Facebook, Blog, Triberr, Twitter or oh… forget it?
Posted by Greta van der Rol
I’m confused, folks, and I need your help. The hardest part of being an Indie author isn’t writing the book, it’s selling the damn thing, or, to put it in another, less confronting, way, creating an author platform. It sounds a bit pretentious, this author platform thing. As though you set up a soap box somewhere and yell at people with one of those cone loud-hailer thingies. But I guess that’s why some horrible book ostensibly written by a celebrity sells, and better books written by non-entities don’t. Okay, I marked my guard at the crease (if I was American I probably would have stepped up to the plate) and set off to build my ‘author platform’.
I listened to everybody’s marketing advice. I set up a blog and I’m on Twitter (@GretavdR) and Facebook. But then I was told I needed to be careful about my blog. You see, I mainly write space opera, although I’ve added some paranormal. But I also have a deadly serious, no romance involved, historical fiction novel To Die a Dry Death (it’ll be back out shortly – just changed publishers). So I was told I needed to split the two – one site for historical, one for space opera (you’re here). And, hey, it made sense. Most people who want to play among the stars, read about exo-planets and Star Wars are not quite so likely to want to read about 17th century torture techniques. Of course, that meant two sites to maintain but that was sort of okay. The historical site tends to languish a little, but that’s one book. The other has eight.
Then I learnt I should keep my blog posts to stuff my readers would be interested in. Fair enough. So that would be science and maybe some writing rants (very popular) on one site, 17th century sailing, keel-hauling and the like on the other. Um. But what about my personal photography stuff? Happy snaps from the beach and the backyard? I posted those on Facebook and people liked them. But people interested in my writing ‘career’ (such as it is)? Maybe not so much. In fact, I posted a few photography articles on my author blog and didn’t get much response. But it might be a way of interesting other people. So now I have a photography blog which gets a few hits. But not very many.
Then there was Twitter. I was told to engage with people and not sell my book too much. Also good advice. I find the constant parade of ‘buy my book, the best thing ever, here’s the latest 5 star review’ tiresome. I switch off, so other people do, too. I’m not telling you something you haven’t heard before. So I tried to engage in a few conversations and I still do, but they tend to be with the same handful of people. If you have more than 1500 or so followers, the stream moves so fast it’s hard to pick up anything at all. Triberr seemed a good idea. So I was in. But while it might have worked really well at first, these days traffic is dropping off. It’s possible to block Triberr retweets and increasing numbers are doing just that. Mind you, I connected with a number of blogs I read pretty regularly as a result. Oh, and like most of my writer friends, most of my followers/followees are – tada – writers.
And then there’s Facebook. Since it has been privatised, the newsfeed has become commercial and limited, but I stay because I have quite a few real friends there – although I may never get a chance to meet many of them. I don’t bore them with my author persona. Many of them are authors themselves (is there an echo in here?). So I just post a few photos and comment here and there.
That’s okay, though, because the word was you had to set up a Facebook PAGE for your author persona. In fact, I’ve read advice more than once that suggested you should have a page for every bleedin’ book. I didn’t do that, but I did set up an author page and a separate page for my history novel. Frankly, I don’t know why I bothered. On both pages I’m just singing to the same old (small) audience, even if I do link my blog posts for the corresponding blogs to those pages.
I just read yet another opinion on the impact of Facebook for authors. Kristen Lamb talks about how writers use/should use Facebook. Oh my (to coin a phrase) this whole discussion has crashed from pillar to post so often that this little writer is confused and searching for the best approach for me. I might add that the group page thing is a good idea and those of us who write Science Fiction Romance have our own fan page where we advertise deals, new books and other material of interest to readers.
If Kirsten Lamb is right, the best thing I could probably do is get rid of my Facebook Pages and combine my three blogs into an ‘all about Greta’ blog – history, science, photography and all. Oh, and set up an opt in mailing list for new releases.
So what do you think, people? If you’re a science geek and you read my science articles would you be offended if I posted something about the use of muskets? Or photographs of a cruising sea eagle? Or pictures of tigers rescued from backyards? And of course, the other way round? Is this a better way of letting readers see Greta van der Rol the person?