Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Does Social Media Sell Books?

Tom Schreck, author of Getting Dunn and The Vegas Knockout

Michael Alvear says it doesn't.

Making a Killing on Kindle describes how even with thousands and thousands of followers on Facebook, Twitter and blogs, social media is a waste of time when it comes to selling ebooks on Amazon--especially fiction.

Citing studies by the Yale business school on click through and buy rates, he points out that, with a few exceptions, the numbers for even the most successful social marketers just don't hold up when it comes to efficiently and effectively selling our product.

Uh, yeah, I know.

So what have I been doing for the last seven years?

What have I been obsessing on, worrying about and trying to strategize?

I've made friends, probably honed important connections and practiced writing. Did I sell any books?

Yesterday Amazon featured my stand alone, Getting Dunn in a local.amazon.com voucher promo. On Sunday it was ranked 160,000. On Monday it was 1,100 and 13 in the Hard Boiled Mystery best seller list.

Sure, I posted on Facebook and Twitter but the real action came from Amazon.

Is social marketing fun? Do we do it to feel like we're doing something? Do we do it because everyone else does?

What do you think?


  1. Yeh - I'm beginning to wonder about social media too. Although having said that, I have downloaded books for myself because I heard about them on somone's blog??

  2. Good post, wise info... Well, I couldn't say I'm an expert though I've published my 1st book a couple of years ago (and there are more than 20 others in my head that wait impatiently to be written too) and use all the social media for advertising, though with not so big success as I wanted... Yet, we shouldn't forget that social media could also be a great source for inspiration, one could find thoughts, tips, people's opinion from all over the world and that's something we could find anywhere else?
    I'd love to add a suggestion of mine too (I usually post it at any site/blog I like): using sites like zazzle.com, cafepress. com, fiverr? They could be a good way to show your works/blog/thoughts, etc and to help "remove" stupidity in the streets like headlines on t-shirts, fridge-magnets, cups, etc: My Boyfriend kisses Better Than Yours, FBI - female body inspector, etc. Not everything we see and think of should be about sex, right? It would be much better if there were more nice pictures (even of mythical creatures), good thoughts, poems (from any genre are welcome I guess), etc? I'm allanbard there, I use some of my illustrations, thoughts, poems from my books (like: One can fight money only with money, The thinnest thing in the world is the border between good and evil, Even in the hottest fire there's a bit of water, or
    Let's watch the moon, let's meet the sun!
    Let's hear soon the way the Deed was done!
    Let's listen to the music the shiny crystals played,
    let's welcome crowds of creatures good and great...
    etc). I bet such lines sound and look much better than the usual we see every day? Best wishes! Let the wonderful noise of the sea always sounds in your ears! (a greeting of the water dragons' hunters - my Tale Of The Rock Pieces).

  3. That is the question we all keep asking ourselves. My personal experience is that social media launched my first few books and brought me a small but loyal group of readers (and friends!) Social media also helped me sell enough books to get the attention of Amazon's algorithm. But it was a paid newsletter ad that pushed my books to the top of Amazon's crime fiction list. And it was an Amazon giveaway that revived my sales after they started to slump. At this point, social media is just fun for me. And too addictive to stop. But I am trying to cut down. :)

  4. I have to add though that I still hear from people who tried my books because they interacted with me online. It may not contribute significantly to my income, but it's very rewarding!

  5. Thanks for this, Tom. Like LJ, I like Facebook and Twitter because they help me stay connected and feeling part of an online community of writer friends. And my early contacts like LJ eventually grew into this group blog, which I love! I also use Facebook for fun and inspiration, and to keep me going and active with my writing. (I don't seem to use Twitter as much as I should.) I've also sold books through this blog and Facebook. And Facebook and Twitter help with sending people to this blog and my craft articles and resources lists here and on other blog posts. And besides the fun and camaraderie of all that, it also seems to lead to sales. So I won't stop using Facebook anytime soon, and will try to build up my presence on Twitter -- although Twitter isn't helping - now that I follow 2,000 people, they won't let me follow anybody else! What's up with that?!!

  6. Because of of social media—Facebook, Twitter, blogs, online writing groups, online reading groups—more people knew my name when my first book came out. My sphere of influence without social media was shaky at best, primarily because I hadn't stayed particularly connected with people from my previous professional life. And writing is a solitary experience, for the most part. It was good that I began to make friends and contacts before I had anything to sell.

    For me, social media has taken the place of the watercooler. It's a nice place to hang out, but I have to remember I have work to do. Speaking of which...

  7. There is no doubt that I made some sales because of Facebook, but I also contend that it gives authors a false sense of their own momentum because they interact with eager readers (mostly the same ones) and have a big list of "Friends". I think that if all my Facebook "friends" actually bought copies of my books, I'd probably be in good shape. I think I have been relying on social media too much because it just "seems" to be adding to the fray, but I think as it has been pointed out, it's not a real indicator.

  8. Most of the value of social media for me is connections - sharing opinions and news with other writing folks, a little virtual water cooler. And yeah, I've bought a book or three because I know folks on Twitter. Does it sell for me? No idea yet. Mostly because I can't figure out Amazon's algorithms.

    But the time suck is why I've avoided Pinterest like the plague.

  9. I think you're right about social media. I'm on Facebook because I enjoy it. Makes being an isolated writer a little more tolerable.

    Your post begs the question, however: how the hell did you wind up on Amazon's local voucher list? That sounds like something very useful for an author.

  10. Thanks for writing Rob.

    My publisher is Thomas & Mercer and they set it up.

    They are wonderful to be with...


  11. People post on my wall telling me they've bought my books after I promote them on Facebook, so for me, it does work. Does it sell a lot of books? Not really, but other than having an Amazon gateway ad, nothing really does.

    Here's the thing: Facebook (and social media in general) serve another important function--they help me stay in touch with my existent readers, something I consider very important.They keep me and my work relevant between books, and they allow me to continue the relationship with my readers I've worked so hard to build.

  12. Drew, I'm sure your excellent Facebook presence sells a lot more books than you think it does. And the same goes for LJ! That's judging by all the positive responses you both get from your frequent updates.

  13. Hi - I am the only non-writer commenting so far. I keep up with authors on FB. I like to see what new books are coming out soon. I also get newsletters via email, from authors and groups such as this one. If you have the time, please stay on FB. Thanks, Dee grammyd01 (at) comcast (dot) net

  14. Social media creates an interactive fan base, where readers can engage directly with their favorite authors. Does it sell books? Some, sure.

    I can tell you that it's not just ONE thing that sells books. It's a combination of social, ads, blog posts, newsletters, guest posts, interviews, and for me, KDP Select has helped immensely.

    Try selling without social media and see what happens. Good luck with that.

  15. I agree with Jodie that Drew's lively FB postings gather fans and sell books. Being charming and staying on-message without any hard-sell tactics doesn't hurt, either.

    In addition, it's only because of a generous "sharing" post from Andrew that I discovered Peg Brantley's wonderful "The Missings."

    Twitter is where I 'met' authors Jake Needham and Michael Baron. I doubt I would have found either writer without that interaction.

    On the other hand, all that "social" activity is an incredible time-sucker. So much so, in fact, that I ended up crafting an illustrated post about it for SoWrite (with help from 5 published authors -- thank you!). Oddly enough, that post continues to hold the "most viewed" slot on the site. Go figure.

    Now, has anyone figured out how to effectively use Linked-In as a promotional venue? I still can't figure out how to get the most out of Google+, either. Any advice? Success stories for either one?

  16. First (and most important to me), thanks for the shout-out, Jim. I'm honored.

    Second, I endure Linked-In and Google+ and spend absolutely no time on either. I just can't bring myself to completely cut them off.

    I agree completely with Rachel. There is no one thing that sells books. It's a piece here and a presence there. And a comment by Andrew that's read by Jim. Serendipity.

  17. I agree with Jodie, I've got to 2,000 I follow on Twitter and been told to stop! I've got 1,000 'followers' but that doesn't seem to impress them - or sell books.
    Still, talking about ebooks about how to sell ebooks, I bought an ebook on Kindle by John Locke about how he 'sold a million ebooks in 5 months'. He said it was all down to social media, and made the point that radio, newspaper, magazines and TV interviews had done nothing to add to sales. Who's right?
    Meanwhile, John Locke has gained a 'tribute band', a thriller writer called John Lock (without the 'e'). Do you think that the Abba tribute band gets as big an audience as the real Abba? Time will tell.

  18. Yes, It is possible as Amazon is a big online market place to sell. So, Amazon can give an amazing feeling.

    Here is also Sell on Amazon


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