Marketing your book via social media
Using social media is by far the quickest, simplest and cheapest way to reach a global audience. It is crucial, as an author, that you keep in touch with social media trends and rise to its challenges, as it has a huge and integral part to play in the current publishing and book selling industry, and in influencing consumer choices.
On social media, your messages and images are available to be read and shared worldwide within seconds of being posted, and no author can afford to ignore the power and influence of social media platforms when marketing themselves or their books. In fact, most commercial publishers, when considering taking on a new author, will expect them to already have a considerable and active presence on social media and to be building up a strong following, some even giving lessons to their new authors to ensure that they are making full use of what it has to offer.
You may already have a Facebook profile, where you chat to family and friends and share photos of your holidays, children or pets, and it is likely that you have set up privacy settings to ensure that nobody outside your close circle can see them. But now you are an author you will need to start sharing information about your book, hoping to reach out to a much wider group of readers, buyers and strangers, with whom you probably prefer not to share the intimate details of your private life.
For this reason, it’s time to set up a separate author page. Pages work a little differently to personal profiles, and are far better suited to you as an author, and as a business. Here you will be seeking followers rather than friends, and all your posts will be book related. When setting up cover and profile pictures for the page, select a suitable image, probably of your book cover and/or an author photo, and ensure that the details you provide give readers information about you and how to find/contact you, via a website, blog, newsletter, or your Amazon author page (if you haven’t set any of these up yet, do it now!) You will also be given access to various reports and ‘insights’, helping you to monitor who is following you, which posts are being read and shared, which posts are performing the best, etc.
Facebook is a great place to engage with readers, launch a new book, provide click links taking buyers straight to your book on Amazon or other selling sites, share images of the cover or promotional graphics (you can make your own for free using a tool like Canva), promote a blog tour, arrange giveaways and competitions, set up live video chats, and join book and reader groups, etc. If you are prepared to spend a few pounds, you can create a Facebook Ad for your book. Ads will help you to reach a much wider targeted audience based on their location, demographic and profile information, and can be tailored to your budget. You can judge their success by how many people respond, either by clicking through to the book on a selling site or actually buying the book as a result of reading the ad.
The fastest growing new feature available on Facebook is Reels. Reels are fun and inspiring short videos which might include music, audio, visual effects, text overlays and more. Making a video can be very time consuming but is a fantastic and lively new way to show off your book and bring it to the attention of (especially younger) readers.
Whereas Facebook posts can be lengthy, chatty, easily accessible, and can be returned to and read at leisure, Twitter tends to move far more rapidly. As a Twitter user, with a little effort you can easily and quickly follow and be followed by thousands, most of whom are strangers, tweeting regularly, often about topics not directly relevant to you. The more accounts you follow, the more tweets will flash up on your screen. When a tweet does appear that appeals to you, blink and you’ll miss it! And yet, Twitter is probably the most effective social media tool for marketing your book. One tweet that catches the eye of an influential user can be shared to thousands of their own followers at the click of a button, each of them then sharing it too, so the potential reach is massive, and at no cost to you
Tweets are short. The number of characters (including spaces) is limited to just 280, including any hashtags and/or links, so it’s essential you keep your message short and to the point, although you can also add images, photos, short video clips and GIFs.
When marketing your book, try not to just keep repeating the same information and the same images. Varying content keeps it fresh: the book cover, quotes from reviews, details of a book launch or a public reading, news of a price drop, polls, competitions, and little snippets about you. Readers do like to be given insight into an author’s life away from the page. Think also about varying the time of day when you are posting. Twitter is used internationally, and readers in the USA for instance will not be awake and active on social media at the same time as those in the UK. Similarly, if you are including links to buy, remember that not everyone has access to Amazon UK, so try to include a universal link enabling them to get straight to your book and buy it on a site in their own country. It’s easy to schedule your tweets, so you don’t have to be awake and at your desk when you want them to go out.
And hashtags work! They are the gateway to searching for just about anything, and to finding the top and latest tweets on any subject imaginable. Always include a couple of hashtags, to guide interested parties and potential buyers towards following you, reading your tweets, and hence to discovering and hopefully buying your book. Be imaginative. Use popular hashtags to point to the genre or theme of your book, or to tie it to something topical, maybe in the news and trending today.
Instagram / Bookstagram
Instagram is owned by the same company as Facebook and you can very easily set up some of your posts to appear simultaneously on both platforms. Yet, it has its own vibe, and is used very much as a display case for photos rather than too much text. Instagram is the ideal place to show off your book cover and promotional images, and any beautiful photo that links in some way to your book’s content. There is no post sharing here, and no links (although you can get around that by including a link in a reply to your own post or in your bio), and again you collect followers rather than friends, but you can judge the success of a post by the number of ‘likes’ it receives.
There is a thriving community of book lovers, or Bookstagrammers, here, forming connections over their shared obsession with books. Checking on the hashtag #Bookstagram brings up the incredible fact that there have been around 75 million posts using that hashtag alone. Book covers, photos of themselves reading or of their bookshelves, book recommendations and reviews abound, and including several hashtags within each post is very much the norm.
TikTok / BookTok
TikTok is all about videos. It was only launched in 2016 but is one of the most downloaded social media apps and possibly the fastest growing trend among younger users. BookTok is a sub-community within it, as well as the hashtag used by all those video creators who want to talk, sing, dance or joke about books.
BookTok seems to appeal mostly to young women, and here you will find them showing, and passing on, a real passion for the books they love. An emotional impassioned video can be inspiring and motivating, to other readers and to you as an author. It shows how important books are to people – if only we could bottle that feeling and sell it, we would all be millionaires!
If your book might appeal to the younger and predominantly female section of the reading community, BookTok is definitely the place to be. And remember that it’s not just book buyers and readers that will be using BookTok. Your competition will be there too, so keeping an eye on their content and who is following them will help you to find out what is popular, what is grabbing attention, who your audience might be, and therefore how to stay one step ahead.