Congratulations! You created your world, named everything, researched, and identified – at a minimum – your major plot points. You’ve written, rewritten, edited, reviewed, and turned your story over to beta readers, content editors, grammar editors, and so on. You’ve listened thoughtfully to the comments from your reviewers and made necessary changes. You’ve written your synopsis. Your cover art is done and appropriate for your genre. Your book is formatted for digital and print, and it has been priced. Your novel has taken wings and is available for purchase through numerous venues. Now you can sit back and relax as the royalties roll in.
Oh wait. Does anyone know your book is out there? Over 500,000 books are written in English EACH YEAR in the US/UK and Australia. That’s your competition. I didn’t include the books written in other countries that are either written in, or translated into, English. Whether you self-publish or go through a publishing company, you have to proactively market your book.
But how do you reach those readers who will like your book? Don’t focus on broad appeal. If someone picks up your book, expecting a romance and they get an action/thriller, they will write a bad review. Zero in on your target audience. Always carry business cards (they aren’t that expensive) and keep copies of your books available for sale in your home and car. Book signings, print and video interviews, as well as hawking your novel every chance you get, are great, but today we’ll focus on social media sites to help you get the word out.
A website is how people feel connected to you and it’s a great way to get your info out there. The website gives you a chance to display your writing style so that prospective readers can see if they will enjoy your books. Sites like wordpress.com or simplesite.com have easy to use products, so you don’t need an IT degree to get started. Websites take time to accrue followers. Yours should be up and running with followers before you publish that first book. It’s where you build excitement and buzz. When you first create a website be sure to use any tools they offer, such as free training or support documents. A little time reviewing tools at the beginning will save you a lot of time down the road.
Though I once said I would never tweet, I gave Twitter a try and my book sales increased after I set up my account. I also found good information from other authors. Problem is, a lot of the followers I have seem to be ‘bots’ and I’ve seen reports that established twitterers are not seeing new growth. This is a work in process for me and I’m still working out the kinks, but traffic from Twitter to my website has been a good thing.
Tumblr serves a purpose much like Facebook and it’s big with the youth market. Sometimes called the anti-blog, the draw of Tumblr is that most parents aren’t on it (unlike Facebook) and it’s easy to hide within the system. I post links to my flash fiction stories and Instagram photos, but that’s about it. Tumblr is important to the school age through early twenties crowd. If that’s your demographic, consider Tumblr.
Even though you have to pay to advertise your Facebook business page, multiple sources say it’s worth it to promote likes. I created an author page and it has upped the traffic to my website. This has been one of the best ways to increase buzz on my novels. When I post on my private account that I have a new book out, shares from friends and family up my exposure and my sales. I only mention my writing on my private account when a new book is released. I don’t hawk my science fiction/fantasy to my friends regularly since most don’t read that genre.
Instagram has been a surprise. I set up a public account and post only hiking and writing content. My account is open and I’m careful. You’ll find no family photos or personal info here. My sales increased with the creation of the Instagram account, as did traffic on my website.
Goodreads. By all means set up an author page here and tie your books to it. I haven’t devoted enough time to this account to make it work for me as well as it should, but that’s on me. Goodreads is an excellent place to meet up with active readers. Readers who track their reads and have opinions on what they read. These are the type of folks you want reading your book. It’s also a good place to find reviews of new authors you might want to check out.
I set up Bloglovin’, but I don’t devote a lot of time to it. Again, the fault is not the tool, it’s me. There is only so much time in the day and I haven’t made full use of this site. If you have a blog, set up a Bloglovin’ account and claim your blog if nothing else.
With Social Media the issue is Overload. My accounts take about 10 minutes a day of my time. I check in the morning and evening. Anything I post to Instagram auto loads to Twitter so that’s a timesaver. My website demands more attention as I post new content (blog) at least weekly and blog posts auto load to Twitter and Instagram. I also auto load from Instagram to Twitter, but I prefer to manually load my content to some social media accounts. There are many ways to automate loading your content from one platform to others and this can be a huge time saver.
When using social media, you have to give to get. Reblog posts and tweets of other useful content and they might do the same for you, expanding your coverage. Make sure your reblog and retweet activities match the tone you want to have on your accounts. Learn what hashtags to use and when to use them.
Three words of caution:
- If you allow it, social media will take over your day. Block out time for it daily but don’t let it take over your writing time.
- Keep your business profile similar no matter what tools you use. I use nrtucker.com for my website. @_nrtucker for Twitter. _nrtucker for Instagram. nrtucker for Tumblr. And finally, nrtucker/authornrtucker for my Facebook page, making it easy (I hope) to find me.
- You are using these venues to sell your novel, so you must keep them open to people you don’t know. Open social media accounts come with a risk, because anyone can see what you put out there. Be smart. Post only what you want the world to see. (FYI, this is true for private accounts as well, but that’s another topic.) The world includes parents, children, friends, and enemies. I restrict my content on open accounts to hiking and all things writing and reading related. Hiking, because it’s my main hobby and adds a little flavor (and pretty photos) to my accounts and writing/reading content because it’s what I created the accounts for. I don’t post family photos or I’m currently out of the country information.
There are many other social media options out there. Do your research and find the best fit for you. Marketing does not happen without you putting time into it, but with some effort on your part, you can do a lot to improve your sales.
This post is one in a series of self-improvement for the guild. Information is complied from guild experiences and research. RWG Posts contain all posts of this nature.