7 Social Media Marketing Tips for Self-Published Authors
As an autonomous author unbound by the constraints of a traditional publishing house, you grant yourself a lot of flexibility. But with great flexibility comes great responsibility as I’m pretty sure the saying goes.
You not only have to wear an author’s hat and a publisher’s hat, you also have to wear the hat of a professional marketer. But while you’ve got an obvious talent for writing, and self-publishing is getting easier by the day, the world of marketing marches on as the mysterious, confusing, drunken haze that Mad Men makes it out to be.
Thankfully social media can provide self-published authors with a relatively familiar ‘in’ when it comes to advertising. But this familiarity can also be the downfall of a self-published author’s social media marketing efforts. There’s a temptation to big up your book in much the same way that you big up yourself – with sunset cocktail photos and selfies that you don’t remember taking at 2am.
In reality, you need to take a professional – not a personal – approach to your author account. ‘But how?’ you plead.
A little something like this:
1) Post Regularly and with a Wide Net
Which social platforms should you use? In a perfect world, all of them. I don’t just mean Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads; I’m talking Snapchat, Instagram, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Pinterest and YouTube. The wider the net, the more fish you catch. That’s just fishing physics. While the upkeep required on that many accounts may seem untenable, apps like Hootsuite make maintaining and posting on multiple platforms an absolute breeze.
But for those who are looking to slowly wade into the social media waters rather than dive head first, Facebook and Goodreads are your social media marketing bare minimums. Posting ‘regularly’ might mean twice a day for one author, and once every 3 days for another. Post at whatever frequency you feel comfortable with, but just ensure that you don’t allow your account to go dormant for a week or more.
2) Offer Up Insight
But what do you post? Time for some quick introspection. Why do you follow the accounts that you follow? The answer will usually be that they offer something to you that other accounts don’t. At the risk of overgeneralising, you can usually classify social media content as informative, entertaining, or both. Which path should you follow?
One of the most tried and true author content strategies is to simply let your readers into your life. Give them glimpses of your writing process. Show them how other authors influence your work. Take a funny picture of your cat. The familiarity that this approach builds can make lifelong readers out of your social followers. They feel invested in you, the idiots.
3) Engage with Your Audience
Don’t be the frosty social media account that’s too aloof to answer questions or get involved in the comments section of your posts. Let your followers know you care. As long as the conversation doesn’t take a turn towards Hitler comparisons (as approximately 97% of internet threads do), your followers will love the accessibility.
4) Get Collaborative
Networking with other authors can be a boon for your book sales. A cheeky bit of cross-promotion is a tenet of marketing for a reason – it freakin’ works. If you’re a part of a small group of authors that are happy to subtly promote each other’s books, your audience can instantly grow two-, three- or four-fold. That’s a lot of folds.
5) The 80/20 Rule
There are certain times when direct selling works. A 3am infomercial to a pride of stoners, for example (YES that’s the correct collective noun). But more-often-than-not direct selling will get people’s guards up, which is why, on your social media channels, you’ll only make 1 in 5 posts an obvious advertisement.
As outlined above, you need to provide your followers with value. You can’t do that by continually shouting ‘BUY MY BOOK’ in their faces, unless they’re into that sort of thing.
6) Everyone Likes a Freebie
As surely as the sun rises in the east, so too will people forever love free stuff. You have the power to make people’s days. Will you choose to use it?
While many authors will happily offer up the first few chapters of their latest novel for free, it does suggest that the giveaway isn’t a giveaway at all. Offering up the entire text for a limited time is far more effective; it’s the sort of goodwill that can result in your readership spreading the word to their friends and family. If you’ve got multiple novels, consider making one of them permanently complimentary.
7) Pay for Advertising
The fact that we happily offer up all manner of personal info to social media platforms may not be great in whatever dystopia we find ourselves in in the future, but for now, this info can be bangin’ for your marketing efforts. Most social media platforms offer the option to ‘promote’ posts. For just a few dollars, you can get your book in front of whatever highly targeted group of people your novel will resonate with most. It’s important not to overuse this function, however – save it for your most popular posts.
Once you’ve taken these tips on board, and your readership begins its steady upward curve, pour yourself a neat whiskey and buy that hat with ‘MARKETER’ printed on the front.
You’re one of them now.