I've recently released two ebooks unto the world.
As part of my awareness campaign I did several things. I blogged about both books. My blog appears on Livejournal, Blogspot and Myspace (aka deadspace) and it is "fed" to Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon, and Jacketflap. So my rough estimate is that around 5000 people have friended or follow me on these various networks. So that's a potential audience of 5000 (or 10,000 eyeballs if you're counting).
Arthur Slade's Profile
I also tweeted and "Facebooked" about the books, exposing them to about 4800 people (many of them the same people as the first group). These tweets were also re-tweeted by several others for even more exposure.
Total sales in the last two weeks: 25
That may seem like a small amount but I'm actually extremely pleased by it (hey, there was even one sale in the UK). If I examine just my Facebook friends alone I have around 3200. But only a small part of them would be actual fans -- the rest are other writers, people who collect Facebook friends, other writers, teachers, other writers, etc. Only a certain portion of them would own eReaders and only a small portion of those owners would be interested in Draugr and Dust. Not everyone wants to read YA. And not everyone wants to read horror. Add to that all the other "noise" out there (how many tweets can you read in a day?).
Actually if the sales pattern continues of 12 copies a week by the end of a year I'll have sold 624 copies and made $1248. Hey, that's not too bad. Add to that the fact that I intend to release two more books in the Northern Frights series, a book of short stories and maybe even a novelette--all of that can only help sales.
So does networking work? It depends on what you hope it will achieve. I see it as a way to both join the community of other writers and readers out there (and the heavy metal/starwars/startrek/geek community) and a way to be able to communicate directly to people who enjoy my work. "Friends" won't just purchase something the moment you tweet about it. They have lives of their own (apparently!). I rarely like seeing a direct sales message (unless it's something I'm dying to get) so I don't expect others to want to see too many of my own. In fact, I think you're far more likely to sell books if you're a good online citizen and nice to people (hey, maybe that could be a t-shirt--be nice to people...it sells books!)
So the social networking works for me.
And it's a great way to procrastinate from writing...