Over the years, I've begun wondering whether blogging sells books. And I'd love to know your opinion, fellow writers and sufferers in this long marketing road to book selling success!
Do you think your blog helps you sell your books? Based on your experience, are
there other better ways to sell books than through a blog and blog
tours? Have you found networking on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Goodreads and other sites more useful than blogging? In the publishing industry, there is no longer the pressure there once was on writers to set up their own blog if they didn't have one. Is this justified in your opinion?
Before I tell you what I think, take a look at this hilarious video done by author Melissa Conway which renders perfectly the book promotion pains of any indie writer:
So now on to what I have found out after three years of blogging and reaching a decent Alexa ranking (especially for a writer) as I flirt with 1,000 page views/day. I think I can honestly say that the two things - my blog and my book sales - are largely and surprisingly disconnected. I can have a surge of interest in my blog and, disconcertingly, it doesn't reflect in my book sales - and the reverse of course is also true. Because people who read my books don't necessarily flock to my blog...
Why the disconnect? Theories abound (see the related articles below) but I have my own: I think people who read blogs aren't always the same as those who read books. Blog readers are primarily those who like to surf the Net rather than get their news from old-fashioned newspapers actually printed on that white flat surface known as paper. If I'm right about that, then these are people who do not spend any time (if they can help it) reading books, whether they be novels or non-fiction, digital or printed. They've had their daily sup of words, they're satiated, thank you, no books of any kind for them!
Add to that another fact about a blog written by an author: it is inevitably read by a majority of fellow authors. Why? Because the blog tends to deal with matters of interest to other authors (such as this very blog post!). Also it is advertised (largely) through Twitter and followers are likely to be other authors. Certainly my case. I have some 2600 followers on Twitter - I know, it's a modest number but that's not the point. The point is that some 90 percent of my followers are authors like myself. Yet there's nothing strange about this. It's a perfectly normal pattern for Twitter: people who share interests flock together. Same on Facebook. My Facebook Author Page (you can take a look here) has often gathered the "likes" of other authors, over 600 of them. Don't misunderstand me: I'm happy and flattered to have so many fellow authors follow or "like" me, it's definitely a recognition - but it is happening in the rarified world of publishing and literature, not the big world of readers that all of us authors would like to reach out to.
Still, before we drown in self pity, we should all remember that someone like Tolkien who started slow and unknown eventually became the literary giant we all know through the help and support of his fellow historians at Oxford and supportive writers. They were the first to turn his books, The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings into a cult, they started a wave of popularity that hasn't died down yet.
The only social media site that seems to draw people from very different walks in life is Google+. I suspect that's because (1) it is linked to gmail and (2) it makes "adding" people to "circles" very easy: you have the "acquaintance" category (which means next to nothing), you click that and you're done.
So perhaps Google+ will turn out to be a window on the bigger, larger world of readers?
If you take a look at the articles below, you will see a mix of feelings with some writers expressing great enthusiasm for what is sometimes called "screen selling", arguing that thanks to Internet, they are at last directly connected with their readers. And that is of course true. Indeed, that was from the go, the very premise (or should I say promise) of the digital revolution and online sales. Linking authors directly to their readers: something that had never happened before except at book signing events which are, of necessity, few and far-between, reaching a handful of readers at a time.
So which is right? Does blogging and related SM networking help in spreading the word about books and jump start the famous "book buzz"? Please let me know in your comments, I can't wait to hear your views!
For those who don't feel like expressing in public their opinions, I'm giving the alternative to respond through the poll here, that will keep your privacy complete: