No matter what path you take to publishing your book, you’ll need to learn how to sell books on social media.
If you go the self-publishing route, social media will be one of your most accessible platforms for selling and connecting. And even if you go the traditional route and submit your book to a publishing company, publishers are looking for authors who are comfortable enough to run their online presence. Unfortunately, Luddites don’t get signed in publishing.
It’s hard figuring out how to build your social media platform to the point that you can sell copies. A social media account isn’t something you can set up once and leave alone; instead, you must work to build an organic following and earn the algorithm’s favor.
As overwhelming as social media can feel, one upside is that there are numerous ways to approach social media marketing. It’ll depend on your brand and your plan to present the best parts of yourself professionally.
I’ll go over the considerations to keep in mind as you build your social media platform; then I’ll cover what you need to get started putting your book out there and getting it to readers.
Building a platform brick-by-brick
Here’s something to keep in mind: not all followers are equal. However, there are services available where you can “buy” followers, and you can get caught up in following everyone under the sun who’s willing to follow you back.
Don’t inflate your following count! At best, you’ll waste time and money on thousands of fake followers who will never buy your book. At worst, you’ll get banned for buying or even soliciting counterfeit followers.
So, as you’re building up your accounts, don’t get distracted by metrics for metrics’ sake. Instead, focus on organic growth. Follow accounts that you’re genuinely interested in engaging, whether reading their posts or keeping a conversation going.
At first, you’ll likely find that most of your followers are fellow authors and maybe other publishing professionals such as agents and editors. This is okay. Networking is gold, and social media is an excellent way to find agents soliciting books like yours or meeting writers you might collaborate with on publicity campaigns.
Just remember to also reach beyond the publishing bubble and seek out readers.
Ideas for selling your book
The most obvious tactic is the cold sell: find the account of a potential reader and pitch them your book.
The cold sell can be effective in cases where your book is the exact title the prospective buyer is looking for, especially if the prospective has asked for recommendations. Just be reasonable with cold selling. If you self-promote your book to everyone you encounter, your account may be shut down for spamming.
So, how else are you supposed to sell your book? Here’s a list of other techniques that may appeal to prospective readers more.
- Write about your book. Either make a post (on sites like Facebook) or a thread (on Twitter) explaining to readers what your book is and why they should read it. This is an excellent opportunity to repurpose your blurb material from your book’s description copy.
- Post excerpts. Isolate the juiciest quotes and passages from your manuscript, and either post them as text or screenshots; make sure that your screenshots have alt-text for accessibility.
- Provide relevant visuals. Curate a collection of photos of your book, along with visuals that fit the book’s mood. Instagram is home to “Bookstagram,” which is a great place for these kinds of pictures. You can also create boards on Pinterest, whether your book’s plot or characters inspire it.
- Shoot some videos. Unless you sink money into this, your production value will be low, so you may be better off leaning into vlogging, or video blogging. Almost every major platform has video, but videos have especially been catching fire on TikTok, home of “BookTok,” where snappy pitches of books do well in reaching new readers.
- Hold giveaways! Free stuff can rope in new readers and endear you to your first fans. Of course, physical copies entice the most avid readers, but eBooks are also a great option on a budget. You can even order “swag” that’s themed for your book.
- Share other people’s content. This will garner attention from the people that you’re sharing. If a reader posts praise, make their day by thanking them and giving their praise a boost. Keep your brand in mind when resharing content unrelated to your book; posting about your book’s genre or subject matter makes for good material.
- Buy social media ads. If you go this route, do the research, as advertising is a high-risk/high-reward endeavor. Ads work great once you know a platform enough to recognize what ads perform best on it and whether it’s worth buying impressions.
- Mix and match all the above! Variety will add spice to your book promotion and create multiple entry points for getting the sell.
Now, this is only the beginning of online bookselling. As you work on your author career, you’ll find what works best for you.
In that light, my parting advice is to go out there and put your plan in action. I look forward to seeing your book the next time I peruse my timeline.
Over To You: How do you use social media to sell books? What success stories do you have, and what questions do you still have?
ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Director of Sales and Marketing for Outskirts Press. The Sales and Marketing departments are composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.