Thursday, June 2, 2011
Where do you discover the books you buy?
Yesterday at The Kill Zone, Michelle Gagnon told us the best and worst writing advice she's ever gotten. There were some great tips here, some I've heard before and some I haven't. I definitely think keeping ones day-job is a good idea, for both financial and social reasons, and I've heard several people warn against spending too much on a publicist.
One thing that I'll admit surprised me was the statistic Michelle gave about social networks. She said that only 4% of book sales come from Facebook and Twitter, and probably even less from writer-centered sites like GoodReads and Shelfari. 4% is tiny, insignificant, minuscule, particularly compared to the percent of marketing effort most writers put into these sites.
Assuming that these statistics are correct, here's my question: what other/better options do we poor writers have? If Facebook, Twitter and GoodReads only give marginal results, where are more useful places to put our limited resources? Social networks take a lot of time, but cost nothing and therefore seem like a good choice. I still plan on using them as best as I can, but I want to put my money and time where it will really pay off, so I need some ideas.
I'll admit, I'm not the best at the discovering books from relatively obscure sources thing. This is absolutely something I hope to fix in the future (with the help of my new kindle...eeeeh :), but the majority of my reading picks come from classic lists (Dostoevsky, Austen, Brontes, Dickens, Hugo, etc.) best-seller and critically acclaimed lists (Steven King, Rowling, Kaye Gibbons, Tea Obreht) and recommended from friends and family (Connie Willis, Joan Bauer, Sharon Creech, Louis Sachar). There are many, many fantastic mid-list and indie authors with incredible books just waiting to be discovered. And you have to be discovered before you can become a classic, be put on lists, or be talked about around the dinner table. Since I'm just beginning to dip into this whole new pool of writers, and since for us beginning, un-listed, not-yet-classics, less-talked-about writers doing our own marketing is absolutely crucial, I'm coming to you guys: where do you discover the books you buy? If not Facebook and Twitter, then where?
My two ideas about this are that the most basic thing success in this field requires is great writing, and the second is that as far as marketing goes, blogs have big potential. I'm pretty sure the first idea is correct. I don't think you can really get that far on bad writing, though there are a few exceptions. But what about the second idea? Do blogs really do that much? It seems like Amanda Hocking used blogs and blog tours more than anything else to promote her books, and look where she is now. Of course I could be wrong, but I'm looking for ideas here. I bet a lot of people find books the same way I do, via lists and word of mouth, but what course of action does that leave for us writers, especially if social networking sites don't really help that much? What are the best places and ways to help us get to that listed and talked about point?
Thanks for your ideas, and happy writing!