In the age of the Kindle and the iPhone, text is more ubiquitous than ever, but that doesn’t mean users are lining up to pay for content. Readers often need a push, in the form of a strong personal brand, to get them to open their wallets.

Social networks can provide an ideal platform for budding authors looking to bring their brand to the masses. A recent Social Media Week panel brought together a best-selling author, a literary blogger and a pair of publicists to discuss how social networks are changing the way authors promote their work — and how writers of all stripes can use social tools to get ahead.

  • Make connections before you need them. You can’t start a Twitter account the day your book launches and expect to be an instant success, said Natalie Lin, online publicist at John Wiley & Sons. You need to start developing your audience long before you have something to market to them, she said. New writers have the most to gain from social networks, said literary blogger Levi Asher, since a social presence can help an up-and-coming author prove to a publisher that their work has an audience. Asher cited author Tao Lin as a rising talent who is gaining a cult following through his use of social networks.
  • Join conversations that aren’t about you. You can’t build meaningful connections with fans by just talking about yourself all the time, Lin said. If you want to make authentic relationships, trying joining in conversations about other topics that interest you, she suggested. Lin also suggested using your social presence to reach out to bloggers and other influencers that you respect. Asher agreed, noting that when an author approaches him about reviewing their book, he’s more likely to consider the request when the author can send him a personal note and demonstrate a little familiarity with his work.
  • Use social media to feed your work. Your Twitter account isn’t just a promotional vehicle, said A.J. Jacobs, author of “The Year of Living Biblically” and other memoirs. Your social-networking experiences can actually help you develop ideas. Jacobs recently tweeted about his wife waking up in a bad mood after she had a dream about him flirting with another woman. Jacobs told the panel that after he sent this message, several of his followers responded that they’d had similar experiences with their spouses. What seemed like a freak occurrence at first might actually be a common problem that Jacobs could explore in an article.
  • Use your social presence to support other promotions. Asher said he doesn’t see social media as a platform for driving direct sales so much as for building buzz and promoting events. The publishing business is changing, and part of that transformation may mean that Web events and nonbook merchandise may become a larger part of an author’s income, he noted. Publicist Meryl L. Moss said having a strong social presence can make it easier for an author to score a guest appearance on a TV or radio program. Moss pointed out that when new authors have a strong YouTube video under their belt, it can go a long way toward allaying a television producer’s fears that they won’t be able to hold up their end of an interview. Several panelists pointed out that many of the bulwarks of traditional publishing — media appearances, live events and even books themselves — are in a state of flux or even decline. Having a healthy personal brand online may a vital part of surviving and adapting in this new publishing environment, they said.
  • Stick with it. Shifting from the private process of writing a book to the public process of promoting it can be a jarring experience for a writer, said Asher. Many writers become frustrated when they don’t develop an online following right away, he noted — or worse yet, when the people they connect with first aren’t fans, but harsh critics. Developing a real following takes time, and even then, your fans may still be critical of your work. Jacobs said he routinely received notes from fans alerting him to factual errors in his books. Authors need to be willing to open themselves up to critics and trust that their fans will take care of them in the long haul, Lin noted. “You need real stamina to make it work,” she said.

Image credit, tiridifilm via iStock

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37 Responses to “5 tips for promoting your book with social media”

  1. [...] 5 tips for promoting your book with social media Published: February 17, 2010 Source: SmartBlog On Social Media In the age of the Kindle and the iPhone, text is more ubiquitous than ever, but that doesn’t mean users are lining up to pay for content. Readers often need a push, in the form of a strong personal brand, to… [...]

  2. This is definitely an informative and valuable article for those who wants to grow their business through the use of social media as a marketing tool especially for the neophytes or “budding authors” looking to bring their brand to the masses. I greatly appreciate this article. Thanks.

  3. Great tips, as far as this author is concerned. You seem to be covering all of the bases — from using it for inspiration to using it to make connections ahead of the book's release. Thanks for the article.

  4. [...] can provide an ideal platform for budding authors looking to bring their brand to the masses. 5 tips for promoting your book with social media by Jesse Stanchak gives you an overview to “getting started using Twitter and other social [...]

  5. [...] You need real stamina to make it work.” –Natalie Lin, online publicist at John Wiley & Sons, as quoted by SmartBlog on Social Media [...]

  6. Great advice! Book marketing should be long before the book is in print, and social media is one of the best ways to get the wheels turning. Keep in mind that the media is also watching the major social networks so authors have a tremendous opportunity to stand out and get media coverage.
    Additional tips:

    Engage Daily: You don't need to spend hours each day, but you do need to commit to logging in several times per day to contribute and engage with others.

    Provide Value: Avoid posting for the sake of posting. Instead, aim to share useful, compelling content. That can be content you generate as well as content that others generate. Be a resource!

    Don't Repel Your Audience: Avoid spamming your followers. If you talk endlessly about your book or how great you are or send direct messages that do nothing but sell, you will defeat the purpose and will be hard-pressed to find a loyal audience.

    Leverage Your Blog: Social media is a great way to share blog content, articles, short stories and other kinds of content that you generate. Be sure to integrate your blog with your social media strategy, which will inevitably increase your website traffic and fan base.

    Contribute, engage and have fun and your audience will follow!

    • beverly says:

      your advice to create useful, compelling content is on the money. your blog needs to be one that will have a reader following you, not just peeking in for a one-time look.
      My recent post shift happens

  7. [...] 5 tips for promoting your book with social media [...]

  8. Lee Pound says:

    This is excellent. One of the most important points about promoting a book, or anything, is to get started early, build the buzz, and get as many people to get the word out as possible.

    One more key tip: As soon as you decide to write your book, tell everyone you know and announce it to the world, along with a target publishing date. Not only will you build interest, you will also give yourself a powerful incentive to finish on time.

  9. 5 Ways for Authors to Use Social Media–key point, get started early, BEFORE you need the buzz!

  10. It's true, especially the ubiquitous text part. The internet has leveled the playing field which has pros and cons for independent authors. One of the cons is the unbelievable amount of new authors promoting their work (including me). Even if you use social media and use it well, that's still not always enough. Continual work, regular blogging, being a good connector and so on must be applied daily. Good luck and keep at it. Do everything and anything that helps your online platform. Think of it like an exercise or diet program, you just can't expect all the results in one day or even one month. It takes time and persistence, and it can and will happen.

  11. jbernoff says:

    All true. The problem is, all these problems are easily solvable if you start working on them 2 years before the pub date. None of them are easily solvable if you get to them late. So I'd advise author's to create a presence and feed it well before considering writing a book. Then later when you need it it's there for you. (It also helps sell the book to a publisher.)

    If you haven't done this already, you're pretty well hosed unless you are famous for some reason — or can become famous quickly.

  12. Marcy Jones says:

    Great article! Thanks! I have a blog and a book coming out soon and am trying to build that online presence. I totally get that I should have started this process a long time ago. At this point, all I can do is all I can do…. “stick with it” as you say, and just be patient. That shifting from the “private process” of the writing to the “public process” of putting myself out there… ahh, there's the rub! So true and right on the money!

  13. [...] beren liburuak promozionatzeko, horretarako sare sozialak erabilita. Hona hemen bost aholku, Jesse Stanchack kazetariak doan emanak:Egin konexioak behar baino lehen. Alperrik da Twitter kontu bat irekitzea [...]

  14. I host the medical author chat podcast – interviews with healthcare professionals about books they have written. I am regularly surprised at how difficult it is to find contact information for authors to invite them to be a guest on the podcast.

  15. jefflindsay says:

    And be sure to develop a website early, long before the book is published, to share information and get feedback from others.

  16. Don't forget the power of facebook too, get yourself a Fanpage and make sure the landing page is more than just wall posts.
    Here's a landing page on facebook I made for my partners book http://www.facebook.com/MatrixReimprintingBook
    Was a little late starting as the book was self-published in October and this page has only been up a few days. There has been a steady flow of fans tho, and am regretting not doing this a lot earlier!

  17. Mark Dykeman says:

    J. C. Hutchins is an excellent example of an author who has leveraged social media to promote his work and getting it published.

  18. Blaise Brosnan says:

    This is excellent advice. When I published by first of four planned books, titled —You are the Limiting Factor, I relied on the traditional channells to the market. While these have been very successful, I should have cultivated and utilised social networking as a channel earlier.

    My second book titled –If Jack could do it, so can you —- is due to be published this Autumn.So I am now starting the pre-publication signalling of its arrival.

  19. [...] your book with social media Filed under: Uncategorized — tomlothian @ 2:36 pm 5 tips for promoting your book with social media By Jesse [...]

  20. [...] social media work for authors is the latest marketing frontier.  Jesse Stanchak’s post 5 tips for promoting your book with social media offers some good points worth pondering, such as:.  Use your social presence to support other [...]

  21. [...] How social media can give authors a boost Authors can use social networks to cultivate their audience, inspire their work and enhance their ability to promote their books, argued panelists at a recent event. Authors need to be willing to reach out to their audience, however, and have the patience to build a presence over the long haul, as well as the fortitude to deal with critics, the panelists noted.  SmartBrief/SmartBlog on Social Media [...]

  22. @networlding says:

    We've tried so many ideas but one of the best that has not been mentioned is the idea of a free author chat with invitations going out to bloggers and other press who would like, in addition to hearing from the author, a free copy of his or her book. The request we made at the end of the chat was for those who got the book that they provide a review on Amazon. My authors, such as Andres Tapia, CDO of Hewitt (http://www.inclusionparadox.com) have ended up with great reviews as a result and a strong groundswell of support.

  23. pal says:

    thaaaaaanks

  24. Thank you for laying the foundations here with this post.
    My recent post Book Title Tips

  25. [...] 5 tips for promoting your book with social media [...]

  26. [...] 5 tips for promoting your book with social media by Jesse Stanchack at SmartBlogs [...]

  27. Ayelet says:

    Great post! Authors should make sure to check out the online communities of readers that are already established and promote their work there so they don't have to focus on developing a fanbase from scratch. As the article mentioned, it can be a slow process, but great for promotion and creating a following when one uploads reading samples and talks with potential fans with similar interest. There are plenty of communities out there, but of course, the only one I'll mention here is BookRix.com.

    – Ayelet, BookRix.com Community Manager

  28. Dave Doolin says:

    "Join conversations that aren’t about you."

    Too right.

    I made two sales this weekend. The first was to someone sharing my taste in music, the other from a famous economic analysis blog, both totally outside my blogging niche. Exactly what I'm looking for!
    My recent post Flipboard Blogging- Are you ready for the next wave

  29. [...] na to jak ten mechanizm moga wykorzystywac pisarze promujacy sie na Twitterze opisano na Smart Blogu. Interakcje pomiedzy pisarzami a ich followersami okazuja sie czasem na tyle inspirujace, ze [...]

  30. James says:

    Sticking with it is the most important thing. Social media is a great platform, but it may not always work at first. You have to stick with it.
    My recent post Security Issues on Social Network Websites

  31. asep says:

    thanks for share

  32. lucu says:

    this best article thanks you