Help Your Book to Sell through Social Media

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1 Help Your Book to Sell through Social Media Social networking sites and blogging have revolutionised the way consumers find out about products and talk about them. Social media is usually free to use, and available whenever you want it for instant communication of a message. When potential readers find you online, they are already looking for information related to your topic. The process seems less intrusive than traditional marketing and more like a welcome channel of discussion. An online presence where people can find out more about who you are and what you do and connect with you online, therefore, is more or less essential. Readers and the media expect to be able to find out more about an author online, and if you re actively talking about your book online you are helping to spread the word and, ultimately, to sell books. So firstly, you need a web presence, whether it s a website or blog or social media page on Facebook or Twitter (or another social media site appropriate to your book). If you don t have any of this yet, don t worry. It s built to be easy to use. The sky is the limit. But it will take time. Be realistic about what you want to achieve. Establish your public profile. Post items of interest. Build a network of people who may be interested. Social Media / Social Networking Social Networking means participating in online communities, the best-known being Facebook and Twitter. Both Facebook and Twitter guide you through the process of setting up an account, and there are plenty of practical books out there to help. The idea is to find people with similar interests to you, who might be interested in your book. Authors can connect directly with their

2 readers and keep them apprised of their activities, current project and whatever else they feel might be of interest. It s simply networking making friends online. Be honest and transparent about what you are doing. But I don t have time! Addictive as it can be, you shouldn t spend all day on Twitter or Facebook. Relevance and regularity is more important. Anything you do is helpful, and you will soon learn what works for you. Set up a trial account first if you like while you get used to it don t ask people to follow you until you know what you re doing. Then maybe aim to post a message once a day or so or whenever you have something to share. If you post things that aren t fun or interesting, people will soon stop reading. Facebook usage in the UK is falling but it remains a very friendly and accessible medium where you can easily post photos as well as links and updates, and create groups with shared interests. All your posts continue to be viewable on your profile page so everything you do contributes to the picture of who you are. Facebook doesn t allow you to reach out and make new friends, however, as fast as Twitter. Some of the people you make friends with in the first week you may realise later aren t right for you; don t worry about deleting them or simply hiding what they post on your page. Facebook will allow you to customise; you can choose to block certain kinds of requests. Twitter continues to grow in popularity (though the statistics are constantly changing, naturally). Twitter allows you to connect with people you don t yet know easily; if you follow someone, they will have a look at your profile and decide whether to follow you back. The brief format is fun and it s loved by journalists because it s where news breaks instantly but it s also fleeting. It s hard to get a sense of who you are from your Twitter profile, unless you link to a website or blog page. You ll learn about putting key words into your Tweets and mentioning other users so that new people can find you through shared interests. If you end up with a lot of Twitter friends, you can file them into groups to make it easier to filter through the newsfeed. Relevance is more important than numbers; it s easy enough to be followed

3 by people trying to sell something, but you are wasting your time if you re only Tweeting to them. There are many add-on applications (Twitpic, Tweetdeck, Hootsuite), but they aren t essential at all. If you want to find out more, there are online marketing guides to be found for free not surprisingly online. What to say? Your posts should reveal something of your personality and not be 100% selling. That said, tell people about your book, the reasons you decided to write it, what it s about. People are fascinated by the process behind creating a book. Tell people if you are doing any talks or radio interviews or signing books, or anything else connected with the book. Connect with people; ask questions and let others ask questions. The communication should go both ways. Readers can communicate honestly how they feel about your work to as many readers as they like. Healthy discussion can generate positive effects also. Start discussions about things of interest to you books, films, places. If something happens in the news that is relevant to your book, post a comment so people searching for information on the topic might find you. Pass along links to articles that others might find interesting. People will follow your posts if they are entertaining or interesting or have value in some way, especially if you re providing a specialised kind of news service. Online articles very often have a share this button so you can post easily to your page. There are also various services available for shortening links to webpages, such as https://bitly.com/ LISTEN. Is anyone talking about your area of interest? Search and connect. You will develop a rapport with your network; share their views and posts. Look at what other authors are doing to find out what s successful and what might work for you.

4 Blogging Got a bit more to say than Twitter or Facebook will allow? Set up a blog. The great thing is basic blog pages are free and you can set up as many different ones as you like. Two of the most popular sites are Blogger and Wordpress, both easy to set up and adapt along the way. You can link your Twitter/Facebook presence to your blog whenever you like. How you blog depends on why you re doing it and who your audience is. If you publish lots of content often, you have a better chance of being picked up by search engines and getting more traffic. But if can be a timeconsuming habit if you re running the blog alone, and for many of us, our audience simply isn t interested in being bombarded with content. It is a good idea to post regularly, however. Set aside a time every day/week/month so people don t lose interest. Gradually you may start to get feedback and will know what your readers like. Don t give away too much of your book online, however. Pique readers interest but make sure they still want to buy your book. If our Publicity team is offering an excerpt from your book to the press for exclusive features or serialisation, they may lose a potential deal if you ve already given away too much content. Search out related online communities Find and get in touch with web sites that you think are related to your book, visited by people who might be interested in finding out about your book. Find ongoing blog discussions about topics related to your book; you can use Google Blog Search. Post comments and identify yourself as an author. If appropriate, you can discuss your book and even link to it. Offer to write articles or give interviews. Include the contact details for the Summersdale Sales and Publicity teams. Offer something extra Successful authors have found that giving something extra, such as free downloadables, can help to build a following. One Young Adult novelist set

5 up profiles on Facebook and MySpace (used by lots of her audience) in anticipation of the launch of her book, and designed a countdown clock and free avatars and screensavers. Teenagers started posting these to their profiles and talking up her book. If your book focuses on food, maybe you can offer some recipes or tips. Websites like offer plenty of suggestions: you need to find what suits the audience for your book.

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