It’s always surprising to me when writers seem to think it’s a) **just** about the writing or b) even that writers SHOULDN’T market their books. Look, I’m a writer too and I’ve got to say writing my novels makes me happiest and if I could magically release them into the wild and people would buy them by the tonload  and make me rich? I’d be ecstatic! But we all know that can’t happen without a little work. And the good news is, for authors it’s easier than ever before, thanks to the web. But the bad news is, it’s even easier to totally SCREW THIS UP.

With the above in mind then, I’ve written a fair amount about standing out online with reference to pitching one’s loglines and screenplays and even crowdfunding, but relatively little on how to grab potential readers’ interests in your book on social media, so here’s a few thoughts on various conversations I’ve been having with authors recently:

1) Get A Blog

The obvious, first. Your book or series needs its own web presence, as well as *just* social media accounts. It doesn’t matter how you do it – Blogger, WordPress, Tumblr, Weebly, pages off your existing site, WHATEVER – but do it. I decided to go for Tumblr, since I already have this website, plus my target audience for The Decision Book Series is teenagers, who generally hang out on Tumblr a lot when they’re not on Facebook, Ask.FM, etc. You can find The Decision Book Series on Tumblr HERE.

As you’ll see, The Decision Tumblr is in its infancy and is mostly photographs and quotes, because based on my market research, I’ve discovered this is what teenagers like and share. The Decision is on the same same dashboard as The Bang2write Tumblr, plus both blogs are plugged into Twitter and Facebook.

So, whatever you decide to do with your book’s blog, make sure it offers something FOR your target audience – you can find out where they hang out thanks to the multiple sites online dedicated to social media trends, like @mashable. Also, make sure it is plugged into multiple social media channels, so you can ensure people can find it. MORE: 10 Reasons Your Blog Sucks

2) Go Multi Platform

Another no-brainer. A Twitter account dedicated to your book is another MUST – yes, in addition to your own. What’s more, your book’s Twitter account needs to offer “added value” … In other words, don’t just have the SAME content there as your own. Make sure there’s a REASON people can follow the book’s Twitter and get something “more” from it, as well as yours. Crossover and mutual RTing is fine, but make sure the book’s Twitter has its own identity. Mine is Lizzie, my protagonist from the first Decision book and you can follow her HERE.

Your own Facebook page. A Facebook page is important, but thanks to the recent “Reachapocalypse”, possibly NOT as vital as it once was. (Don’t know what that is?? Find out!!) Facebook pages are still great though for things like photos and links though and the new layout is great, so do make sure your book has one, just don’t obsess over it.

Other Facebook pages. Whether you find other FB pages worthwhile arguably depends on your target audience. In my case, teenagers apparently spend a lot of time on Facebook pages, so it is. I’ve “Liked” all the pages dedicated to teens in some way, as well as all the charities and organisations that help teenagers. I post on the walls if allowed from time to time if permitted and also comment on threads wherever possible (not necessarily always about The Decision Books, it helps to be as genuine as possible).

Facebook groups. There’s LOTS of indie author groups on Facebook and it’s worth joining them all to get a feel for which ones are the most useful. A lot of them have very little interaction, with authors simply linking their free or discounted books, over and over; but others have moderate to very high interaction/engagement levels. Search words like “Kindle”, “readers”, “authors” etc to find some.

Google+ is apparently the “new Facebook”. B2W has been on Google+ for years and I never really “got it” … I basically just clicked the G+ sharing button at the bottom of my blog posts and forgot about it. I didn’t realise that Google+ had the same capabilities as FB until recently and it seems no one else did either, ‘cos suddenly it’s exploded over there. I’m still getting to grips with it to be honest, but I predict it will become VERY useful to indie authors, especially considering its far superior “community search” function to Facebook’s.  MORE: Making Relationships Online, plus 5 Reasons Social Media Will Always Sell More Books

3) Claim Your GoodReads Author Page

DYK? As an author you can claim your own Author page – HERE’S MINE. No it’s not the same as your profile page (which btw the disappears when you’re an official “Goodreads Author”). I didn’t realise this for bloody ages, but hey ho – I make the mistakes so you don’t have to! One of the best things about GoodReads is you can add your book to lists, plus it has a blog function of its own. Plus the librarians over there are fantastic: I had a problem because I ended up with two different pages (for fiction and non fiction) because it thought I was two different people. The librarians merged the pages and all my books were on the same profile within 48 hours. So DO IT. MORE: Connecting Online, plus 5 Ways Writers Kill Their Credibility Online

4) Get Allies

It comes down to this: working on your own is for chumps. Find allies wherever you can, especially other authors, but also readers and fans. In addition, if you can partner with organisations, groups, clubs or whatever that can get behind your book? EVEN BETTER. I partnered with prochoice organisation @EdForChoice for a Twitter chat recently, for example: READ IT HERE. MORE: 9 Ways To Create A Following Online 

BS Promotion

5) Consider Paid Promotion

I’ve seen some authors online saying that writers “shouldn’t” pay for advertising, but fact is, all publicity is good publicity, ultimately. And you won’t find bestsellers leaving it to chance and those book posters etc you see at train stations and banners online all cost MONEY. But most writers don’t have that much money, so where should we go to get the best return on our dosh?

Facebook now offers comprehensive advertising packages to increase “Likes” on your page, or “boost” your Reach on the site, starting as little as £1. I experimented with this and predictably, the more you spend, the more eyes your post gets in front of. What I really liked about it however was the fact you can tailor make your own ads AND focus them in on your target audience. For example, I paid about £35 recently and managed an extra 180 “Likes” for The Decision Book Series, all within my target audience of females within the 14-20 years old age range, who’d liked movies like “Juno”; were interested in prochoice matters; AND liked YA literature featuring female protagonists. Not too shabby!

FYI, indie authors in particular: with a new venture like indie publishing, there are lots of places online now offering various showcase services to indie authors now. They seem to vary in quality and reach, not only in how they look themselves (always check their websites out, not to mention how many followers they have and whether they’re multi platform) but also the types of books they help advertise. Some are completely indiscriminate and will showcase anything; others insist on a certain level of quality. Like anything, due diligence is required.

6) Use Your Reviews

When your book has been out a while, you will start getting reviews, reactions on Twitter, Good Reads etc. Good reviews are always useful to indie authors, so thank the people who took their time to write them wherever possible and use THEIR words, not *always* yours, to help advertise your book. Also, NEVER ignore anyone who engages with you in a personable manner. If someone trolls you, makes accusations etc then ignore/block them! Or, if you can’t resist like me, turn it round on them (but never for an extended period, some of these idiots can literally go on for DAYS!). MORE: Making Connections & Building Relationships Online 

7) Spamming Vs. Cross Posting

Don’t spam, especially on Twitter, but basically anywhere. This is what I mean by spamming:

– @ing individuals far and wide, with the same tweet, copied and pasted, ESPECIALLY when you’ve never talked to them before. Same goes for posting on individuals’ walls, emailing them, PMing them, DMing them with appeals for “Likes” for pages, etc.

– tagging photos and other content on places like Facebook randomly without prior agreement and/or no thought whether someone will like your content or not and/or doing it EVERY SINGLE TIME you post something

– Indiscriminately sharing the same thing, multiple times, in groups over and over, especially in close proximity time-wise, especially without “added value” (though not always)

DO NOTE: Cross posting is NOT spamming. Cross posting to groups at considered intervals that adhere to the groups’ rules is fine and helps spread your message. You will find some platform users who are members of many, many groups may complain they see your message “too much”, but you cannot control how many groups that individual is part of. However, to avoid this (and as my own “best practice”) I use a scheduler like Hootsuite to stagger postings so I never post in more than 2-5 groups at any one time, which works very well. MORE: How **Not** To Do Social Media

8) Say what?? A Word On Repetition 

Repetition is fine, as long as you don’t repeat yourself constantly. Vary the times you send your links. What’s more, People tend not to engage with those they feel are ONLY trying to hock something. So, even though you may be sending the same link, make sure the words accompanying them are different and present “added value”, meaning more click on them. MORE: 8 Rules Of Social Media You Need To Know Right Now, plus A Twit’s Guide To Twitter

marketing-promotion-300x3009) Let Us Know What You’re Talking About!

I often see writers touting their books online (especially in Facebook groups) and even though I know the writer and may even have read the book, I don’t see **what** it is! Instead, the writer will say simply “Check out my books”; or say something about how hard it was writing it; or that we indie authors have to stick together; or they might offer a quote that probably refers to the book in some way, but those who haven’t read it will have no clue why.

When you are talking about your books online, you can do it however you want but make sure those unfamiliar with it KNOW:

i) what the title is

ii) what it’s about

iii) what genre /age range it is (as applicable)

iv) where we can buy it

Yes, yes this is totally obvious stuff but you’ll be surprised how many people forget the above!!! MORE: Best Practices In Facebook Groups, plus Using Social Media Effectively

10) Review Your Approaches

Good online promotion is NOT about firing a gazillion tweets, posts etc into cyberspace and hoping for the best. As well as watching out for how many RTs, Shares, favourites and so on you get (as well as replies), as well as your online “reach”, you can measure the “click through” rate of how many people actually went to the pages about your books. I do this a number of ways, using Hootsuite’s dashboard, but also SumAll, AND  the other various free tools available like Facebook Insights, Statcounter, Tweriod and ManageFlitter. This enables me to see where I’m going RIGHT – ie. which posts and tweets are shared or clicked on the most – which I can then build into my promotion techniques. For instance, I had already realised that my posts get shared most at 8:15am and 5:30pm weekdays, but I had NOT realised I also get a spike at 1:15pm, 2pm AND 11pm. In addition, weekends my most shared posts are again 2pm and 11pm but also 10:30am, 4pm and 9:30pm. Various tools told me all these things, but it will be different for everyone and these things will change too, dependant on your popularity and/or what you write about, so make sure you use tools to help you. Also, read about social media – it has trends and best practices, like anything else. And needless to say: if you don’t get results on one approach? STOP DOING IT and try something else!

Do you have any other online promotion tips – positive or negative? Then please share in the comments section.

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3 Responses to 10 Tips For Authors Promoting Their Books Online

  1. Badger says:

    This was fab, really helpful post, thank you. I have recently attempted to take on Goodreads, found it a bit clunky and hard to work around, but think I’ve just about managed. Still haven’t been brave enough to attempt Google+, maybe that’s a job for the weekend!!

  2. Kalyn Shaible says:

    Thanks so much for this info. As a first time published author of a YA novel, The Mystery of the Greenwold Lake Monster, the first in the Crystal Capers series, I had no idea how to promote my book. Now I have an inkling and can’t wait to put these suggestions to work! Bless BTW!

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