This week’s Weekly Musing comes courtesy of my first ever guest poster! Through the website blogtour.org, author M.K. Williams and I started a dialogue about posting on my blog. Her debut novel, Nailbiters, a dystopian sci-fi thriller, is out now. You can find her on Facebook, Goodreads, and her website. After reading her post, go pick up her book!
Being an independent author often means I juggle the act of writing my stories with the business end of marketing and promoting my book. With the proliferation of social media outlets there are now more cost effective ways to market books. It would seem this would make it infinitely easier, but in reality it makes it much more difficult because anyone can go online and promote their product.
You likely know someone, or are at least socially linked to someone, who has their own business or is selling something. I know several entrepreneurs who work hard every day to get their message in front of me on every social channel. Some do this graciously, others not so much. After observation and fine-tuning, I carefully navigate my networks to make sure I keep the right balance of shameless self-promotion and social interaction. Here is how I have been working to make sure I’m not just spamming my friends on social media:
Treat your friends like you would treat your friends.
Simply posting, “Hey, come buy my book” every day doesn’t work. One reason being I would very quickly lose many social connections by spamming everyone with the same message over and over. Social media is about a conversation and making a connection, not just saying one thing. This would be the equivalent of going to lunch with a friend and hearing all about what they are doing in their life and in return only talking about my book. It would be rude and very one-sided. I tend to stay off of social media for the most part (so I can focus on writing), but when I do log-in I focus on genuinely interacting with others before posting about my book.
Set up a separate account
I try to make my life easier by having fewer electronic logins to remember. But, social networks do allow for users to create business pages or profiles to be used for the purpose of promoting their brand. I have only done this for Facebook. So far it seems to help keep the level of spamming down and not irritating friends and family. I post my personal photos, life updates, etc. on my personal Facebook page. I post information related to reviews of Nailbiters and when the book is picked up by a new online store on my author’s profile page. This has allowed me to gain a specific following on Facebook of fans who want to see updates. If they don’t want to see anymore updates, they can un-follow the specific page without having to un-friend me.
For my other social accounts I have only one login so my personal and book related posts get mixed in together. In an effort to still be part of the conversation I try to monitor what I post. I don’t post very often so when I am about to post something about my novel I scroll through to make sure I have a good ratio of personal posts to book related posts. Adding this level of self-screening allows me to stay more authentic. It may not lead to lots of sales, but it means I am not abusing my social network. I can handle low sales; I couldn’t handle having every one of my friends and family frustrated with me.
Give the people what they want
It seems that most things in life are really just a matter of trial-and-error. This has also been my experience with posts I put up for my book. I found just putting up the cover image and saying “Hey, buy this!” didn’t work. I really connected with other brands what I saw that they posted something really authentic and genuine. I decided to give that a try. When I feel extremely grateful and humbled by a good review, I post something to that effect. When I see another young writer succeeding, I give her praise. The more appreciation I show the more my followers appreciate me. Because of this, most of my posts focus on the person who has written a review, done an interview, or just taken the time to read my book. Again, this may mean a much slower pace in getting readers to find out about my work, but I am having much more fun.
Just ask for some help
Because I know my network will only be able to tolerate my repetitive messages for so long, I have been reaching out to others to help promote my book. Even if every single one of my friends purchased the book, it wouldn’t hit any best-seller list. I need people to tell a friend, who will tell a friend, and so on. Because I have friends with greater social influence than I do, I reached out and asked for their help promoting the book. The worst they could have said was “No,” but they each very graciously agreed to help. In this case, a very sincere and targeted message yielded the best results and allowed me to connect with those friends again.
If you have started out on the path to become an independent author, you will certainly be faced with the dilemma of how much to promote your book on social media. The right balance will be different for each person and their network. Hopefully these tips will help you on your way to becoming a non-spammy best-selling author!