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Do You Enjoy Book Promotion? #IWSG

Do you enjoy book promotion?

Book Promotion on Social Media: The Eternal Quandary

When the internet came up with social media, I think the idea was for people to connect with each other. I wasn’t part of the Orkut or Myspace era, but I remember how happy so many of us were when Facebook first made an appearance. It helped us reconnect with those we had lost touch with, be it extended family or friends. That was less than 20 years ago, though it seems like a lifetime. Social media started as an enjoyable addition to real-life friendship, but it seems to be turning into a replacement.

I hold on to this blog precisely because social media seems so fleeting, and even though the connections can be real, they often feel quite shallow. Now that I’m an author with books to promote, the other part of social media has turned exhausting. I’m expected to speak about my books without speaking about my books or being boring. I don’t know about others, but I’d rather save that energy for my writing, or to maintain connections with friends.
 
Instead, I’m on the hamster wheel of book promotion. Evidence suggests that all my (not inconsiderable) effort made a tiny peak in the graph of sales, but I keep at it, in a sort of long-tail marketing, supporting my publishers’ efforts any way I can on my social media.
 
Do I love it? Not really. Would I be thrilled to just keep writing and not worry at all about sales? YES!
 
But there’s an expectation of an ‘author-brand’  or ‘presence’, and I keep working at it. So it was with a sinking heart that I read this article on VOX: Everyone’s a Sellout:
 

“Authors are writing these incredible books, and yet when they ask me questions, the thing that keeps them up at night is, ‘How do I create this brand?’” says literary agent Carly Watters. It’s not that they want to be spending their time doing it, it’s that they feel they have to. “I think that millennials and Gen Xers really feel like sellouts. It’s not what they imagined their career to look like. It inherently feels wrong with their value system.”

Because self-promotion sucks. It is actually very boring and not that fun to produce TikTok videos or to learn email marketing for this purpose. Hardly anyone wants to “build a platform;” we want to just have one. This is what people sign up for now when they go for the American dream — working for yourself and making money doing what you love. The labor of self-promotion or platform-building or audience-growing or whatever our tech overlords want us to call it is uncomfortable; it is by no means guaranteed to be effective; and it is inescapable unless you are very, very lucky. 

So on and so forth…the entire article is worth a read. I don’t know if anyone really buys books from social media posts, but I guess the hope is that if a book is seen enough, a reader might actually look it up.

I’ve had readers of this blog read and review my books, after all–though I think that’s more to do with friendship.

Here’s one very generous coverage by treasured friend and fab author and blogger Jacqui Murray. (If you haven’t read her work, I urge you to change that immediately. Go on, I’ll wait.)

Do you enjoy book promotion?


And much as I want to I can’t be friends with all my readers. The BLUE MUMBAI series has been read by thousands, and I’ll never know them all, and I don’t think they want to know me either.

This entire focus on social media platforms is creating an ecosystem of hamster wheels, and annoying ‘buy my book’ shenanigans–but in a shrinking readership, what choice to authors have? And don’t even get me started on AI tools to ‘create content.’

I suppose I’ll just have to do my best to hold on to my sanity and see where the chips fall. In another twenty years the publishing landscape and book promotion will be very different, that’s for sure.

And of course, I can’t forget my writerly-pest duties, so here’s my February spiel if you’d like to help an author out:

 

This entire month, THE BLUE MONSOON is on a Monthly Kindle Deal in the USA, Australia and the UK. If the spirit moves you, please Repost this Tweet, or copy the text and graphics to other social media.
 
When buying a book, does the author’s social media book promotion make any difference to your choices? Have you ever discovered a read on social media? What do you usually base your book purchases on?
—–

writing a thrillerThis is the first Wednesday of the month post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. Founded by the Ninja Cap’n Alex J. Cavanaugh, the purpose of the group is to offer a safe space where writers can share their fears and insecurities without being judged.

This is a wonderful group–if you aren’t a part of it, I urge you to join in! The awesome co-hosts for the posting of the IWSG are Janet Alcorn, SE White, Victoria Marie Lees, and Cathrina Constantine!

 


My literary crime novels, The Blue Bar and The Blue Monsoon are on Kindle Unlimited now. Add to Goodreads or snag a copy to make my day ! And if you’d like to read a book outside the series, you can check out You Beneath Your Skin.  Find all info about my books on my Amazon page or Linktree.

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Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her literary crime thriller series, the Blue Mumbai, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency. Both The Blue Bar and The Blue Monsoon were published in 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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20 Comments

  • hilarymb says:

    Hi Damyanti – I’d hate to do it … but I guess once you’re over that (long) initial hurdle it is fun – as you settle into success, as consolidation sets in … my thoughts are you must be almost there. But the team must be so important too – cheers Hilary

  • Jemima Pett says:

    Funny… I came to your post just after checking out one on why writers need to be marketers, or some similar title. And the truth is there. People who have always wanted to write books rarely have the skill set let alone the desire to do marketing. I had a business career, which involved working with marketing departments, so I have a basic idea, but I still don’t want to be marketing myself.
    The best things anyone who wants to be a successful writer can do is ditch the Creative Writing Courses, and the Degree in English Lit, and do Marketing and Business Studies instead.
    I hate social media now. I’m so glad I met you when it was youngish and enjoyable 🙂

    • DamyantiB says:

      So am I, Jemima! I’m incredibly grateful to have found you and to have you along for my writing and blogging journey over the years. There are so many courses and articles out there saying that the only way to be a successful author is by mastering the art of social media marketing and self-promotion. In some ways it’s true, but I find it such a pity that the joy of writing has to be masked by the chore of making an online presence. Like you, I look back fondly on the days when we could just enjoy reconnecting with old friends and discovering new ones through social media, and not having to worry about the technicalities.

  • Having just received my first royalty statement since my debut novel was first available in paperback last August, I am feeling very dispirited that my sales have only just hit 3 figures (in terms of numbers of paperbacks and ebooks sold). This despite spending what seemed most of my spare time last year building my ‘platform’ (on Facebook and Twitter), upping my blogging effort and increasing my email mailing list, as well as 3 radio interviews, in person and online launch, half page review in local paper, great quotes from an established novelist for the jacket etc etc. My book was published by a very small independent publisher and is only available via Amazon ebooks or print on demand, though I did also place a few myself in local bookshops. The publisher did some promotion but relies very heavily on authors doing their own thing. I do wonder how it would have been in the pre social-media days. Maybe I wouldn’t have been published at all, or maybe I would have had more chance of landing a decent publishing deal with an advance (no advance from my current publishers, which is just as well from their point of view perhaps!). I am 65 and have worked for years to get to this point, carving out what space I could between full time day job, family etc. I can’t help thinking that it is even harder to get noticed these days, despite all the supposed advantages of social media. Trying now to dust myself down and keep on at it, as well as getting my next novel finished, but I am left wondering if it’s worth it at all, which is not somewhere I ever expected to be.

    • DamyantiB says:

      I’m so sorry to hear that, Penny. Social media is such a tricky thing, and even our best efforts don’t always warrant results. There’s so much content online nowadays, and it definitely is a struggle for us to get noticed, what with the everchanging algorithm and constant evolution of technology. It’s difficult just to keep up. I’ve had so many ups and downs, but I’m so thankful for the friends who have had my back and pushed me to keep going. Just know that I’m rooting for you all the way, and I wish you every bit of success in your writing. You’ve achieved such incredible things through so much hard work, and you’re absolutely an inspiration. I hope your next novel hits all the goals you’re aiming for.

      • pennyfrances says:

        Thank you Damyanti, it makes such a difference to feel heard and your thoughtful response has done that. Thanks as well for checking out my last blog

  • I don’t do social media. Just my blog and Goodreads. Most of my book choices are from recommendations by fellow bloggers and book descriptions while scrolling through book sites. I don’t like advertising so have never considered using it for my own books. I appreciate the community of readers and writers on WordPress.
    I just picked up The Blue Monsoon on the current Kindle deal and look forward to reading it.

    • DamyantiB says:

      Many of us seem to receive book recommendations the same way nowadays — through the blogging community, from our friends, or based on our own research and hunts for interesting reads. I still enjoy visiting bookstores and browsing through their selections in-person. It feels more personal somehow, and I just love that I never know what I might find. I’m so glad you have a supportive community on WordPress. Staying away from social media can be such a relief. Thank you so much for picking up The Blue Monsoon, I hope you enjoy it!

  • Hmmm, now that you ask the question, I don’t think I’ve ever bought a book based on a social media promotion or ad. The fact that I use an ad blocker on every one of my digital devices might have something to do with it. I buy books based on friends’ recommendations, mostly blogging friends. I’ve also bought books recently based on an author reading (both formal and open mic.) Back in the old days, I chose books to read based on professional reviews in the newspaper.

    • DamyantiB says:

      I’ve gotten a few recommended to me by social media ads, but I can definitely say that most of my books are bought (or borrowed) based on the suggestions of friends and family. Author readings do factor in, too! I’ve come across some of my favorite books and authors that way, and it’s always so incredible to hear the authors bring their stories to life. It’s so interesting how our book-finding methods have changed over the years — these days, I can’t imagine going through newspaper reviews to stock up my TBR. In fact, we rarely even buy newspapers!

  • Interesting questions. I am using Facebook and Instagram.
    When buying a book, does the author’s social media book promotion make any difference to your choices? Not much, but sometimes
    Have you ever discovered a read on social media? Yes, but usually it is other places
    What do you usually base your book purchases on? Book information/blurb + reviews

    I think social media can be helpful for spreading the word but it is a fickle tool that sometimes can backfire

    • DamyantiB says:

      It certainly is. Social media has changed so much over the years, and will keep evolving — the future of book promotion on the current social media platforms is so uncertain. Even now it’s a bit of a mystery, and I never know how many people my posts are actually reaching. The only thing I can do is stay patient and hopeful!

  • I’ve discovered reads through my blogging buddies. With Twitter, I only notice if it’s an author I already know.
    I’ll keep hanging onto blogging as well.

    • DamyantiB says:

      Same here, many of my favorite books and future reads were recommended to me by friends, family, and people I know in the reading and writing community. Although I must say, bookstagram is a great source of info for when you’re looking for something new.

  • Pamela says:

    I base my selection on covers. I don’t even really read the information on the back because I like the element of surprise and whether what I think the book is about is actually true.

    Book promotion sucks because I don’t usually see any results from it. I still do it, though, smh.

    • DamyantiB says:

      That’s such a lovely idea. I like the thought of picking up a book without knowing what might be inside, and simply going with the flow and letting yourself be wowed. And I couldn’t agree more — book promotion is a seemingly unending chore, but unfortunately a necessary one for me. Looking forward to the day when writing is an author’s main job, and sales fade to the background.

  • I’m honored that you quoted my review. It’s worth noting I wouldn’t have discovered you–read your books–if not for our blogs and the blogosphere you and I both wander through. I’m not into Facebook or X (or any of the others). I hope your publishers take over as much of the marketing load as possible because–really–you have amazing stories inside you that must be told!

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Thank you so much for the review, and likewise–I wouldn’t have met you if not for our blogs. I made so many friends many years ago, and I wish some of the nuance and balance possible on blogs were available on other social media as well. Some days, I want to delete FB, Twitter, Insta, what have you, and just stick with my writing, emails, and the blog.

      My publishers do their bit, but I sadly feel obliged to do mine, as well. The dream would be to find a publisher who marketed my books and kept publishing them with zero effort from me.

  • John Hric says:

    Recently I made my nightly post to my blog. WordPress came back with several ‘suggestions’ of what I needed to do to ‘promote’ or ‘complete’ my post. And my response was the same as yours. I do not have the time or energy for this stuff. I continue to ignore it,

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Yeah. Life is limited. Do we really want to fritter it away on social media, trying to build an ever-elusive ‘platform’?