Reblog: Does Social Media Sell Books? — Chuck Wendig

Yes! Of course! I mean, sure, probably. Long-standing publishing orthodoxy takes it as a given.

And, of course, I’m a writer with a blog. Based on my typical audience, chances are pretty good that you, reading this, are also a writer with a blog. We have some sunk costs. It’d be much easier to not ask this question. Because if the answer is anything other than an unqualified “Yes,” we might have to consider how well we’ve been spending our time.

Chuck Wendig asks the thorny question, and doesn’t shy away from the answers. And like so many things, the answers turn out to be complicated and nuanced.

Way back in THE OLDEN DAYS, in the BEFORETIMES, at the outset of this current wave of social media (Twitter, FB, IG, eventually not Tumblr, eventually yes Tik-Tok), it was a common refrain that an author had to have a “platform,” which was something of a corruption of the notion that non-fiction authors had to have a platform. For non-fic authors, that platform meant they had to have a reliable reputation in the subject matter at hand and/or some kind of demonstrable expertise in it. But the dilution of that became simply, “As an author, you should have a social media following at one or several social media sites.” (At this time, blogs were still acceptable. Remember blogs? Yeah, me neither.) It was a little bit advice, a little bit mandate. What that social media following meant or needed to look like was a set of teleporting bullseyes, and though I’m sure some publishers had hard and fast numbers they hoped to see, they did not share them with any authors I know.

The purpose of this social media following was unclear, though it was usually sold as some combination of, hey, be funny, be informative, earn an audience, oh and don’t forget to SHILL YOUR BOOKS, BOOKMONSTER. Drop the links, use the graphics, do the hokey-pokey and shake it all about. You’re an author! Also a brand! Standing on a platform! Asking an audience to love you with money! You’re like the Wendy’s Twitter account — be funny, be individual, be the best version of yourself, get attention, but also get them to eat your goddamn wordburgers.

The question is, did it work then? Does it work now?

Read the rest over at TerribleMinds…

4 thoughts on “Reblog: Does Social Media Sell Books? — Chuck Wendig

    • I think the bit that struck me was how people are much more interested when you recommend someone else’s book than they are when you recommend your own work. That feels like my experience, and makes sense. And yet, the pressure always seems to be to sell yourself.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I read Wendig’s article. I think he’s right, about everything. I’d also add that having an active blog and being on TikTok or whatever gets your name more familiar with people. I mean, if people are buying a new-to-me author, they might be more likely to buy from a name they recognize. But is social media worth the hours logged? Is the return on investment good? Uh, dunno.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think it’s possible, but difficult, to make a brand out of yourself. Sometimes people buy into a personality that they like.
      Wendig’s blog works well because he’s very style-forward (e.g. being mildly ranty and calling people things like “BOOKMONSTER”).

      It’s a whole other question as to whether you want to put your personality (or a cultivated one) out there for everyone in that way. And whether or not that’s healthy in the long run.

      Liked by 1 person

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