Harpooning Your Moby Dick

index4“It is not down on any map; true places never are.” –Herman Melville, Moby Dick

Herman Melville’s book, “Moby Dick” was a commercial failure and out of print by the time of his death. It was only during the 20th century that the book’s reputation as a Great American Novel was established.

Perhaps if Melville had only had a Twitter account or a Facebook page he would have experienced a meteoric rise in his sales. If only he could have posted Snapchat and Instagram shots of whales and sea faring adventures, he would have garnered legions of fans. And of course his blog. Certainly his musings on the extraction of whale blubber would have had his book flying off of the shelves

After all, that’s how it’s done, right? Social media. Simple. Sign up, login in, and watch as your book sales exponentially increase with every inspirational quote tweeted or informative pithy blog posted.

Socially media is wonderfully effective in translating into book sales except when it’s not.

After spending months, sometimes years, crafting a novel, we writers only wish for it to be read by an audience who is not only interested but also loves our work. This desire has most writers asking, “How do I find my audience, my readers?”

Of course, the resounding answer is trumpeted loudly on every marketing site and publication blog–“Social Media!”

After reading many (double digits) of articles disseminating the machinations of social media and how to direct it to one’s advantage: “Blog, Tweet, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram” I am still perplexed.

Every day, after hours spent “marketing” on social media, I am exhausted. And my voice is metaphorically hoarse from screaming down a well. After all, the process of trying to attract readers often feels like trying to be the one grain of sand that tourists notice on the beach.

Repeatedly, I have spent so much time looking for the magical key, the perfect potion, my white whale that weeks have passed without a word written in my book. It’s paradoxical, trying to sell oneself as writer when no writing gets done.

What I have learned, though, and continue to learn is that social media may not have helped Melville  and not just because it didn’t exist. Rather it is because ever writer must find his or her own direction. It is as Melville writes, “It is not down on any map; true places never are.”

For writers, I suppose that means that we each have a path to finding our readers and that path isn’t always as simple as having 10,000 followers on Twitter.

It is important to know that finding and capturing an audience is the “white whale” of most writers. It is also important to know that although it is a great way, social media isn’t the only way to harpoon your Moby Dick.

So as I sail on my personal Pequod, navigating the choppy, rough waters of social media, I am learning to steer in the direction of my intuition. Even if it means that I don’t tweet today. Except of course when I tweet this blog. It’s a process, people.

Please share your experience with social media and definitely include your successes. I would love to hear other writers’ tips.

Readers: In the future, I will follow up this post with another one that will provide some suggestions and ideas for marketing apart from social media.

Thank you for reading. I’m excited to hear what you think.

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About Sherry Parnell