Social Media Promo - What I've Experienced
As promised, this is the first post about steps I've taken to create buzz for my books. Ultimately, that's what we want, right? Positive buzz leading to viral word-of-mouth marketing by random purchasers of our novels. Successful book marketing isn't rocket science; sometimes, it seems difficult enough to pull off successfully that you might as well be trying to send people to Mars. I don't profess to be an expert, just another small press author doing their best to spread the word about their books.
In this first post in the marketing series, I will share my experience hawking books on social media. So without further ado, the main course.
Two short years ago, in July 2021, Dragons Walk Among Us was unleashed unto the world. I needed to figure out how to market it. Having heard years ago about how all authors had to have a Twitter account, I had one that I rarely used. At the time, the only social media I did with any regularity was Facebook. Regarding book marketing, I was clueless how to leverage Facebook, having only used it to share photos with friends and family.
Nevertheless, I dove in with both feet, deciding to concentrate on Twitter. At first, using Twitter was a real chore. I didn't enjoy it, and most free promo is worth precisely what you paid for it. However, over time I started enjoying Twitter. I started interacting more with the writing community there by posing questions tagged with the #writingq hashtag. I have yet to figure out how to interact directly with readers on Twitter. Still, it is a great way to interact with famous and obscure fellow writers. That's one piece of advice I will give. If you're hesitant to dive into social media to market your book, try finding a platform you enjoy using. It will make the task more bearable.
Tons of marketing firms will push your books on social media. Some of these are better than others, and mileage will vary from promo event to promo event. This doesn't eliminate the need to have a Twitter account and Facebook account, etc., but a reputable social media marketing firm can supplement your homegrown promoting.
Like I said, I've grown to actually enjoy using Twitter. My goal this year is to figure out how to interact with readers on Twitter, not just writers (who can be readers too). I suspect this will be a tough nut to crack, but worth a try.
Now let's talk Facebook. I have yet to figure out how to use it successfully, except by piggybacking off authors who have built a following on the platform. Some authors throw online book launch parties, attracting hundreds of participants (or more for a well-known author). If you're lucky enough to land an invite to participate in one of these parties as a guest host, do it. It usually only requires making a few posts on a given day and running a raffle. The exposure to readers, especially if they are interested in your genre, is well worth the time.
Presumably, the two hottest social media sites to attract readers are Instagram and TikTok. The
BookTok community on TikTok is incredibly potent when it comes to selling books. Of course, hooking the right influencers feels like the luck of the draw, even if you're willing to dish out the big bucks to one of the marketing firms that will put your book into these people's hands. Having said that, I think TikTok has quite a bit of potential for an author willing to put themselves out there and talk about books. For example, I did several short TikTok vids promoting The Blood of Faeries during the run-up to its release. I don't know if it's an actual correlation, but after each video, I saw an uptick in preorders on Amazon.
My experience with The Blood of Faeries has convinced me TikTok is a social media platform worth pursuing. If you're willing to experiment and don't mind looking a little foolish (or not foolish!) talking books on social media, it’s a relatively easy platform to start using. The videos are meant to be short, and the app includes all the filters required to give your media a little extra pizzazz.
Of course, I haven't even touched on GoodReads, the social media platform that is all about books. I
have yet to use this platform much, although I am a user and have my books listed. A similar platform I use is BookBub, which I highly suggest authors take a serious look at. If you land a featured deal, as I have twice, you will sell books by the bucket load. Of course, a BookBub featured deal isn't free promo. But successfully leveraging the social media aspects of the platform can help land a coveted featured deal: having an engaging and concise author bio, convincing users to follow you, having users leave positive reviews on your books, and reviewing books yourself. I will go into more detail about BookBub in a future post.
There are other platforms out there I haven't touched on, and probably even more that I've never heard of. Some of these might be great for book marketing, I don't know. So I will leave you with this last piece of advice. If you're interested in leveraging social media to build your audience, look at how some of the more prominent names do it. For Twitter, John Scalzi comes to mind. For TikTok, Colleen Hoover is one to watch. Google them, you won't regret it!