Social media is the number one marketing tool for authors today. Decades ago, you would have had to buy billboards or magazine ads or pay PR pros thousands of dollars to schedule drive-time radio interviews for you. Here are the 10 best ways to market your books and your brand. It’s a great time to be a writer!
1. SET GOALS
The best way to market your book starts long before you’ve written THE END. Like other things in life, you’ll achieve more if you set goals for yourself and march towards them. Develop 1-year and 5-year goals. Integrate ebooks and traditional books into your author career planning. Examine your backlist if you have one, and see what you can do with it today. Explore interests in short works, epics or experimental writing. And don’t forget that a blog post a day is a 365 page book at the end of a year (if you follow a plan!). If you have a plan, making it as specific as possible when it comes to how many words or books you want to write in that timeframe, how much money you want to make, when you’re going to fit writing in with your other obligations (ie. day job), then you’ll be happy as you progress towards achieving that goal. If you have no concrete goals it is easy to think you are not moving forward.
2. CREATE YOUR AUTHOR BRAND
Everyone knows what a product brand is. Think about a household item, or car, or clothing. There are adjectives and emotions associated with that brand. Now think of yourself as a writer. What is your brand? What emotions do you want your writing to evoke for your readers? What kind of writing do you do? Drill down to specifics. Have a friend do this exercise with you: The friend asks “What do you write?” As you answer that question, the friend keeps drilling down. “What kind of XX do you write?” Keep doing this until you have really, truly answered the question of what do you write so that it is specific and memorable.
3. PERFORM A SOCIAL MEDIA AUDIT
Do you know what someone else finds out about you when they do a search on your name? Or your name with author after it? Because you can bet that editors and agents do a search on you if they are thinking about working with you. Do a search on your name first, then. Do you dominate page 1? What do you find? Anything negative? If you are not number one, two and three on that first page, determine a strategy for making that happen eventually. And if you have a common name or share a name with a celebrity, maybe you need to adopt a pen name. One where you can at least get the twitter handle, Facebook address, URL, and Instagram name! Then create a blog, start tweeting and posting on Facebook, select an image-based social media tool like Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, Snapchat or others and get those cell phone images up to support your brand. If you’re a nonfiction author, get on Linked-In. But do the audit first so you know what your challenges are. Then select the tool you like most as your dashboard and you can create content once, then flow it to all those other social media sites.
4. START TWEETING
Use your real name if its available or a pen name, but be consistent. Twitter is like a fun cocktail party, so keep it light. Be personable. Be true to your Author Brand. Use hashtags and lists. And tweet at least once a day. You can schedule your tweets with Tweet Deck or Hoot Suite or any number of social media scheduling apps, so you could create all your tweets for the week over the weekend and schedule them to appear throughout the week. Easy peasy.
5. FORM A FAN BASE ON FACEBOOK
If Twitter is a cocktail party, Facebook is a family reunion. The conversations are a bit more involved and evolved than on Twitter. And there’s no 140 or 280 character limit! The number one thing you have to remember about Facebook is that you should create a page, not a profile. The profile on Facebook is your default. It should be kept private and personal. Something for your friends and family to use. Lock it down and create a Page. This is for your fans. Post content on your Facebook page that will entertain and educate your readers and fans. The Page is where you’re highlighting your brand every day. A Page has no upward limit like a profile does. And utilize Facebook’s free analytics to see what is working for you. It’s a family reunion. Build a family here. A family of fans.
Common wisdom today is that blogs are no longer effective. But that does not apply to the publishing world. Blogs play to our strengths as writers. Every time we write a blog post, it lubricates our writer’s brain and makes it that much easier to jump into the story the next time we sit down to write our books. Blog about personal interests or hobbies. Write about problems or successes or anecdotes in your writing life. The wall between authors and readers has come tumbling down thanks to social media and readers want to know more about the author as a person as well as a writer. Give them both. Don’t get too personal. You don’t want to invite fans to show up at your door. But give them some personal insights into what makes you tick. It’s a great way to show off your voice and build a fan base.
7. GROW YOUR COMMUNITY
And while you’re on social media, don’t be a megaphone. The most successful people on social media have conversations. They don’t use a megaphone. Don’t perpetually shout “Buy my book!” You’ll lose fans right and left. Instead engage your community. And reach out to other communities to create even more fans. Follow bestsellers in your genre, category or age target. Comment on their posts. Retweet and Repost. Then when it comes time to announce that your book just dropped or you sold a series to a Big Five publisher, you’ll have a community of people who congratulate you, signal boost your news, and buy your books.
8. JOIN ORGANIZATIONS
There is an organization for your type of writing, take my word for it. Romance Writers of America. Mystery Writers of America. International Thriller Writers Association. Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Women’s Fiction Writers Association. Sisters in Crime. Need I go on? Join one or more of these organizations chock full of people just like you. Many of these have a national organization plus local chapters. Hey, you don’t ever have to go to a meeting if you are an introvert. But you can learn, share, sell, promote, and find the answers to questions you didn’t even know you had, in these organizations. You might even find a critique partner for life, or beta readers who are very knowledgeable about the areas you write about.
9. NETWORK AT EVENTS
Go to at least one writing event a year. Besides learning a lot, you’ll also network with all the attendees, bestselling authors, vendors, promoters, publishers, agents, editors and other people in the industry where you have decided to make a career. Networking is the biggest advantage of these live events. One thing you can’t get online as easily. You might be sitting in a workshop next to a future bestselling author who is just starting out. Or they may be! Get in on the ground floor! And after the session, follow everyone you meet on social media. Get business cards or write down email and social media addresses for follow up. Use your mobile phone to check them out immediately and enter their contact information. It’s all right there and can be a huge boost to your career.
10. BUILD AN AMAZON PROFILE
And finally, create an Amazon Author Profile. It’s free. It can link all your social media and become a dashboard for all your tweets, posts and the like to pour into. It bumps up your reviews, creates interest in you as an author when people search on your name to find your books, helps you build a fan base, showcases your writing, and more. It will also help improve your Amazon ranking, which has become incredibly important not only to you, but to readers and industry professionals as well.
Then, once you have done all these things, repeat them. Take a blog post and turn it into an audio podcast. Excerpt three tips from that post for a YouTube video. Take those same three tips and create three gorgeous pop quotes for Pinterest or Instagram. Look back at what you’ve already produced and do it again, and again, and again in different formats.