Its been awhile since I did a “Let’s Talk About…” but I’ve had something on my mind and I feel like talking.
I was talking with a friend recently about the idea of social media and marketing yourself. Now, some of you may not have really been around for the part of life when social media wasn’t really a thing. When I first got into the book world, people didn’t have Twitter, or any of that. What got your book out there was advertising in the places where you would find books: bookstores, libraries, etc. And of course, just the word of mouth if your book was good.
Things have obviously changed a lot since then. We have Facebook and Instagram and Twitter and Tumblr and Pinterest and blogs and all sorts of medias out there to be up front and personal with your fans and with potential fans.
Now, as I was sitting and talking to my friend, another aspiring author, he was talking about how much he disagrees with the whole social media thing. And he had a lot of good points about using it as a marketing tool and all that sort of thing. If you want to read about it, you can read it on his blog here. He wants his work to stand alone, speak for itself.
And I can definitely understand that. As a writer, you spend most of your time plotting and writing and replotting and rewriting and outlining and outlining and basically banging your head against the wall, going back and forth between “I’m the best writer ever” and “Oh my god, I should work at McDonalds because I’m the worst writer ever”. Literally. That’s what we do. Writing a book? Its not easy, and I’ve written five. Do you know how many of those have been published? Zero. Zero! So its not an easy thing to accomplish.
So I can understand my friend’s opinion that marketing, especially with Twitter and that sort of social media sites, is unneccessary and like work for him. He wants to write his books and have them stand alone, as good works. I get that.
But I will have to respectfully disagree.
Now, its no secret that I absolutely love social media. I love the potential of it. I love that I have met friends through it. I love that I’ve met all these authors that I’ve become friends with. I love that I’ve discovered new books and learned new writing things and all sorts of different things through social media. I love that I can connect with people with similar passions as me all over the world. I have friends in all different countries. I have reached out to fans in different countries, which is incredible. I’ve had emails from the UK, New Zealand, Australia, Germany, India, and other countries, from people who wanted to tell me how I’ve impacted their life. As a blogger. I haven’t even published a book yet, but I’ve already had those connections with people and that means a lot to me. A comment on a picture on Instagram, a comment here on the blog, an email from a fan…it can turn a bad day into a really good one.
Okay, I’m going into prime cheese mode and we don’t want to get too far into that. But basically, I love social media. Without social media, I wouldn’t have this blog. Without this blog, I wouldn’t be as ambitious as an author as I am, I wouldn’t have had the strength and drive to finish The Awakened, I wouldn’t have learned so much about writing and querying and agents and publication and all that sort of thing. I wouldn’t have you guys! Obviously social media means a lot to me.
But its more than that. Sure, I love posting my daily antics on social media. I mean, go look at my instagram page. Its a hodge podge of pictures of books and selfies with authors and yes, the must see pictures of my food. I like social media. But here’s the thing:
When I first started writing, I knew I was writing YA. As a teenager, I was heavily influenced by the authors Meg Cabot, Sarah Dessen and Deb Caletti. They still remain my biggest influences, and when I write contemporary romances, they are always what I’m thinking of. Young Adult was just in the beginning of its prime. The Hunger Games hadn’t been released, Twilight was a thing of the future, and Twitter didn’t exist.
But those things exist now. Young adult literature exploded in my late teens and its huge now. Young adult literature has exploded so much, that people outside of the typical age group (12-19) are reading it. A good chunk of YA readers are actually in the 20-30 years old range, like me. One of the many reasons I love YA is that I feel everyone can find something they like in YA, it has every genre. Every one. You can read contemporary, romance or fantasy or science fiction or crime or mystery. Anything. You literally can read any genre in this type of literature.
But there’s a problem with that, of course. Because YA has blown up so much, there are SO many books out there and getting yourself out there…its not easy. Its hard enough to find an agent, sell your book, get published and then get it on the actual shelves of book stores.
Once you get past all of those headaches, you have to hope they’ll actually sell. Because if they don’t sell, that’s it. Good luck selling another book. There’s hundreds of other aspiring YA authors out there who have books that might sell better than yours did.
So what’s the secret to that? How do you get your book to sell, to get yourself out there besides spending a painstaking amount of time creating the book and getting it on shelves? Your book can’t just standalone anymore. You need social media. You need to get yourself out there and get noticed.
Take, for example, debut author Lindsay Cummings. I know that a lot of you know who she is, and her debut novel, The Murder Complex, just released this past summer. Her middle grade novel is actually hitting shelves this week! Yay Lindsay!
Now, how doesn’t a completely unknown author like Lindsay suddenly have a ton of fans, with her books in a ton of stores, being bought by fans all over the place? She has the most incredible social media presence. She’s smart as hell. I became a follower and a friend of hers a YEAR before The Murder Complex was even published. She came by my instagram and we talked books. She followed me, I followed her, and we just talked books all the time. Because of this, I kept up with her and was VERY excited for her book release.
And she did this on a grand scale. She became friends with people, talked books, was a real person. She fangirls, she’s awkward, she reads the same books as us, she’s one of us. She felt like a friend and of course you’d head out to a bookstore and buy the brand new book of a friend. Its brilliant. Now, I think Lindsay is actually this awesome, fangirl but its also just a great marketing strategy.
And I think a lot of young adult authors have figured that out, and are working at that. Becoming friends with me, reaching out to bloggers, sharing on Twitter and Instagram. They connect with their followers. I like that. I like authors that reach out to their followers, and share that same connection that I get when I talk to you guys. It makes the world a little smaller. It sounds kind of weird but hearing that a certain author reads the same books as you and is probably influenced by the same authors as you really makes me want to read their books.
Sure, the title, the synopsis, the cover, word of mouth, that all counts still, of course. But I’m hearing more and more about new authors through social media. When you guys share a status on Twitter about a new book that you loved, I take that into account, and so on. When an author follows me on Twitter, I’m curious and I check them out. Which I might not have done if they hadn’t followed me. Blog tours get the word out there. When a handful of blogs do features on an author and that author’s new book, that helps increase the exposure of it so much. I’ve learned about new authors and new books because of the bloggers I follow.
And let’s face it, without this blog, no one would care about The Awakened besides, I don’t know, maybe my friends and family, which they do so in a very grudging and loving way. But because I have this blog and I’ve been able to share my experience of writing it with you guys, a lot of you guys want to read it. I get about 2 to 3 emails a week from you guys wanting to know when it’ll be published (cross your fingers, guys, I believe its gonna happen!). You guys are invested in me and my book, which not only means the world to me, but is also incredibly helpful. My book is already marketable because I already have an admittedly small but already existing fanbase that would head to the bookstore to buy my book.
Do you know how huge that is? With thousands of YA books being released all the time and no way to tell what is good, what is bad, what to buy and what not to buy, you have to get yourself out there. You can’t let the work standalone, unfortunately. You could have an incredible book but if you don’t market it right, including a social media presence, you may have a hard time finding an success with it.
Look, I’m rambling. That’s what I’m good at it. Anyone who comes to this blog knows that I don’t write blog posts with precision and that I don’t take care to choose every word to make a beautiful post. That’s for my writing, for my novel. I created my blog, and the rest of my social media, in order to express my love and passion for things nerdy, and to share that passion with all of you.
I don’t presume to know why you guys follow me or why you like me. Maybe its because I constantly have giveaways. LOL. But honestly what I think brings people to my blog is that I’m just me. I’ve never been anything but me on this blog. I’m awkward and nerdy and emotional and over the top and I have my insecurities and my doubts and I’m just me. I’ve never not been me. You guys see my love for books and all things nerdy but I show you pictures of my writing progress, of my messy room, of my dogs, all kinds of things. And you guys connect with that. You guys have made What A Nerd Girl Says what it is and because its become bigger and bigger over the past two years, I’ve gained so much from it. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.
So to some, social media might be like work. It might seem pointless, not worth their time, whatever. And those people might avoid it completely or they might have someone else do it for them. And that’s okay. I honestly don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.
But for me, its been invaluable. Its given me friends, family, the ability to make this blog bigger and better all the time, and its led me to people to make my writing better and my future writing career better. I love it. So yeah, I may post weird things and I may post really random, rambling blog posts (um…) but I do it because I like it, and I think its helpful, and I really think every effort I put into social media is going to help me sell my book, and make it what I know it can be.
Thanks for listening to me ramble guys. Sometimes I just do that ;)
And stay tuned for a vlog of me reading Chapter Four of The Awakened!