Gaining momentum on social media sites might be tough for new authors without a large following, but it is also a vital part of today’s digital marketing. Authors need to connect with readers to get their books found in the deluge of thousands of new titles published each day. On the other hand, managing a social media presence can take up a lot of time that could be spent writing or engaging in other forms of marketing. But once authors do gain traction, they can enjoy viral marketing and almost automatic branding of their author name and any new published books.
Getting Started with Social Media as a New Author
If you don’t know where to start with social media, you might remember these tips:
Where should you start setting up social media accounts and pages?
There might be a different answer for almost everybody, but most new authors consider Facebook fan pages, Twitter accounts, and Goodreads. I would not suggest starting with more than three, and you may only select one if that’s all you can handle well. As time passes, your social media presence can grow organically as you gather more fans and more comfort with the new medium.
What social media content engages readers?
Make most of your content about your readers and not about you. If you want readers to care about you, you need to demonstrate that you care about them as more than people with credit cards who might order your new releases. That means you have to take the time to understand your readers and test different types of posts to see what connects with your fans.
You might look at the examples of some queens and kings of Facebook like Ann Rice and George Takei for inspiration. Also, consider connecting with other popular personalities and authors. For example, Ann Rice has been known to give a nod to indies and new authors, and she is always full of inspiration.
How often should you post to social networks?
I think it is important to maintain a consistent presence on any social media sites you really want to conquer. With that said, hourly posts will surely get annoying on sites like Facebook where many readers have busy news feeds. It would be better to show up once a day or a few times a week with powerful content.
That means it might take longer to really test your content, but establishing a brand online may take some time. On the other hand, if you don’t post often enough, you risk getting forgotten. Remember that social media users have a lot of demands on their attention.
Start with What You’ve Got
Finally, leverage the resources that you already have in order to grow your presence naturally. If you set up a new Facebook fan page, don’t be afraid to invite your personal connections to like your page. You’ve got to start somewhere. Also consider connecting with other new authors, editors, and graphic artists to make your social marketing a collaborative effort instead of always making it a competitive one.
Most of your personal connections should be very supportive and even excited about your venture into book writing and publishing. A few might act cool or even jealous, but if you aren’t ready to face that, you will have a tough time when you hear from critics who don’t even know you.
In 1970, a poet named Gil Scott-Heron famously said that the revolution will not be televised. If he was talking about book marketing and publishing, he was right. Nobody in the book marketing business doubts that we are in the middle of a revolution, but it seems mostly online.
Consider some recent book publishing statistics to see just how massive these changes are:
Even with the deluge of traditionally-published and self-published books, some publishers and even self-published authors manage to survive and even thrive. As book marketing professionals, we keep our eye on trends. But mostly, we watch how the most successful publishing houses and authors move books off physical and online bookshelves today.
Successful Book Marketing Trends in 2014
More is better and less is more: Many successful authors have been churning out books even more frequently than once or twice a year, but these individual books do not have to be very long. A year ago, publishers wanted 70,000 words, but some electronically-savvy publishers suggest 50,000 words today.
Connect with readers and market socially: Marketing a book today means connecting with readers where they are. For some, it might mean scheduling a series of book signings, but many authors and publishers establish an effective online presence to brand themselves and interact with readers.
Keyword searches matter: Authors and publishers cannot ignore digital retailers and platforms, and those websites rely on searches. Book descriptions and even titles must be crafted with an attention to catching readers attention and catching top rankings in searches.
Freemium rules: Instead of writing one long novel, many savvy authors write their stories in series. Very often, the first book of the series is offered for free or .99 online to capture reader’s attention.
Professional covers: When more consumers browsed bookstores, they tended to pick up books and read the jackets. When more consumers buy online, they become notoriously impatient and covers need to grab their attention fast.
Self publishing is not a dirty word: Authors have discovered that they can make their own modest investment in good editing and good covers in order to reap a much larger share of profits on the back end. Bowker reported that 43 percent of books published in 2011 were self published.
Go digital: Some modern branch libraries have no books on the shelves. Everything is checked out digitally or ordered from a main branch. Other libraries report an increasing number of digital check outs each year. Pew Research reported that 50 percent of Americans said they owned an e-reader or tablet. While the majority of adults say they also read print books, almost 1 in 3 reported reading an eBook in the last year.
Physical shelf space is dear: According to Book Industry Study Group, a majority of readers still discover new books in book stores. But only a small fraction of books make it into these stores. In the future, pay-to-play might be become the rule and not the exception for publishers who hope to place their titles on actual bookstore shelves. The number of published books will not decrease, but squeezed-out indie authors and small publishers will have to increase digital marketing efforts.
What’s New in Book Marketing in 2014?
Plenty of readers still want to buy books, but they have more choices than at any time in history. On the other hand, authors have more control over the fate of their work than they have ever had before. It’s a great time to be a reader and a writer. We book marketers have our work cut out for us.