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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Friends, Followers & Fans

There's speculation that Google Friends Connect may go bye-bye. The forum for GFC was closed down in January. Google has made some changes across the board on Blogger and its Reader, but nothing earth-shattering. The only big news is that Google+ is being integrated with some of its other platforms. 

I don't like being forced into applications. If I had wanted Google+, I would've joined. They're just beating that poor dead horse.

I've reached a saturation point with these social networking sites. Now people are pushing Klout, which allegedly shows how influential you are by calculating the reach of your FB posts or Tweets. 

All I want to do is sell my books. That's enough influence for me.

And speaking of selling books. I spent all night updating The Devil To Pay--and that was just the peripherals.

I changed my name on the cover art to the same font I used for Chain of Souls so they'd look more series-like. I also added the blurb and link to Chain of Souls to the front and back matter of The Devil To Pay.

Two minor changes and I was at it ALL night. I was having trouble getting into the Kindle site, then I kept losing my internet connection, and then I couldn't figure out how to make it a MobiPocket file. The link I was looking for wasn't there.

It was so frustrating. But it's updated now and I have a nice clean Mobi file. I have to change the Smashwords edition too, but I need to recoup my strength first. For someone who hates tech, I sure get knee-deep in it daily.

B&N has not answered my emails about missing sales, but I did get a cryptic email from someone admonishing me for not linking my book to the right web site. She claims I'm linking to Borders. Um...I don't think so.

I suspect something is really screwy at B&N. I don't think I'll upload future books there. They've lost my trust.

Sales have been slow for Chain of Souls. Is it because I'm not touring this time, or is it because I haven't approached very many book bloggers for reviews? I don't know. 

I'm still trying to sort out my time versus revenue. Hand-selling each book is time-consuming. I don't mind doing it, but at some point the books have to start selling themselves. I have yet to land that big audience that will give me word-of-mouth street cred. 

The few faithful readers I have are wonderful and so loyal it makes me cry. But I really need to find the rest of my audience soon.

By the way, if you've read Chain of Souls, I'd love it if you could leave a review somewhere. I could use all the help I can get.

So tell me, do you think having a lot of friends and followers equates to popularity? What do you think makes a blog popular?

Aside from good posts, I think it's the interaction. Hardly a week goes by someone doesn't tell me that my commenters are just as interesting as my posts. 

That's an awful nice compliment and it means more to me that a boatload of avatars. Those of you who comment are the real engines behind this blog. People visit here as much for you as they do for me. I hope in turn that's netted you more followers on your blogs and sales for your books.


Angelina Rain said...

B&N sounds really shady. I'm glad you will not be putting future books there.

I hate how sites try to make changes. I'm not likeing any of the changes made on blogger, facebook, or yahoo. Actaully, yahoo is the worst. After they changed their email settings, I now have a very hard time deleting my emails.

It sucks that book sales have been slow lately, I'm very sorry to hear that. Once I'm done reading SoS, I will post a review for you. PS: I the cat is classic. I love him.

Renee Miller said...

Stupid changes. Facebook, Google, Twitter...they can all suck it. I have a hard enough time managing technology. Every change sends me into head-desk mode. Also, crying mode, ranting mode, profanity-while-throwing-things mode. Sigh.

I think your decision about B&N is the right one. If they make your gut go "um..." then stay away from them.

On the book front, I try to leave reviews where I think it helps most, but I just realized I haven't left reviews on Amazon for DTP and COS. (Yep, I'm too lazy to type the whole title) I shall do that today.

Marketing is probably the hardest part of publishing, IMO. That's whether you've gone traditionally or on your own. I keep reading to see if you've figured out the big secret. Don't worry, I have faith in you. :)

Maria Zannini said...

Angelina: I'm not sure if B&N is shady or just disorganized. I want them to succeed, but they need a new staff leading the way. The one they have now is mucking up the works at a time when they need to be sharper than the other guys. Amazon and Google will eat them alive if they don't snap out of their myopia.


Renee: Thank you for the reviews! I hate to ask for them because I know people are busy, but the best way to support an author (besides buying their books) is tagging, tweeting and reviewing.

Ref: secret to marketing
LOL. You're not the first person to tell me that.

In all seriousness though, the secret is different for everyone. What might work for one person won't have the same results for someone else. But I'll share what I've discovered along the way.

Hmm...there's a future post in that thought somewhere.

Nadja Notariani said...

I haven't uploaded my book to B& I'm sort of glad. Sorry to hear you're having a time with them.

Sales...Yeah. From everything I'm reading, it seems that an author needs about 8 (yes I typed eight...Oy!) published works before the audience base starts 'rippling'. I was surprised at first, but after reading other authors make the same claims you are now making, I suppose they must be right.

As for blog popularity. I'm with you. I'm blogging to get my name out there and connect with other writers. Yes, marketing is a necessity, but my goal is to write in the end. I think the other stuff will happen when it happens. I don't want to get caught up in posting all over creation at the expense of my writing. I may be slowing myself down - but I am probably saving a part of my sanity. I don't know that I care so much about popularity...I just would like to sell my books and make happy readers. Can I have one without the other? I don't know the answer to that

Nadja Notariani said...

Oh! I'll pass along your title to friends of mine (Brazen Broads Book Bash) who will maybe add a review on Amazon...I hope it helps.

Tracy Jo said...

Isn't it amazing how time consuming the smallest things can be. I laughed when I read that part of your post because I just said that to my guy. I am working on something I thought would take 30 mins and it turned into 2 hours. I hope your book sales pick up and sorry to hear about B&N. I don't believe having a lot of followers makes you popular but I do believe it helps with self-marketing. Just like before the internet when you had a mailing list. Have a great day Maria!

Stacy McKitrick said...

I'm not much of a social person. I love to write, but the words don't always come easy for me. Blogging is still a challenge, but I'm sort of getting the hang of it. Facebook is frustrating and since the last change, I've lost some interest. I check in every now and then, but that's about it.

I guess I just hope that when it comes time to market myself (and I say when, because I'm sure one day I will be published), I'll be a little prepared and hope the friends I have will be enough to start with.

I'm sorry you're having problems with B&N. It's who I purchase with (since I'm a member and get free shipping). Plus, I only purchase paper books (no e-reader for me). I also hear horror stories about Amazon. I guess nothing is really safe when it comes to self-pubbing. You just have to stay on top of things. Good luck!

Maria Zannini said...

Nadja: 8 books? I've got three more to go then. We'll see where I am this time next year.

I can totally relate about taking the slower path. In the beginning I wanted to copy what other people were doing, but it was too unnatural for me. It teetered on the obnoxious, constantly parading around like a drunk monkey. So I opted for personal interactions even though I knew this route would be slower.

Ref: I'll pass along your title to friends of mine...

Oh, thank you, thank you!

Maria Zannini said...

Tracy: When I was younger, it seemed everything fell in like clockwork. Now I take the time I think it should require and multiply it by three.

Stacy: I love to blog. I have yet to run out of material. LOL. Mostly I run out of time. But I try to keep regular days here.

I have a Nook too, so I really want B&N to succeed, but they're not helping the cause.

LD Masterson said...

I'm particularly disappointed in B&N because I invested in a Nook. And I want there to be a strong alternative to Amazon. Just not fond of mega-giants.

That said, I did post a review of Chain of Souls on Amazon.

Maria Zannini said...

Linda: You're a real pal to post on the enemy's site. :) Thank you!

I'm convinced B&N needs a younger, more aggressive board of directors to make decisions. I don't want to lose B&N, but they're making it hard to be loyal if they won't even address problems.

K.T. Hanna said...

I love my nook, so this is upsetting to hear.

On the Google Friend Connect front - that's bad. I rely on it so I can follow people on my feed...

It's a nice way to let people know you're reading their blog. Why on earth would they remove it? They should just integrate it.

Maria Zannini said...

KT: I think integration is what they have in mind for GFC. I can't imagine why they'd retire it. But who knows?

I follow people on both GFC and Google Reader, but I read them on the reader since there are so many more blogs than can comfortably fit on GFC.

Anonymous said...

The B&N thing is upsetting to me, with a Nook that's often my first stop for e-books, even if just to compare prices. I thought I posted on your last post about it but apparently it was eaten.

I'm frustrated with the changes on Facebook and am on there even less than I was sorry I lured you over there ;) I don't use the GFC so can't speak to that. The changes to the reader took a bit to get used to but for the most part I'm okay with them...for now.

I'm sorry the selling isn't going well {{hugs}}

I agree the interaction is the best part of blogging. However, I read somewhere, maybe Kristen Lamb, that most readers don't search out author blogs. They want to find a back list, series info, etc. it is only after they've become a fan that they are interested in learning about the author. How many of your comments are strictly readers? And I'm not talking about book reviewers like Jackie.

I found you through Lynn Viehl's LB & LI...and so, so very glad I did! But that was as someone looking to write rather than read, though I've read everything, except that Bra book, of yours since.

What's the happy medium? I have no idea. Again, I think, it's Kristen Lamb who suggests visiting and commenting on forums where your readers might be...romance is usually women, often mothers, so scrapbook sites was used as an example. :head desk: I'm on two scrapbook sites (though not currently active) and they are as big a time suck as any other social site. The thing with them is if you don't have 'layouts' in your profile no one is going to take you seriously.

Okay, I'm going to stop now, this is becoming a rant which I really didn't mean for it to be, and a book of a comment.

{{hugs}} my friend!

Maria Zannini said...

Raelyn: It's been my habit that every time I see someone with a book (or reader), I always ask where they find their selections. It's a great way to break the ice and talk about books. (I never tell them I'm an author.)

Never once did anyone ever tell me they use forums. I have met quite a few avid readers who do reader conventions, others who have organized book clubs, and others who list Libraything or Shelfari as their hangouts. A few find their selections through that scroll bar on Amazon.

This would be a great question for discussion. Maybe we can do it next week. Thanks, Raelyn!

Shelley Munro said...

Like you, Maria, I'm at saturation point with social media. It's tricky balancing everything, and these days I do what I can and try not to stress about the rest. I think it's best to do what you enjoy because promo is hard enough as it is!

You can also load your books up at All Romance EBooks. You need to register as a publisher then go from there. Just to add some more work for you, but that's an alternative to B & N. I like ARe and purchase more ebooks there than anywhere else.

Maria Zannini said...

Shelley: Thank you so much for reminding me of ARe. I've actually registered, but I hadn't put books there yet.

I think I will now. Thanks!

Live Out Loud said...

I agree with you about the social media website changes and I don't like Klout BECAUSE it rates you. It's one thing where five little stars reduce my books to a number but now they want to put a number on my popularity? (It's like high school all over again.)

I think a person or blog is popular, not by the number but the quality. I'm like you in that I follow and comment on people's blogs where they respond to the comments and visit my blogs. Otherwise, I feel like I'm spitting in the wind. The point of blogs and social media is to connect, right? I mean, books sales would be great but I'd blog even if I didn't write books because I like reading and meeting new people and interacting.

I hope your books start selling themselves soon. If you keep at it, it'll happen. It hasn't happened for me yet either but we can't give up!

Barbara Ann Wright said...

I think a blog becomes popular when it's poignant and interesting like yours. Also, you take the time to respond to comments and to visit other blogs. I think this is absolutely necessary, that a blogger show an interest in being part of the blogging community.

As for sales, maybe it is the blog tour. That did get your name to an awful lot of people.

Angela Brown said...

Sounds like we may need to take a road trip to B&N headquarters and wrestle up some answers or leave a few folks with a new definition of B&N. Don't forget your mask.

As for the sales, I've seen longer blog tours net more exposure and so that may lead to more sales. I've also noticed that readers who like to check out book bloggers may be more apt to check out a book from having the books reviewed. This is the part of self-publishing that is as difficult as writing the book itself. What about a contest on Goodreads or a special price blitz day? Just the weird things floating in my head.

I can't really say anything regarding the blogger popularity and its connection, or lack there of, to sales. I would like to think the two are not required to go hand in hand when it comes to how many people purchase your book. That could just be my hopefulness for when I decide to self-pub one of my stories.

Maria Zannini said...

Live Out Loud: I wouldn't mind being rated if it weren't for the fact that Klout is taking such a limited stream of data to arrive at their figures.

Barbara: Blog tours are so draining. But then I don't have run of the mill tours, do I? LOL.

Angela: Weird is good and I've considered several strategies. Some reviews are forthcoming, and also other books. But I hadn't considered Goodreads. I'll check them out. Thanks!

BTW, if you think of any other weird ideas, float them over. :)

Darke Conteur said...

I dislike Klout. You have to spend hours on Twitter and Facebook to keep, or raise your rating. I'm sorry, but I don't have time for that.

As for blogs, I don't cater to anyone. My blog/s are for me. I don't cater to anyone.

Jenny Schwartz said...

Maria, I think you've built a wonderful community at your blog. I'd hope that would translate into exponentially more sales ... maybe we're all too shy to shout enough for you?

Nadja, I think it was, mentioned 8 books out before things really take off. That's like dangling a carrot on a really long stick out in front of me. I guess I'd better stop chatting and start writing madly.

Charlie said...

Sorry book sales are sluggish. Finding your readers is hard - no doubt about it. Wish I had some wisdom to impart, but I got nothing. ((hugs))

Kerri Cuev said...

It's annoying when sites change often, Facebook for example. They seem to change hings daily. I hope sales pick up soon :)

Dru said...

Sorry about your book sales.

Visiting blogs is like visiting a friend.

Maria Zannini said...

Sorry to be away so long. I've got company this week.

Darke: Klout is just another algorithm, but without enough data, it's flawed. I don't buy it.

Jenny: There's an old advertising principle that says your message/brand must be consistent and delivered regularly to penetrate the market. This is why the 8 books Nadja mentioned is a good barometer. Whether it's books, forums, cons, touring, or reviews, the message has to keep being repeated.

This is why we groan when we see a commercial for umpteenth time. The advertiser isn't doing it to annoy you, but to reach the people he didn't catch last time.

Charlie: On the bright side, sales for my first book Touch of Fire has been very good. There's no rhyme or reason sometimes.

Kerri: The other thing I noticed is that they all "modify" their sites at about the same time. I wonder if they use focus groups before they roll out these changes.

Dru: That's true for me too. I've learned so much from blog friends. Through them I've seen other parts of the world, others ways of living and lots of cute pets. :)

Isis Rushdan said...

All of your diligence regarding your books will pay off in the long run. So sad that it takes forever to get the smallest things accomplished sometimes.

Social media is a necessary evil for writers. However, I think it's important not to forget about your writing or to feel like you have to get on every platform out there. I'm still not on FB and I think it will be a while before I bother with it.

Hope your sales pick up.

Jayne said...

I hadn't heard that about Google Friends Connect. That would be very sad to see all those little faces disappear! I blog to pour out thoughts, connect with others and just see how things go - Klout, google + etc, it's all too much!

Mike Keyton said...

Klout, Twitter, Linkedin, google+ Facebook - Soul-catchers all of them

Maria Zannini said...

Isis: I like FB just to chat with friends. Twitter is still a mystery to me, but I'm getting better at it.

Jayne: GFC took me by surprise. I had no idea what it was until someone added me to their list.

Mike: LOL. I never thought of that before. How true. "Sucking the souls of unsuspecting peeps since..."

James Garcia Jr said...

Hi, Maria. So much of this is a work in progress...
Lately what I have been doing is posting once a week on Monday and then (trying) spending the week visiting the blogs of others. Posting more often did not get me near the traffic that visiting did.
I do spend a lot of time on Social Networks, but no longer spend much time on the smaller ones.
Much success to you, my friend.


Kaye Manro said...

Sorry to be late to the party, but I wanted to say there are always some great comments and ideas here.

I'll look for you book out there.

Maria Zannini said...

Jimmy: So true. Our whole lives are a work in progress, with writing just one chapter of it.

Kaye: I have the BEST commenters. We really do have some good discussions here.