Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Blogs and websites and Facebook, oh my!

Barbara here, with a fairly brief and somewhat late post. I am in the throes of the final edit on my next novel, which is hard enough amid distractions like the Olympics and the lake. To erode my enthusiam still further, I read an article yesterday that left me questioning why I should be blogging, or tweeting or what have you, in the first place. My friend Vicki Delany sent me the link and since then numerous other writers have posted in agreement.

Essentially the article says that as a promotional tool to increase sales (in the case of writers, books), social media is one big, huge, over-hyped lie. For years we have been told that internet networking is the way of the future, and that authors who don’t connect and expand their visibility through blogs, websites, Facebook, Twitter, etc. will stagnate. Publishing companies have dumped most of this promotional responsibility down onto authors, and successful web marketers have been only too happy to tell us how it is done. Apparently the model to ensure success is to spend 80% of your time on self-promotion and 20% on writing. Furthermore, of that 80%, only 20% should be about your product because nobody actually wants to read promotional stuff, and 80% should be about your pets, your dinner preparations, your holidays and other “homey” personal details. The mind boggles. How did we end up so far away from writing the novels we really wanted to in the first place?

And yet evidence is beginning to suface that even all this frenetic blogging about cats may be in vain. Only a handful of people read them and even fewer are influenced by them. The only people making money are the social media giants and the web marketers, plus a handful of authors who either have an established fan base or who spend very waking hour flogging on the internet. At this point, the internet is awash in blogs, Facebook is full of irrelevant posts and Twitter is cluttered with junk. If I am an example of the typical social media user, I never bother reading Twitter unless I am after some late-breaking news and on Facebook I scroll past all the promotional announcements, pithy reposted sayings and yes, even pictures of cute cats, in order to read the personal posts from my friends and family. I am on Linked In, but never use the site and have no idea what it’s useful for. I am on Goodreads, but am never persuaded to read a book by the reviews posted there. Quite simply because you can’t trust the rave peer reviews any more than those on Amazon.

An example of the limited reach and persuasive power of Facebook can be found on our Ladies’ Killing Circle fan page. We are being given the Grant Allen Award for our pioneering contribution to Canadian Crime writing at this summer’s Scene of the Crime Festival on Wolfe Island ( For the past couple of weeks, Linda Wiken has been posting updates on Facebook about the successes of the various contributors to the anthologies. Yet when I received my latest stats on Facebook activity, there had been two new likes on the page and 2 people talking about it. Really? Maybe we should just stand on a street corner and shout.

This is not to say I’m giving up. Interested readers and other writers do find me on Facebook, and I enjoy the network of fellow writers and readers that I have built up. I like hearing others’ news, and I do like to let people know about my news, about pets or books. But I don’t expect to make millions at it. For that, I need to get back to writing that book.


Charlotte Hinger said...

Well, I'm going to comment. I'm giving a lot of thought to the merits of social media involvement. As far as I'm concerned, the jury is still out. I can't possibly read all that my friends want me to read. So how do I choose? That would be worth another column.

Aline Templeton said...

I've never been much good at the social media stuff but I have a friend who has a hugely successful blog and when she plugged her new book on it, she didn't reckon she sold a single copy.