So I did.
Of the books I've actually paid money for since 2008:
- I chose 45% because I knew the author (meaning I had read one of their books before and liked it).
- I chose 35% because of word of mouth (meaning a trusted friend told me I should read the book).
- I chose 20% because of social media (meaning I discovered the book independently, from twitter, facebook, blogs, book trailers, etc).
I thought that might be a little misleading, since many of the books in that first category were purchased after I discovered the author via other means (for example, after I discovered Brandon Sanderson and read MISTBORN, I bought three more of his books). So I looked at how I discovered these authors.
- I heard of 70% from word of mouth.
- I heard of 30% from social media.
So does social media work? Well, it worked for me, but there's one statistic I haven't mentioned. Why did I choose 2008 as my cut-off? Because I wasn't even on social media before then. Before 2008, 100% of the books I purchased were authors I knew or discovered by word of mouth.
So does social media work for reaching readers? I think it's a starting point. But I don't think it's worth plunging hours and hours and days into.
I do think it's a fantastic tool to network with other writers though. I got my ill-fated referral that way, along with some of the most awesome critique partners in the business. And Jay Kristoff recently blogged about how both Beth Revis and Scott Freaking Westerfeld discovered him and offered to read his book for a possible blurb (which upsets me, because I wanted Scott F. Westerfeld to blurb my novel, but I guess you have to have a book deal first).
Man, this publicity stuff is complicated. Does it ever work? What do you think?