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Do You Absolutely Need Social Media to Sell Books?

In Discussion by Edward Nawotka

By Edward Nawotka, Editor-in-Chief

Twitter bird logoIt has become a maxim of publishing that you need to use social media to build readership, establish a platform, what have you. For example, in today’s feature story comics impresario Mark Waid notes that he built an audience for his digital comics publishing startup Thrillbent by asking fans to “…use Facebook and Twitter to find another 20,000 readers, and then I ask that the new 20,000 will find another 20,000.” He admits, “We’re talking small steps, but it works.”

For some, especially those catering to an audience of readers who “live” online — and by this I’m assuming we’re talking about a relatively younger demographic (not young, mind you, but younger, or youngish, or at least, youthful) — social media promotion most definitely works. But what of those readers whose audience may indeed not be as adept at utilizing social media, or at the very least limit it to social interactions with family and friends, rather than using it to seek out entertainment options, what to read, etc. What of them?

And of course, opinions vary as to whether social media actually works to sell books.

Earlier this year at our Children’s Publishing Conference, Scholastic’s David Levithan — a man who knows how to write and publish books that young people read — said that they had no proof at Scholastic that social media (and I’m paraphrasing here) was ever responsible for selling a book. He maintains a minimal amount of social media interaction, finding it a distraction from his daily routine.

Of course, Scholastic is Scholastic is Scholastic much in the same way a rose is a rose is a rose. It is what it is: the colossus of global children’s book publishing. One can assume that the audience will inevitably arrive at some point with a Scholastic title or two (Harry Potter? The Hunger Games?).

So the question is: in this digital era, do you absolutely need social media to get readers? Perhaps not, but you know, it can’t hurt. The answer depends to a large extent on your cost/benefit analysis and what your investment in time is worth.

Let us know what you think in the comments.

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.