post gets between 20-60 views, which isn't a ton, but the rate hasn't slipped, even when I've had big gaps in posting. During the late winter, when my grandma was ill and about to pass away, I posted about it and told my readers why I wasn't going to be around for awhile. And guess what? They commented and responded and told me to take all the time I needed. Being honest with readers about your time crunches, your personal life, and even your personal failings can make the blog more entertaining and relatable for your readers, as well as buy you the space and time to post only quality work.

    Thanks again for this amazing post...I love it!

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  38. Oh yes! This--all the stuff I'm 'supposed to' be doing--is a constant source of angst for me, though I will admit that I am coming to terms with it more and more. I'm learning my limitations and yes, adjusting my expectations when it comes to publishing and writing. Reading a post like this makes me feel so much better.

    I don't do a whole lot of networking these days, but your blog always keeps me up to date on what I need to know. I appreciate that more than you know! Thanks!

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  39. I think any kind of social media can work for someone, but knowing where to spend your time is the most important issue. This is how it works for me: Twitter is just for keeping up with writing friends and catching up on industry news. Facebook under my real name (one of the ones I write under) has a lot of my readers, but I mostly use it to stay connected with family, friends and neighbors. I have a fan page for my other pen name, which is very active and growing quickly just from a link at the end of my books. These are true fans and every post hits gets at least 200 views, which is awesome. I now blog only when I have something to say--if this is only 10 times a year, so be it. I have a newsletter for my main author name, which I only send about once per quarter--again, when I have something to say. They signed up for the newsletter, they can easily unsubscribe, and I don't send lots of messages. What I do works fine for what it is and doesn't suck up much time.

    That makes me happy, because it leaves me far more time to write-which is what this is all about anyway.

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  40. Donna--Everybody has their limits with Internet activity. Having a day job may save you from social media burnout.

    Viv--Welcome. Glad I could put a smile on your face. The "requirements" for authors these days sometimes sound more like punishments. Not everybody is in 100% health (and some of us are no longer young) but that doesn't mean our writing isn't just as valuable as those who can live without sleep or food or exercise.

    Jacqueline--Thanks!

    Trekelny--How do you think I learned this stuff? We learn by doing :-) Yeah. I've been wasting a lot of time. But Social Media, especially blogs, do sell books eventually. Thanks for buying the Camilla set. It's now at #36 in Humorous fiction on Amazon!

    Bridget--More metaphors! Fewer newsletters! Yes.

    Jenni--Great to hear from another successful slow blogger. I post blogs on a schedule, but I write them when I feel like it and stack them up. This blog is an example that slow blogging works. 40,000 hits last month with only four posts.

    J. B.--We can only do what we can do. Pushing ourselves beyond our capabilities only makes us sick and drives the muse away or. Writing should be a joy, not a path to bad health.

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  41. Can you hear my sigh of relief? :) I don't have a newsletter or a FB page, mostly because I feel like I'd be splitting my focus (even more). Every time the topic pops up, my gut says no. But it's hard to trust it when the pub game is so new to me. I keep asking myself--what do i look for as a reader? Because I read the books I like to write. And my answer is almost always--more great books. So I try to keep writing more books as my biggest priority. Thanks for another great post!

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  42. Thank you for posting this. I'm sending it to every writer I know.

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  43. Brilliant post! I've discovered these truths the hard way. I'm now focused on writing and updating the fan base. If it works, it works. If it doesn't, I'll set my auto-post machine to send out 5,000 like requests per hour :)

    Peace, Seeley

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  44. Of course you must know that you have achieved saintly status among your loyal and thankful fellow writers.
    I love every one of these comments and commenters. In this Brave New World it's hard to know what to do. Here's what is working for me (a newbie independent writer soon to be published on Amazon))I've spent the last two years reading all the blogs and going crazy trying to think about being all things to all people. Sooo I would advise choosing 2 0r 3 blogs to follow and pare down your on-line social time to 2 hours per day which leaves (for me)5 hours of writing time. If social media doesn't fit in that two hour window, I choose my most favorite ones and ignore the rest. The primary goal is to reach readers. As for the time? Treat it like a job - it is, isn't it?

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  45. Heather--Exactly: use social media intelligently. Do what works best for you and your fans. Play to your strengths. Love to Tweet? put your focus there. Are all your fans on FB--spend time there. (But be aware FB can kick you off for no reason and with no warning, and there are no appeals, so you need a back-up, like a blog. That's why it's good to have a blog, even if you only post occasionally)

    Coleen--Following your gut is always a good idea. You are your ideal reader, so if you'd hate something, probably your readers will too. And FB is fading. Kids are leaving in droves. If you're not there already, I don't think you have to be.

    Melissa--Thanks much for spreading the word.

    Seely--Right: keep in touch with your fan base, rather than broadcasting nonsense to an oversaturated Twitterverse.

    Judith--Reading blogs is something newbie writers need to do, so you haven't wasted any time. I think reading industry blogs is the best education a new writer can get. But after you've spent a couple of years on them, it's time to pull back and get your own career launched with what you've learned. Good luck!

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  46. Always love your blog, Anne, and totally agree with this post! I've felt this way about social media for a long time and am finally over the time-sucking pressure all that "good" advice caused me. I focus more on writing now and blogging posts that my readers really want to read. I'm looking for opportunities to guest blog. that should be enough for now until my book is finished. I appreciate the links and will check them out.

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  47. Thank you, Anne,--as I release a slow exhale of stress. I love your important reminder to slow down and stop trying to do it all, or at least feeling like I'm falling behind if I don't do enough. We all keep telling each other to do more to be successful, but that little voice in the back of my head says over and over again, the most important thing is working on my novel.

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  48. I'm glad I discovered this treasure trove (i.e., your blog), thanks to Alex.

    It's good to learn your perspective on the social media. I found myself nodding in agreement to much of what you expressed.

    Cheers.
    xoRobyn

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  49. Marcia--I'm in total agreement with that: concentrate on your books, thoughtful blogposts and the occasional guest post, and leave all the frantic stuff to people who love being frantic.

    Cora--NOBODY can do everything everybody is telling us to do. I just was on a forum where a bunch of indie authors were bragging about how they write 20 books a year. One said she writes 20,000 words a day. Good for her. Some people climb Mt. Everest too, but that doesn't mean everybody should. (I'm just glad I don't have to edit her stuff.)

    Robyn--Alex has such a great community on his blog. I think interacting in a community like that is a lot more valuable than endless Tweets into the Twitter wilderness.

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  50. I have had to be on a hiatus for almost a year. Yours is the first writing blog I have visited, and what a joy it is to be reintroduced this way. Congratulations on your recognition from Writer's Digest. It is well deserved.

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  51. Terrific post, Anne! Very permission giving at the heart of it.

    A good service to the community and to me, too. Thank you! :D

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  52. Anne: You nailed it. Great job!

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  53. Anne, absolutely great post. Couldn't agree more that there are only so many hours in the day and it's important to connect with real people. Spam robots don't buy books :)

    I have to disagree about the newsletter though. John Morrow's article is kind of funny, because what he's actually created is an RSS email newsletter. Yes, all the providers like Mailchimp and Aweber have this. He just doesn't call it a newsletter. He even has you confirm your email to "subscribe" to his site.

    I'm good with the concept of an RSS newsletter for authors, mainly because it's asking for an email connection where you can push important information to readers.

    Authors don't need to send a newsletter every day, week, or even months. They want to communicate with their fans at the very least when a new book comes out.

    Having the ability to push book release dates/order links DOES have a huge impact with sales - even more as you build a list of fans.

    Ideally, real fans who have bought your book, loved it, and want more come to your site and sign up. How often will a particular fan come back on their own? A best case scenario says about 30%. For most author blog traffic, my experience says only 10 to 15%.

    If your next book comes out in 3 to 12 months (or even longer), it's an easy way to let real fans know about the book. Authors that do this (and don't send newsletters every 5 minutes) can get 20 to 40% of the people on the list to purchase a copy of their book within 48 hours.

    Think about that for a minute. 250 purchases in 48 hours is enough to hit any of the Amazon category bestseller lists.

    My 2 cents :)

    Mike P.

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  54. I understand the concept of slow blogging, but after five years, if I trickled down to that, I would lose more readers than I've already lost.

    Strangely enough, all is not lost with me as it applies to blogging (might apply to other things as we battle Self-Inflicted Stupidity Syndrome from time to time), in that while I get fewer visitors/commenters, I have gotten more subscribers to my blog. I post three days a week and those three days are spread out enough to where I don't overload my readers with notifications.

    As for Facebook, while I knew about FB jail (having experience just the first level aka word verify) I did not know about the other details as it applies to a FB author's page, so that is good to know.

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  55. Thanks Anne. Best advice I've read for a long time. I've often scratched my head wondering about some of the advice to build numbers. On twitter I often get followed by wannabe agents, self-pub assistants, authors, etc. No readers! Now, back to the writing...
    Cheers!
    Richard

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  56. Yup, these are conclusions I've come to after half-killing myself trying to "do it all" -- my health suffered, my sanity suffered, my life was one big ball of frenetic, and I'm already a chaotic frenetic person so I don't need more chaos! :D

    Good thoughtful post here - will share!

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  57. Hi, Anne,

    I just love to visit your blog. Each of your posts are so chock full of useful information and savvy advice.

    I am not published yet, but I am squirreling away USEFUL information from authors such as yourself to help me to make the right decisions when my first book launches.

    I totally agree that blogging is the way to go and to create posts that are enlightening, useful, and positive. I know I skip daily blog posts from authors. Blogging a few times a week is more than enough to keep your presence known.

    I am looking forward to reading your new collection!
    Thanks for the great price.

    All the best,

    Michael

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  58. Anne, I agree that lots of social media can be a time suck. I try to only use networks that I truly enjoy using and concentrate on a select one or two. I use my personal facebook page to network with other authors, and although I have an author page, most of its "likes" have come from other authors wanting a like in return.

    I saw a statistic somewhere that said that less than 5% of people who liked a page ever came back to that page, and less than 14% ever interacted with the page after that initial like.

    I use Twitter a lot more, and over the past two years have built up an organic following of just over 4000. I currently follow back approximately 3/4 of my followers and find that I get some great information and feedback there, and have high engagement. I hate it when people just use their account to promote their books several times an hour. Nothing makes me click unfollow quicker.

    When I do tweet it's mostly to comment on someone elses news or to link to my most recent blog post or share writing and publishing news.

    As for the slow blogging, I think that can work after you have a well-established following, but I think it is important to publish regularly and consistently on a schedule to build up a following and then to keep it.

    As for newsletters, I think they can be very effective for occasional special promotions and announcing new releases, but I personally unsubscribe from those newsletter that bombard my inbox with daily "buy this" promotions and repetitive blog posts that I have probably already viewed on my feed reader. I think they can also be useful to provide additional content that is not available on your blog or website, as long as it is not overused.

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  59. Judith—Welcome back! It’s good to see you. I’m honored you made this one of your first stops.

    Lara—Glad I could help. :-)

    Mira—Even though this stuff is pretty obvious, I think authors hear so often they should rack up numbers, they believe it, even though their own experience is telling them different.

    Michael—What Morrow is saying is that you can do all this stuff on your blog and then it will get sent to your subscribers in an email. If you don’t have a blog, then you have to create it as a newsletter. But a blog is interactive. When people get my blog in their inbox, they can click through and make a comment. To me, that’s better than a newsletter. When I announce a sale on the blog, it goes to my subscribers and has the same effect as if I sent a separate newsletter on top of my blog notice—only it reaches more people than just the subscription list. And is probably less annoying than the overkill of sending two copies of the same notice.

    G.B.—So you’ve been in FB jail too? Do they ever let you out? I have always slow blogged and it works for me. Of course if you enjoy the 3-posts a week routine, it may work best for you. You probably have shorter posts than mine.

    Richard—Lots of wannabe everything on Twitter. Still, I find it useful for connecting—mostly with people whose blogs I follow.

    Katherine—Thanks for sharing it. I’m with you on the chaos. Who needs more?

    Michael—Thanks! You’re at the stage when reading a lot of publishing industry blogs isn’t wasting time—it’s getting an education. Much cheaper than going to conferences :-) I hope you enjoy the books!

    Rechelle—Interesting stats on the FB “likes”. Sounds as if you use social media mostly the way I do. Although sometimes it can be too much. I have never blogged more than once a week and I have a pretty big following now. But I do blog on a schedule and put a lot of effort into each post.

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  60. Although you have a lot of great points here, Anne, I don't agree with everything. It's definitely better to have dozens of fiercely loyal fans than thousands of Twitter followers and Facebook likes, but there's nothing wrong with having both. As for Facebook ads, they're just one more tool to getting the word out about you, your product, and your services. Here's a post by an author on SheWrites who used a combination of great content and a Facebook ad to reach 1000 likes in order to get an agent to take a second look at her manuscript. Money well spent in my opinion:

    http://www.shewrites.com/profiles/blogs/how-i-attracted-800-fb-fans-in-two-months

    As for email addresses, there is no better way to get the message out to someone that you have a new book out than to send them an email. That doesn't mean you have to send regular newsletters, but having an email address sign-up on your blog or website is priceless. Indie authors self-publishing several books a year may prefer to use their blogs to let their fans know when a new book is out, but for most authors, an email blast is the surest way to reach the most people. And book sales are not always an author's only goal. Many want to increase their profile in order to sell get speaking engagements, fill classes, sell webinars, etc.

    Every author needs to do what is right for his/her specific situation. Although there are many great social media tips out there, there is no one-size-fits-all magic formula.

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  61. Excellent post! Thanks for this. There's so much pressure on writers to juggle a zillion balls in addition to writing but you've shown why something has to give. For those folks who can do all that and still produce great work, that's fantastic, but I break out in hives just thinking about everything that needs to precede and coincide with writing a great book.

    I appreciate you alleviating a little of my anxiety :)

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  62. Meghan--Actually, that is a perfect example of what I'm talking about. A writer pays for a bunch of meaningless numbers in order to impress an agent. But do you want an agent who's impressed with meaningless numbers? It's like the old Woody Allen joke.

    "My uncle thinks he's a chicken"
    "Why don't you get him some help?"
    "We would, but we need the eggs."

    "Likes" are imaginary eggs. So are email addresses that end up in the spam folder or get deleted because people are too polite to unsubscribe.

    I just did an experiment. I sent my usual blogpost announcement to my email list on Sunday. Said it will be my last one unless they want to "opt in" to a new list. Less than 30% opted in. Why? They get the emails through the email subscription widget on the blog.

    Valerie and Randy--I missed you up there. Valerie--I'm such a geezerette I had to look up "word up". LOL. Thanks, both of you!

    Pamela--Actually most of this stuff benefits nobody but the advertisers on the sites.

    This is the point of my post: Racking up numbers for their own sake has nothing to do with promoting books; it's wasted time.

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  63. Hi again, Anne.

    I'm just now getting caught up on your comments at my blog and Alex's. Thanks so much, and for the follow. I'm still in stitches over the fact that we've both had Martha Stewart on our minds. Sorry I scared you about a prospective defamation suit. If offered the opportunity to interview her, I think I'd pass. She scares me, and I really, really dislike her. Plus, what would I wear that she would find acceptable? Oy.

    Cheers!
    xoRobyn

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  64. Wow, Anne, thanks so much for this. I'm a slow blogger, for sure, and three times a week was killing me, so I cut back to twice a week. I still wasn't as productive with my own writing as I wanted to be, so I've now cut back to once per week. I tried to follow the advice about the newsletter thing, but I suck at promotion and got only one subscriber. I'd rather get blog subscribers, and it feels crazy to ask folks to sign up for TWO things. When my first book came out in February, I planned a blog hop with other writer friends. They are the best peeps ever, but I can't say that it helped my sales much, and it took me a solid month to write eleven original blog posts!

    I'm a slow writer, too. As a historical mystery writer and a former academic, I feel the need to be super-careful about my books. There goes more time!

    So thanks bunches for the encouragement and advice. It was super-helpful!

    ~Kathy

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  65. Holly--Unfortunately a lot of people who don't write love to tell writers if they aren't burned out and suicidal, they aren't trying hard enough. Maybe there's a little creativity-envy in their sadism?

    Robyn--Love your blog and sense of humor! I have this weird habit of creating heroines out of people I dislike. I try to get inside their heads and find out why they're so awful. That's what I did with my Martha character. Then I let her redeem herself when she falls in love with a homeless man.

    K.B.--I'm glad you could cut back on the blogging. I don't know how anybody writes books and blogs every day. And yes! Thanks for saying that. If you're writing a bunch of vampire romances or cozies in a series where the characters and worlds are already developed, its going to be a whole lot less time consuming than a meticulously researched historical novel or a work of serious literary fiction.

    And personally, I'm happy to subscribe to a blog, but I won't subscribe to an author newsletter. If they can't say what they have to say on their blog, they're too wordy anyway, and I don't want to clutter my inbox with their blather.

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  66. Thank you for confirming what I've come to believe as an author--yet insecurely feared was wrong.

    I've been publishing novels for 30 years, but reissuing revised editions is a whole new ball game. You're right--the rules keep changing, and all we can do is be honest, connected and modestly active.

    Also, I bought your books. Looking forward to reading them!

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  67. OMG,I love you and want to have your babies!

    Before I freak you out (too late, right?) I just want to say that I'm new to this but I already don't do most of what you mentioned is bad, and I've intuited the rest. I just didn't think any author/agent/marketer would believe me. I know a couple of unicyclists, and I've been waiting for the implosion for a while now. It hasn't come yet, but no matter - no unicycling for me!

    You've given me the courage to toddle on as I am and not worry that I'm not successfully doing "Everything. All the time."

    Life's too short, right?

    Thanks so much! :-)

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  68. Golly, what a great and informative post! Awesome. I'm so glad to know all these things DON'T work, because I was suspicious some of them didn't. Now I don't have to burn myself out for nothing someday. Thanks!!

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  69. THANK YOU!!!

    I'm so sick of be dinged for my lack of twitter followers and LinkedIn profile and blah blah blah. Meanwhile, my book has hundreds of reviews and the next is out and the next is almost finished and...

    Yeah, facebook fan page, author page, one blog. I'm good. I have Twitter, but mostly just goof around there.

    I'll never do a blog tour. I help review, but only to be nice. It's a total waste of time!

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  70. Jacqueline--Seasoned pros are often the easiest ones to con about all this stuff. You used to have a marketing department you could trust, but now they're flying just as blind as the rest of us. Do what works. Be real.

    And mwaaaa! for buying my books!

    Lexa--Yeah, there are unicyclists. I know one writer who wrote 15 books last year and says we're all wimps. But I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop...We gotta do a lot of stuff. That much is true. But we don't have to do what doesn't do any *&%@ good!

    Carol--Isn't it great you don't have to look forward to burnout? :-)

    Virginia--Sounds like you've got it covered. Blog tours--they do work, but in moderation. Always, always, moderation.

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  71. Anne,

    You're so wise and wonderful:

    'The best way to sell books is to write more books. Good ones. There may be authors who can actually churn out twelve good books a year, but I sure can’t. None of my favorite authors can either. A good book is thoughtful and reflects life experience.'

    Bob Mayer and all the other hugely successful indie authors say the same thing. Why can't other people see this as well? There are too many people in my mind writing books for authors stating that they know the tactics to get rich quickly from indie epublishing. The only people who get rich like this are the people selling those sorts of books. Like you say, the industry is changing so rapidly it's impossible to keep up.

    So I'm going to stick with what I know best and that's to write books. Good books.

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  72. LK--A lot of agents and publishers are making trad pubbed authors do this stuff. They're not going to listen to some upstart indie like Bob Mayer. :-) And when indies see the trads doing it, they thing this is how the "pros" do it, so they follow suit. But I agree Bob's advice is usually spot on.

    Julie--You're welcome. So glad you stopped by!

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  73. I always find great stuff over here, Anne! Thanks for the post -- I'm loving reading all my pals comments of "Thank God! All this social media is killing me."

    I'm an extrovert so social media is how I reward myself. Certainly, I've had to cut back on how much I reward myself, but really...I enjoy a daily jaunt through FB or Twitter. Twitter is my fave because the conversations are so fun, and FB takes way too much time IMHO. But to each their own.

    I've tried to blog less than 2-3 times a week and I just can't do it. Blogging is my morning pages and revs my brain up for book writing. Plus, I get to missing my peeps. The posse at More Cowbell is AWESOME. :-)

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  74. Finally - some advice that makes sense! The writer's role has become so complicated and multi-tasked these days, it's imperative we prioritise so that we still have time to do what's most important - writing. I'll be keeping this advice tucked close so I don't get bogged down wasting time on unnecessaries! Thank you

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  75. They say that sometimes the right message comes along at just the right time. Thank you, Anne for sending the perfect message. I've been feeling downright beleaguered by promo lately. Then I read this and realized what I need to do--sit down and do my darndest to make my next book the best one yet. That is, after all, why I got into writing in the first place.

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  76. Jenny--Cowbell is an awesome blog, and your enthusiasm for blogging shines through. I love it that you use your blog as your "morning pages"! I could never do that in a million years, but I sure do admire it. For anybody who gets that much joy from blogging--or any social media--then do it as much as possible! It's only for us introverts that it be an obstacle.

    Gemma--This is an industry in the midst of seismic change, so nobody really knows what's what. But they do know that writers are used to abuse and will mostly do what they're told, so they tell us to do lots and feel they've somehow accomplished something. Even if it's mindless and pointless and keeps us from writing. I suspect a little wannabe and envy in the mix.

    Ute--So glad the post is timely for you. I'm not saying you don't have to promote, just that you have to use social media in a mindful way that's best for your books and your audience, not just crank out time-wasting busy-work.

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  77. It's posts like THIS that are chock full of excellent info that inspire me to follow AND buy the books (just one-clicked it).

    Sharing.

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  78. Beverly--Thanks so much! I love it that the boxed set has stayed in the humor bestseller list all week. Right now it's above J.K. Rowling's Casual Vacancy. Kind of fun.... Thanks!

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  79. Lots of great advice here! I love your point #5.

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  80. Nicole--Me too. Slow blogging rules!

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  81. I'm so pleased to have read your down-to-earth advice, most of which I suspected. What a relief! I've been feeling guilty because I only blog 2-3 times a month.

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  82. Incredible post, Anne! I've gone both schools of thought with blogging. For a time, I made sure that 3-4 posts a week went up and my readership plateaued. Then, due to life, I had to take a month off. My numbers went up faster when I stopped blogging. Now I'm doing a couple posts a week and seeing steady growth.

    I think many people trap themselves in believing social media is a panacea for their marketing woes. In reality, it is community that has the biggest impact, not just posting or tweeting or updating or whatever to entice people. It is about engagement, giving people something they have rarely had in the past--a look into the authors mind and chances to directly interact without having to travel miles for a book signing or other event.

    Thanks for sharing your insights and experience (i.e. great engagement). Now subscribed.

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  83. Sandra--I only blog 2-3 times a month, too. Welcome to the club. The trick is to do it on a schedule.

    Gene--Thanks for your personal data that reinforces mine: more people will subscribe to a weekly or bi-weekly blog than a daily one. Nobody wants that inbox overload.

    Your second paragraph says it all so well: social media is a gift to authors and readers alike. But only if you use it to be SOCIAL. If you play it like a videogame that's about racking up numbers, you're going to do nothing but waste time.

    Thanks for subscribing!

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  84. Sound advice, Anne, and particularly timely. I'd been coming to the conclusion a lot of the social media activities we're being encouraged to carry out are taking us away from the all important task of writing the best books we can. That's not something that can be rushed.

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  85. Teena--I came to it after trying to follow all these "rules" for a while, and I realized, I have almost 5000 Twitter followers and so what? Do I know if they like comic mysteries? Do I know if they are interested in publishing industry news? Nope. They followed me, so I followed them back. They're collecting me and I'm collecting them. For no particular reason except those stupid numbers. So I realized it was time to stop looking at numbers and look at the people. Work smarter, not harder. Enjoy getting back to your fiction!

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  86. Oh Anne, these words inspire and eliminate much of the guilt I've been harvesting over not having time to devote to all things social media. That includes not being able to read all of my friend's blog posts every day. It's exhausting and much too time consuming. If I spend two hours a day just reading blogs, when do I have time to write? Now I pick a few each day and am happy with that. No guilt. As for my own blog, I'm in a happy place there. Like Jenny, I'd miss my readers if I took too much time away from the blog. It's a cool place to hang out and have wild conversations. Not as wild as Jenny's place, but still fun!

    I think FB is my favorite spot to chill. I jump on, see what my pals are up to, and jump off. Twitter gives me a twitch. It rushes past with links and buy my book!!! ads that make my vertigo spasm. Some days I love it, though, but never as much as FB. That was my first social media love and will be hard pressed to replace. Thanks for all the great information. I was wondering about a newsletter, but am definitely not doing it now. Too much stress. I'd rather just play on my blog and have my readers play along with me.

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  87. Tami--OMG the blog-reading! When we start out, we absolutely must network with other bloggers. That's how you build audience. But at a certain point, you have to let go of your blogfriends and only visit occasionally, otherwise reading blogs becomes your full-time occupation!

    A lot of people love FB. I do daily networking there, but I don't feel comfortable with the Big Brother aspects of the site.

    I think Jon Morrow makes sense about newsletters--they're old technology. Blogs are more interactive. So keep doing what you're doing!

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  88. This was a refreshing post! Thanks for such sane advice. It really reminded me that, for a writer, writing needs to come first and social interaction has to be sincere.

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  89. Elizabeth--You managed to distill my post into one lovely sentence: "Writing needs to come first and social interaction has to be sincere." Perfect!

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  90. This was such a fantastic post. Thank you, thank you for it. As I read it, the common sense part of my brain was saying, "Yes. Exactly what I've been trying to tell you!" Unfortunately, I don't listen to that side of my brain nearly often enough, so thank you for saying it for her.

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  91. Melanie--It's awfully hard for our "sensible" side to be heard when there's so much insanity being shouted at us. All the marketing gurus tell us it's all about the numbers: nothing matters but numbers. "If you've got 20K followers, who cares if they read English, buy books, or even exist? I've got 20,000 followers, man!"

    That is pure crazy. And secretly we know it, but it's hard to shut out the noise.

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  92. SO much good advice here. As a reader AND as a blogger who helps run a book blog (greatnewbooks.org) I can tell you that blog tours do feel a bit pointless. When someone is "on tour" news about their books start to feel like white noise to me. If all the blogs are talking about the same book, what's the good there? I end up tuning it out and PURPOSELY not discussing that book at GNB or on my blog just in the interest of spreading out the love a bit.

    Also, this is SO true: "The only followers that matter are the ones who read your books and blogposts and interact with you. Any others are meaningless.
    "

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  93. Nina--Thanks for the confirmation of my thoughts about blog tours.

    As a book blogger, you know it from the other side. The marketers seem to want to make us sick of a book in a month, instead of having the title show up here one month, there another, mentioned in a tweet, then on a FB page. To me, the slow-and-steady visits seem to make more sense than one-month saturation and then nothing. But I'm not a professional marketer, so who's going to listen to me?

    And I know you've been preaching for a long time about how Twitter is not just a place to broadcast mindless advertising. It's social media, which means it's um, social. :-)

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  94. Thank you! I've been going out of my mind. I feel like I spend so much time blogging and Friending and Facebooking that I don't spend any time any more WRITING -- and I was beginning to dread finishing the last book in the trilogy I've been working on, because, for an introvert like me, the social-media crush seemed completely overwhelming. I -have- a Twitter account (I think)... but I don't know that I've used it more than maybe once or twice... it feels like the more words I put out for social media use, the less I have for my stories. Maybe now, I won't drown in the marketing mire.

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  95. Sibilant--It's a universal problem. Sometimes I suspect that agents tell authors to spend all their time on social media in order to cut down on the manuscripts in their slush pile. it's a great way to keep people from writing, that's for sure. But used wisely, social media can work for you. It has for me.

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  96. I just wrote a similar article on my blog with the conclusion that more isn't always better, sometimes it's just more.

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  97. Loura--Thanks! I just read your post. I love what you said here: "In the words of the ever-so-wise Sabrina Fairchild (1995), “More isn’t always better, Linus. Sometimes it’s just more.”"

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  98. What a refreshing and helpful post. Thank you so much for the great advice! :)

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  99. I wish I had read this blog post earlier. I've been feeling so guilty for only posting once a month for a while now. But the quality of my posts has declined. Oh well, I'm definitely not big in blogging. Not as much as I used to be. I like writing stories more.

    I definitely find it strange how some people can post consistently every day for so long. I follow a blog which has at least three posts a week and has kept it up for quite a few years. And the writer gets more fiction writing done than I do.

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  100. JC--Sorry I missed you earlier. Thanks!

    Kamille--Some people do seem to be Teflon superheroes. They don't need sleep or family time and their muses are little machines that turn out perfect prose by the hour on demand. Good for them. I'm not one of them. And most of us aren't. Most of the great classic writers weren't either. This pressure on all writers behave like robots makes me more than a little angry. We are human beings, and no two humans are alike. You can only do what's right for YOU. Creativity is a gift--and an elusive one. We can lose it if we don't "fill the well" and take downtime. So give yourself permission to blog once a month and spend the rest of your time writing those stories.

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  101. Ha! "And as far as privacy goes—you might as well live in a picture window like an Amsterdam hooker." I really do feel this way sometimes. The live picture window privacy thing, not the hooker.

    This post is awesome because, really, what I want to be doing is... What's that thing I do when I'm not on social media? Crap.

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  102. Thanks, Sarah. We have on one hand the marketing fanatics who say you should be on social media 24/7 and if you even stop to sleep you're slacking. Then you have the indie speed-writing fanatics who think writing 200 unedited, unproofed books and throwing them up on Amazon, without even getting your own webpage is the ONLY way to be a writer, and everybody else is STUPID. So do what works for you, and avoid fanatics.

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  103. Anne, I have always been a big fan of your blog. You've brought up some really great points here that I was in need of hearing/reading. I've been doing a lot of researching on launching my soon-to-be self-published novel that halfway through the aggressive task-list I made, I found myself simply overwhelmed. I love to blog, but cannot blog daily because I want my posts to be meaningful, and it takes me while to focus on a topic I want to explore and actually write about. I guess I no longer have to feel bad about that! Thanks again for the long breath of fresh air you gave me, for what feels like I haven't taken in many weeks.

    Best,
    Anna Soliveres

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    1. Anna--I'm a great believer in "slow blogging" once a week or less. I've never blogged more than once a week. Blogs don't have a direct influence on sales. You're more likely to get sales if you contribute regular comments to a popular blog in your genre. An author blog is simply your home on the Web where fans can find you and interact. Even a once a month post is fine. But it's best to have a schedule and stick to it. And don't let yourself get overwhelmed.

      There are a billion know-it-alls on the Web and none of them has a clue what actually sells books, because each book is different. Sometimes magic happens and sometimes it doesn't. Mostly you need to be available, relatable, and have enough of a presence that Google can find you. Everything else is busy work. Put your energy into writing a second book. Nothing sells a first book like a second one. And a third :-)

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  104. Blog blathering...I love it! Great post and oh so true. Thanks for making me feel better about my aversion to overkill on social media.

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    1. Naomi--Marketers push authors into doing so many time-wasting things. They think frantic activity is somehow going to sell books. It doesn't. Nobody buys a book because they were ordered to in an anonymous tweet.

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  105. Thank you for this post, Anne. I've been having similar thoughts over the past few weeks. 15 months ago I was a naive and newbie self-pub author. I scoured the Internet and took all the "expert" (and mostly bad) advice out there on how to promote my first book. I promoted all day, every day to the point of exhaustion (mine, not of the people who were ignoring my frantic efforts!). A month ago I sat back and thought it through. With greater experience of the business I knew I had to change the way I operated. I realised that if I'd not spent so much time promoting book one, my second novel would be published. My promotional efforts were having little result. Any sales made were coming from personal contact and via word of mouth. There are plusses. I found that I enjoyed chatting to people online. I also enjoyed writing posts for my blog (twice monthly) and interacting with the readers who leave comments. The main advantage of backing off from constant book promotion has been a surge in my energy levels and a drop in anxiety. I'm back to writing for several hours a day - my old routine - and loving it!

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    1. Jan--I think it's time for another post on this subject. I'm hearing from more and more publishing professionals that writers are doing social media totally wrong. And yes, if you have only one novel, the #1 thing to do is write #2 before you do anything else. Do NOT self-publish a singleton book. Promoting it is pointless.

      But DO spend time networking. The friends you make when you're a newbie will propel you to the next stage in your career. Maybe a blog friend will get an agent and recommend you. That happens! Maybe a small publisher will say "love your voice; send us a query." That happens too! It happened to me. Network. Don't promote. And write that next book. This is fabulous advice from somebody who's been there. Thanks, Jan!

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  106. Thank you so much for this and all of your entries! I'm new to the idea of utilizing social media for my writing purposes, so it's been a bit of a learning curve. Everything I've read from your blog has been so beneficial. Bless you! :)

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    1. Lorelai--I'm so glad this helps to demystify some of the social media stuff for you. So many marketers don't really understand it either. They try to use it as a hammer instead of a communication device.

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  107. I am a year late to the party, but even so - thanks for this post, Anne. I needed to hear it.

    I'm not even published in any form yet, but have been told (da da da dum) that I should be building a platform before I even think about publishing. The things is, my gut was telling me that this 'platform' business is not all it's cracked up to be - and you have affirmed that feeling.

    I spent endless hours in those facebook *like* frenzies, I even gave Twitter a brief whirl. A year ago, I started up a blog. I'm not organised enough for consistent or regular blogging, and the Muse seldom is around for the blog when I need her - so I have not a single email 'subscriber' to date, and not a clue how to snag one :)

    Lately, I've only been spending time online chatting to the folks who appear to be interested in my social media posts, and those people whose posts I enjoy. It's a smallish but close circle of friends and fellow writers.

    I think it might just be working. My blog has the grand total of four 'posts', but the latest one, the first in an age, attracted more visitors and views today than the entire blog has over a period of months!

    You are right - I'm pretty sure my time will be better spent finishing editing and writing more books. I can always reward my self by goofing-off online and connecting with the small circle that will even notice that I went missing for a while.

    Right - that's my tuppence! I'm off to read The Slow Blogging Manifesto now :)
    Thanks again, all the best.

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  108. Piper--It's always nice to get a new comment on one of our older posts. It makes them "evergreen." It sounds as if you've been networking. That's really all this is about: making friends.

    Your recent blogpost success should be a big incentive to get that puppy rolling. Your blog is your best time investment online, IMO. Once a month posts are great. Your small group will be happy to see them. You might want to do what I do, which is write three or four I keep in reserve and then just polish for the day I publish. That means I blog when inspired, but post to a schedule. Best of luck!

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