By Melinda Cochrane
Entering the writing to be published stage of your art is a complex journey of both good and bad advice, which is often very unclear. One thing is certain, however, wherever you go, they mention social media presence or some sentiment that this is important. But, how important is it? And, what does that mean exactly? It is never truly clarified for a writer. Is it social media platforms, a lot of followers or presence on every platform known to the social media world? What I discovered is that this means very little at the end of the day. So why the emphasis on social media?
You will never figure out why because there is no set formula when it comes to making this part of your promotion or marketing success- or part of selling books even though many will claim there is and will offer you amazing social media packages to do so. There are many companies who sell writers packages claiming a set amount of views a day- and when looking at these sites one is instantly taken by the presentation. I fell for this a few times, but did it lead to book sales- no, but why not?
Now, larger corporate publishers have huge media marketing schemes- presence on every platform- and every media source they can to advertise- does this lead to sales- I have no idea but what I have noticed is that if you take note of their sites- there is never a single writer on there- they do not simply sell one writer even if the writer is a multi-billion dollar bookseller.
Does social media work for some writers and artists, yes of course. We all have heard of overnight Youtube successes- but I doubt it was overnight- it was consistency as well as a little luck. But does it happen enough to invest in the promotional sales packages different companies offer to sell your books and make you a star? I can only say that if it did the thousands of writers out there doing so would be instant millionaires but yet they are not. This has been my learning- if others disagree- I am fine with this- but this is what I have seen. I want to prevent other writers from being overtaken by social media and as a result, their craft and interest in writing may suffer.
Attending a conference or two, seeking advice in business, and my own experience has shown me that there are practical tips that do work as far as getting your name out there to create a good google search so that your name does exist on the internet somewhere- somehow – so that potential publishers can get an idea of your work and who you are. Does this lead to sales? It may or may not- there is never a guarantee for this- you have to be clear on this before investing in promotion because you cannot blame others if it does not work. Sometimes it is simply whether what you are doing appeals to those out there in the cyber world- and it is as simple as that. Your investment in social media marketing has to be open-eyed and realistic.
Here are some practical tips that you help spread your voice and message:
Teamwork makes for success – a lot of writers create one single platform where they work together and their followings increase because they share one another’s content. Here is where your ego has to take a back seat in order to benefit from the bigger picture – one team can create a better success rate.
Blog for others who already have a huge following or offer you a space to publish your work. I wrote all my poetry with online sites as well as blogged for others as having a single blog in obscurity just was not working- no one knew where to find me.
Posting on well-known blogs will bring traffic back to your site/blog when you add your personal or company webpage.
Blog talk radio podcasts that have affordable packages allow your readers to become familiar with who you are – everyone loves to hear you or see you. You should send it out to the platforms this way as well so wherever you podcast they should have others podcasting with you.
Events are an excellent way to get your name out there as they too are sent out via media platforms. Events such as poetry readings with a large following- or book signings by you at various locations and workshops everywhere and anywhere. You readers want to know you- that is only done with face to face contact.
You will no longer see me on twitter, facebook or any other platform under my own name and alone. I found that this was just not a successful means of generating much other than strangers who were more interested in the “who” and the “what” and not really your writing. I work with teams of all sorts across all platforms- why? Teamwork works. You may know a writer who seems to have a huge following- but check them out closely- is it their friends who like their blogs more than anyone else- friends are great but you should not be friendly only to sell books- be honest and start working toward a real writing career- that’s what I did and I am still doing.
Melinda Cochrane is a poet, teacher and fiction author. She is also the editor and publisher of The Inspired Heart, a collection of international writers. Melinda also runs a publishing company, Melinda Cochrane International books for aspiring writers, based out Montreal, Quebec. Her publication credits include: The art of poetic inquiry, (Backalong Books), a novella, Desperate Freedom, (Brian Wrixon Books Canada), and 2 collections of poetry; The Man Who Stole Father’s Boat, (Backalong Books), and She’s an Island Poet, Desperate Freedom was on the bestseller’s list for one week, and The Man Who Stole Father’s Boat is one of hope and encouragement for all those living in the social welfare system. She’s been published in online magazines such as, (regular writer for) ‘Life as a Human’, and Shannon Grissom’s magazine.