Well, you don’t have to take my word for it. Donald Maass, founder of Donald Maass Literary Agency and author of the wildly helpful WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL has spoken. And I want to share his answer with you.
First of all, I found this blog entry via a link on Writtenwyrdd’s blog (which is a fabulously informative blog and I highly recommend it, especially for writers of fantasy) to a post on Josephine Damian’s blog, which is, I’m guessing, the cyber equivalent of six degrees of separation. Anywho—Josephine attended one of Maass’s Writing the Breakout Novel Workshops and asked him about the benefits of blogging and other promotional activities. His answer?
You really must go read the entire thing to get the full impact of what he said, but here are a couple of highlights to motivate you to read it.
…here he made his palms and fingers flat, then held his hands a few inches apart and said with the same vehemence of his earlier reply, "It’s what’s between the cover that sell the book." Tender reader, he doesn’t so much say these words but rather hurls them at me.But wait. It gets better....
To sum up, Donald was willing to concede there were examples, few and far between, where an online presence helped in some small ways, but in terms of significant sales or opportunity, you have to wait until you’ve released 4-5 books for the time and effort spent promoting yourself online to payoff in any way that’s worthwhile, sales-wise.And don't forget to read the entire comment thread, because she has more gems in there, such as the following:
DM made note of all the promotional bookmarks and postcards being handed out by the romance writers in my group (the group that hosted the workshop), and he says they are a waste of time and money as well.
So check it out. And Josephine promises to have more posts up soon on her encounter with Donald, so you may want to follow along.