Most of the authors I work with have an idea about how they’ll promote themselves and their books online before they hire me. One of the first questions I ask is, “What are your plans to market this website?” From the start, I want to make certain they’re thinking about what’ll happen post-launch. Building a beautiful website for you isn’t going to do a thing if you don’t use it and nobody sees it.
Occasionally I hear answers like: “I don’t want to blog, but I was told I have to so I can build a readership, that’s what publishers are looking for.” Or, “Facebook. I don’t have a lot of time for Facebook but I read that it’s best to set up individual pages for each of my books.”
If you stumble upon a hard-and-fast rule about social media marketing, consider whether you want to break it, because…
There are no social media marketing rules for authors.
It’s very easy to be seduced by the promise of social media networking and blogging. We’ve all heard the stories of indie authors who’ve created a huge online following and have become millionnaires virtually overnight.
Some authors really work the internet. They write columns for high traffic or popular niche blogs, they write email newsletters, participate on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, GoodReads, Amazon and Youtube. They stay top-of-mind and they have a vast reach. This is anecdotal, but the ones I see working hard and consistently like this happen to also be very successful.
But does that mean you should simply copy what they’re doing? Is it right for you?
If you abhor the idea of blogging, why would you spend your time writing a blog when you could otherwise be using that creative energy writing a better book? If you have a busy day job and find Facebook overwhelming, why would you set up multiple accounts when one author page would be more effectively and easily managed? It’s common to feel a lot of pressure and confusion about all of this. The truth is, you don’t have to do one particular thing or the other when it comes to social media.
Stephanie Rostan, literary agent for Gillian Flynn, bestselling author of Gone Girl (who happens to have a lovely website but doesn’t do a whole lot of interacting with her readers online), answered this question for Huffington Post recently:
Do your other authors benefit from interacting with their readers on social media and being pro-active with their digital branding strategy?
Some of them do, and some of them don’t. But isn’t that how publishing is? Nothing works all the time, or for everyone. It’s important for authors to leave no stone unturned and consider how social media can work for them, but also important to consider the whole picture of getting the word out about their book and reaching readers. I’m sure there are examples of authors whose success is directly related to their social media strategy/efforts. But there are also authors whose success has come mostly without that.
(I highly recommend you read this article top to bottom, so here’s the link again.)
One social media strategy for authors does not fit all.
Find the best fit for you and don’t worry so much about what other people are doing or even what experts tell you to do unless you trust their opinion more than your gut. (There’s a lot of bad advice floating around. Know who you are taking advice from. Question everything.) Always be asking, “Does this make sense for me? Is there another or better way?”
Do what you love and do it well and do it regularly.
Are you a “type-A” extrovert-sort who loves the Internet and wants to create a big community online and spend lots of time participating? Go all-in! Be brave, be creative, let your voice be heard.
If you’re limited on time and creative energy, find something that excites you that you really have time for. Maybe it’s hosting a book discussion group in Second Life or creating a book club on GoodReads. Then, do it regularly and do it well. There are lots of authors successfully using social media who only really interact with people on Twitter, or Tumblr, or Facebook. They focus their attention on that one thing that they have fun with and can do consistently. Some may disagree, but I think it’s far better to do one thing right than a dozen things badly.
Coming up next in this series on social media marketing on Launch the Book, we’ll cover the next steps you’ll need to create a wise action plan that will work for you. So be sure to subscribe to our newsfeed or enter your email at the top of the page to get email updates. We’ll be covering:
- The ten questions you need to answer to create your plan
- Which social options are right for you?
- How to find your voice and create a sustainable content strategy
Do you break the rules when it comes to marketing your books?
We’d love to hear about it. We’d be delighted if you would leave a comment or come on over to Facebook and join in the discussion there.