Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Does an on-line presence sell books?

The question every author wants to know.

Before I tackle it, let me first point you to the Great Ghost Giveaway Megan Crewe is having to celebrate the release of her book GIVE UP THE GHOST. Go HERE for all the details. Not only can you win an advance copy of GIVE UP THE GHOST, but also a copy of I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME by me and SHADOWED SUMMER by the incredibly talented Saundra Mitchell.

So, an on-line presence. Contests. Blogging. Twittering. Does it all matter in the scheme of things?

Of course, no one knows for sure. But I'm sure everyone has an opinion about it.

When I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME was released, I held a big giveaway - the 12 books of Christmas. Remember that? It wasn't really that long ago and yet it seems SO long ago. Anyway, back then, there weren't as many contests as there are now. The contest really helped to spread the word about my book and I HEART YOU did incredibly well its first couple of months out.

Fast forward to a year later. I did another big contest for FAR FROM YOU. The contest was different, but I still offered up a lot of prizes. I think I had even more prizes than I did the first time, I just gave them away differently. I had many, MANY entries.

And yet this time, the results were vastly different. FAR FROM YOU has had a tougher time of it. Of course there are many variables that come into play. I HEART YOU is paperback, FAR FROM YOU is hard cover. The book came out right when it felt like our financial floor was falling out beneath us. And just a year later, the number of books my book has to compete with is much, much larger. I HEART YOU has a paranormal aspect to it that FAR FROM YOU doesn't, and that could also be why it's done much better.

FAR FROM YOU isn't a bad book. In fact, some people who've read both books, like Becky of Becky's Book Reviews preferred FAR FROM YOU. And just last week I got two letters from teens telling me how much they loved FAR FROM YOU and they hadn't read I HEART YOU yet.

Could I have done more to get the word out about FAR FROM YOU? Maybe. Would it have helped? I don't know. What I do believe is that people don't want to be hit over the head on blogs and twitter and message boards with a message that screams - buy my book, buy my book, BUY MY BOOK. I mean, think about it. When you buy a book, WHY do you buy that book?

Here are my reasons. I buy a book because the premise sounds REALLY good. Unique. New. Interesting. Sometimes I buy a book because I want to support that author. I can tell you that if I hear a lot of people saying a book is great, like THE SEASON and SHADOWED SUMMER and most recently DULL BOY, guess what I'm doing? I'm going to the bookstore and I'm buying those books. It wasn't anything the author did on her blog that made me go and buy it. However, the work that author did to spread the word about the book, get review copies out, etc. helps for people to then blog about it, so I know people are loving the books.

Ultimately, I think good books will find readers. And as I've said before, it's not a sprint. It's a marathon. We do what we can and try to realize that so much of this business is out of our control. No one is going to buy a book because an author sounds scared and desperate. So keep those feelings to yourself. And in some ways, I think too much promotion can look a little desperate. So make a plan, work the plan, and know that in the end, it's not about how much time you're on twitter or how many blog posts or contests you did to promote your book. I mean, did any of us see any contests for THE HUNGER GAMES? No. And yet, how many of us read that book?

We have choices as to how we spend our time. Time writing the best book we can is the best choice EVERY SINGLE time.


  1. I agree that good books will be read regardless.

    I purchased both of your books (sadly, I haven't read either yet) because they both sounded interesting. At the time I Heart You, You Haunt Me was released, I had not yet been introduced to YA blogs and did not visit author websites. I just happened to stumble across it after reading some YA lists on Amazon.

    And truly before I started blogging and reading other YA blogs, I found many of the books that I list amongst my favorites just been searching shelves and word of mouth, not by author presence on the Internet.

    So while it can may help some authors, I would say that for most authors on-line presence or lack of does not make a difference in book sales. It is all about the quality of the author's writing.

  2. Shalonda, thanks for weighing in. And thanks for buying my books! I hope you get a chance to read them soon. :)