Social media is a tool that can help you build your book business
It seems that recently I’ve been seeing a number of authors and publishing consultants advocating AGAINST social media as a marketing tool for authors. It may go without saying that I believe this advice is just plain goofy. Some of it comes under the umbrella of general complaints that marketing takes up so much time, it leaves little time for writing. While it’s true that successful self-publishing does require an author to wear many hats or spend a lot of time/money, the fact that successful self-published authors exist means it’s doable.
And unless you’re writing for the sheer love of writing, you won’t sell any books unless you:
- HIRE SOMEONE to do your marketing for you
- MAKE TIME for marketing.
If you think of your book as a business, you may achieve the paradigm shift required to get out of the “not enough time in a day” stage and move into the “ready to plan for success” stage. In his best-selling book, The eMyth Revisited, Michael Gerber explains the reality that a most business owners wear three hats: (1) visionary, (2) manager, and (3) technician. The problem is that many get stuck in the technician role – the doing of the everyday work of the business (or in the case of an author, writing). In order to succeed, however, the business owner (aka, author) must spend time in the visionary and manager roles. The visionary comes up with the ideas for the book – and the marketing. The manager oversees the implementation of the book building and marketing ideas the visionary has created. The technician is the doer of the stuff – the writer, the social media expert, the public speaker. It is crucial to your success that you find time for all three – or hire someone to take the pieces you can delegate.
Without singling out anyone in particular, my guess is that authors (and others) who advise fellow authors against using social media do so because they aren’t seeing any return on it themselves. More than likely, the reason for this is: (a) they’re doing it wrong, (b) they’re not spending enough time on it, (c) they’re not very good at marketing in general, (d) they’ve hired the wrong people to manage their SM, (e) they’re poor prioritizers, or (f) some combination of the above.
There are some caveats to an author’s successful use of social media. Marketing Tips for Authors has an excellent post by Sue Collier on why authors should not use social media. I agree whole-heartedly with these reasons. Do NOT use social media if:
- You are looking for instant results. Social media is a tool, presumably one of many in your marketing toolkit. It is not a silver bullet and it will not provide instant results. Remember: the most important word in the term “social media” is social, and building relationships takes time.
- You expect to see a direct impact on book sales. I will admit I’ve certainly bought a handful of books as a result of a tweet, Facebook post, or response to this very blog. However, my purchases are a fraction of a fraction of those I’ve read touting various authors’ books and eBooks. Remember: the most important word in the term “social media” is social, and social media is first and foremost about building relationships.
- You have no marketing plan. Social media is one tool to be applied within an overall marketing plan. If you don’t have a plan to market your book – fully sketched out, with goal dates and anticipated results – how can you expect your social media presence to really make a difference?
- You have no time for social media. Social media may be a “free” tool, but it’s only free in that most of it doesn’t cost money. Where you pay is with your time. And trust me, it takes quite a bit of time to build a significant social media presence. Yes, there are those who advocate for automation, but I personally chafe at the idea. Automating your social media is probably better than having no presence at all. But remember: the most important word in the term “social media” is social, and those are real people on the other end of your tweets and posts. They want to talk to you, not to a machine.
- You don’t believe in giving away free content. Social media is all about content. Posts, quotes, shared links, stories, photos, videos. You’ve really got to give in order to become – and remain – interesting enough to create a following.
- You don’t want to write content. Not only do you have to give away content, if you expect to establish yourself as the expert that you are, you must create a good portion of that content yourself. Sure – you can hire someone to help, but don’t even think about doing so unless that someone knows you, your book, and your business inside out.
- You’re afraid of change. The Internet seems to change and grow by the minute, and with it, the world of social media. Social media will not work for you if you’re not ready to welcome the change and stay abreast of it.
Social media can be a phenomenal tool to help build your author platform. With the right planning, strategy, implementation, and prioritization, you can use it to establish yourself in a crowded field. But it takes time, energy, commitment, and willingness to put the relationships you are creating first.
Check back next time for an explanation of the many social media platforms out there. Soon after that, we’ll give you some success tips. And then we’ll get into some detail about a few of the more popular platforms.
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