How many of you get frustrated on social media when you get a comment on your post or in some other way receive a message from a complete stranger asking you to ‘Like’ their page — or even more directly, requesting that you buy their book? Sometimes it’s just a link and a thumbnail picture of a cover, isn’t it?
Does it work on you? Do you ever buy books that arrive with you in such a way from people you’ve never met — and with whom you might not even be Facebook friends?
Chances are, you don’t buy many. But many writers keep on sending out such messages themselves with some kind of vague hope that other people are different, and that, if they send out enough posts of that kind, a small percentage will result in Likes and even sales. It’s all very understandable: when you find a new community interested in writing, and maybe even interested in the kind of book you write, you naturally feel eager to tell everyone about your novel. But jumping in with an obvious advert is the worst thing you can do. Community members — especially writing community members — usually recognise any attempt to sell them something. You might find you have violated that group’s rules about posting links — you will certainly alienate the members to some degree. Continue to try to ‘sell’ to them and they will inevitably shut you down before you get a chance to properly interact.
So what should you do?
The best way to make an impact on writing groups, or any group full of potential readers — which you should have spent time seeking out — is to properly get involved with them, by making comments, sharing opinions, interacting with other members. When you eventually share links to your writing, they’ll be interpreted as a valued friend sharing something you’ve made, rather than an attempt to cram something down other users’ throats.
Getting involved in online writers’ groups and communities is mutually beneficial. Your readership will eventually receive a boost; you’ll also be able to make friends in the lonely business of being a writer; and you’ll develop contacts, finding recommended editors, proofreaders and opportunities to get published.
‘But this is all time-consuming and laborious!’ some might protest. ‘I just want to sell my books!’
Welcome to the real world, where selling books — which are, after all, fabricated constructions plucked out of the air and turned into words in your private world, then packaged in the hope that some else will be interested — is part of everything else that takes place in this universe, and that involves Time and Energy.
When you engage well and consistently with relevant online communities and share your writing with them, everybody wins. When you ‘spam’ everyone in an attempt to short-circuit the way the universe works, you get lack of results and frustration.
There are plenty more articles on this topic in this blog and also in my book on marketing, tailor-made for writers.