Thanks to social media there has never been more opportunity for authors to connect with their readers. In the past authors would normally only meet their readers at events or possibly through the odd letter or email. Readers might be lucky enough to go to a book event or signing of a favourite author, but they were unlikely to have any deeper connection.
Today, social media has fundamentally changed the relationship between authors and readers, bringing them closer and giving authors a huge opportunity to grow and nurture their readership. Now you’ve written a book, or maybe you’re in the middle of writing one, how do you use social media to promote your new author status and your book?
Know your audience
As with any product, a thorough understanding of your potential customer (in this instance, your reader) will help enormously in promoting it. Who will read your book? Why do they need to read it? Who else do they read? What will appeal to them most about your book? Knowing your audience will also help you with the next tip.
Go where your readers are
Social media is awash with people who love books. But make sure you choose the platforms where your readers will be. For example, if you’ve written a book that will appeal to parents, Instagram should be your main focus, due to its popularity with millennial mums. If your book will speak to the business community, LinkedIn will be a better starting point. Make sure the channels you focus on are those you're happy to be active on. If you can't bear Twitter, trying to have a strong Twitter presence to promote your book is unlikely to be sustainable.
Remember the people who influence your readers
Depending on whether you're self publishing or with a traditional publisher, and who your audience is, there are also lots of people on social media who can influence your readers. Booksellers, bloggers, Bookstagrammers, teachers, parents, people who work in publishing, can all have an impact on your book and its success. Make sure you're connecting and building relationships with these people too.
Find your people, make connections and build relationships
There’s a big clue in the name: social media is all about being social. Make sure you engage and inspire, add your opinions, support other authors, comment on and like other people’s posts and join in the conversation. Make genuine connections with people you want to talk to and ensure you're a valuable member of your community.
Be consistent, show up and get visible
One of the greatest advantages of social media for authors and readers is the ability to be closer to each other and to form stronger relationships. Let people see you, know your inspirations and the stories behind your book. Give them insights into your writing life. There are all sorts of ways of talking about your book on your social media. What inspires your writing? Why did you write the book? Do you get writer's block and how do you get around it? Who are the other authors you read and like? What have you read recently? Don’t wait until the book is finished to do this. Talk about the writing process, share the cover direction, celebrate that first copy arriving. Are you doing events, blog tours, q and as? Post frequently so people come to expect to hear from you. If your followers and readers come to feel that they know you, and you are engaged with them, they are more likely to want to support you and your book.
Don’t obsess about the likes
Those numbers on your accounts and posts can be seductive but they don’t really mean anything. It's more important to focus on building an engaged audience. Far better to have a small number of followers who are genuinely interested in you, want to hear from you and will be interested in your book than lots of followers who have liked your account but never engage.
Don’t only talk about your book, but don’t forget to talk about your book
This is a careful balance. People aren't on social media to be sold to, they're there for community, relationships and inspiration. Resist the temptation to talk about your book all the time. However, don’t avoid talking about your book so much that you don’t talk about it at all! Many people who look at your social channels might not follow you, so make it easy for them to quickly find information about your book.
Finally, enjoy it! If you embrace social media and engage well, you never know who you might meet and what connections you might form. From friendship and support from other authors or people in the writing community through to other businesses who might like to cross promote with you, there is endless potential.
Kelly Weekes is a social media expert and Facebook ads strategist specialising in the book industry.