I’ve talked quite a bit about various ways to market yourself and your books. Today, I’m talking about how to be smart about that marketing, so you’re putting your energies into the right activities.
Taming Social Media to Market Your Book
Today, just about everyone says businesses need social media. There’s a lot of emphasis on using as many different social media accounts as possible. Theoretically, that gives potential readers the most opportunities to find you through their preferred media.
Stop it. Stop it right now.
Every social media account needs updating. It’s recommended you tweet multiple times a day. Tweets also work better with pictures, so you’ll need to regularly find something visual to go along with those multiple tweets. It’s strongly recommended Facebook posts include images or video. Instagram is nothing but pictures. How many pictures do you think you can take that will attract a reader to pick up your book?
And all of this is taking time you could be spending on other things, like writing your next book.
I’m not suggesting you throw out social media altogether. I’m saying think smarter, not bigger. Pick a couple means of connecting with readers and stick to those, producing quality material for a few rather than random material for many. And think about how to make it share-worthy, since that’s how social media attracts new followers, rather than simply catering to already established fans.
Market to Readers, Not Writers
There’s a lot of would-be writers out there, and they’re regularly asking published authors about how to write better and get published.
Those aren’t your target audience. Don’t fall into the trap of catering to them. It won’t convince anyone to read your books, and it is completely uninteresting to the majority of people actually following you on social media.
Your target market are readers. Not would-be writers. Not other writers. Readers. Those are the people who are going to buy your books.
Post things of interest to that market. Write things relevant to your genre and include media that can represent your work. That whole thing about using pictures and video in your posts and tweets is not nonsense. Many people react strongly to visual material, so use it to your advantage.
Now it gets a bit tricky: what you’re actually supposed to be posting. What it should be is interesting and varied. What it shouldn’t be is in-your-face promotion. “Buy my book, by my book, by my book,” is not interesting, and readers are quickly going to ignore your posts if that’s all you have to offer.
Be personable. Share things about yourself. Be relatable. Let readers see you as a person facing the same things in life they do. Discuss authors similar to you. Be clever. You’re a writer, after all! Be upbeat. Don’t trash-talk. Talk about how your latest project is developing. Put a face to your name.
YouTube videos can be of great value, although you certainly shouldn’t be making them on a regular basis like tweets and Facebook posts. Now you have a face and a voice. Now you’re a person, and that’s exactly what today’s reader connects with.
The Waning Value of the Blog
There was a time when blogging brought great value to writers, but that time is not now. Unless your blog is well-established, it’s never likely to attract large numbers of readers, because the readers are all on social media looking for information to come 140 characters at a time.
And blogs are time-consuming. It can take hours to produce a quality blog post. You know what you could be doing with that time? Writing a book.
If you are going to blog, blog sparingly. You have better uses for your time. Some things to keep in mind to get more bang for your buck with your blog:
- Link the blog to social media accounts. Systems like WordPress have plugins that do this automatically, so every time you publish a post, links to it automatically appear on your social media.
- Integrate the blog into a larger website which offers information on your books and a way to buy them.
- Include an About Us page where you can show your personal side rather than just your professional one.
- Consider a name beyond “Jon Smith’s Blog,” something that captures something of your personality or your writing material. It helps catch the eye of a reader who might not know who you are.
- Carefully consider how much time, if any, you’re going to spend reviewing comments. If you do attract a fair number of readers, this can become a daunting task. Don’t feel compelled to respond to every comment or question. If someone really needs to get a hold of you, they’ll use your contact information, not a post comment.
Conventions and Book Signings
Unless you’ve been specifically invited, don’t pursue conventions and book signings. They take great amounts of time, and unless you already have a large readership, they aren’t going to great attract new readers.
Write, Write, Write
You may have noticed a theme here: you should be writing your book. No matter how successful you might be in marketing yourself through social media and other channels, nothing, absolutely nothing promotes you as well as well-written material. All of these marketing tools help people know your work exists, but the work has to exist, and it has to be attractive. To that end, never let your marketing practices overwhelm your writing opportunities. Otherwise, you’ll have nothing to market.