Expert Round-Up Topic: How important is social media for authors?
Social media is usually seen in the author community as a book marketing tool, and rightfully so. But one overlooked aspect of social media is how it can also be used as a sort of market research tool. If you’re planning to write a book on a subject within your expertise, you can easily gauge the interest of your target audience by posting a series of helpful content. The way your audience interacts with that content will help you see what your community is interested in reading about, giving you an easy idea of what your next book should be all about.
If you have already published a book previously and you have a community around it, posting snippets from the book also helps you decide which topics you should focus on next. Maybe there’s a subtopic that your audience is interested in and you may need to expand on. Or maybe you want to do an updated edition of your book to make it more current and relevant. Perhaps you want to narrow down the topic of a generic book to suit particular niches. There are so many possibilities that can come about when you listen to what your audience wants, and social media is a great way to do that.
As I was starting the publishing process, I didn’t have social media. I was told over and over again by publishing companies that I needed a following, and so I began…
I opened a Facebook and Instagram account and started posting content related to my book, which is about mental health. My following grew and I was scrappy, and it’s made all the difference for me! I post about book events, and people ask me to speak because they tag a friend who might want to have me speak at their child’s school. I adapted my book into a film and was able to self-promote and raise funds for the community educational film. I self-published my book 5 years ago, and when there’s an anniversary or someone writes a review, I post it. Books continue to sell. It’s been the best free marketing tool for me.
As a nonfiction author, your goal with your book might be to educate the public about your book’s content by becoming the expert in the genre you are writing about. It’s also a wonderful tool to build your expertise in the media by using your book as part of your credentials. Social media allows you to take that expertise and interact directly with the public. You have an opportunity to do more than just post about your book — you can also influence a person’s life with sound advice, statistics, personal achievements, empowering stories, fascinating details and also answer questions of your followers.
Authors often tell me they feel overwhelmed with all of the social media platforms out there. The authors then try to be everything to everyone on all platforms and eventually get burned out or worse, abandon all platforms. My suggestion is to find a couple that make sense for the demographics of people they are trying to reach and master those platforms. It’s ok to have authentic connections and real conversations with your audience on two or three platforms. The important thing is that you reach people where they prefer to connect most with you.
Founder of Darcie Rowan PR
Social media is one of the best and most affordable ways to widen your audience, find new readers, and connect with your loyal readers as a nonfiction author.
By knowing where your audience is and what platforms are right for your book (like LinkedIn/Twitter for business books and TikTok/Instagram for memoirs), you have the potential to connect with thousands of readers each day AND bring them off of social media into your website and newsletter.
Most important is knowing what your readers want to see, being consistent, and sharing what readers will get by reading your book.
Instagram and TikTok: @shelbyleighpoetry
Promote your books and those of other writers.
By engaging with other authors, you can create informal (and official) networks based on mutual respect and support, where you actively collaborate to promote each other’s books and ebooks through your individual social networks. You may tweet a link to your followers, for
instance, if a writer friend of yours publishes a new book or makes a blog post. Your friend would support you in the same way whether you published a new book or an essay. By doing this, your buddy is exposed to your Twitter followers, who may share the link with their own followers or who may wind up purchasing your friend’s new book. When your friend distributes your link with his or her followers, the identical procedure is started.
Social media is not just important for authors, it’s a requirement. Whether you’re traditionally publishing or self-publishing, you’re at a significant advantage when you leverage the opportunity to connect with the people who love the ideas you publish.
What I have appreciated the most about writing books while growing a social media following is bringing my community along in the book writing process. It always makes the content better. I ask them what’s important and what their greatest struggles are as I’m working through the pillar concepts of my writing. At the end of the day, your book is meant to solve problems for
someone. Getting outside of the writing vacuum to find that guidance from your customer is crucial.
Oh, and of course, it sells more books. For one of my launches I posted a video every day for 30 days until the book published. For the other I did an 8-hour livestream to get my audience excited for the book, and even took live calls with people watching. People want to feel heard and if you give them that opportunity with social media, they will want to buy your book…
at a minimum.
Having a social media presence can make the possible readers recognize you as an author and as a person. While it can also be a great chance to promote your books and for important exposure, it is not as simple as it sounds. Building a relationship with the audience through engagements could lead to greater influence. For example, you can share initial book covers, show your writing process, or answer frequently asked questions. Doing these could result in them knowing that there is an actual person behind each line of your book, raising the possibility of recognition in your writing.
When you have already built a connection with your audience, it can help you think like them and discover what resonates with readers and what doesn’t. That engagement can be a promotion because more people might join the community. As you grow, you can build your network with other authors and publishers, where collaborations become possible.
Unless you’re Michelle Obama or Rachel Maddow, publishers aren’t going to promote your books. It’s up to you. Social media platforms make book promotion possible with little or no budget. You certainly can hire professionals to promote your work on social—whether you do that or DIY, a social media presence showcases your expertise and books.
Bookstagram is the books section of Instagram; BookTok is the books review section of TikTok (though mostly for fiction as of now). BeReal—the unfiltered social channel—is a great way to connect with Gen Z. Determine who you want to reach and where they spend their time.
#WriteItAndTheyJustWon’tCome holds for most. If you want people to know about your work, say it with a hashtag.
I’ve been building my Facebook personal and business pages since 2007. With nearly 5,000 friends (5,000 is the current limit), I’ve primarily used my personal Facebook page (Facebook Business pages get far fewer organic views) to promote
1. Book signings and gallery shows in which one or more of my books are available for sale;
2. Published articles and features (often comprised of excerpts from my books); and
3. Photography and printing workshops that are closely related to the content in my books. The topics have included pet, wildlife and portrait photography, as well as fine-art printing.
This has worked particularly well with “after work” photography workshops in which a signed copy of my photo tips book, Focus and Filter, was included for everyone who signed up for the workshops.
4. Book and photo awards, such as the 2018 International Book Award, sponsored by American Book Fest.
SUSANNE M. ALEXANDER
I have written many nonfiction books, but my newest one, Couple Vitality: Connecting with Character,has prompted me to expand and be very active on social media. I hired an Instagram coach for three months to get me well established on that platform, and I was already on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn.
I have found these points of value in participating on social media:
* Connecting with a new audience; interacting with their comments
* Building my confidence in how to approach my topic
* Expanding my creativity through making videos and posts
* Gaining new coaching clients who see my posted views and quotations from my book(s) and resonate with them
* Helping family members and friends see how to support me
* Influencing the conversation in the world about relationships and marriage
* Connecting with new colleagues and their contributions to the topics
If you like this blog post, you’ll love our Author Toolkit covering websites, blogging and social media for authors. Check it out!