When it comes to promoting a book, writers often try everything short of sending out smoke signals to spread the word. Thanks to social media, there are more opportunities than ever for authors to reach a broader network and interact with their readers. However, there is still much to be learned and many authors could benefit from a tweak to their social media efforts. The following five authors provide prime examples of how you should and shouldn’t use social media to promote your work.
Author and book marketing coach, Jonathan Gunson has successfully used Twitter to promote his multiple publications and blog. There’s no doubt that this social media platform has produced real results for him, but this wasn’t because of luck. Jonathan strongly emphasizes that a change of psychology is needed when using Twitter – or any social media. The “I need to sell my book” mentality needs to be replaced with “I need to grow my readership and community.” Jonathan takes special care to engage his network. He stays away from promoting his work with in-your-face advertisements that offer little value otherwise and instead focuses on starting a conversation. He’ll ask a question, ask for an opinion or get people excited by previewing a blog topic that they’ll likely find relevant. Jonathan has done an excellent job keeping his social media social and has created a strong and active following because of this (follow Jonathan @jonathangunson).
Author and blogger, Nick Thacker knows firsthand the struggles that authors face when trying to cut through the noise and make their social media efforts meaningful. His advice is three-fold. First, only use Facebook Pages if you’re going to use them. If you’re not going to maintain your page, this could negatively impact your efforts. Second, don’t take the same approach with Facebook as you do Twitter. These are different social media platforms and appeal to different audiences. Third, create a logo for your brand. Although you’re a single person, an author still has a brand and should work to create and promote this throughout their social media efforts to build a “personal” relationship with their following (follow Nick @NickThacker).
Author of Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling is a household name. But unfortunately her social media presence leaves much room for improvement. With such a cult following, growing a powerful social media presence would happen with little to no effort. She has almost 2,593,500 followers on Twitter and 1.9 million “likes’ on Facebook. The problem? Her updates are few and far between and don’t offer valuable information that sparks discussion. She is only following 3 people on Twitter and has less than 30 tweets total. There’s no doubt her books will continue to sell with or without her use of social media, but for her millions of fans who would love to connect with her and get to know her more “personally,” this is a missed opportunity (follow JK Rowling @JK_Rowling).
Best-selling author and producer, Nicholas Sparks on the other hand has a professional and active social media presence. His Twitter profile is well designed and kept very active. His updates add value and ignite discussion and sharing. For many of his readers who will never have the chance to meet him in person, they are able to communicate with him more personally. This goes a long way in building a loyal fan base which equates to greater book sales in the future (follow Nicholas Sparks @NicholasSparks).
Writer, blogger and online marketing enthusiast, Carrie Mumford has a different opinion of social media for authors. She says, “Here’s my dirty secret: I’ve wanted to quit social media for months. I think the most under-communicated part of social media is that it takes time. Lots of time.” This is true. To grow an engaged following on any platform, you’re going to need to spend time crafting messages, sharing quality content and talking to people. And for authors, time spent on social media is time not spent writing. Carrie still uses social media, however, because she knows the benefits outweigh the time commitment. She recommends these guidelines for fellow authors developing a social media strategy. First, only use the platforms you enjoy – this ensures you will continue to use them. Second, don’t spread yourself too thin – you can’t be everywhere or be everything to everyone. Third, decide what you want to be – social media is about creating a personal brand. This is excellent advice for authors as well as any individual (follow Carrie @CarrieMumford).
Whether you’re a best-selling author who has a cult following or you’re just merely trying to growing your blog to more than 10 subscribers, it’s worth taking note to what these 5 authors have demonstrated with their use of social media. It’s important to keep social media social and not to overtly advertise like a slick salesman. These platforms are made for discussion and interaction and will be most valuable to you if you use them for this purpose!