The 3 Rules of Social Media Marketing for Authors

If you’re a self-promoting author, then social media marketing is the one practice that can make or break your career. It doesn’t matter if your book is the greatest thing since Mobey Dick if people don’t know it exists or why they should buy it. 

Today I am going to break down this daunting task into where you should be focusing your time and energy, and what you should be doing there, by establishing some ground rules for your marketing plan.

Social Media marketing can be overwhelming if you are trying to be on every platform, and juggling posts, ads, and trying to write your next book all at once. But guess what, if you’re that stressed out about your marketing plan, you’re probably doing it wrong!

So let’s break this sucker down, debunk some myths, and get you on the path to selling more books, and making more time to work on your next one!

Rule One

Quality over quantity.

You don’t have to be on every social media platform! In fact, I would say if you are, you’re probably spending way too much of your time on social media, and you need to cut back. If social media is really stressing you out, or you’re just getting started, I would suggest you start strong with one platform, whichever one you are the most comfortable with, and maybe even already have a solid following of people you know and have relationships with. Once you feel solid and ready, add another one.

If you’re a little farther along, I would suggest selecting a few platforms you are comfortable with, and focusing all your efforts there. These should be platforms you actually enjoy using and are on anyway. Two or three is the max I would suggest, so you don’t neglect your number one job, which is actually writing books!

If you don’t enjoy the platform, get off! For instance, I don’t actually enjoy LinkedIn, so I’m not really there. I love Twitter, so I’m all over it. For marketing to work, you actually have to do it, which is more likely if it’s fun!

The idea is to be truly present on these platforms, instead of stretching yourself too thin and being “on” all of the platforms, but not really “present”.

I love Pinterest and the idea of Tumbler, but the honest truth is I don’t have the time and energy for everything. I focus my book marketing efforts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram because those are the ones I am on all the time anyway.

Rule Two

Authenticity.

Readers like to know you’re a real person. Its okay to post about more than just your book. Think about it, when you really enjoy an author, you want to know more about them and what their life is like, and who they are.

Posting about other aspects of your life also prevents you from having to worry about whether or not you’re being too salesy. Remind them you are a person. The more they get to know and care about you as a person, the more they will want to support you! It’s really a win-win!

HOWEVER! Your posts should not be all over the place. I would select about 5 subjects you really care about, and if a post doesn’t fit into one of those five categories, it doesn’t go on your feed. For example, if I were to rank mine I mostly post about:

  1. My book (ads)
  2. Writing (the process, frustration, sneak peeks…)
  3. Coffee (pictures, longing… you get the idea)
  4. My church/youth I work with (events, funny pictures or stories…)
  5. Travels (adventure is always fun, and most of the time works into my book or is for my book)

I try not to just post pictures of my dinner because my profile doesn’t focus on food or cuisine. I don’t post a bunch of pictures of my cat because my focus isn’t on pets. My message is my writing/book, and community. Coffee, church, and traveling all focus on this idea of writing, or reading, and community.

So pick your message; what is your brand message you’re trying to get across, and what are the main focuses of your life? If yours includes your cat, post about your cat! If you write cookbooks, then, by all means, post food pics! Whatever is authentic to you and your branding, go for it! But all your posts should work together comfortably and make sense on your feed.

Rule Three

Engage!

Part of authenticity, and of being present is your engagement. In order to build a true following and a group of people who genuinely buy into you as a brand, they have to invest in you. The way to get people to invest in you is to invest in them!

Don’t worry, this isn’t as scary or time-consuming as it sounds. It’s actually quite simple.

Take a few minutes, maybe like 15 mins a day, and just check your comments, and tagged posts.

If someone is tagging you in something or sending you messages, you HAVE TO respond. They have taken time to take a risk and reach out to you. If you nervously wrote out a message to one of your favorite authors and didn’t get a response you would either be left wondering if they ever even saw/read it, or crushed. As authors, we are nothing without our readers; so show some appreciation!

If someone comments on one of your posts, like their comment! Let them know that you saw and read it! If applicable, comment back, even if it is just an emoji but show an effort! If Twitter is one of your platforms and someone takes the time to tweet you something nice, like and retweet it. That might make their day. It is a simple enough thing to do, and it helps readers feel closer to you and therefore more invested.

To Sum It Up

Cut back and be really present on a few platforms. Actually build relationships with your followers and feed into them. Don’t just be a billboard that does nothing for your followers but flash “buy me” book pictures up and down their feeds. Be human, be present, and be real. Your readers will appreciate that more than your giveaways!

Bonus Pro-Tip

Once you get established and figure out which platforms you want to keep and dive into, consider scheduling posts and managing them all from one place with Hootsuite or a similar site/app.

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