Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.
For self-published ebook authors, there’s one aspect of marketing that offers substantial exposure at a very low price: social media. It’s free, after all, and with social media, you can reach readers throughout the world.
But when it comes to promoting their brands via social media, many authors freeze up. They have writer’s block of the social media kind. If you’re guilty of this condition, there’s hope. Here are some clear steps to make social media work for you.
Related: See Part 2 of this article.
In this series of articles, I’m defining “social media” as the activity you engage in using accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram as well as discussions in online forums. Almost all of the authors I know have either a Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest or Instagram account. For your book marketing, you can use your personal account. Or to separate your author brand from your personal life, you can set up a new identity (or a new page in Facebook) in your author brand.
1. Make social media fun.
Many authors dread social media because they think touting their book makes them seem pushy, sales-y, and aggressive. The big secret of social media is that to succeed, you don’t need to be pushy, sales-y, or aggressive. In fact, you shouldn’t be. Instead, social media success comes to those who are friendly, those who are generous, and most of all, those who have fun.
Chances are you have no hesitation using social media in your personal life. Authors need no help in being clever and prolific when messaging about a trip to the mountains or their child’s first day of kindergarten. Why? Because those messages are fun!
So think about your book’s social media messaging with the same lighthearted spirit. Be witty, observant, cheerful. Make off-the-cuff remarks that tie into the themes of your book. If you approach social media marketing with amusement, the time you put into it will feel more like play than work.
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2. Generate content from the themes in your book.
But how, you may ask, can you have fun when you’re trying to get people to buy your book? The answer is to think about your book from your readers’ perspective. Think about the elements of your book that readers really love—and talk about those things.
Before you start in on your social marketing messaging, make a list of concepts your readers have told you they really enjoy and the themes in your book that fascinate them. Then when you create your posts, write about those themes and concepts.
What do I mean by themes and concepts? Maybe there’s a scene in your novel where a parent experiences anxiety when their child leaves for college. Talk about that. (This time of year is especially ripe for that theme.) Maybe the miracle of unexpected romance unfold in your pages. Gush about that. Maybe you’ve written a nonfiction book that reveals the numbing brutality of the battlefield during WWII. Comment about things you seen in the daily news that echo that theme today.
To find content for your social media marketing, ask yourself what your readers love about your book. Does your work offer an escape from ordinary life? Is it the dramatic, true story of a time gone by that offers a new understanding of life today? Will it pull someone out of a rut? Or is it a twisted, fascinating tale that scares your readers before giving them hope? Those little emotional nuggets are what you’re going talk about when you engage in social media. Bring up the ideas, values, issues and feelings your books inspire. Those are gems that engage your readers’ curiosity and will make for great social media content.
3. No hard-selling.
Don’t try to directly sell your book via social media. Please, don’t ever tweet, “Check out my awesome new ebook!” (You may laugh, but several tweets with those exact words came through my feed today.) Messages that begin with “Don’t miss” or “Read my…” are turn-offs. Those direct-sells probably won’t get your followers to buy your book. They might get your followers to ignore you. Or worse: those messages may prompt followers to unfollow you.
Instead of using social media to say, “Here’s my book, please buy it,” discuss the interesting elements that make up the undercurrents of your work. Those are the issues readers care about and the topics that will allow you to build real relationships online. Be generous with your advice. Share your insights.
Here’s how to change that hard-sell tweet into a more effective message. Instead of writing, “Check out my new ebook,” make your tweet more like a natural conversation: “Don’t you just love books that start with a snarky attitude and a dead body?” I, for one, might have been inspired to click on the link. Snarky attitudes and dead bodies are way more interesting than a huckster who’s trying to shill a book.
So when writing using social media for book marketing, try to think of your followers the same way you think about your real-life friends. Have fun. Be witty and provocative. Bring up topics that are included in your book. And don’t ask them directly to buy it.
For a few more tips on social media marketing for authors, check out Part 2 of this article.
Related: Social Media Marketing FAQ
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