“Dear Sir or Madam, will you read my book?
It took me years to write, will you take a look?”
(Lyrics to “Paperback Writer,” © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Lennon and McCartney song writers)
No doubt, the Beatles were the greatest social media stars of their day, with press releases, movies with the same name as their albums, video clips, countless interviews in radio, television, magazines and periodicals worldwide, and the calculated first appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in the USA, where they ushered in the British Invasion (which lasted years). Everyone assumed that they were making billions of dollars. Celebrity and money went hand-in-hand in those days.
Flash forward fifty years. Could anyone have foreseen that people could become international sensations from the comfort of their homes and make absolutely no money, despite their celebrity? I see this all the time on YouTube and Instagram. Videos and photographs go viral on these media, and the creators draw hundreds of thousands or millions of followers who look forward to their next crazy posts or glimpses of their bodies. Most of these people are not earning money from this. They have dreams of doing well financially, perhaps from selling a product they promote or from sports/fitness counseling delivered through diets, workout routines, and online counseling. But only a very small percentage can quit their day jobs.
Then there are authors like me. I honestly think there are more writers than readers these days. Actually, I am fairly certain of this. It doesn’t matter if one has a big publishing house behind him or her or if one is an independent author, the bid for the attention of people who do read books is excruciatingly hard work. Nowadays, you have to be a social media superstar just for people to be aware of you. But that does not mean anyone is going to buy your book.
I am everywhere in social media, and I love it. All over the world, people give posts about my books their “likes,” thumbs-up, and smiley faces. I am followed on Instagram, Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter, Goodreads, LinkedIn, Tumbler, and Pinterest. (I am totally clueless how to use that one!). It makes me feel very warm inside to have their support. I never knew I could have so many friends.
I just wish someone would buy my books.
That is the thing. Globally, we have moved into a zero-cost economy. Not even a marginal-cost one anymore. We all want things gratis, and the fact is that we can get wonderful software, applications, products, and music for free…and books.
Okay, so the musicians have developed a work-around by discovering that they have to go on the road to do concerts in order to make money, even if it is their third “Farewell Tour.” They are not receiving much in royalties anymore. The application vendors give away good software, and they make money by selling third-party ads and upgrades. (Selling upgrades to a fractional percentage of millions of users is their calculated gamble.) And authors?
So far, we are giving material away for free in the hope that if someone likes it, they might buy our “premium” works. I have two novels available, so I wrote “prequels” to those novels as free introductions to the stories.
I have five years experience in using social media to promote books now, and I have advice for authors who hope to sell books: First, write excellent material which is well edited. Then make sure your stories, books, poems etc. display well through their cover art. Produce a portfolio of material that is available as soon as possible. Get involved in social media communities and be consistent with your postings. Think of yourself and your work as a brand. Separate your personal postings from your commercial ones. If you are not “techy” or social-media knowledgeable, hire someone to do this for you.
I actually love using social media. I want to be a SM super-star! In fact, I snuck little photos in this post to break up narrative with visual images so you might not become bored. And if you click on the photos, you get a surprise! But all of this activity online that I enjoy has roots in my heart from the stories I tell about heroes, lovers, the righting of horrible injustices, and the transformations in people’s lives when they confront uncommon good or frightening evil. I have met the composite characters in my novels in real life. They humble me, and I want to honor them. I write about them because their stories are thrilling and their courage inspirational.
So here comes the free stuff: Click the link to this page on my website. You can read about the two short stories and how to deliver them to your electronic reader. (Kindle, Nook, Apple or computer. It’s easy). If you want print editions of anything, go to Amazon and search my name under “Daniel Wetta.” You will find there also the books of my father and all the wonderful independent authors who have trusted their publishing to me.
These have taken me years to write. Would you take a look? (Paste smiley-face here).