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Social Media Best Practices for Authors

How should I be using social media to promote my book?

The 9 best practices for authors in 2016

Originally published in three parts on author Miriam McGuirk’s blog (part 1, part 2, and part 3).

Listen to me discuss social media best practices for authors LIVE on Laura Steward’s It’s All About the Questions radio show, iHeartRADIO !

You’ve just written your first (or your second, or third…) book. Congratulations! Of course, writing your book is just the start. You also have to use social media to spread the word.

The bottom line? No matter whether you’ve chosen to self-publish your book, or have taken the “vintage” route by working with a traditional publishing house, no one can ever market you and your book(s) as effectively as you can yourself using social media.

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If you haven’t yet published your first book, the same rule applies to ALL of your different creative content, including your art and writing, your photos and videos, your research and presentations, and yes, even your blog posts (like this one!).

My nine guidelines for using social media to promote your new (or old!) book are simple. More importantly, they are based on my own experience promoting my and my clients’ books to a global audience. Ready? Let’s go!

#1 If your target audience is on a given social channel, you must be too!

It doesn’t matter if you’ve never “pinned” anything before in your life. If the target audience for your book happens to be on Pinterest, then you must be too. If you don’t know where your audience is online, then you need to find out. Fast!

There are tons of free demographics research reports available for each social network. Whether your audience is mainstream or niche, consumer or business, you can *always* reach out to them and ask them. They will appreciate you asking, and it’s one more opportunity for you to personally engage with them.

#2 Share. DON’T sell!

This sounds easy, but it can be tough in practice, since it’s only natural for authors to want to say, “Buy my book! Here’s the purchase link! Buy it now! Pleeeease!” in every single social post. Yes, you should make the purchase link for your book easily accessible for everyone, but focus on creating posts with content relevant to your book. Provide entertainment and/or value, not advertising.

Don’t know what to write? Start off with short posts sharing your book’s key themes, and even preview the very best parts. Sharing the story of how you came up with, wrote, and marketed your book – within the context of your existing online brand – makes for great social content. Compelling content, combined with your own personal story as an author, will drive exponentially more unit sales than a hard sell.

#3 Visualize, visualize, visualize

“A picture is worth a thousand words.” As old as that quote is, it applies perfectly to social media in 2016. You already know that people are social. Well, people are also visual. Find ways to share your story visually. Read C.C. Chapman’s NMX presentation on visual content.

Create an emotional response, look for “moments,” and share what no one else can.
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Grab your spiffy new smart phone. Find ways to visualize your content. Great visuals really make even “flat” content come alive. With or without your smart phone, it has never been easier to capture and post [in real-time if you so choose] photos and videos on every single social network, from your own blog to Instagram to Periscope.

#4 Create [and consistently use!] a hashtag for your book

Hashtags should be short, but they should also be “readable.” What does that mean? Avoid long, unpronounceable, and meaningless acronyms. A hashtag should be simple, catchy, and to-the-point. You want to encourage [and make it easy] for people to talk about your book online, including tweeting about it.

True story. When I “shared” with the publishers of my first book, The Everything Guide to Mobile Apps, that we HAD to have a hashtag, it took a surprisingly herculean amount of persuasion to convince them that #EVERYapp trumped #theeverythingguidetomobileappsapracticalguidetoaffordablemobileappdevelopmentforyourbusiness (yes, I behaved myself and refrained from sending them a pop-up book on dinosaurs).

If you’re not that comfortable with hashtags, I recommend reading my MobileGroove #DearKen advice column on hashtags.

If there’s still time, put your book’s hashtag on your book’s front and back covers (and on your physical book’s spine!).
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#5 Post FRESH content daily

Every author now struggles with the challenge of keeping their book in front of prospective readers after all the excitement of the launch marketing quiets down. How can you keep your content fresh and relevant? Even if you’re time-crunched, social media enables you to both share new, original content AND to participate in the larger discussion with your audience or industry, by showing how the content in your book relates to current events and trending topics.

#6 Share excerpts

Sadly, you can’t put your book on toothpicks and sample it like a new cheese at your local supermarket, but you can let everyone around the world “taste” the first chapter of your book for free. Some dinosaur publishers (and authors!) will hate me for this, but…

I’m a huge fan of publishing the first chapter of your book on your LinkedIn profile with SlideShare.
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You want to get people “hooked” so they are compelled to purchase your book to finish it. Also, your connections on LinkedIn are often your oldest professional connections. These are not only the people who are most likely to be interested personally in what you have written, but the people who will be the most willing and able to help you spread the word about your new book.

#7 Directly target your key influencers

It used to be difficult to target reviewers, critics, the media, and industry influencers. Now you can engage all of them directly on social media. Remember, however, the definition of “targeting”. This isn’t about “friending” everyone on the planet. Instead, use free tools like Buzzsumo to identify the social influencers for your book’s specific niche. Connect with these influencers, and use Twitter Lists to monitor their tweets so you can more easily engage with them.

#8 Enable EVERYONE on the planet to attend your book readings and signings

When you hold a book signing or do a reading from your book, how many people get to connect with you? 50? 100? 200 (if you’re lucky)?

Every single time you are out promoting your book, ask a friend live-stream you on Periscope.
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The number of people who will be able to attend one of your in-person signings/readings will always be limited. Use social media to enable everyone around the world who is interested in the content of your book to attend, connect with you, and BUY YOUR BOOK (expert tip: always remember to include the purchase link in the title of your Periscope stream)!

#9 Leverage your email sig line

And finally, the one place where you absolutely MUST place the purchase link for your book is your email signature line. Keep it simple. No “Please buy my book!” Instead, share your excitement with something like “My new book, TITLE, is now available on Amazon at: LINK!”

Remember to use a free URL shortener such at Bitly so you can track the clicks! You can even get fancy with a custom link with your book’s hashtag, as my hashtag was #EVERYapp, I used this.

What are the most effective ways YOU have found to market your book on social media? How do you use all of your different social channels to get people to buy your physical or ebook?

About Ken

Popular author, speaker, and radio show host Ken Herron’s “day job” is helping authors and other people around the world to use new technologies to develop stronger emotional connections between you and your audience. Ken recommends the Outbox Pro publishing tool to make it faster and easier to create, review, edit, schedule, and publish great content on all of your different social networks and messaging/chat apps! Want to learn more, or ask Ken how he can help you to market your book or brand? Connect with Ken on Twitter @KenHerron and right here on LinkedIn.


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