Using Social Media to Market Your Book (for FREE)!
April 2, 2017
Back in the “olden days,” the only way to make money as an author was to write an epic novel with commercial appeal, land an agent, then land a deal with one of the big publishers. Even then, you still might not make any money as pub houses rarely put much money into marketing, unless you’re Janet Evanovich, Stephen King, or James Patterson. You’d have to hit the best-sellers list and then sell millions of copies to see much in the way of royalties.
But the times, they are a-changing.
Now, any author who takes the time and effort to pour their blood, sweat, and tears into a novel can publish their own books and believe it or not, they can even make decent (if not tons of) money doing so. Take Author Hugh Howey, for example. He is the MASTER of self-publishing. Last I heard, he had gone well over the two million dollar mark with his self-published books. Don’t believe me? Google him. You’ll see what I’m talking about. The man’s a genius. And you can find tons of interviews with him on e-zines and on YouTube where he shares his wealth (pun intended) of information with we small folk. He tells us how we, too, can be just like him. Really…you should check him out.
In the meantime, though, let’s talk about ways that you, a penniless self-published author with no time and no money to spend on marketing, can boost your presence online, thereby increasing your royalties.
First, let’s clear the air. I’m not a best-seller (yet). And I don’t make millions (yet). My monthly royalty statements on five published novels are barely enough to supplement the income I earn from my full-time day job. Right now, it’s barely more than a hobby for me. So I’m not claiming to know the secret to success or the key to making millions on your self-published novels. I have simply done a ton of research on how to market your indie or self pubbed novels FOR FREE using social media. I’ve gathered all the info I could find and combined it all into this one concise little article. Here’s what I’ve learned:
You can use virtually every social media outlet to promote yourself and your books for little to no money. Yes, you can spend hundreds of dollars on blog tours and marketing campaigns, but why would you? You have the resources you need at your fingertips – literally.
First and foremost, build your Twitter following. I was able to get from 0 to over 2,500 followers in less than six months by doing the following:
Follow people – most will follow you back
Tweet at least once a day with popular hashtags (see below) – people will see you and take notice.
Like other authors’ tweets and posts – most will return the favor.
Host giveaways on Amazon and make the entry requirement be that they follow you on Twitter (this increased my followers by hundreds in less than a day. I highly recommend you do this!)
Tweet lines from your published novel, or even your WIP, that you and/or your readers love the most. This will show off your totally awesome writing skills in 140 characters or less. If you can convey something eloquently and beautifully with so few words, someone’s bound to be impressed. And it’s just another way to get your name, and your work, out there for the world to see.
Follow, Tweet, and participate in popular writing-related hashtags such as:
There are dozens of these hashtags, but these are the most popular. Once you follow and participate in these convos, you will start to see others meant for authors that you can follow, too. Just keep your eyes peeled.
Like and join as many author-related pages and groups as you can find. There are too many to list, but just do your research and build your platform.
Follow and Friend other authors. Most will follow or friend you back.
Post something daily (but not 100 times a day – you will get muted or even blocked, trust me). Make sure you’re posting relevant musings and content, content, content. Show off your writerly skills here. Just like on Twitter, post some of your best lines from your novels and then link that novel’s purchase link to your post.
Promote your book (again, regularly but not aggressively so). I personally try to do this about once a week, but I try to change it up a bit each time. Don’t just post the link, though, people will scroll right past. Instead, post something amusing or interesting at the top then your link at the bottom of the post. Sort of like. “Here’s something interesting/funny I thought of/found today…oh, and by the way, have you checked out my recent book….”
Create events. Schedule your book release as an event on FB. Have a signing coming up? Create an event and invite all of your FB friends to attend. Going to be appearing on TV? Or in the newspaper? Schedule an event. These are easy to create on Facebook and their tutorials will walk you through it.
For a small fee, you can create ads on our Facebook page that will promote and boost your presence. Again, they will walk you through the steps. Doing this will make sure your posts are seen by hundreds, if not thousands, more Facebookers.
This is a great place to feature your amazing cover art. Cover art is the KEY to grabbing potential readers’ attention. People say “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” But that’s a crock of horse poop. And we all know it. Make sure your cover is as good and professional-looking as possible, then post it regularly on your feed.
Add your website URL to your account front page so people can (and will) link to it. (See more on websites below).
Post pictures relevant to your book (but not just the cover image – people will get tired of seeing this over and over). For example…if your book is a motorcycle club romance, post pictures of awesome looking Harleys and other biker-related images. If your book is an MG adventure about a girl who rides horses in competitions, post pictures of different beautiful horses. Starting to get the picture (again, pun intended)?
Connect with other bloggers and reviewers. You can feed off their content and vice versa.
Post pictures of you writing and/or your writing “area.” Let your readers/fans see you in your natural habitat. Don’t act like you wouldn’t love to see a picture of Stephen King writing in his office…
I strongly recommend you start a blog if you haven’t already. But keep the topic relevant to writing/books/authors, etc. Blog about your favorite books, your writing process, your experience in the industry so far…and do this regularly. The more present you are on the internet, the more likely you are to reach potential new readers. And keep in mind, stay true to your brand and don’t post anything that would compromise your readership. No rants, no politics, no religion, no social issues…just keep it strictly to books.
Post excerpts from your book. If you’re self-pubbed, post at least your first chapter or your prologue right there on your website and then direct people (on the other social media platforms) to come read your excerpt for free. NOTE: If you are with an Indie publisher, PLEASE check with your editor/publisher first. A lot of these guys have restrictions on how much content you can “give away” for free. The last thing you want to do is break the terms of your contract! But if you can do this, do it. Show of your mad writing skills, yo!
Caring is sharing – offer to post info and reviews about your writer friends’ books. Feature them by giving an “interview” with them and posting it on your site and/or blog. Then promote it for them. Odds are, they’ll return the favor and feature you on their website in return.
Whatever platform or outlet you use, there are a few things you want to be consistent about:
Show of your talent! Post words, sentences, paragraphs, or even chapters of your work so everyone can see what a word-smith you are!
Keep it clean! Even if you (like me) tend to have a bit of a potty mouth, don’t cuss like a sailor in your posts/tweets/blogs. You will severely isolate your readers and cut your readership/following drastically by alienating those potential fans/readers who are turned off by filthy talk or overtly sexual situations.
Stick to the topic! As I touched on above, please do yourself a major favor and do not discuss hot topics like politics, religion, and hot-button social issues. I’m not saying this to silence you or infringe on your constitutional right to free speech. You technically can say what you want. But keep in mind that America is literally divided in half. There are conservatives and there are liberals and there are very few who fall between the two. Whatever you say, you WILL offend someone, and why on earth would you cut your readership in half just because you feel strongly about a certain social topic?
Build your brand! If you are a genre fiction writer (suspense/YA/romance/sci-fi, etc.), keep your content relevant to that genre. For example, since I write mostly suspense novels, I made my website look all dark and mysterious rather than light and fluffy with unicorns and rainbows. I am trying to project a certain feel with my brand and you should, too. Another example would be if you write religious or inspirational fiction, it wouldn’t be wise to post a picture of you in your bikini, drinking a margarita on the beach with a big old doobie hanging out of your mouth. Not wise. Not wise at all.
The bottom line is this…sure, you could pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars to promote your book…but why on earth would you do that when you have these and more resources at your disposal? Keep at it. Don’t give up. It takes time to build a platform. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will be your career. But if you spend your time wisely, do your research, and make a plan, you will be able to build a brand and platform that will drive fans and readers to your books and have them begging you to publish more! The first sign I got that I was doing something right was when I received an email from a fan I had never met before, whom I wasn’t connected to in any way, who asked me to please let her know when my next novel was coming out because she had read all five of mine already and she needed to read more.
You can do it. There are plenty of authors out there who did. Why can’t you be one of them? The answer is… you can!