Last November my publisher e-mailed me to say that my first book was out there, I was certain that I just had to sit back and collect the royalties. Then he explained the hard work had just begun. I had to create a social media presence or my book, he said, was doomed.
You already know I have a blog, you're reading it. You will also find me on Twitter, Facebook, GoodReads, Independent Author Network and.... well I've actually forgotten some of the places I signed up for to get the word out there.
They are all invaluable and I have definitely sold a lot of books by virtue of contacts I have made on social media. I have also made quite a few new friends. If you are trying to get publicity for your book, you have to do all these things but this post offers a simple word of warning:
The vast majority of the people you will encounter when trying to market a book are other authors trying to market their own. You will get exposure to web sites that claim to have twenty thousand members, the problem is that nineteen thousand five hundred of them are other authors just like you. The message really sunk home the other day when I saw someone claim that their book had been voted Number 1 in a specific, but fairly broad, category on a well known book site. I then checked the book's Amazon ranking. It was outside the top 100,000 on both of the main Amazon sites. That means it will probably have sold no more than one copy that week. In all probability they had traded votes with other authors to gain a high ranking - but it had made no impact on sales. Their voters had not bought the book, neither did they intend to, they had a book of their own to sell.
There is no doubt that social networking is essential, this is just a word of caution. You can get all the "likes", "follows", "plus 1s" and other votes as there are fish in the sea, but they need to be from people who are going to buy your book or recommend it to others who will.