I often wonder just how much all my online effort pays off. On the one hand, I see the hits this site gets (over 5,000 a month) and, even though people seem reluctant to comment much, it’s a very well-traversed corner of the interwebz. And I like it here, so I plan to stick around. I’m also very well aware of the need to build a profile online, a platform to make people aware of the fact that I’m a writer and that I have great books that are worth their time and money. I also have other fiction here on the site that is available to anyone for free and I like sharing that. I enjoy sharing news of other places that I get published, like the Oddville Press story recently, and I like sharing news about other writers.

So it’s all good, but does it really work on anything more than my ego?

Well, my books are selling well enough. Slow and steady. I’d certainly like to sell more, become a global phenomenon with hordes of rabid fans that dress up as the characters in my stories, but who doesn’t want that? It may happen to some degree, it may not – I’ll be writing anyway, so I might as well keep up the author platform and keep myself out there.

But every once in a while you come across something that reignites your faith in the power of blogging and social media. I often read Nathan Bransford’s blog. Nathan is a literary agent for Curtis Brown and blogs about all things related to his job, from writing good query letters to what’s hot at the moment and everything in between. Of course, given that his blog is so massively popular, he also gets back a good view of the zeitgeist from all the comments on anything he writes.

Yesterday he put up a very simple post:

You Tell Me: Where Did You Hear About the Book You’re Reading?

Last week we all shared what we’re reading at the moment.

Marketers and publicists and literary agents and everyone else interested in sales wants to know: how did you hear about it?

Also: where did you buy/borrow/acquire/steal it from?

At last look there are 194 comments on that post, with all kinds of books listed. Here are just the first three of those nearly two hundred comments:

Anonymous said…

Reading The Strain. Heard about it from Colleen Lindsay on Twitter.

Liana Brooks said…

Just finished Trouble with Demons. Won it from a blog promoting the release.

joelle said…

I used to do a lot of library browsing, but now I have a friend who is a MG/YA sales rep for Penguin Canada and she gives me about 35-40 ARCs every few months. My library use now is pretty much requests based on what I read about on blogs or personal recommendations from friends.

The bolding is mine, obviously. The number of times words like Twitter, blog, Amazon, Goodreads and so on crop up among those comments proves that online activity and social media is by far the strongest influence in readers these days. I was also pleased to see that good old fashioned libraries still get a look in. Old and new, co-existing. With books. Bliss.

So yes, social media and online activity is certainly worth the time and effort that it takes. Moreso, it’s absolutely essential if you want to be noticed out there, particularly if you don’t have the marketing behemoth of a big publisher backing you.

So what about you? Is social media working for you? Do you use online recommendations like those mentioned above to select your reading material? Leave a comment.