Social media provides one of the biggest opportunities for authors, especially self-published authors, to promote their work. Even so, succeeding on social media is not as simple as jumping on and promoting your book.
In this article we share how you can leverage social media to successfully promote your book.
Pick one platform
There are many social media options: Facebook, TikTok, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and the list goes on. Many authors make the mistake of trying to be present on as many platforms as possible. The thinking goes that to build a big audience you need to be everywhere people seem to be.
You have to put in a lot of work to succeed on these platforms and the fact is, unless you have a media team, it's next to impossible for an author to build an audience if they are using multiple social media platforms.
Our advice is to pick one platform and devote all your time to building success there, as opposed to dabbling across multiple platforms.
Go where your readers are
How do you know which platform is right? The trick is to start with your target.
Of course there are other factors, which we'll address in a moment, but the primary deciding factor when choosing the right platform is to go where your readers are.
What platform does your target audience typically use?
Did you write a business book? You should consider building an audience on LinkedIn. Is your ideal reader an aspiring fashion designer? Instagram, with its focus on images, might be ideal.
Spend a few minutes thinking about your ideal reader. Who did you write your book for? List out their key demographics and relevant psychographics. Do your best to get an idea of this person's goals, interests, and habits.
Now, think about which social media platform best fits their lifestyle and interests. It should become quickly apparent which platform is ideal, but do some research on the types of people that use the various platforms if you're having trouble figuring out which is best.
Consider your skills and interests
You should also consider your skills and interests before you commit to one of the platforms. You don't want to be locked in to a platform that you don't enjoy using.
If your audience is active on Instagram but you're bad at photography, even though you enjoy it, you're in luck. There are plenty of free resources out there to help you improve your skills.
But, if you just don't enjoy shooting images and sharing them, you might want to look for a second-best option. Is there another platform that your target uses, but maybe not as much as the primary one?
Make certain you're committing to a platform that you can enjoy and that you can do reasonably well over time. Otherwise, your efforts will not be sustainable and the odds are you'll fail to grow a meaningful audience.
Realize each platform is different
A lot of people make the mistake of treating each platform the same. They take a generic approach and just blast out vanilla content into the void. You can imagine the results are disappointing.
Take some time to figure out your platform. Some rely on hashtags, others on titles and thumbnails. Know what's expected. Know what works. There are a multitude of free (and paid) platform-specific resources available.
Save yourself months of wasted time and disappointment. Spend some time learning the ropes of your platform and develop a game plan to help guide your approach.
Understand how social media fits your goals
You want to sell your book. Because of this, the temptation is to jump onto a platform and just start promoting. Shouting "Buy my book!" with a link will result in zero followers and zero sales.
The beauty of social media is authors can build amazing audiences but they never do it by just pushing product. If you want to succeed, you have to have a better approach. You'll need to create content that your target finds interesting and valuable.
Again, there are many resources online to help you figure this out.
Each platform and audience is different. But, as an example, if your book is on common garden pests and you're on Instagram, you might be able to post regular images of various pests with a sentence or two on how do deal with them. This would attract your ideal readers and over time result in a decent audience that might be interested in your book.
The key here is to realize that social media is great for marketing but the real opportunity is to attract the right audience to you be providing the kind of content they want. Once you have them in your audience, you can occasionally promote your book.
Get the right content-to-promotion ratio
It's important to get your content-to-promotion ratio dialed in. This means you need to figure out how often your audience is fine with posts that are pure promotion, as opposed to engaging content.
There are no hard and fast rules other than your engaging content should outnumber your promotional content. The best way to figure out what works is to experiment.
Start by posting one promotion for every five or six engaging posts. Observe and measure how your audience reacts. Good? Then over time try one for every four and so on. It will be clear when you've crossed the line, as people will begin to unfollow, mute, and ignore you. You'll notice that your posts are not getting the kind of engagement that they were before. Dial it back until you see engagement pick up.
Knowing the right ratio will give you more confidence to plan your content and promote your book.
Convert to email when you can
We saved this one for last because it's important. You should consider ways to convert your social media audience to your email list.
You do have an email list, right?
Email lists are critical for authors. A list allows you to have direct communication with your audience, something that social media doesn't. Having a list also means you "own" your audience because you have their direct contact info.
Social media is great but ultimately you're at the mercy of the platform. You might put together a great image carousel for Instagram but if the algorithm doesn't like it the odds are your audience will miss it.
With an email list you can guarantee that your content will get delivered right to your audience members' email boxes. This means you can have more control over your marketing efforts and that you can do a better job selling your book, or even working up interest and anticipation for your next project.
So, as you're growing your social media audience, make sure to look for ways to convert them to your email list. You can do this by running contests, providing access to special content, or by simply inviting them to receive your newsletter.
Social media continues to be a great way for book authors to promote their work. To be successful follow these simple suggestions:
- Pick one platform
- Go where your readers are
- Consider your skills and interests
- Realize each platform is different
- Understand how social media fits your goals
- Get the right content-to-promotion ratio
- Convert to email when you can
We hope this has been helpful. Make sure to check out our Book Printing Estimator if you have a book you'd like to publish. Also, you can join our newsletter here.