It’s a surprise that we haven’t all turned into light hating golems after spending so much time on the internet. 1.9 billion online and over half of us perched on the edge of our seats throwing virtual cows at friends and poking random strangers. Social media is a phenomenon that has gripped an entire planet across an amazing breadth of ages and interests. Many people um and ah about whether or not they should use Twitter or Facebook or either. But in the time that you take to dither, you could have just set up a Twitter or Facebook account and road tested it. Social media is not something to be afraid of; we are not connecting with Martians in space. If ebooks are a digitisation of reading, then social media is a digitisation of communication.
Social media has overtaken porn as the number one activity on the internet. This should be your first clue about the impact social media can have on the business of writing. Over 50% of the world’s population (and readers) is under 30 years old and 96% have joined a social network. The fastest growing segment of Facebook is 55-65 year old females. 50% of UK mobile internet traffic is for Facebook. Imagine what this means for bad reader experiences. 78% of consumers trust peer recommendation over advertising. The video below is the first I ever viewed on the statistics of social media. If you didn’t care about the impact social media could have on books sales, then after this video you will know exactly why it is essential in this digital era.
Social media is ushering us into a future where more people will read what they are interested in and discover fields they had never considered. Ebooks provide an opportunity to reach niche markets of readers, where an author knows the needs of their smaller group of enthusiasts better than a publisher. We all place such high hopes on publishers, but they are just people like us, wandering around in their own little world preferring red over black, sex over sleep and who just do not want to read another teen romance, no matter how much it is like Twilight. In fact especially because it’s so much like Twilight.
Though a publisher may not see a commercial market for a manuscript within their country, that does not mean it does not have merit or a global niche market. The digital age has allowed indie authors to tap this global market but the bind is they must do it on their own. For an indie author, giving away their work for free is about the only way they can guarantee a glance at and perhaps a curious download of their novel.
Why would you give away something for free, on the off chance that that person will remember to tell their friends, their relatives, their pet goldfish? This question has stopped many an author in their promoting tracks. People are forgetful creatures. If they are like me, they download the free copy, add it to the end of the 20-book-long queue and by the time they get to reading it, telling their friends in a visible, public way is the last thing on their mind. Hence authors get caught in this Catch 22. Free is how you move forward, but people are notoriously lazy and absent minded and unwilling to pay for an unknown book from an unknown author.
You cannot buy attention anymore. As such, social media becomes indispensible in drawing attention for an author and their work. Yet how does an unknown author use the power of social media and ‘free’ when the readers of the ebook are so lazy?
Well one website has taken the value of social recommendation and is using it like a currency. This website is known as Pay With A Tweet. Basically you can create a button for your webpage, Facebook page, blog, or author profile that allows people to download your product (in our case, your ebook) for the price of a tweet. The reader can change your entertaining, pre-written tweet to whatever they wish, but they cannot change the link that leads to that Pay With A Tweet button. Therefore, to get an author’s free novel, they have to tweet about it first. Even more exciting, the creators of this facility are also developing a pay with a Facebook status option as well.
Twitter is a phenomenon whose social power has barely been tapped. Twitter is used by every well known company, department and personality in the world. The general public see social media as a way to ‘keep the bastards honest’, meaning keeping big companies honest on everything from the quality of their service to their offer of a free product. As such a tweet or Facebook status from a friend is seen as a true testimonial of a product or group to their trusted circle. Remember, 78% of consumers trust peer recommendation over advertising. Pay With A Tweet can help authors in an unprecedented way, allowing them to take advantage of the ‘free’ phenomenon, and get a guaranteed promotion from it at the same time.
Imagine the possibilities! One press is currently using the Pay With A Tweet website in a great way. Keyhole Press have several books for sale at an average price of $12.99 OR you can pay with a tweet. What is a person going to pay? The money, or get $13 of value for the price of a measly tweet? I can readily believe that readers will promote before they read without a thought, because they don’t have to pay for it. Then the viral marketing truly begins. Keyhole provide no synopsis, no genre, just a brief, 10 page pdf excerpt of the file. Just enough to give the reader adequate confidence to go ahead and Tweet for the download.
From there, one can easily track the URL to see how many people have Tweeted the book to the world, all because the reader received something for free. Instead of paying with money, your readers are paying with social advertising. And you didn’t even have to buy them a drink to introduce yourself.
Emily Craven is a young emerging writer from South Australia. Over the past year she has been learning as much as possible about e-books and internet marketing. Her blog posts on creative interaction in the digital age can be found at http://ebookrevolution.blogspot.com
Please note the picture provided is from the Pay With A Tweet website.