The Right Way and the Wrong Way to Promote Your Book Online
More and more authors are using social media and attempting to promote their books online. However, some of these authors are engaging in behaviors that alienate potential readers. Here’s my list of tips to help authors use the Internet and social media appropriately.
First of all, social media is based on relationships. Your presence shouldn’t simply be a megaphone announcing your book. That said, it seems obvious that social media is not the place for direct marketing (for those unfamiliar with this term, it means making a specific sales pitch announcing your product or telling people to buy it for any reason). Think about social media as being at a party. Would you want someone to walk up to you and tell you that he has a car for sale and try to get you to buy it? That’s how direct sales pitches on social media are viewed.
In a similar vein, don’t brag about sales or accomplishments. No one wants to hear someone else boasting for hours on end, so don’t be that person. What most people want from social media are things like useful information, to be entertained, or to get to know you. This last point is critical because once people get to know you they will become interested in your work. A social media strategy isn’t a one time thing that results in sudden sales of you book - it’s a long term investment in building a following who genuinely cares about your work.
I’ve listed a number of things not to do, so what does that leave?
First of all, promote other authors. I’ve seen a number of writers who view other authors as their competition, but the truth is that if there’s an author who you admire, chances are that anyone who likes your work will also like that author. Again, this falls under “useful information” when you promote the work of others that you genuinely appreciate.
Secondly, read books and share your reviews on sites like Goodreads, Shelfari, and others. Readers will get to know you when they see which books you like and which ones you don’t. A word of caution here: I don’t believe that authors are completely objective when we read (myself included), so if I don’t like a book I don’t review it. If you write a scathing review of a book and someone who loves that book reads your review, that person is less likely to buy your book. Negative reviews don’t help you as an author, so avoid writing them.
Finally, be yourself and share what interests you. The things that you post or repost, retweet, and share tell potential readers what you value. If a reader connects with who you are, then they’re also likely to connect with your work. This will help you to build a loyal audience who looks forward to your next book and is willing to help spread the word about it.