Online Marketing Works If You Have the Long View

These days, it seems like everyone has become a big skeptic of social networking’s effectiveness—or even believes that cultivating a site or blog can harm or stall a writer’s career.

In the following post, I explain why I think authors aren’t getting the results they want (or why they fail in their efforts):

The No. 1 Component of an Effective Online Marketing and Promotion Strategy

You’ll find that not only patience is key, but also you need to have an online “hub” in place. Go read the full article.

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5 thoughts on “Online Marketing Works If You Have the Long View

  1. Bgarner

    Great article. A blog is one thing – a professional looking site is another. It’s best to have both. Online marketing is about getting the word out. You can tweet and facebook, but having a site that features your content, as well as more info about you and what you have to offer is important.

    Since I found this post under “Article Marketing,” that is something that a writer should know or learn how to do. That is, if he or she wants traffic. Remember, you can leverage your work to a book, cd, podcasts, etc.

    With that said, this only applies to those who want to earn money from their works. Best, Bob – A funny motivational speaker who says something!

  2. Mayowa


    You’re right about some the success of print or radio ads depending on the type of book and audience. You’re also right about many of those ads having no effect at all.

    You summed it up pretty accurately when you mentioned the "multi-faceted approach" traditional publishers take. I think the common tendency among self publishers is to depend too heavily on social media and not on that multi-faceted approach (which worries me).

    Thank you for the discussion.

  3. Jane Friedman

    @Mayowa – I agree that it doesn’t make sense to just focus on social media or just focus on one form of advertising. Major/traditional publishers usually take a multi-faceted approach.

    Your comment seems to imply that print advertising or radio can sell books better, but I think this entirely depends on the audience and the type of book. Obviously getting coverage on NPR is a huge boon to most books’ sales, but there are also plenty of examples of advertising that had no impact, or even major print review coverage that had no impact.

    So, there is no one sure-fire button to press that will work every time, for every author, for every book.

    @Mike – It sounds like you need to see a full-scale research study! Well, I don’t know that anyone is doing scientific research on the matter, but you should check out the Nov/Dec 2010 issue of Writer’s Digest magazine, because it features an in-depth reported piece about what online marketing works, and what doesn’t, based on the experiences of a dozen successful authors.

    If you’re a regular reader of this blog, then you’re probably aware that I frequently interview authors and point to success stories in using online tools to market and promote. (Click on the category "interviews.)

    Finally, I worked at a major media company (F+W Media) for 12 years, and I was in charge of the financial performance of Writer’s Digest before I left. I saw firsthand how social media (Twitter, Facebook, blogs) was directly tied to sales of ALL kinds of products (not just books) through the company’s own online store. (Impossible to track brick-and-mortar sales or 3rd party retailer sales, but one must assume that was happening, too.)

    This kind of sales impact is seen across each and every F+W Media community. We’re talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars in book and magazine sales (and services).

  4. Mike Mullin

    This article, like all the others that I’ve seen on this subject, supports the assertion that social media sells books with one anecdote. While the anecdote is interesting, and I have no doubt it worked in that one case, it does little to answer the bigger question of whether social media sells books generally. Has anyone actually studied this question? Might I suggest that Writer’s Digest undertake a study? A solid study that answered the social media question/books sales and perhaps also the question of what kind of social media works best would be more useful to writers than an infinite number of additional anecdotes and opinions on the subject.

  5. Mayowa


    This is such a timely post and I enjoyed reading it.

    I think the discussion veers towards two extremes, one absolutely skeptical of and the other too dependent on social media. For me, the two greatest benefits of social media (besides the low cost) are that it allows authors to make connections (that may lead to sales) and create listening hubs for their fans (to monitor needs, brand, thought).

    These two benefits by themselves don’t sell books in the same (direct) way say a print ad or a radio spot can sell books but they can be further leveraged using the methods you mention (having an online hub for them to find you once they’re connected and interested).

    I do agree with you about the long term approach. It gets easier to build connections that convert so to speak, the social proof of numerous existing connections doesn’t hurt either.

    Thank you for such a great post.


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