Ask any newbie author or any seasoned author, “What was one important piece of advice given to you?” and more often than not the answer will be “build your platform early, like before you even publish your novel, build your platform early.”
Websites, blogs, Twitter, Facebook Author Pages, Street Teams, Google+, Instagram, go, go, go . . .
It’s enough to keep your head spinning, and unfortunately, at least for me, six books and eight years in, I still don’t have what most would consider enough. But that’s a whole other can of worms . . .
Back to my point! When I first started building my platform outside of this website and blog, of course, my first stop was creating a Facebook Author page. Aside from having your ducks in a row with having enough content to post regularly, I knew that gaining “likes” was a huge deal. I mean, don’t forget people, we are building platforms here!
Of course, I invited friends and family, but any author knows that in order to get your book out in front of the masses, your sights have to set on strangers. Period. Family and friends will only take you so far, no matter how much they love and support you. So you begin the phase of what I like to call “channelling your inner Lloyd”, you know, that time at the start of your career where you “hang by the bar and put out the vibe”?
Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite that easy. Perhaps for some authors it is, but for me, it wasn’t. Not in the slightest. So what did I do next?
Enter the “Like for a Like” era!
You know, those groups of authors who get together and share page likes. “I like your page and in exchange, you like mine.” It’s just like Halloween for adults, you just go around computer to computer passing out clicks like they are candy. Yummy, delicious, irresistible candy, that you can eat and eat, not really caring at the time what it’s doing to your waistline.
Man, I could really go for some Wild Berry Skittles right now. Drat the diet.
Anyway, this era is really simple, just click and you’re done. Not to mention, it’s really nice to see your numbers just climb, climb, climb. How high will they go?! Can I make 1,000?! Can I make 1,500?! Gasp! Can I dare dream to make 2,000?! Look at all these people who like me! Look at all these people who want to get to know me and my work!
But do they?
While it’s exciting to watch, I have to ask, what exactly are these numbers climbing toward? Unfortunately, the answer isn’t something to be happy about, because for the most part, it’s nothing more than hundreds and hundreds of people who really don’t give a care about you or your novels they just want the “like” of their page in return.
Which let’s face it, their page is nine times out of ten, for novels you don’t really care about either. Not because they are bad novels or bad writers, but because they really aren’t your genre or something you wouldn’t see yourself reading. So what do you do? Exactly what they do. They unfollow your page. Sure, they still like the page, but they don’t see any of your posts. Uh, so why did you want them to like your page? Ah, yes, numbers, that’s right. Well, I hate to break to you, but numbers don’t mean anything if 90% of them have unfollowed you.
And that’s the problem with a “Like for a Like”. Sure they get you quantity in numbers, but do they get you quality in numbers?
Recently, I decided to start sending out monthly newsletters and was told that one of the ways I could build my subscriber list was to offer a free book–either partial or full–on Instafreebie. If the reader signs up for the newsletter, they get the free book. Sounds simple enough. Sure, it’s a punch in the gut to offer up a book for free, but I’ve done free sales before on Book Bub, and it’s a great way to spread the word about your books.
What I learned though is that Instafreebie and Book Bub are two totally different ways to attract attention.
And I mean two totally different ways. One is good. One is not so good.
With Book Bub my novels sell for months after the sale ends and the reviews “flow like wine. Where beautiful women instinctively flock like the salmon of Capistrano.”
Sorry, a bit of Dumb and Dumber humor there.
Anyway, while Book Bub helps you spread the word, Instafreebie just opens you up to people who are in it solely for the free book. My experience with it is this: people sign up, collect the free book, then unsubscribe at the first moment they can. They don’t ever leave a review. They don’t ever like your Facebook page or follow your Twitter. They don’t even click on your website to see if you are worth even taking the time to check out. And they most certainly don’t ever buy any of your other titles.
I know this because my newsletter program tells me who and how many people open the emails and what they click on link wise. And I saw the sales, or lack thereof, after my Instafreebie promotion.
Just like with the “Like for a Like” this is not the way I want to gain readers and followers. And you shouldn’t either.
I don’t care how many people sign up or like my page with these two forms–and I say that loosely–of promotion, I don’t think it attracts the quality of people I want. I don’t want a someone to like my page if they don’t want anything to do with me, and I don’t want to give them a free book if they will never read it. I would rather have people like my page and subscribe to the newsletters because they actually want to and have interest in my craft. Otherwise, what’s the point?
I’m sure some will say that it’s the risk you have to take. To wade through the two hundred uninterested to find the one hundred interested. I suppose that’s true. However, who’s to say that the one hundred wouldn’t have found you down the road and in a way where you wouldn’t have to deal with people just taking your stuff and giving you the proverbial middle finger while walking away? Because it’s with that notion I have to ask, is it really worth it? I have to say that I don’t really think it is. However, that’s just me.