Ah, book marketing. Promoting an upcoming book release (or an already-published book) can feel like another full-time job. You’ve already written the book, but now it’s time to tell the world about it! If you want to learn how to promote your book launch on social media like a pro, here are my best tips for getting started:
1. Start early.
When it comes to marketing a book — or any other product or service — the sooner you can start promoting it, the better. It takes time to build momentum, especially when it comes to publishing, and you want to make sure you get a headstart.
Ideally, promoting a book launch should begin three to six months before the publication date (especially if you’re doing a publicity campaign), so you can begin drumming up early interest, reviews, and getting the cover in front of people. Pre-sales definitely can’t hurt, but the goal here is to get more people to see and know about your book. Why?
It all comes down to the rule of seven.
Typically, someone has to see something you’re selling at least seven times before they’re going to take action. Sure, there are exceptions to this (aka, people who already know and support you), but for a debut author or someone who doesn’t already have a huge audience, getting people who don’t know you to buy your book is huge.
That’s why we want to start marketing a book as soon as possible — we want to make sure people have enough time to see it (ideally 7+ times) so they’re ready to buy it around the time of launch. Hopefully.
2. Remember the 80/20 rule.
That said, you can’t just post about your book seven times a day and be like, “Now someone has seen it seven times, they’re totally going to buy it.”
No they aren’t. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it over and over (and over) again until everyone promises to adhere to this rule: Tweeting nothing but “buy my book, buy my book, buy my book,” won’t make people click buy. It’ll make them click unfollow.
Unfortunately, people still break this rule on social media all the time. And most people? Don’t even realize they’re breaking. It’s not just a blatant sales pitch that counts as self-promotional, but even hinting at your book — talking about it, posting photos of it, etc — that can burn people out on your content.
Enter the 80/20 rule.
It’s pretty simple. Roughly 80% of your content should provide some sort of value to your followers. (“But Jandra, my book is valuable!” Yes, but no.) The other 20% — or less — should be blatantly self-promotional. You don’t have to be super salesy, since not everyone is comfortable with that kind of content, but you *should* be talking about your book.
Just like I’ve seen countless authors over-promoting their books, I’ve also seen them under-promoting. People need to be told (and reminded) that you have a book. When I launched my 7-Day Instagram Challenge, I tweeted about it probably 3+ times that week (along with other things), and I felt so spammy and self-promotional. I worried I was going to turn off my followers, but guess what happened? New people saw each tweet, and there were others who didn’t see any of them and heard about the challenge on Instagram.
Why? Because all of your followers aren’t going to be online at the same time, and social media networks have a *lot* of content to deliver to a lot of people. That means not everyone will see each post, hence the need to repeat it occasionally.
3. Give people an incentive.
Okay, so we talked about providing value on social media, but here’s where you can take this a step further. If you’re promoting an upcoming book launch, sometimes you have to give people a reason to be interested in your book.
I get it, having a new book feels like enough of a reason. It’s valuable (entertainment, hello) or so it seems. But there are literally millions of books out there. Thousands upon thousands of authors are promoting their books, often to the same audiences, which means you need to give people a solid reason to be interested in YOUR book.
I see a lot of authors posting emotional appeals on social media. “I spent countless hours writing this book, I poured months into this, etc…etc…” I’ve done it myself, so no judgment. But the random person who followed you on a whim doesn’t know you well enough to care. I know that sounds harsh, but it pays to be realistic. The average person won’t care whether or not you worked hard on this book, because every author (probably) worked hard.
The average person won’t care whether or not you worked hard on this book, because every author (probably) worked hard.
What do they get out of choosing yours? This could be a pre-sale bonus, some cool swag, or something entirely different. You can also use incentives to get people to promote your book for you — giving away free copies (*cough* digital copies are super low-maintenance), doing a contest, or simply asking.
4. Leverage your existing fans (and friends).
Speaking of asking, this is where your existing audience — and closest connections — come in. Most of us already have a built-in network (usually of varying sizes), and many of these people are more willing than you might think to share about your book.
A lot of people share advanced copies of their book with their friends and family in the hope they’ll leave reviews, but this can be tough to make happen. When I released my debut novel, Fragile, I’d sent countless copies to people I knew but getting people to review it was hard. Really, really hard. Why? Because leaving a review can be intimidating — most people thought I wanted them to write something lengthy and in-depth about how moving and emotionally profound and blahblahblah…so they were too intimidated to actually complete the review. (Seriously.)
Here’s how I made the most of my connections:
1) Tell people about the book. I gave them the link to share, and I asked them to send it to their friends, retweet and comment on my posts (so more people would see them, and even request the book from their local library. I did most, if not all, of the work for them.
For most people? I’d even send them the link to their local library’s request form and give them the relevant info they needed to fill it out.
2) Leave a quick review. Yep, I still asked people for reviews. They’re critical to the launch of a book, but when it comes to asking friends and family for reviews it can be like pulling teeth. Instead, I made it easy for them.
Like with library requests, I sent them a link directly to the page to leave a review (not just to the book page — I literally sent them a link to a pre-loaded page to leave a review). I also made sure to tell them that the review didn’t have to be anything fancy — even a single sentence or “Great book!” was better than nothing. Sure, longer reviews are ideal. However, I’d rather have a handful of short reviews on my launch day versus no reviews.
5. Be consistent.
Launching a book takes work — more work than you might think. Gone are the days of huge marketing budgets (unless you’re Stephen King or John Green). Most debut authors are surprised to discover that they still carry a large part of the responsibility for spreading the word about their books. Does it suck? Yes. Can we do anything to change that? Not really.
Yes, you’ve already spent so much time and energy writing and re-writing your book. But are you willing to let all of that time and energy go to waste because you didn’t follow through with marketing?
Successful book marketing requires aggressive action and foresight.
This means communicating with your publisher (if you have one) and getting a crystal clear understanding of what they will and won’t do for you. It means coming up with a plan that you can follow throughout the promotion of your book, and some of that can be overwhelming.
Believe me, I get it. As an author — and as someone who has spent thousands of hours helping authors and publishers with social media — I know how hard it can be. Figuring out how to promote your book launch on social media-slash-building your brand as an author on top of everything else is tough! But it’s not impossible, and you can absolutely do this.
If your book has already launched — or still being written — you can still benefit from improving your social media. Sure, you’re probably thinking that you already know how to use social media. You’re right! But knowing how to use it as an author to build your brand and promote your book is *completely* different. Unfortunately.
Fortunately, I’ve been where you are. I’ve perfected my strategy for building an amazing author brand on social media that helps you get new followers WITHOUT wasting your precious time and energy.
Even better? I’m here to show you how to make that happen. 🎉
Don’t miss my upcoming FREE live training on social media marketing for authors so you can get more results with less work. (Seriously.) Space is limited, so reserve your seat ASAP. ✨
Not sure how to make the most out of social media? Whether you’re a published author or still working on your first manuscript, join my upcoming FREE Masterclass on How to Use Social Media to Build Your Author Brand. You register to save your seat at jandralee.com/masterclass.
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