Marketing with Social Media
By Harley Wylde
Yes, I used that horrible, awful, very bad word – Marketing! *gasp*
But in all seriousness, these days, authors have to do their own marketing. Even if you’re signed with a larger publisher, they want to know that you believe in your book enough to promote it. Think of it this way… If someone asked for your help with a project, then sat back and made you do all the work, would you be so willing to help them again later? Possibly not. Or at the least, you’d hesitate.
What does that mean for authors today?
Rule #1: Maintain an active social media presence.
Why? Unless your books are filling the shelves at the local bookstores, readers are going to find you through newsletters, reader recommendations at places like Goodreads and BookBub, and on social media! While I suppose you could pick one platform to maintain, it’s better to diversify, especially if you want to reach a broader audience.
Keep in mind, marketing isn’t all about sales. Are sales the ultimate goal? Of course. You’d like to pay your bills just like everyone else. However, the main point of marketing is not only to learn your audience, but to interact with them. Be available to answer questions, make sure you respond to or acknowledge comments on your posts. If a reader or another author shares the news of your cover reveal, new release, giveaway, etc. make sure you thank them. Now, I don’t mean if someone asks where you live or overly personal things you need to answer them. Just politely tell them you’d prefer not to answer that, or find a way to steer the conversation in a different direction.
Facebook has a lot of options for marketing and interacting with your readers and other authors. Profiles, pages, groups… the possibilities are endless. Well, maybe not endless, but there are tons of ways you can get your brand out there. And if you just got confused by the word “brand” then we need to take a few steps back -- but I’ll do that in another post.
A Facebook author page or fan group would permit you to schedule posts in advance. The day of a new release can be exhausting unless you have some things in place prior to that day. Maybe you’re self-published and did a hard release, or you have a publisher who doesn’t offer preorders. That can make things a little more difficult, since you won’t have retailer links early. But it’s not impossible.
There are plenty of things you can do prior to your book release. Using Facebook (or Twitter, Instagram, etc.), you can post teasers building up to your release. Do a cover reveal and share your release date and book blurb. Add your title to Goodreads and ask your readers to add it to their “want to read” list. Go ahead and set up your book page on your website so you can drive traffic there through ads once you have some links to post.
Rule #2: Don’t smack people with “buy my book” posts.
Give back as much as you take. You can do a giveaway and post links, or a sneak peek with links, but don’t make the preorder/purchase the focus of your post. Did something funny happen while you were working on your book? Or maybe your furbaby decided to help type some of it? Share those stories or pictures with your social media followers. They’ll love getting a glimpse into your life, or a “behind the scenes” type of post.
Schedule some games for release week. You can tie them into your book/series, or just do some fun stuff like interpretive text games, or those “which of these must go” image games you’ve likely seen all over Facebook. Make things fun, not just for your readers but for you too.
Did you read a book you really loved? (Not the book your BFF just released, but something you genuinely looked forward to reading -- unless they’re one and the same) Do a “what are you reading” type of post and share the book you just enjoyed. Tell your audience why you liked it, or maybe ask if anyone else read it yet. Have conversations with them about things other than your latest release.
I’m sure I should have a Rule #3, but honestly, those first two are the most important when it comes to social media. No, wait. There is a rule 3 …
Rule #3: Don’t SPAM other authors with your book!
You would think that would go without saying, but… If an author has posted for book recommendations from their readers, that’s not the opportunity for you to drop your book on their post unless you have prior permission. Don’t do a drive-by on their page or group and drop blatant promo unless you’ve gotten their okay. It’s rude to say the least.
A trend I don’t see as much these days (thank goodness) had new authors sending out mass PM’s to anyone on their Facebook friends list with a “buy my book” plug. Didn’t matter if that person was a fellow author or not. I not only disliked getting those, but it came across as pushy and rude, especially when they’d never spoken to you before. It didn’t exactly make me want to run off and buy their book.
I mostly focused on Facebook for this blog post, but you can easily use Twitter, Instagram, or other platforms. Even Pinterest. For Twitter, I recommend retweeting as well as putting up tweets that aren’t book related. I can’t tell you not to use your social media as a political platform, but unless you’re writing non-fiction or the next political thriller, you run the risk of running off your readers. As fiction writers, our goal should be to entertain. People get enough of real world issues every day and come to us for an escape. Just something to keep in mind…
With Twitter, the fewer hashtags you use, the better. It’s also best to keep your tweets short. Attach an image to get the bulk of your message across. Tweets with fewer characters, only 1 hashtag, and an image will draw the eye more than others. When you start getting likes and retweets, you’ll eventually hit the algorithm there.
If Pinterest is your thing, then create boards to give your followers insight into your books or who you are. Do you love horror movies? Make a board for it. Do you use Pinterest images to help get an idea for your characters? Make a board for that too. Share your covers, favorite vacation spots, recipes you loved. Find a way to give people a peek into who you are, but you can also use it to tell them about your latest book or series. Just don’t make every pin about your book.
Instagram is still a bit of a mystery to me. From what I’ve gathered, you’ll get more views/responses from posting an Instagram “story” than a post. Short videos of you will also go over well. Maybe you can do a quick clip holding your latest book and tell everyone how excited you are about it releasing. Have a furbaby who “helps” you write? Do a short video with them for your Insta-story. But above all, make sure you use hashtags that work for your post. When you create a hashtag for your post, it should pop up with suggestions once you start typing. Under each it says how many posts are using that hashtag. If you come up with a hashtag that’s only been used a dozen times, it likely isn’t being searched or followed by anyone.
Which brings me to how your Instagram feed works… When you follow certain people, or even hashtags, those are the posts you’ll see. Much like Facebook, if you follow a person, their posts pop up. But with Instagram, you could follow #bookstagram, then any posts using that hashtag should be available in your feed. Now, that particular one tends to have 1 million or more posts, so no, you won’t see them all.
All of this is to basically say, if you want to have an audience today, you need to be on social media. The book market, and marketing of books, has vastly changed in the last twenty years. For that matter, it continues to change and evolve on a regular basis. People are more likely to buy an ebook today than a paperback. In this digital age, not being on social media and trying to be a successful author is going to be difficult if not impossible.
Harley Wylde is the international bestselling author of MC and Bad Boy Romances. When Harley‘s writing, her motto is the hotter the better — off the charts sex, commanding men, and the women who can’t deny them. If you want men who talk dirty, are sexy as hell, and take what they want, then you’ve come to the right place. She doesn’t shy away from the dangers and nastiness in the world, bringing those realities to the pages of her books, but always gives her characters a happily-ever-after and makes sure the bad guys get what they deserve.
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