There is a lot of advice available about how to utilize social media to market yourself and your book as a self-published author — tips about using Facebook fan pages, promotional tweets, bulking up your followers, Pinterest boards to represent book content, engaging blog posts, etc. I mean, there are only so many tips you can give self-published authors about social media marketing, right?
Well, yes and no. I’m sure eventually I’d run out of ideas and tips, but there are a ton of possibilities with social media. The bottom line is, the more time you spend on social media to market your book, the better your results will be. While it is possible to Tweet or post on Facebook too much — to the extent that you start becoming ignored — spending as much time as possible to market your book via social media is never a bad idea.
But self-published authors are typically not marketers, unless of course you’re a marketing professional who wrote a book about marketing. Sure, we all know how to use Twitter and Google+ and Pinterest. But mostly, authors goof up their own promotion because they don’t know how to market effectively with social media. Marketing a self-published book is like marketing anything else. There are approaches that work, and those that don’t. If you don’t have the slightest clue about effective social media marketing strategies, hopefully the tips below will help a little.
- Don’t Use Social Media as Means to Directly Push Book Sales
I can’t count the number of time I’ve seen people try to straightforwardly promote themselves on Facebook and Twitter, like “Hey, I self-published a book. Here’s the title and where you can buy it!” People aren’t on Facebook to shop, usually not even for books. They are there to socialize and have fun. You have to engage your audience and promote your book subtly, as well as secondarily. A fan page with a giant-size cover photo of your book cover and huge blinking yellow arrows pointing to its purchase page link is an instant fan-killer.
- Create an Incentive
Think about it – do you “like” someone or something “just because?” You have to give people a reason to “like” you or follow you. Create a contest, an opinion poll, a themed video or photo submission. By drawing people to your fan page this way, you’ll create buzz around you and your book.
- Communicate with Your Audience
Respond to their comments, tweet and retweet, comment on relevant and related blogs — show your audience that you are paying attention to them.
- Write Guest Posts for Other Bloggers
This can be a great way to gain some exposure with an audience you might not otherwise get in front of. Always be sure to address the interests of the readers of that particular blog, which may be a little different from your own. It’s fine to include a hyperlink in there, but don’t be that guy who uses a guest post to advertise his book. Keep the interests of the audience in mind, and write something useful and informative for them.
- Don’t Use Your Personal Social Media Accounts for Professional Business
This goes for Twitter, your Facebook fan page, Pinterest and any other social media account you may have. There should be a distinction in your social media communications between you as an author selling a book and you personally.
- Buy Your Own Domain Name
While you can host your blog free with WordPress, it is worth it to buy a memorable domain name of your own choosing. You can also do this on Facebook, so that you can direct friends and fans to Facebook.com/YourBookTitle. Having a domain name that directly represents your book is much easier to promote within internet navigation.
- Try Crowdfunding
Many authors may not think about using something like this, but if you can give something in return for donations, like a digital copy of your book, not only can you raise money but you can establish invested readers. In general, it is best to include a video and offer an incentive or some kind of perk.
- Connect with Book Lovers on Goodreads
Goodreads is an extremely community-oriented social media platform for those who love to read and discuss books. Get involved in book discussions, set up links to your blog and Facebook fan page, and even share some writing. A word of advice: Though it’s social media for book enthusiasts and it may be tempting, don’t go galloping in and start feverishly throwing your book in everyone’s face. Again, social media is about connecting with people of common interests. Review books in the same genre as yours, establish relationships, and make connections with those who might be interested in reading and reviewing your book.
- Update Your Blog at Least Two or Three Times a Week
Your blog doesn’t have to be directly correlated to your book topic. The idea is to sell yourself. The best way to do this is with quality blog posts. Whatever niche or subject matter you choose, stick to it and make it useful.
- Link to Other Relevant Authors and Blogs
You very well may get reciprocal links to your blog from those you link to. Even if you don’t, you’re offering other useful sources of information to your audience, in addition to building your network.
- Create a Hashtag You Can Share
Hashtags can be used to find out what may be said about your book, and they can be powerful little social media tools for establishing recognition of your book title or author name. For example, #YourMainCharacter’sName — you can share this on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ and try to get conversations going surrounding your book content. Use your hashtag whenever you mention related tweets or Facebook posts. It’s kind of like building a brand for your book. A tip within a tip, though: Research the hashtag you create first, to make sure it doesn’t already exist for something else, or your little hashtag strategy can backfire. There’s no social media law that reserves the perfect hashtag just for you.
- Use Google Authorship
This is one way you can directly, unabashedly promote yourself because you can link your Google+ profile to your blog content, guest posts, and any other web content you’ve authored. In doing so, when that content shows up in search results, your authorship information is right there to help spread your author name. Make sure that your author name is the same as the byline in the content you’ve written (important for those who use pen names).
There are dozens more tips I could give you, but most of you don’t want to read more than roughly 1,000 words anyway, so they can be saved for another time. That said, if you devote yourself to marketing with social media, and you use the right approaches and methods, you will make progress. Like so many things, it just takes a little time.