When the universe gives no feedback…

I’m not asking about the physical or metaphysical universe. I mean the Social Media universe – which is as amorphous and anonymous as those larger ones to me.

I don’t come from a generation where an understanding of the Internet’s power is in my DNA. I’m struggling to spell Twitter (and apparently I can’t say anything worthwhile in less than 140 characters).

With a new avenue for communication showing up in the Social Media sphere every 15 minutes, I can’t keep up. I feel like Alice – running just to stay in place.

Despite my stupidity, however, navigating and succeeding with Social Media is imperative – especially if, like me, you are small-time author with big-time dreams. I know this because I came across a great site the other day, setting forth the 75-things an author needs to do to promote his/her book. That’s right, 75. And the first 20 alone were Social-Media-related (with at least 16 more sprinkled throughout the list).

At this point, I’m doing more tweeting than writing…and that’s not good in my book (pun intended).

None of the above, of course, gets to the real purpose of this post! What I want to know is – is any of this working? Is the time and effort I put into Social Media helping to get my name and titles known?

Feedback would be nice. But feedback is a rare commodity in the Social Media game. Sure, you get Likes and Follows – but those don’t necessarily translate into sales and readers and the ever-elusive fans. The ease of a Like or the cavalier act of a Follow aren’t guarantees for a believer in your talents and/or cause.

At a recent book fair, a woman passed my booth and exclaimed “Oh, I’ve heard of this book.” She moved on without buying (sigh); however, I was elated that she had heard of my book! How, I’ll never know.

At the same fair, I was approached by a young woman for an autograph of my latest novel. Sure! When I asked how she’d heard of it, she told me that my first book was in the Contra Costa library (where she’d found it while researching California Gold Rush novels) and she’d become a fan, buying both the first and the second book in the series. I was thrilled! I may never know how my book came to be carried by that library, but I’m ecstatic.

Both Embracing the Elephant and A Veil of Fog and Flames have been picked up by various libraries across the country – how they know of me, I haven’t a clue. Was it that Foreword Review article I posted on Facebook? Or the accolades from Publishers Weekly that I tweeted?

And that’s another thing! How will people know to Follow you (on blogs or Facebook or Twitter or…anywhere)? How do they hear about you – and how do they know you have something worthwhile to say?

Social Media is smoke and mirrors to me.

About Lori Hart Beninger

Lori Hart Beninger is a native California writer with three critically acclaimed historical novels (Embracing the Elephant, A Veil of Fog and Flames, and A Peculiar Peace) that follow two 19th century young adults as they struggle with survival and acceptance in the pivotal era of the California Gold Rush up to the American Civil War. Please visit www.ontrackpublishing.com for synopses, availability, reviews, and more.
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