Facebook, Blog, Triberr, Twitter or oh… forget it?

picture of Greta looking confusedI’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?

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About Greta van der Rol

I'm an author of fast-paced, action-adventure novels, mainly space opera - although I've been known to write in other genres. I live not far from the coast in Queensland, Australia and enjoy photography and cooking when I'm not bent over the computer. I have a degree in history and a background in building information systems, both of which go a long way toward helping me in my writing endeavours.

Posted on 30 May 2013, in On writing and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 28 Comments.

  1. juliabarrett

    FB is the essence of evil. I am outtie! Closed my account well over a year ago. I am not a fan of Goodreads either. My blog posts go there but I do not personally have an account. I never ever go there – toxic place. I love twitter – for fun, not for promo. If I have a new book or a freebie I announce it once and done.
    My blog is free-form – trying to get more organized. Each day is sort of a separate topic of interest to me. Up until a few months ago I blogged every single day. Now I skip weekends for the most part.
    What gets you noticed? I would say keeping up with your blog crawl and commenting on other interesting blogs. That gets you noticed.

  2. I hear you, oh boy, do I hear you. I couldn’t cope with more than one blog or FB page, actually I can’t cope with one. There’s just so many hours a day that we can be online instead of writing, researching, editing, publishing etc. So…I’d definitely do the one page for all, after all, that is the whole you.

  3. I rarely read blogs..but you asked so how could I refuse. If I read blogs I would think that it should be all about you and your ideas etc..surely people can discern between entries that are interesting to them or not. A lot of what you were commenting on I dont use but I thought the opt in new book thingy sounded good. I had some fb pages going for various fitness etc stuff and they never got used so started a couple of groups and that works well in FB setting and helps keep me(us) up to date. Hope that helps.

  4. Hi Greta,
    Triberr is a dynamic site. Tribe engagement can wax and wane. If your tribe is getting a little stale, check out a new one, or create your own.

  5. Thanks, Dan. I’ll see how it goes.

  6. Like you, I’ve heard all of the advice. But quite early on, I decided there were simply not enough hours in the day to do all of this ‘promotion’ we’re supposed to do. I gave up. Now and then, I mention my book on facebook, but it’s almost never followed up by sales.
    And yet, people do seem to find my books, and while sales are not large, they are reasonably regular.
    A blog – I have one of those too. It started as a place just to talk about my books, but it has evolved. Now my topics range wide – little about writing, but a place to put my views about all sorts of things, sometimes controversial, sometimes not, and a place to post pretty pictures. (Up until recently. Right now, it closes down whenever I try and upload a pic.)
    I reckon you have to strike a balance. Do what you want to do, and ignore the rest. It doesn’t really matter, after all, if you’re not a bestseller – or at least, it doesn’t matter to me.
    (It would be nice, of course.)

  7. I like eclectic blogs because they let me explore areas that I might not explore if someone doesn’t bring them to my attention. If something doesn’t interest me on a particular day, I will just skim and skip. We are all multiple personalities when it comes to blogs. I would go crazy if I had to maintain more than one. Personally, I don’t get Twitter (although I follow and am followed), and I don’t have the time for GoodReads. I haven’t tried Tribrr. I like Facebook because it helps me keep in touch with my far-flung family and friends. So, my opinion? Combine your blogs and be eclectic (schizophrenic?) like me.

  8. I do a blog that covers all topics, including my books of course, so it ranges from ancient Egypt to the far future, with posts on totally unrelated topics too. I usually post twice a week, plus my Weekend Writing Warriors 8 sentence excerpt (which often gets my highest traffic for the week). I love twitter so I’m there all the time and I tweet about everything too, including some promo…I think it’s just not possible to “do it all” (well, not and still write novels which is the thing I love *most* LOL), so I always advise people to just do the ones you enjoy and have time for. Best wishes!

  9. Not all advice is created equal. What works for one person will not work for another. I’ve heard authors who wouldn’t be able to operate without their Facebook and Goodreads accounts while some stay away with a passion. It all depends—the factors for one course of action over another are varied and change from person to person. I personally do a lot of work on Twitter and Triberr which I can attribute my blog’s traffic to, but do also dabble in some of the others as well.

    I think you’ve got a good thing going with this blog, and my opinion is that the few readers you’d lose isn’t worth the effort of having more than one blog. If you do want to have separate mailing lists, that might be the easiest in the long run, the set up being the hardest part.

    • Thanks for your vote of support. It’s looking like I’ll combine my stuff. If some don’t like the new material I’ll have to live with it. Thanks for dropping in. I know you’re a busy person.

      • Even if a few people leave, they might come back because of a tweet, which is why I love Twitter. A reader doesn’t have to be a regular. He/she just has to see the tweet.

        Keep truckin’ and above all … have fun.

  10. I think I’ve done the whole thing arse forwards. I began with a blog and Twitter before I had anything up to promote. I had and have little idea of author platform, or desire to create one the way everyone is encouraged to do. It all seems a bit *one size fits all* when I read articles by various writers, and I do have a life outside of promotional stuff. I’d actually like to write too. I have an account at Goodreads, which I have never used and have forgotten the detais for. I don’t intend to start as I see it as the most toxic and nasty place for authors. I don’t use Triberr or any of the others.
    So, in theory I ought not to be selling any books. But I am. I have no idea how. Wish I could help more.

  11. Interesting thoughts. I know I spend way too much of my time reading blogs and other material, and I still don’t get to read everything I’d like. I should really trade blog reading time with actual writing, given that I have nothing ready to publish yet. Which is also why I don’t have an “author platform” apart from my WordPress blog and twitter, both of which I use for all sorts of random stuff. So if you want to post science, history, photos, writing and rants on one blog that’s fine with me! Actually I did sign up for Goodreads a while back on someone’s advice but have never logged in since. Seems I’m not missing much. Smashwords is another one someone suggested. Haven’t checked it yet.
    But that’s one major deterrent: the sheer number of accounts to manage eats too much time.

  12. I say put the blogs together! I’m into photography as well, and I think there’s definitely potential for them to crossover, as most authors are going to need photos for their book covers and blog posts at some stage!

    I have used the categories to separate posts between ones I think will appeal to readers, and ones I think are better for writers, but I haven’t set up an easy way for visitors to filter them yet! (Must get on that).

    Funny about GoodReads, I actually quite like the site. But it does take some getting used to. I’ve just written a post on how to use it for authors, and it seems to be quite popular.

  13. Interesting blog post! I think most writers today battle the same questions. I don’t have a recipe for success and I probably do everything backwards.

    I don’t like Goodreads at all, but I have an account there anyway, mostly to keep track of my own books. I post any reviews I write there, and I have my blog forwarded there.

    When it comes to my blog, I break all rules of blogging. I write about whatever I want, whenever I want. I don’t have a schedule or a grand plan, but I enjoy my blog. In the end, I think that’s the important part. I don’t think my blog will be my road to humongous book sales no matter what I do with it. The readers who find it, though, find a piece of me and probably sense that it’s genuine.

    To make up for my lack of respect for blogging rules, I set up blogs for each of my books or book series. Here, I sometimes post an excerpt, a new review, casting a character, or anything I stumble over/think of that’s relevant for the book. Needless to say they’re not updated all that often, but if anyone were to search for the book, there’s something to find.

    Twitter. I’m there but don’t really like it. Facebook, love it. I don’t think any person or company sells a lot of stuff through Facebook, but it is a useful tool for branding and making people aware of a name. I strive to post something on my author page every day. I often hear the advice to post at least three things a day: a picture, a question, and something with a link. I don’t do that, but when I do I see my graphs for the page bounce up, meaning that more people see my name… My Facebook page updates my Twitter feed, btw. One thing less to worry about.

    What else… I’m on Triberr, can’t live without Triberr. I’m on Pinterest even though I don’t really like it, and I have a website cleverly called http://www.hammarblad.com. (People can’t spell my name, so I had to register the most common misspellings too, and point them to the website, hahaha.) I don’t update my website often, but if anyone searches for me, it’s there. It contains some basic information about me and my books.

    Whenever I post a blog with some cool picture, I make sure to pin it on Pinterest on the off chance it’ll be popular and spread. And I have a Myspace page for my author persona. I only visit it when I publish a new book – I upload the cover and the blurb. It’s updated automatically with my Twitter feed, so it kinda looks like I’m there and care.

    I also have my blog forwarded to other places through the RSS feed. It posts to my FB page, to Open Salon, to the Florida Writer’s Association, to my author page on Amazon… I want to be present in many places without having to put a lot of time into it.

    Whatever you decide to do, pick something that feels good and makes you happy.
    =)

  14. Well… Where to begin? I can understand the need for separate blogs for each genre but, to be quite truthful, I’d really prefer the whole kit and caboodle in an All About Greta-style… thingummy. I love a bit of science, and a bit of science fiction, I’m not allergic to muskets and, as you well know, I love your photos. I feel there’s probably a place for the marketing side of things but I also feel that things would probably sell better if people could see the real you. Of course, I haven’t published anything (yet) so I’m speaking as a rank amateur but it annoys the hell out of me to have Followed an author only to find that they do nothing but harp on about their latest work. Don’t get me wrong – folks need to know about this, too but if that’s ALL there ever is to read from an author then it gets boring. I also think that ‘centralizing’ everything means there’s only one site to be maintained, so less overall work.
    I tend to like to allow myself to be led about when I read things online. Sometimes just to see where things lead but also to learn new and interesting stuff. I’m the sort of person who would start out reading about space opera and quite enjoy being led by the nose top admire the latest blunderbuss.

  15. I read very few blogs, tbh, but yours is one of those that I’ll read all posts on. You have an engaging style of writing on here, and that crosses all the topics. You know, I’m a scifi fan, but I enjoy a good historical 17th C nautical tale, so you know what? Haul that stuff over here and add a little more variety to this blog. It won’t hurt – me, that is 🙂 I can, in a way, see a partial point in keeping the photography separate, but at the same time, photography is a BIG part of who you are. So why not bring that in here too?

    I think it all adds up to getting to know you as a person, and I don’t think we should compartmentalise our online lives so much. Thinking on my feet here that maybe I need to integrate a few things myself!

    I haven’t decided on the FB profile vs page thing yet. I do use lists in my FB profile, as there are some personal updates I don’t want the whole world to know about. But do I really need the page? Not sure. I could equally add a Follow to my FB profile and have it at that. Yes, it means I have to chop and change the “who do I share this with” setting, but I do that already.

    And yes, I realise that it was probably the link on FB that I posted that triggered this blog post 😀

    • To each her own, I guess. I’ve decided this is me. Take it or leave it. The ‘follow’ option is one I hadn’t thought of – but then, I don’t have small children or grandchildren – so (for me) who cares? In your position I might do things differently.

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