Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Promoting your new book? Get creative with social platforms

I'll never forget the time I was speaking to a writers' group about Pinterest, and showed a slide with one of the members' books displayed on that site. The author was surprised: She wasn't a Pinterest user, and had never thought of it as a vehicle for promoting her book. But readers did, and shared the image and link to where they bought it. And if the image was linked back to Amazon or another sales site, they were probably buying it right from the pinned image.

It was a lesson to me that book authors need to get creative when it comes to using social media as a promotional tool. The ideas aren't complex, but require that extra step authors are sometimes reluctant to take. Here, some ideas from my observations and my and others' experiences:
  1. Follow the readers: Before you write even one promotional tweet, do some searching for your book or similar books. Where are users posting about your book, or your topic? Like the writer who wasn't looking on Pinterest, you might be missing a ready-made community that will help you promote. Don't discount a particular platform until you've done some research. 
  2. Establish your own platforms long before your book exists: I know, I know, you're busy writing. But it's wise to start with an established audience before you need to sell the book, so you have fans ready to share and review. While I started the Moderating Panels blog to promote The Eloquent Woman's Guide to Moderating Panels, I already had a sizeable readership interested in public speaking for The Eloquent Woman blog, and cross-promoted it on both sites. Having a ready audience helped me target promotions and build a bigger base, faster. Even more important for authors: Publishers' promotions come and go. Build your own base for perpetual promotion of your book.
  3. Choose social sites with a nose for search: YouTube, Pinterest, and now Facebook are powerhouses of search, so if someone's looking for your book or something like it, chances are good that they'll search on one of those sites. Search isn't just for Google anymore. If you need to prioritize your time, choose a social site with excellent search capability.
  4. Get creative with reviews and kinds words: Tell us how it feels to get the review you got, instead of just sharing a link to it. "Bummed to see the Times review, which missed a critical point..." or "Thrilled at this thoughtful review by the Express, because..." are lines that help readers relate to you and learn more about the book. Every review is a chance to respond and share your thinking, authors, whether you do that on a blog, Facebook page, Twitter, or all three. And if the reviews suggest ways to use your book, highlight what readers and reviewers are saying. My book on moderating panels sometimes inspires moderators to share it with the entire panel, and that's going to be the focus of an upcoming blog post with the power of suggestion. 
  5. Think visually: Use PicMonkey, Canva, or another graphic-creation site to make word-art
    with quotes from good reviews, or even choice quotes from the book, like this one from Dorothy Parker Drank Here author Ellen Meister. Then post them on sites where visual quotes are popular, like Facebook, Pinterest, even Twitter. While you're at it, be sure to share plenty of images of yourself and your book cover. The same goes for videos, which can be shared not only on YouTube, but Pinterest and LinkedIn and Facebook. Answer reader questions or explain why a reviewer got it right...or wrong. Do a short reading. Show us the office where you wrote the book, or sites included in it.
  6. Play the long game: Traditional book publicity focuses on your book's publication date, but you need to play the long game on social media, so future audiences can find your book and to keep sales moving. Don't devote your only posts to the month or two after publication. Even a tweet a day can help improve sales, and can be scheduled ahead. You'd be surprised what a steady drip-drip-drip of posts will do to help newcomers discover your book.
(Creative Commons licensed photo by quattrostagioni)

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