Social Media Marketing 101 for Authors

Promoting Your Website on Social Media

Marketing can be scary. Social Media too. Not only because without getting your name out there no one will discover your website and buy your books, but also because it can be hard to choose where to start and what to do. This article talks about marketing basics for social media that authors must know!

Getting an author website done is just the first step towards making it work and growing your career. If no one visits your website, then there is little use from the website. If you’re new it can also be scary to start marketing your author website, what to use for it,  what blog posts to write etc. But don’t worry, it’s not THAT hard! This post has a bit more strategic social media marketing outlook, rather than just technical tips (those are in the following article). It’s not a quick read, it is not something some authors will want to do either. But it is true. We will start with some bad habits some authors have when marketing.


Marketing VS Selling


First off, let’s separate Marketing and Sales, and that these are two different things. Marketing is NOT Sales and if you do marketing well you won’t even need to worry about the actual act of ‘selling’ as much.


Selling in terms of selling books is an author telling a reader to buy a book in any environment (whether its a tweet, email etc). If you’ve ever joined a book promotion group on Facebook there are plenty of these kinds of posts.


Marketing more like ‘pre-selling’, it’s about creating interest and it is all about timing and context!



Good ways of selling books


Good kind of selling is buying advertising in book promotion email newsletters like which are specifically tailored for readers to receive book recommendations. It’s been a great tool for selling books and still is (altho their prices can be steep). There are cheaper email newsletters for book promotion but the results vary there too. Facebook Ads are also a way of selling books. It currently still works but rising prices are making it harder. Still, it’s worth testing them and learning about them in 2018.


Some people test Pinterest ads too, but I don’t have enough information about that yet.


Lame ways of selling


Joining Twitter and only tweeting that your new book is out.

Joining Instagram and sharing pictures of your books only.

Going to Facebook groups and only sharing that your new book is out.


Starting to see the pattern?


Don’t be selfish and instant gratification minded. There are times and places when you have to post that kind of posts, but they should be the smallest amount of your posting. Smallest and only done at the right times. Meeting a person on Twitter and tweeting at them your new book is out without talking other stuff first is bad timing. It’s like asking a girl to marry you without going on a date first. Not likely to happen!



So how is Marketing different from Sales?


Marketing = Creating Context with a Potential Reader before the sale happens


Marketing is a way broader field than an act of sale and encompasses many channels. From Facebook groups to Twitter hashtags, Instagram hashtags, to email newsletter, to podcasts, to videos etc. Your goal is to create context with a person (potential reader at this point), not to sell them a book the first time you talk. This is where you have to be less instant-gratification minded.


Good social media marketing


Marketing well on Twitter is not gaining followers and tweeting AT them. Even if you have clever, witty tweets and great books, tweeting into the ether doesn’t work. You need to have followers and they have to be interested in your opinion, ideas, tweets, commentary etc. and that interest is created by getting Context.


So instead of tweeting uselessly from your profile, go to hashtags like #amreading, #reader, #books or hashtags that are in your genre and answer readers’ tweets. That means you’re starting a conversation with a potential reader. Not only you get to discuss books (which is fun, right?) but you also get to create an opportunity for them to check out your profile. The more conversation you have with a potential reader, the more context they are gaining with you.


And by the way, I really mean conversation, not having a two-tweet exchange and then telling them ‘hey, check out my book!’. No, that is bad timing again for it. If the topic goes that way, then you can mention that you’re an author. If they ask what have you written, then give them the Amazon link. But never be the first person to bring it up, never be the first person to ask for them to do a favor or anything.


Sometimes you will get more respect and benefit from recommending a great read for the person rather than offering them your book. That’s how you become useful and interesting to readers and that’s when your other tweets will get read. That’s when they will be more likely to check your book because they know you’re a smart person in that topic and can recommend good stuff. That is the context. That is gaining a ‘following’! Not a bunch of faceless people who don’t care about what you post. And only after some context is created, people will start reading your general tweets and maybe start caring about your books. People are more likely to buy a book from someone who they know, like and trust. Not an anonymous tweet.


It’s all about conversations…


Now, this is not to set the expectation that every person you start a conversation with will reply, or like you, or keep chatting with you. That is not realistic. Expect that people will be too busy to reply or forget to reply, and sometimes don’t even like you. It’s natural, just like in life, you can’t please everybody so don’t worry about the bad experiences. Focus on the ones that are awesome. Focus on meeting people that are interesting to you and are book readers!


There can be instances where just your first tweet will be cool for the person so they will check out your profile at once and will go to Amazon fast. That also can happen. But it isn’t that easy most of the time. If it was, that would be too easy! Life rewards work, not laziness, sadly! So the more conversations you start the more likely you are to meet cool fans. Do it daily consistently (like starting 10 conversations a day with a new person) and you’ll have plenty of opportunities.


If you start 10 convos a day, that’s 300 potential opportunities a month.

If you start 50 convos a day, that’s 1500 potential opportunities a month.

If you start 100 convos a day, that’s 3000 potential opportunities a month.


All free! All you have to do is put the effort into it. Which is really investing in your own career and not wasting time aimlessly scrolling the Facebook feed! The more opportunities you create for yourself, the more chances you have to grow your career.


Instagram and Twitter marketing is very similar


The same basic principle applies to Instagram – go to hashtags and search reader posts. Comment on them, start conversations. While Instagram is about posting images, you can still go and answer images and comment on other people’s posts. Each conversation started is a chance for discovery and creating context. You don’t need a million followers, 1000 engaged ones are brilliant. Here is a great short video explaining how to do it on Insta from Gary Vaynerchuk who is currently one of the best marketing minds on the planet:




Facebook groups


Facebook groups are different, in that there are no hashtags to search but you can join related groups and be helpful there. That builds context and your ‘brand’ there.

And yes, this does mean that you will have to work. Manually. No ‘one-click this button and you’re career grows’, no ‘send one email and your sales explode’… it’s work, it’s meeting potential readers and seeing what happens. That’s why not everybody does it, that’s why it can work. You will stand out from a mass of authors who send their tweets and posts into the ether uselessly.


Even blogging works in a similar way and is synchronous with social media


Writing blog posts also creates context, that’s why it works and can be shared on social media. It can start conversations. It can be more personal with you writing a personal post about how a book idea was born. Or how your current writing is going. All these are good and are creating making the reader more aware of you.


But some content should also be written for new people who are not yet aware of you. What works for those who come from a link to your website in your book are completely different than those who don’t know you at all. That’s where Google and social media come in. You can reach new people who don’t know your name by writing interesting articles for your blog. It can be commentary, book reviews etc Something that can be indexed by Google. For example, if someone is looking for Thriller books on Google, then your post about ‘5 Best Thriller Books’ can be found and lead them to discover you. Similarly, if you’re in a Facebook group for thriller fans, you might have a chance to share a link to that article if someone asks about those. That’s a way to get readers to your blog and create context with new people.


This is called ‘Content Marketing’ and is hugely popular. You can see even have all kinds of book-related articles for readers to get traffic from Google too. And being a writer, you have an advantage here, you can write well! So use it! 😉


This probably is a weird post as it brings up weird stuff like ‘create context’, talk to strangers, but I hope it helps and shows another dimension to how marketing is done. And I hope it helps you pick one direction, one marketing channel and just start using it. Hope it works out! 😉