Tweeting To The Choir

We here at Olivia Waite cannot be the only ones who were excited to see that the RWA's Romance Book Consumer Survey for 2011 was now available. We love charts, especially charts about the romance industry, which may or may not provide useful tips for book-marketing strategy and sales. We like marketing less than we like charts, but author-duty calls, so marketing is something we must consider. And now, we must also consider—not just the royal Olivia "we," but the collective authorial "we"—that we have been doing it wrong.

Here is the relevant, shocking graph:

Those wide blue bars? Those mean romance buyers haven't done that and don't want to. For every reader who visits an author website—our carefully curated, painstakingly designed author websites which we sometimes pay other people to make shiny and pretty and inviting—there is another reader who couldn't give a damn about the author's official site. Readers care even less about our blogs—62% haven't read one and have no interest in reading one. And Facebook's even worse, at a disinterest rate of 70%!

And there, lurking at the bottom of that chart like a rake in the grass, the most shocking revelation of all.

83% of romance buyers have no interest in following authors on Twitter.

Twitter! The holy grail of word-of-mouth! The darling of modern book-marketing theory! The collective global water cooler of the publishing industry! And none of the romance buyers surveyed here give one small damn about it.

Inescapable conclusion: we authors and writers and editors only go on Twitter to talk amongst ourselves.

I'm not about to give up my Twitter account because of this. (Especially not before the Rutger Hauer/RutgerHaha mystery is solved. One of them must be a replicant!) And I tweet because it brings me comfort and information and advice, any one of which I seem to need several times a day.

But this new data does kind of burst my dearly held illusion that tweeting counts as work. Or blogging, for that matter. Or making a book trailer—which is a relief, since making one of those things without access to stock photos is kind of a bear. I'll do another one someday (I had a lot of fun making the book trailer for Generous Fire), but it will be out of creative whimsy rather than a grudging sense of obligation.

There is now no comfort for an author's procrastination. Oh, but I was talking to another author with many more followers than I have! That's great exposure—not to mention a lovely conversation! <-- This is no longer a viable excuse for a day whose new word count is abysmally low.

It is good to occasionally have one's assumptions challenged. I bet it even builds character.

It better—because I have a lot of characters to build.

And now, while I'm still feeling the sting, it's a good time to get started.