How To Sell Books With Social Media

There have always been various methods used to advertise and sell books. Social is just one of the latest incarnations.

It is still about hand-selling to individuals, but this time on a global scale. The first job of an author is to write great books, but these days, the second job is to market them, especially as a new author with no backlist. This is true for traditionally published as well as self-published authors. [Note: This post was originally published on TheBookseller's FutureBook blog]

The old adage goes that “50% of marketing works. We just don’t know which 50%”. It is indeed an inexact science but here’s how the marketing principle AIDA works.

how to sell books with social media

(1) Attention

Attention is hard to get in this speedy online world. Millions of books compete for it as well as perhaps the more powerful media of video and gaming. Social networks are a way to grab attention for a moment in order to draw people into the funnel as above. Pieces of content are breadcrumbs leading to your door.

tequilaThis could be a picture of the tequila your character drinks shared on Pinterest. It could be a piece from National Geographic that your niche audience would find interesting. It could be a link to an article you’ve written about an art gallery launch that sparked your creative flow. Be interesting, entertaining or inspirational and be sure to use an enticing headline so people want to click and share.

(2) Interest

Social is pointless on its own as a marketing mechanism (although of course it can be enjoyed for its own sake). The aim is to get people to notice you and be interested enough to follow you or click through to your website.

Social networks rise and fall. You don’t own that real estate, you only borrow it for a while so be sure to capture the interest. This means that you need a website and a list mechanism so that people can sign up for your newsletter or updates. This is permission marketing – people have given you permission to email them which is a more personal form of communication and can develop the relationship further.

(3) Desire

Sometimes people will buy a book based on one contact but generally it takes time for people to make a buying decision. Once people have found you and are interested in what you’re doing, they will follow your blog, maybe listen to an interview with you and continue to follow you on social networks. They will also receive your email newsletter. By producing other pieces of content you will expand the impact you can have.

Social is about people knowing you, liking you and trusting you enough to let you have a slice of their time and attention. Authenticity over the long term is therefore important so you can sustain it. Marketing, like writing, is a long term activity.

(4) Action

Julie twitter Once people know you, like you and trust you, they are far more likely to try your books, or recommend you to others. There is no hard sell necessary. This method is about attracting people who might be interested in what you have to say.

How the 80:20 rule works with social

The 80:20 rule has nothing to do with the amount of time spent on social networks. It is about the percentage you spend on promoting others vs. yourself. One of the biggest mistakes of social is to make it all about you. The focus should be on being useful, inspiring or entertaining with occasional tweets that promote your own material or talk about personal things. This also brings about social karma, a generosity that comes when you promote others and results in enhanced word of mouth.

Social means social

Social doesn’t work if you don’t enjoy it or if you are unrelentingly negative. Networks are collective energy expressed in one place. If you exude negativity or hype or spam, then that’s what you will experience in return. It is about enjoying yourself, joining a conversation, learning from people, sharing something interesting and making connections. Yes, it’s actually fun!

Some people think that online relationships are somehow shallow or unreal, but for introvert authors, the online social world is far preferable to live networking events or parties. Friendships formed on Twitter can spill into Skype conversations, meeting up in person and support networks, as well as mutual promotion.

Of course social isn’t a magic bullet to sell millions of books. It’s just one tool in the arsenal of marketing activities that some people enjoy. But from my personal experience, it can definitely result in book sales, and it’s a lot of fun!

What’s your experience of social media? Do you enjoy it for its own sake? Is it successful for book marketing?

Be Sociable, Share!

Comments

  1. says

    Dear Joanna,

    Once again a bundle of great advice. I’m looking forward to the Guardian event in January!

    As yet, I don’t have the experience that you have, however the use of the electronic media cannot be understated. I fell in love with it at first sight, which was back in the mid 1980s before email and the internet. (It was called computer conferencing then)

    Of course there is the risk of using too much time. I have restricted myself to certain times of the day and make as much use of the “like” and “share” buttons” as possible! And make comments when I feel I have something worthwhile to say. As you mention so often, the concept of the entrepreneurial writer is essential – time = money. When I think of what I have given up in terms of financial gain to fulfil the dream of becoming a published author one has to think in those terms. So when I suddenly find myself in front of my screen with an attack of “writer’s block”, I immediately move on: try to improve my blog; prepare mailing lists,whatever. I find this relieves the tension and I am able to return to writing productively within a relatively short space of time. It is a little bit like waking up in the middle of the night; instead of starring at a blank ceiling and wondering how to get back to sleep, put on the light and read a book!!

    Thanks again for your great advice.

    Roger

  2. Angela says

    Thank you very much for this useful advice.

    I wholeheartedly agree with the point…”for introvert authors, the online social world is far preferable to live networking events or parties.” Everyone has their own style of marketing and it is important to honor that.

    Marketing in a way that is aligned with who you are AND also connects readers & audience is the best way to go. We don’t have to follow other people’s formulas. Sometimes our own ideas of what we should and can do, are just as good too.

  3. says

    Hi Joanna. I followed your link at the ALLI Facebook page and it brought me here. (Which proves that social networking works :)) Maybe social networking is like the business networking of my consultancy days. We’d go to corporate events, chew the sausage rolls at Chamber of Commerce events and hope to bump into a potential client. Mostly, we didn’t and we’d vow ‘Never again’. And then, perversely, we’d pick up a £100,000 contract.

    I just wish I could have set my indigestion against tax…

  4. says

    Hi Joanna. I followed your link at the ALLI Facebook page and it brought me here. (Which proves that social networking works :)) Maybe social networking is like the business networking of my consultancy days. We’d go to corporate events, chew the sausage rolls at Chamber of Commerce do’s and hope to bump into a potential client. Mostly, we didn’t and we’d vow ‘Never again’. And then, perversely, we’d pick up a £100,000 contract.

    I just wish I could have set my indigestion against tax…

  5. Richard says

    Introverted author huh? Online social networking being preferable to live networking events or parties huh? Okay, I can relate this to being a useful tool to me putting more than just my feet into the pool. As I continue to read this valuable information that is freely given by you Mrs. Penn and others I do believe that becoming an author and or publisher is for me.

    About two month ago a friend and I decided to look into the self-publishing and shortly there after a couple of people asked us if we could help them publish their books. So now, thanks to you and others, the fear of entering unchartered waters is losing it’s salt.

    Thank you Mrs. Penn,

    A new fan

Trackbacks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *