Friday, December 18, 2009

Can Social Networking Jinx a Book Promotion Campaign?

Jason Pinter, writing for the Huffington Post, asks whether social networking helps, or hinders, a book promotion campaign. Can too much visibility, Pinter wonders, diminish an author's mystique and make it less likely that readers will buy his or her book?

Pinter presents both sides of the argument. He reasons that, if Steven Spielberg rejects the possibility of providing commentaries for his DVDs, perhaps literary icons should consider sharing less of themselves via Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and other social networking venues.

Perhaps the public prefers Greta Garbo's cloak of privacy to, say, Paris Hilton's public strutting. However, media consumers -- and that includes readers -- have become accustomed to public figures' revealing their inner lives. We no longer accept the talented sportsmanship of a Tiger Woods; we want an explanation of his 14 liaisons (and we're just spoiling to know how quickly Elin will divorce him, how much money she'll get in the deal, the dispensation of their home, the custody arrangement of their children, and so on).

Of course, you can argue that Tiger Woods' publicity and new infamy isn't helping him sell his brand. On the other hand, perhaps if Woods will find his redemption and repair his image through social networking.

And most authors, I hope and trust, can afford a bit more transparency than the erstwhile golfing hero. So does Pinter have a point about how too much online networking can threaten book sales? Perhaps ... but, from what I've seen, social networking -- when employed with common sense and integrity -- can be a healthy part of most successful book promotion campaigns. The bottom line: connect with your readers, and they may well decide to connect with you by reading your books. That's what so many authors are finding. And it seems as if, every day, a new author joins the world of social networking. It's evidently working.