In a nutshell, he says that people who simply try to max out the number of Twitter followers, facebook friends or whatever are missing the point of social media. His point is that when you do mass advertising the responses are tiny percentages so to get a reasonable return you need to have ten or twenty thousand contacts. It’s like buying a television ad. The better way to make social media work is to have a conversation with people and become something that isn’t just a name. As soon as someone thinks of you as a real person even if it is the most tenuous of connections, they are much more likely to buy your stuff and like your stuff once they have read it.
I think he is dead on balls accurate.
I actually even have a relevant anecdote. I knew I was going to be doing a lot of driving for Thanksgiving and I wanted something to listen to in the car. I went over to podiobooks.com to find something interesting.
I went to the fantasy section and saw a bunch of stuff by a bunch of people I had never heard of. I went to the “what’s hot” charts and saw a bunch of stuff by people of I had never heard of and a book called Ravenwood by this guy named Nathan Lowell. Well shit, I’ve heard of him, I’ve seen him on Kindle Boards a lot and he seems like a sensible person. I downloaded all the episodes of Ravenwood and listened to them all on the trip. I enjoyed it a bunch and when I came back I went to look for more of his stuff. I’m pretty sure that I will be spending money on his stuff in the near future and unless it is very disappointing, I will be keeping an eye out for all of his stuff.
Nathan got a customer who is going to be looking for his work just because I’ve seen him on an online forum.
One of the other points that Nathan has made online before is that you don’t need a ton of people to read your stuff to make a decent living. I think this is one of the advantages of independent publishing. Since you can produce a book for a lot less money when you don’t have to print thousands of copies you can make a book viable with a lot fewer sales.
That should mean that more niche projects become viable and that means that we should see more creative and interesting stuff that doesn’t fit the mainstream. There’s a rule out there that if you can imagine some twisted freaky kind of porn, it already exists somewhere on the internet. That same general idea is true for all the other freaky twisted stuff in your brain. Yeah, there is probably some Daneel Olivaw/Giskard Reventlov slash fic out there and as freaky as that is, it means there is also something else that is awesome about robots that are self aware.
The key to it all is the intersection of the two ideas. Somewhere out there is a robotics forum with some off topic stuff where they discuss robots in fiction. Somewhere out there is a SF forum with a lot of fans who love robot fiction. If this is the stuff you love, be a part of these communities. Be a REAL part of these communities. Don’t just go there and spam your book, that makes you a loser. Go there and participate in those forums as a person who loves that stuff. You will inevitably build relationships with other people who love that stuff. When you then write something that appeals to people who love that stuff you have an audience who loves that stuff and who knows you as a person who loves that stuff. You have instant cred in that community. You have touched them a tiny bit as a real person so they will be more open to reading your shit.
Participate in communities of people who love what you love. Write what you love. You’ll have a willing pool of customers. You’ll make them happy and they will make you happy.