...that is the question. Or, to put it another way, do social networking sites help the e-author with sales?
I have a MySpace page. I don't do much with it, as since they fiddled with the layout I can't work out how to make anything work on it. My LinkedIn page is similarly neglected. I do spend a lot of time on Facebook - at least I know how to make that work. But I've so far resisted Twitter.
It baffles me that in our world of mobile communication, instant messaging and social networking sites, things that were once considered private are blatantly broadcast to the world. On my daily commute to and from work I listen to people having very private conversations on their mobile phones - conversations that twenty years ago they would never dream of having in someone else's earshot. People use Facebook to put up embarrassing pictures of themselves - or other people - after too much to drink on a night out, and don't seem to be too concerned that the whole world can see them. Is this really the impression you want to make on a potential employer - or editor? Every once in a while one hears stories of someone being fired because they bad-mouthed their boss on Facebook whilst forgetting that they've added said boss to their friends list.
And then there's Twitter. The combination of Twitter and mobile phones with instant internet access (and I don't have one of those, either) seems to result in people posting inane statuses every five minutes. Do I really want a minute-by-minute account of your trip across the road to the shop to buy milk? If you're Jon Bon Jovi and you're going to the shop across the street from me, maybe. Otherwise, probably not.
And this, in a nutshell, is why I've resisted Twitter so far. But I keep being told that as an e-author, it's an essential marketing tool.
There's no doubt that for the e-author, the internet is the way to promote one's e-book. With a print book, you can do signing session. With an e-book, all of your readers are online, so the best way of reaching them is through the internet. I have, I admit, been using Facebook differently since the publication of SUFFER THE CHILDREN. Once upon a time it was just a means of sharing my holiday photos with my family and friends in Canada, and playing Scrabble with people far away from me. Now I find I use it to plug guest blog posts and news about my e-book, and most of my status updates have to do with writing.
At the moment, though, I am one more writer nobody's ever heard of, and I've become something of a publicity tart - seeking it anywhere and everywhere. But I know there's at least one copy of my e-book I've sold because of someone I've connected with on Facebook, and that alone makes my presence there worthwhile.
So I shall probably crack eventually and sign up for Twitter, even if it's just to tweet about my e-book.