Think Twice Before Dissing Other Authors

When I was first starting out as a published author, and before my first book was published, a famous writer at an awards banquet offered me unsolicited advice about launching a career.

“Don’t attack your peers in public,” he said. And he grimly added without explanation, “It’ll come back to haunt you.” He’d obviously crossed that line and regretted the results.

Lynn Shepherd is probably feeling the same way, even though she’s not a newbie. She recently published a blog asking J.K. Rowling to stop writing because her books took up too much space in the publishing world and sucked all the air out of the room.

I suspect her piece was a literary version of “A Modest Proposal,” but I can’t be sure if the author of historical crime novels was writing tongue-in-cheek. That title seemed to be a giveaway, but maybe it was just snark. Her critics took her seriously, though, and have been out for blood. The Guardian reports that scores of Rowling fans have been trashing Shepherd’s books by giving them 1-star ratings on Amazon. Comments on The Guardian‘s web site and on The Huffington Post label Shepherd dim (if not worse) and even predict the end of her career.

Well, what she wrote was certainly ill-advised for many reasons, and badly done. Rather than ask Rowling to stop writing, even jocularly if that was the intent, she might have talked up a writer with weak sales who she thinks deserves the same kind of publicity and raves that Rowling gets. Championing a deserving underdog would have made her seem generous, not mean-spirited and jealous. It would also have helped the kind of author she says gets crushed by the Rowling PR juggernaut.

https://i2.wp.com/i1.cpcache.com/product/250258167/angry_writer_tee.jpg

But as for all those attacks on Amazon, can anyone take them seriously? Customer reviews sparked by animus (and sometimes ignorance) are easy to spot and easy to dismiss. The true test will always be the books themselves.

I don’t think this brouhaha will affect Shepherd’s sales at all, or come remotely close to ending her career. I’d heard about her before but had never read one of her novels, and I’m now curious to do so. There may be many other readers like me who’d be more interested in her books than the mini-scandal, and will her current fans abandon her? That seems unlikely.

The book I’d really like to read, though, would be a memoir by Shepherd about the whole experience of shooting herself in the foot and having the reading public come after her like the villagers chasing Frankenstein’s monster. It could be funny and thrilling–and required reading for authors everywhere.

A different version of this blog originally appeared on The Huffington Post.

Advertisements

Nude Authors?

I’ve been publishing books since 1990 and have seen publicity fads come and go (and sometimes come back).

Over the years, publishers have urged me and other authors I know to do postcards, bookmarks, business cards with a book cover on them, and all sorts of doo-dads.  They’ve pushed attending mystery conferences.  Sending out posters to book stores.  Advertising in magazines, newspapers, and mystery conference program books.

But wait, there’s more!  Hiring your own publicist and taking yourself on tour. Starting and constantly updating a web site.  Cultivating reviewers and famous authors. Doing professional trailers for your books.  Having a fan page on Facebook separate from your regular page.

Then there’s blogging.  Guest blogging.  Setting up a blog tour.  Advertising on line.

And that’s not all, folks.  Creating contests and book giveaways. Establishing a presence on Goodreads and carefully pretending to be there for discussion while you slowly mount a campaign to take the site over and crown yourself queen or king.  Tweeting.  Jumping on Tumblr and Instagram so you can be the Beyoncé of the book world.

Plus, if you’re one of those authors getting a book out every year (or more often, even), you need to be supplying your fans with “content” between books to keep them in a buying mode, so you have to be writing short stories and novellas and loading them as e-books.

The pressure can be relentless. Push, push, push.  Sell, sell, sell.

One thing that hasn’t come up yet, at least not widely, is selling yourself.  I mean, your physical self.  While people do have their hair and makeup done for photo shoots, publishers haven’t yet become body bullies.  They don’t push their authors to lose weight or go for spray-on tans.  They don’t suggest fashion makeovers or keeping track of your body fat percentage.   They don’t send links for Spanx.  They don’t raise the subject of cosmetic surgery.  They don’t urge us to take hot yoga, sign up for spinning classes, go running, do Pilates, enter Iron Man contests, train for marathons, and try liposuction when all else fails.

Because otherwise you’d see a  new wave of hokey photos:  authors at their laptops in thongs or Speedos (or nothing at all); authors casually nude or semi-clad as they take notes in a coffee shop or at the Eiffel Tower for their next books; and most obviously, working out at the gym.  There would also be a new  tacky classic, standing around shirtless or topless, perusing your latest opus.  Or the super-obvious reading nude in bed. The publishers would love it: hot author! hot book!  What could be bad?

Book Group Bullying

The publishing industry is always pushing something new as the Holy Grail of promotion.  Right now it’s social media; a few years ago it was being social: speaking to book groups via Skype or in person.

A colleague’s recent bad experience with a book group reminded me of my own a few years ago. I had toured extensively in the U.S. and abroad for many of my books, but hadn’t done book groups based on what people in them told me they disliked: the gossip; naïve and sometimes inane discussions; more focus on food than literature. When I was invited to speak about my novel The German Money  five minutes away from where I live, though, it seemed churlish to say no to spending an hour or two on a Sunday evening talking about a book I loved.

The group of ten women and one man seemed interested to hear about the book’s genesis, but within minutes, the male leader was on the attack, telling me every single thing he thought was wrong with the book.  It was relentless.

The book is partly a love song to northern Michigan, but he didn’t like the descriptions of Michigan because they weren’t specific enough or “artistic” enough for his taste. I pointed out that the first person narrator was not an Annie Dillard type and the descriptions reflected his specific vision and his voice.

The thuggish leader was sourly unconvinced and then bashed the main character as needing to “grow up.” Well, the story’s about a dysfunctional family of children of a Holocaust survivor, and they’re all struggling with their dark inheritance. That cut no ice with him: he didn’t believe having that kind of horror in the heart of one’s family would be at all problematic. I was astonished at his lack of empathy.

Then this shmendrik added he didn’t like the fact that the New York sections of the book were set in several apartments—that felt claustrophobic to him. I reminded him that most Manhattanites live in apartment buildings, not ranch houses, Colonials or split-levels.  But he didn’t care.

There were other snarky comments from the group, but his were the most insulting.  Now, I was a guest, so I never told him how rude his behavior was, or that some of his remarks verged on the sophomoric.  But I did have to wonder why he’d bothered getting his group to read the novel at all since he had such a low opinion of it. Was the whole point to show off to these women how macho he was?

It got worse: The day after I was mugged, this boor emailed me negative comments he claimed the group made about the book after I left. Apparently the people who really disliked the book were too intimidated by my presence to say so—at least that’s what he reported.

I was tempted to tell him that the book was being taught in universities across the country with novels by Toni Morrison and Philip Roth.  Or that The Washington Post and other papers had raved about it. I wanted to smack him down.  But I didn’t bother replying.  At the back of my mind was the warning of a good friend trying to talk her author husband out of writing an angry email to a critic: “Listen, do you want to do good work or do you want to be known as a crazy person?”

This blog is drawn from Book Lust! (Essays for Book Lovers)

An Introvert in the Social Media Age

Hi, I’m Albert, and I’m an introvert. (Hi, Albert!)

Actually there probably wouldn’t be anybody at the Introverts Anonymous meeting to say “Hi, Albert,” because introverts don’t like being out in groups. Some years ago my wife and I went to a workshop and took a personality inventory. When we came back the next week to talk about the results, the woman who met with me said she was surprised I came out to get the results because I was so far toward the introvert end of the scale.

I come by my nature honestly. My parents were both non-social people. Away from work, they interacted only with extended family. As I mentioned in an earlier post, we moved a lot, so we never got close to our neighbors. I was never on school teams or in clubs. Over the years my mother talked about several women from work whom she liked, but to the best of my knowledge she never saw them in any other context.

My wife—God bless her—does not complain about my shyness, even after forty-six years. She did once tell me that I would have made a good monk. My response was, “Maybe, except for that celibacy thing.” She says she was attracted to me because I was a quiet type, so different from her father. Like they say, be careful what you wish for.

In addition to being my wife, she is a psychologist and an outgoing person, so she can’t help but encourage me to socialize more. At various times we have been in dinner groups and bridge groups. Those small-scale affairs, with people I know, are enjoyable, although I am psychically exhausted by the end of the evening. Last year I went with her to a Christmas party given by the community chorus of which she is a member. After half an hour in a room filled with perfectly nice people, not one of whom I knew, I told her, “I think I’m on the verge of a panic attack. I have to get out of here. If you can’t get a ride home, call me and I’ll come get you.”

I’ve never had a panic attack that I know of, but I’m sure if I had stayed another five minutes I would have been curled up in a corner in the fetal position.

Although I am an introvert, I know there are situations where I have to be sociable, and I try. Just not very successfully, it seems. For over a decade I’ve been attending Magna cum Murder, a conference for readers and writers of mysteries. It’s sponsored by Ball State University, in Indiana, the last full weekend of October each year, and is, for my money, the best mystery conference in the country. Google for “Magna cum Murder” to check it out. The woman who runs it, Kathryn Kennison, is gracious, vivacious, and welcoming to everyone. After attending for several years, I got up the nerve to ask her something. I said, “Kathryn, you hug everybody who comes into this conference, but you’ve never hugged me. May I ask why?” She said, “I wasn’t sure you wanted to be hugged.”

Yeah. Ouch. But then she hugged me.

By now you’re asking, What does this have to do with writing? Quite a bit, actually. Writing is a solitary activity for which introverts are ideally suited. When I close my office door, a feeling of contentment washes over me. But there’s another side to writing these days—promoting your work. Today you have to “put yourself out there.” You have to grab every opportunity to publicize your work and—more importantly—yourself. A publisher will ask you what your “platform” is, how you plan to market your book. For an introvert, that is the very definition of hell.

Publicizing yourself today doesn’t mean just doing a few signings in bookstores or being interviewed for a radio show or a newspaper (remember newspapers?). You’re expected to get involved with social media. I recently appeared at a local bookstore. They expected me to post notices about the appearance on Facebook and to tweet people. I told them I do have a Facebook page—I check it about once a month—but I don’t tweet or “follow” anybody or have anybody “following” me. The very idea seems unbearably intrusive. Why would I want to tell anybody what I’m doing every fifteen minutes? Why would I care what other people are having for lunch, or what random thoughts just popped into their heads? Do you think Hemingway would have tweeted “Just put shotgun in mouth. Funny metallic taste :-(“?

People today can’t seem to tolerate being out of touch for even a few minutes. In my classes (I’m a college professor) I require students to turn off and put away all electronic media. (I use a lot of online a/v material during class.) As soon as class is over, students bolt for the door, turning on their phones the way people used to grab cigarettes. You can almost see their hands shaking. “Has anybody texted me? Why hasn’t anybody texted me? What’s been posted on Facebook? What tweets have I missed?” I’m convinced that social media—all forms of instant communication—have become a type of addiction. We can’t go for any length of time without another “fix.”

Recently I was made aware of just how pervasive and addictive these things are when I went to the restroom in a bookstore. As I went into a stall I saw from the feet in the next stall that it was occupied. About the time I got settled, the man in the next stall said, “So, what do you want to do Friday night?” What I wanted to do right then—forget Friday night—was get out of there, but, let’s just say, I couldn’t. Then, after a pause, he said, “I could bring some wine.” At that point I realized—I hoped to God—that he was talking to someone on his phone.

What could possibly be so important that he couldn’t wait five minutes to make that call? Why did he have to intrude his phone call into the privacy of my privy?

I’m not a Luddite. I carry a cell phone and I text when I need 2, but I don’t want 2 b connected every waking moment. The world has changed, though. Recluses like J. D. Salinger couldn’t become successful today, no matter how good their writing might be. Can you imagine what kind of tweet you’d get from Salinger? I’m not—and don’t want to be—as reclusive as he was. I just find it very difficult to meet modern expectations of a writer in this age of social media. I love writing. I enjoy talking to people about writing. My Wednesday night writers’ group is the highlight of my week. I just hate having to publicize myself through social media.

I’m Albert, and I’m an introvert.

One Interruption After Another

Write first.

That’s what the sign on my desk says. But sometimes that’s easier said than done. It seems as though my life is nothing but one long series of interruptions.

I’m writing the next Jeri Howard book, Cold Trail. Writing in the abstract sense, that is. I think about my plot and characters a lot, but I haven’t actually worked on the book in several days. I’ve had too many interruptions.

The biggest interruption of all, and this has been case for many years, is the day job. My writing brings in some money, but not enough to support me.

So I work outside my home. For the past thirty years, that has meant getting up very early in the morning so that I can write before going to work. Sometimes the flow of words will just get started when the travel alarm on my desk goes off. It’s time to save my work, shut off the computer and head for the day job.

By the way, the travel alarm is there because one day I was deep into what I was writing and looked up at the clock, thinking, oops, I should have been at work five minutes ago.

Other morning interruptions including answering email, dealing with the business of writing, and giving in to the temptation to check Facebook and my ebook sales.

There’s also the interruption of writing something other than my novel, like this blog post for the Perseverance Press blog, or something for my personal blog. Another writing project that must be done soon is my itinerary for my upcoming vacation so that my petsitters will know where I’ll be and when.

Or the interruptions take other forms – doing laundry in the morning to get ready for said trip, interrupting my time at the computer with the mundane task of transferring wet clothing from the washer to the dryer. A big interruption will be the upcoming repair work on the walls in the bedrooms, one of which serves as my office. And Daisy, the cat who feels that it’s her mission in life to get between me and the computer screen.

About that upcoming trip, sometimes I take my baby computer, the netbook, with me. Time spent in the airport, or on a plane or a train, is time to write, without the interruptions that crop up at home. Traveling by train, however, provides its own set of interruptions. When the journey takes place aboard the Amtrak California Zephyr, the scenery beckons, the rugged terrain of the Sierra Nevada and the Colorado Rockies. After all, gazing out the window means seeing bald eagles along the Colorado River, and the real treat of seeing three bighorn sheep right next to the tracks.

In other words, there’s always going to be something that interrupts me. The question is how I deal with it.

Back to that sign – write first! Good advice, even if I don’t always follow it.

Round Robin: Thinking About Social Media

Our favorite harbinger of spring, that round robin.

Our favorite harbinger of spring, that round robin.

Time once again for our rotund avian friend, the Round Robin. This time the Perseverance Press authors discuss social media. Love it, hate it, somewhere in between, it’s still part of the business of writing. Here’s are a few questions for our PP writers (and our web maven Sue Trowbridge), and their responses, regarding social media and how they use it.

Which platforms are you using or dabbling, or dipping your toes? Do you find it useful? Is it a major time suck? Why do you like it? What turns you off? Would you include blogging with things like Facebook and Twitter, or is it something else entirely?

Lea Wait: Although I’ve grown to look at all my contacts with potential readers as marketing, I do categorize types of contacts differently. For me there are two kinds of blogging. One is the regular, getting-to-know you, blog, where you have repeat readers; the others is the “pleased-to-meet-you” cocktail party guest blog where you in effect leave your calling card/book mark and hope the reader remembers you or checks out your book. I blog with Perseverance, of course. I also blog regularly (3-4 times a month + group blogs on Sundays) with www.mainecrimewriters.com). I do guest blogs or interviews perhaps 1-2 times a month.

The only other social media I do is Facebook. I don’t have an Author page. I only have about 2300 “friends” so I’m not near needing one, and I think most people like the idea of being a “friend” instead of a “fan” – although they don’t call it a “fan page” any more. I probably spend a couple of hours a day on FB. I post all my blogs there, and other blogs of my friends. I write short reviews of books I enjoy. I comment on life in Maine, on events I’m involved with, and on what I’m writing. I also comment a lot on my friends’ posts – from wishing them happy birthday to liking their cat and baby photos and so forth. I do try to be their “friend” – not just an author who posts about her writing. I think it pays off when I have a new book out. At first it felt awkward – now I actually enjoy it.  Plus it’s a way to keep in touch with actual long lost friends and relatives.

I haven’t gotten involved with any of the other social media, although people have tried to talk me into Twitter and Pinterest. At the moment, one “time suck” a day is plenty – plus the blogging. If I added up the number of hour a week I spent blogging and FBing . . . it would be a lot.

Laura Crum: I have been blogging for five years at the equestrianink blogspot and have found it a very effective way to reach potential readers of my horse-themed mystery series. Since the readers of this blog are interested in horses and writing about horses, it is very much my target audience. My backlist is now up on Kindle and it is easy for me to see the bumps in sales when I do a promotion through the blog. So I would say that it is very useful. I also enjoy the discussions with other horse bloggers. Since I don’t like to take the time away from home/family to do physical book tours, etc, the blogging has been a great tool for me, enabling me to both find new readers and connect with fans.

I’ve been using Facebook for just over a year. I resisted it for a long time, because I knew (and I was right) that it would be addictive for me and a major time suck, as you say. However, it does work. On my last Kindle promotion, many “friends” shared the info and within hours of the sharing the sales more than quadrupled. I’m pretty sure that I have reached a lot of potential fans of my series through Facebook. But even so, I do waste time there, for sure.

I’ve resisted trying any other social media because I feel that I give enough time to Facebook and blogging as it is.

Lev Raphael: I signed up for Twitter and Facebook because I thought they’d be interesting ways to get my work out there beyond what I’d previously done.  Frankly, they’ve been more important in terms of fans finding me (which isn’t quite the same thing), and for learning about news, books, authors, or places I might not discover otherwise.  The downside is what everyone knows: Facebook can be a black hole. I try to limit my time there to, say, fifteen minutes in the morning.  I’m not always successful.  However, the days I stay away from it I tend not to miss it.

What I dislike most about Facebook is that people often misread things there and take offense quickly without thinking through their reactions.  Twitter and Facebook are both very cold ways of interacting that can create hot reactions.  They lack crucial basics of human communication: tone of voice, facial expression, body language, and the ability to repeat or backtrack or correct.  I also think people in a lousy mood can go ballistic on both those social web sites, take out their bad moods or work out their problems on others.   The quick nature of both media can bring out the bitchiness in some people, and too frequently does.  I’ve seen people de-friended on Facebook for ridiculous reasons.

I also think that Facebook can elicit inappropriate sharing from people who don’t know when to stop posting.  I’m not talking about authors telling fans and friends about meals or vacations, alerting them to readings or book sales or new books. When an author brags about royalties, that’s crossing a line – but then the problem with Facebook is that the lines are blurry anyway because the whole thing is so removed from reality.

Nancy Means Wright: I’m on Facebook with both a personal page and my Mary Wollstonecraft page, which early on attracted over 900 people – but I can’t see it has sold many books. People on FB don’t want to read a lot of “Buy Me” posts. So I try to entertain with lighter fare. Moreover, FB doesn’t show my photos, et al. the way it used to, so the page isn’t as interesting as it once was.

Goodreads (now acquired by Amazon) is helpful: I offer three or four Giveaways of each new book and usually have just under a thousand people wanting a copy. Sometimes I get a review, as well, and recently a reviewer of The Nightmare won $50 for her delightful review sent to Bas Bleu catalogue. I also post Giveaways in Library Thing, and might or might not get a review there. I’m on Linked In, but doubt it sells books. No Twitter at this point—I simply haven’t time!

I’m on listservs (chatrooms) for Crimethrutime,  Dorothy L, Historical Excerpts group, MMA, MWA, LLDreamspell, Red Room. And other subgroups within larger groups. I’m on Linked In, too, and seem to attract friends, if not sales.  I’m on two group blogs: PP of course, and Vermont Book Shelf, which is just for Vermont fiction writers. In a sense, blogs count as social media, since we do give and get comments. I make a point, too, of commenting on blogs by people who comment on mine. A courtesy – but I usually find them interesting, and learn something new.

Is social media a time suck? To a degree, yes – it keeps my name alive. But everyone is out there trying to promote his/her book, offering free e-book copies, et al. – and I’m just one of hundreds or thousands.

As a former teacher, though, I like to help others in any way I can. It’s in the blood.

Sara Hoskinson Frommer: Unless you count DorothyL, I don’t even dip my toes in.  Time pressure, for sure.  And I’m leery of Facebook. Blogging doesn’t worry me in the same way.  Not sure why.  Except that there too I protect my time.

Sheila Simonson: The main problem with social media is the way they suck up time.  I use Facebook and Linked In, though not as well as I’d like to.  It would be helpful if each medium would set up a user-friendly tutorial exploring all the possibilities, and if that’s not likely, perhaps some kindly expert somewhere could summarize.

Camille Minichino: When one of my stepdaughters was in college in San Diego, she’d send us postcards. “I’m in the library studying,” she’d write.

“No, you’re not,” her father and I would respond (to each other), “You’re in the library writing postcards to all your family and friends.”

That was about 20 years ago. That same “girl” is now on Facebook, posting up to the minute reports on what she’s doing. “Hubby and I are enjoying a date night,” she posts.

“No, you’re not,” her father and I say. “You’re on Facebook.”

In other words, Facebook hasn’t changed who we are; it’s simply our current tool. I try to use it the way I use any tool—to serve my needs, under my control. Not that it always works that way, but it’s my choice, and I can never blame it for time wasted. 

Albert Bell: I must admit that I view social media with suspicion. That’s due partly to my age (late 60s) and partly to my temperament (deeply introverted). I don’t want people following me, on Twitter or in any other fashion. Nor do I want to follow anyone else. I have better things to do with my time than to tell people where I’m having coffee or to be told where someone else is having coffee or anything else about their lives. Some days I think J. D. Salinger had the right idea – hole up and write. I’m not a Luddite; I use a computer and the internet for hours every day, in my job and in my writing. I have a couple of web sites and am on Facebook, but the current craze for interaction through social media feels to me like a violation of privacy – mine and everyone else’s. Blogs do seem to offer the kind of safe distance between the person posting and those commenting that makes me more comfortable. And a post on a blog is usually thought out more fully before it goes public.

Nancy Tesler: As a traditionally published author from the pre-internet, pre-ebook days, I am a total dunce when it comes to using social media. I am learning, however, that it’s an important tool for me as an author, to have in my arsenal in order to get my “brand” out there.  Consequently, I do have a website and a Facebook page.  I also, thank God, have a wonderful friend/assistant who helps me.  I have not yet ventured into Twitter or P<interest, partially because I’m intimidated, and partially because I find even Facebook a tremendous time suck. When I see how often some people post, I wonder how they get any work done. It takes too much time out of my day just to read all the posts, much less to post frequently myself.

Having said that, I believe the announcements I posted on Facebook for a recent eBook giveaway were very helpful. I posted at least two announcements with graphics before the three-day-giveaway and one on each subsequent day. The various posts were seen by 150 to 1400 people and I received many more “likes” than I’d had previously.  FB had given me $50.00 to do an ad and I did take advantage of that. Reportedly I had a good click-through rate. How many of those people actually downloaded the book I can’t say. The tremendous success of the promotion and the sales of my five books that have followed, I attribute to my having purchased a featured spot on Bookbub and to a lesser extent on Awesome Gang. Both sites have FB pages and numerous subscribers.

Kicking and screaming I’m being dragged into this new world. I don’t believe any of us can afford to ignore it.

Sue Trowbridge: Before the advent of the Internet, fans would only hear from authors when they had a new book out. I used to get occasional newsletters from writers like Carolyn Hart, Charlotte MacLeod and Elizabeth Peters via the U.S. mail. Today, thanks to social media, it’s possible to keep up with many of our favorites year ‘round. I can see Cara Black’s photos from Paris, find out which New York Times opinion pieces Lev Raphael has been reading, or get a movie recommendation from Lee Goldberg. In addition, I follow publishing industry watchers like Sarah Weinman on Twitter to find out what’s new in the book world. One thing the folks I follow have in common is that they all seem to genuinely enjoy interacting with their fans and friends, and they frequently have useful or fun information to share, not just “BSP.” If social media is not for you, don’t worry about it. Many of my favorite authors, like Peter Robinson and Marcia Muller, don’t have a social media presence at all. It doesn’t make me any less likely to buy their books. I think all fans recognize that the most important thing an author can write is not a status update – it’s an excellent book!

Wendy Hornsby: I have resisted the social media.  Like Rip van Winkle, I had a long nap in my publishing career.  Not as long a nap as his, but during which as much change in what was familiar occurred as his did. In 2009, when In the Guise of Mercy was published by Perseverance Press, I had been away for a decade, except for short stories. I was encouraged to start a webpage and to go on Facebook and to join various Listserv groups. I did what I had time and resources for.  But it seems that every week there is something more, and each new medium requires both more time and more tending. Honestly, because I am still teaching full time, and writing, I find the social media to be a great time suck. How productive is it?  I don’t know.

Recently, I participated in a writing project led by my friend Tim Hallinan. After the success of an anthology of donated short stories to raise money for Japanese relief after the great tsunami, Tim asked the participants to next contribute to a book about how various authors, twenty of us, create stories. Do we plot meticulously, or do we fly by the seat of our pants? The product of our conversation is a very fun book called Making Story.

The project was interesting from the beginning, and continues to be. When Making Story was first released as an E-book original, and then a paper and ink POD, we all posted on Facebook, blogged and tweeted like mad. I wrote about the book in my bi-weekly newspaper column, hawked it whenever I spoke about writing. With the efforts of twenty authors, the initial sales soared. And when the efforts faded, so did sales. We bottomed out at #300,000.

To bolster sales again, during the period from April 12 to 16, in honor of Income Tax Day, we offered the book online through Amazon, for free. Once again, we all hit the social media by storm.  By Friday morning, April 12, Making Story was number one on Amazon in the category of books about writing.  By Sunday morning, it was in the top 100 of non-fiction e-books.

It will be interesting to see if all the work to promote the book when it was free will help sells when it is back at its regular $3.99 bargain bite.

Do the social media sell books? Sure, given enough time, effort, and variety of postings. Would I alone be able to create such a move in the rankings as twenty of us working together affected? Nope. I know that there are bloggers, tweeters, reviewers and Likers (is that a new noun?) for hire at the rate of about five bucks per post. But I’m a school teacher so I doubt I’ll ever go that route.

For now, I have a web page, I check Facebook every week or so, I post on the getitwrite.wordpress.com blog for Perseverance Press authors and post on various guest blogs.  I write my newspaper column, “No Mystery Here,” for the Grunion Gazette.  And at the moment, that’s about all I can manage. Tweeting? If you explain why I should, maybe, after I retire.

Janet Dawson: Yep, it is a time suck. Which is why I don’t post on Facebook that often. I blog here with my fellow PP authors and I have my own blog, Got It Write. I view blogging as an opportunity to write short pieces about whatever catches my fancy. But sometimes it’s several weeks between posts. I was on Twitter for about a year but I still don’t get it, so I got off that one. I did get on Pinterest and am having fun with it, simply because it’s a place to post all the cute kitty pictures of my fabulous felines and my beautiful roses. Does it sell books? Maybe. But I work full time, which means writing time is at a premium. I simply don’t have the time or the inclination to devote several hours a day to social media, at least not right now. In fact, I just put up a sign on my desk that reads “Write First!”