10 February 2021

The Marketing Matter: Writers, Book Blogging, & Social Media


Source: freepik

There’s been a recent conversation on Book Twitter of late (see this thread and replies via @ktzhaoauthor) re: the value and stress of authors doing DIY marketing, i.e., Social Media and Book Blogging. It’s an important discussion.

Book Blogging

I have an intermittent series on this blog titled Cool Books. Some posts are book reviews but others are simply essays, my thoughts on a specific book, author, or genre. Often the title isn’t the one just being published. This is because . . .

1) It may not be the first book in a series. I recently did an Amazon review for Edwin Hill's book Little Comfort (@EdwinHillauthor). His latest book Watch Her just came out. But it’s the third in his Hester Thursby series. I didn’t want to review the third without having read the first two. Here’s why.

It seems disconnected & discourteous somehow to do that. Authors write series for a reason. There is narrative flow, character development, world building in stages. I want to honor that. Plus, while I don’t mind spoilers, other folks do.

2) It may not be a current book. Authors looking for reviews in real time want and need that. Or the book may be fairly old. I recently and happily amassed some books from the late 19th and early 20th century about which I plan to natter. Book blogging at its most esoteric!

And there is the matter of time. I can only read so much and if it’s a choice of reading to review or writing, for personal and professional reasons I’ll usually choose writing. Life is short. Then again . . .

Time varies. I am currently reading Ken Harvey's (@kenharvey27) A Passionate Engagement. I’ve had to set it down twice. Not because it’s not a good book. It’s superb. But it moves me deeply, it makes me think about things, a lot of things, it is a quiet book. I need time to appreciate it.

Finally, re: Book Blogging. I don’t review something I don’t want to review (see “time”) or am not qualified to review. I will not review a book simply because I’ve been asked to. I want to be the author’s colleague and advocate when I review. If I can’t be, I won’t do it.

And I won’t post a truly bad review. I’ll be honest if I don’t like it, but I’ll say why and I’ll say it courteously. I’ve been a writing instructor and I’ve learned that kindness about what doesn’t work goes a far longer way than a slap down. Kindness matters. Ask Dr. Who.

Social Media and Authors

The issues are how much and why. The publishing industry is fraught right now. There are a bazillion agents getting kazillion queries from mondozillion authors. Everyone wants to publish a great book and be noticed for it. That means promotion.

The old-timey way was for the publisher (and perhaps agent) to do all the promoting. Now authors are being asked to join in the fun/work. It’s a circus out there when it comes to options: Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, etc. What’s best, how many are best, should I even?

And everyone has their opinions. Just Google authors AND social media. Sixty seconds after typing that last sentence I did just that. There were 844,000,000 results. This doesn’t even touch the issue of creating a website which is a whole different kettle of kippers.

In the end (and IMHO only), I make the choice as to how much I will or can engage. If a matter of promotion, I do my research to see what social media type best suits my genre or project. Then I take the time to learn how to use it as technology and as a promotional tool.

If a matter of communication (which matters almost more than promotion as it is a human thing that, ideally, leads to promotion in an organic way), I still do my research to see where I want to be, who I want to be with, and how I can be collegial when I do it. Yes, collegial.

We’re together. I am a writer and a reader and much more. I am multitude. I have many interests and so do others. I want to connect and social media lets us do that. This idea that other writers are my competition is asinine. The universe of the imagination is vast. Let’s share it.

If you are still with me, a note: The idea that readers can makes demands of authors is asinine as well. If you like what they write, hooray! If not, read someone else or do what so many enjoy: fanfic. A writer’s imagination is beholden only to themselves and their visions.

Final Advice

If you write, write what you want to write and write it as well as you can. Use blogging and social media to share and connect. Both will let others get to know who you are and what you write and bring them to your door.

And don’t forget to be kind.


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