Web 2.0: Useful For Author Promotion?

Everyone’s all atweet (excuse me for the pun) these days about Web 2.0.  For those of you not in the know, Web 2.0 is not the plain old Web 1.0, which was the traditional internet with informative webpages, etc.  Web 2.0 includes all the social media and blogging sites that have exploded over the last few years.  Myspace.  Facebook.  Twitter.  There are far too many to list.  There are another half dozen or so stuck down there in my “Me Around The Web” section of my blogroll.  Do I use all of them?  Um, no.  Not really.  I loathe Myspace.  I don’t care for Facebook.  The only thing I have consistently used is Twitter, and that’s to keep up with my writing pals.

There seems to be a lot of discussion out there now about the necessity of building and enlarging your internet footprint, solidifying your brand, getting your name out there.  It’s become the Must Do Thing for authors.  A frequent criticism I hear is that it’s time consuming (it is) and takes away from the really important stuff–the writing (it does).  As someone who has yet to be published, I am somewhat freer of the expectations of authors at this point, yet I still fall victim to the temptation to try to Make Myself Known.  I suppose I am somewhat succeeding in that all but two of the results when you google “Kait Nolan” are actually me.  But who the heck knows to google for me in the first place?

That’s neither here nor there and not where I want to go with this post.

There were two posts over at Romancing the Blog this week relating to web promotion.  The first was an informative post by Malle Vallik on How Authors Should Use Social Media.  She makes the practical argument that even if you don’t do anything with them, you should own your name at Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, and Shelfari.  Which sent me out to register for Shelfari, and I just wasted half an hour thinking of all the books I’ve read that I could add.  And I started a new Myspace page that I will never visit.  But I reserved my name!  She lists a lot of other things that you can do, most of which applies to already published authors.  But it’s a post definitely worth reading.

The other post I’d like to draw attention to is Brenda Coulter’s suggestions for Taming The Internet Promotion Monster.  Brenda makes some fabulous points about how many of these venues of social interaction are actually an exhausting waste of time.  She’s right–so many of us who write wind up friending and communicating with other writers, which is great, but does that really impact our sales (well for those of us who have things FOR sale)?  On the surface, perhaps not.

Here’s my take on the whole thing (as someone who hasn’t had to deal with this professionally yet).  Of the three biggies: Myspace, Facebook, and Twitter, I think it is important to have pages (even if they are static).  For Myspace and Facebook there are widgets available that you can use to RSS your blog or Twitter stream so that there’s SOMETHING new.  In any event, pick one of the three (for me, it’s Twitter) and use that to interact and build your writerly connections.  Even if it’s just trading recipes with famous editors or mutual griping about the latest TV show the idiot networks canned, you’re getting to know these people a bit, making them recognize your name.  This is important not so much because they will buy your book (although if they do, yay), but because it engenders an opportunity for you to politely inquire about guest blogging.

Now I haven’t done this but once (thanks for the opportunity Shiloh!), but I think we can all safely say that J. A. Konrath has more than adequately demonstrated the power of the guest blog tour.  THIS is where you can really get your name, your brand, your books out there.  Tour widely enough and you will be tossed in front of all kinds of readers you would never have been exposed to on your own blog.  I think this is a really fantastic alternative for those of us who have day jobs and wouldn’t be able to drop everything to go on a one or two month long tour of brick and mortar stores (which may or may not affect sales–opinions seem to differ–but that’s a topic for another post).  I think such a tour would be especially useful for new authors.  That’s exactly what Joe did when promoting Afraid, his new horror novel written as Jack Kilborn, a totally new pseudonym for him.  Yeah, it’s time consuming, but I think his numbers speak for themselves.  And as he has pointed out, that content, those guest posts are hanging out online in perpetuity and can continue to garner new readers, interest, and links.  Can anybody say that about Myspace, Facebook, or Twitter interactions?

It’s food for thought.

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