Of Blogs, Goats, and Bookscan Numbers (Joy Preble)

As I write this post, I’m just over a week away from the launch of THE SWEET DEAD LIFE-- the angel book gets a Texas makeover!-- from Soho Press. So social media is key on my mind right now, among other things.

I just read April Henry’s post about her take on the topic, and how she uses Weebly.com for her website, in large part because she can update her website as frequently as she wants. I’m intrigued, particularly because I’m updating my own website right now. I’ve had a solid web presence since I sold my first book in late 2007, but I’ve got a new series starting with a different publisher and I’ve decided it’s time for a new look.

Everyone of us has our take on the topic, that’s for sure! Blog. Don’t blog. Tweet. Don’t tweet. Blogger. Tumblr. Facebook. Oh wait. Instagram. Snapchat.

One of my other author friends, a woman who writes mostly science-oriented non-fiction, has a detailed, to the minute plan for her online promotion. She ponders those analytics more frequently than anyone else I know, and it works for her.  Another friend who writes romance has a smaller web presence and feels that her job is to write. She has worried very little about the rest of it. But she’s changing genres right now and suddenly social media concerns loom larger.

Truth? I’m never totally sure what sells books and what doesn’t.  Contests? Guest posts? Craft of Writing series? Posting the play I wrote in 2nd grade? Talking about Real Housewives and guacamole recipes and how it’s a good thing they call what I do in yoga ‘practice’ because it’s going to take me a long time to get it right? Live tweeting while watching Game of Thrones? (Which I can’t do because we are too cheap to pay for HBO but you get the idea) Once in awhile I see those Book Scan numbers change and I think, “Wahoo! It’s because I just (fill in blank here with something theoretically brilliant).” But I could be totally wrong.

Full disclosure, I’m also writing this while watching Mad Men—which one can do even if one HBO-less because it’s on AMC. They pretend they know which ads promote their products, too. Plus they drink like fish and smoke like chimneys and rarely wear seatbelts and seem wildly unhappy most of the time.

I’ve watched Maggie Stiefvater’s posted video on fainting goats like three times now. Do Maggie’s fainting goats – and the video cameos of other fainting goats—help her sell books? Maybe. What I mostly think is that she already sells lots of her amazing books and because we love her writing we also read her blog because we want more of her voice and her sense of the universe. Which in this case includes letting us know that it’s a good thing that the fainting goats don’t actually lose consciousness when one surprises them because otherwise she’d surprise them every time she had company. Will I buy the next Raven Boys book because of that post? Possibly. Mostly I want to find out what happens with Blue and Gansey. Maggie Stiefvater is supremely brilliant. She could never post another goat video and I’d buy every book she writes. Likewise John and Hank Green's vlog posts. I'll buy John Green's books because I love John Green. Listening to his views of the world encourages me to do so. But that would only work so long if the books weren't good. At least for me. 

My friend who until recently believed that she needs to write the best books that she can, reflecting in the best ways possible, her view of the world and life and what it feels like to kiss the love of your life for the first time and that she has no obligation to promote on social media is both right and wrong, in my humble opinion. People have to know where to find you. But they also have to want to.

What do you think?


  1. Joy, this is a great post, and hits on a lot of the things I've been thinking about lately. What you said about readers liking the authors behind the books is most intriguing to me. John Green! Maggie Stiefvater! Love them both and I know it is because I feel like I "know" them from connecting online. But I love their books too. In fact, I loved their books before I knew what a vlog was and before I ever heard of a fainting goat. The writing--the books matter most.

  2. So true--producing a quality book is the MOST important thing...but I think connecting online is important, too...

    1. Agreed! I absolutely think it's about building community like we do here and elsewhere. In fact, sometimes I'm simply amazed at how significant an experience the online book/arts community is. I read so many more different authors than I might without it. An interesting chicken vs egg discussion, actually....


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