by Erin Mitchell
Earlier this week, I read an insightful, intelligent, and inspiring post by Hilary Davidson on the 7 Criminal Minds blog. In it, she explains why social media will not sell your book.
While I agree with almost everything in Hilary’s post, I have a slightly different take on social media and selling books. Ok, a completely opposite take. As a marketer and a reader, I have seen that social media will sell your book, and for precisely some of the reasons Hilary outlines. And her own books provide the perfect illustration.
I enjoyed Hilary’s first novel, THE DAMAGE DONE, and this year’s THE NEXT ONE TO FALL just about as much as anything I’ve read recently. So much so that I’ve purchased multiple copies to give people. But were it not for social media, I never would have read them at all. The jacket copy would not have hooked me. The stories didn’t really sound like my cuppa. I read THE DAMAGE DONE, though, because of social media. Because of the posts and tweets from Hilary herself as well as bloggers I trust. And photos. Before I ever met her, I knew Hilary was a lovely person because of the photos shared via social media.
But I said I agreed with Hilary, right? Here’s the thing: A constant stream of posts that say nothing more than BUY MY BOOOK! will not sell your book. Autoreplies won’t sell your book either. They’re both annoying. Social media done stupid won’t sell your book, but that doesn’t mean you should throw your hands up at social media as a whole.
I have made the case before for authors having Facebook Pages. Hilary, by the by, is a perfect example…I’ve been advocating for her to have a page for a while now, and I’ll keep doing so. A Page gives your readers a place to gather and discuss your book. It’s also clearer for readers; when someone clicks ‘Like’ she or he knows to expect updates from your page at regular intervals. Pages also provide (many) more options for engaging with your community.
Pages also don’t have a limit on the number of fans they can have. Just this week, I have twice tried to find authors on Facebook (Jeremy Duns and Tom Piccirilli, to be exact), only to discover that they have profiles that are over the circa 5,000 friend limit cap. So here I sit, outside their Facebook community, without a way in. Woe is me. Pages also work far better than Profiles if you jump into the Facebook advertising pond.
Pages come with a certain responsibility, too, of course, to share content at regular intervals. And not just BUY MY BOOK! posts. This is an investment (of time or, if you choose, money) well worth your time.
And what about Twitter? Opinions abound…here is mine (might sound familiar by now): Incessant BUY MY BOOK! tweets don’t work. Or rather, they might sell a couple of copies of your book, but they won’t move any discernible needle. Also, disappearing from Twitter while you’re writing or vacationing or whatever will not help sell your book because…wait for it…it will not build your brand recognition. A consistent presence, though? That will build your brand, which in turn sells your book.
Here’s where I diverge from many of the social media thought leaders: I’m not saying never tweet a link to Amazon or wherever people can buy your book. Fact is, these links make purchasing easy. And we are, in the end, a fairly lazy species. Nothing wrong with making things easy.
In the end (and in the beginning and middle), social media is all about engagement. If you feel all alone out there in the social media landscape, then you’re doing it wrong. If you don’t see people talking about you and your books, ditto. Can’t remember the last time you answered a question from or thanked a reader? Think about what you need to change.
As for the other social media venues—Pinterest comes immediately to mind—I have yet to see them have an impact on brand-building or book sales. I’m watching, though, because I can see that might change. And all of this leaves the enormous topic of blogging aside…that’s for another day.