I saw a cartoon on Facebook this week showing the Caribbean and more importantly the area where the Bermuda Triangle.
A triangle had been superimposed and each corner had one of the main social network sites next to it.... Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.
The implication was that writers (and presumably authors) sink without trace in the swamp of social networking dependence, and I can understand why.
Once anyone is sucked into the black arts of social networks, especially Facebook and Twitter, anyone whose job depends on sitting in front of a computer screen (an author?) is wide open to the temptation of spending more time with their "friends" than in developing their latest great work. I know this from personal experience.
Twitter seems to be a little less pernicious because it doesn't invite as much interaction. It's more of a noticeboard, just as Pinterest is somewhere to post your photos and see other people's. It's Facebook that is the most powerful point of the Writer's Bermuda Triangle.
Many, if not most authors use Facebook to launch book, advertise themselves on their Author page and promote their books, both on their own pages and those of other people and groups, as well as hope that other authors and fans will "share" any news, or promotion with their "friend" network. It can be a bit like pyramid selling in that many friends have the same friends as their own friends, if you see what I mean. So Facebook can tend to be a bit incestuous with everyone marketing to the same groups of people.... more or less. There's only so many times you could ask people to buy a book before they stop listening to that and other posts you might want them to look at.
I'm definitely not against Facebook and the rest as part of an awareness model, and I know of at least one author who sells very successfully using Facebook, Twitter and a few other social network tools. I know of others who use it as part of their overall marketing plan, but who also maintain that they mention their books in probably only 1 in every 10 of their posts, and even then they mention them merely in passing. These people tend to have a large following on all their chosen network tools, and also operate a blog linked to their website. One friend of mine, Jonathan Gunson, is a successful international author with 116k followers on Twitter and 1,500 Facebook friends. He hardly ever promotes his books, though covers and links are on his blog and details are on his website. Instead he promotes other authors, innovative ideas on authoring and ways to improve book marketing. His name is synonymous with great ideas and his books sell in great numbers.
A first-time author with no fan base and few resources could do far worse than use the free facilities of Facebook and Twitter, building up their following carefully and marketing to it with equal care, so as not to kill it with over-zealous selling and self-promotion.
Personally I still love working with independent bookshops. Seeing my books on a sales shelf and (even more so) signing copies for buyers is a massive thrill that selling online can't provide. Having said that I still have 2 Facebook pages, a Twitter account with more than 1,100 followers, a Google+ account which I admit I hardly ever use, a profile on Authorsden.com, a website and (obviously because you're reading it) a blog. It's a marketing combination.
The three Social Networks can definitely be a Writer's Bermuda Triangle if used badly, but used intelligently and as part of an overall marketing strategy, they're great!
Blog on, Dudes!