By Sian Toop

Ok, so you’ve finally got a finished novel sitting on your desk. Weeks have been spent drafting, writing, and editing. Hours have been lost searching the deepest depths of your mind for the right words to craft that perfect sentence. But what now? Unfortunately, it is unlikely you will sell your book if nobody knows it exists. This is where social media comes in. Knowing how to use social media successfully to promote yourself as an author is key. Let’s check out the ways in which we can use it to our advantage and add it to our book promotion strategy.

Establish a Presence

Your first step in conquering social media is creating an online presence. In a world of influencers and internet celebrities, it can be a little overwhelming when you only start off with three followers (and one of those is your Mum). Establishing a presence across social media is crucial as it creates online visibility and an opportunity to engage with readers. Social media is often a primary source of news for an author’s audience, and it offers them a space to connect with not only you but other readers of your work.

Connect with People Online

Once you have established a presence online, it’s time to make connections. While it’s great to share lots of content about your finished novel (and yourself), it’s important to connect with others. If someone comments on a post telling you how much they loved your book, comment back. If they ask when there’s going to be a sequel, jump on the chance to get them to join your mailing list. Take the time to follow and connect with authors that you like and admire. The more you reach out, the more your visibility on social media will grow.

Plan Ahead

As tempting as it can be to hope the perfect social media post pops into your head at exactly the time you need to publish it, it’s unlikely that will happen. This is why we need to plan ahead, and a social media calendar is key here. Social media posts need to be strategic, posted frequently enough to maintain your social presence and offer followers enough opportunities to engage and connect with you without them feeling their feeds are constantly being bombarded.

Hootsuite suggests the following post frequencies for each platform:

  • Instagram: 3-5 times per week.
  • Facebook: 1-2 times per day.
  • Twitter: 2-3 times per day.
  • LinkedIn: 1-2 times per day.

It can feel overwhelming at first, so if you think you might struggle to schedule that many posts, here are some tips to help you:

  • Fewer posts are better than no posts at all. If you can’t fathom having enough to say to warrant posting twice a week, never mind twice a day, start off with a smaller target and work on building it up week by week.
  • Schedule posts thematically. Reviews on a Monday, quotes on a Tuesday, photos of funny cats posed to look like they’re writing on a Wednesday…  it’ll help you schedule posts if you know what you are writing.
  • Leave space to be you. It can be tempting to schedule posts to fill the space on social media but remember to leave space to be you. Remember to post about yourself: what you’ve been up to, share the photo of the amazing burger you ate, and ask a question—remember, it’s all about connecting with your audience.

Finally, don’t forget that despite all this, good things happen unscheduled, and you should always share them with your followers.

Save Time and Schedule

Maintaining a social media platform can often be time-consuming, especially across multiple platforms, and ideally, we want our posts to be consistent and published at times when they are most likely to be seen by a high volume of users. Some platforms offer scheduling. However, using a social media management platform like Hootsuite (which requires a monthly subscription) or Later (free and premium version available) allows you to schedule all your social media posts (and cross-post) across platforms.

Consider Virtual Events

Many social media platforms have the option to live stream now, offering indie authors the chance to use this to connect with their readers. In-person book events can often come with hidden overheads. However, conducting a virtual event from the comfort of your own home swerves these and offers readers from all over the world the chance to attend. Included below are some ideas for virtual events using social media live streams:

  • Virtual book launch. You can talk to people about your book, answer questions, and even sign books for readers while live.
  • Virtual giveaway. Giveaway a copy or copies of your book on a live stream.
  • Virtual guest writer chat. Invite a guest writer to talk about their book on your social media page and great news. This one benefits you both!

One thing to remember with virtual events is that you need to build up anticipation for them. Schedule plenty of posts well in advance leading up to the event so that people know it’s happening.

Share, Share, Share

One of the ways in which you will grow an online following (and hopefully more readers who want to buy your book) is to create content that is shareable. We often find ourselves hitting the ‘follow’ button on accounts that share content that appeals to us, and we want as many people as possible to discover us online. At least once a week, you should have a post that is shareable: a review, a photo, a funny quote, or an infographic are all great places to start.

Finally, don’t forget to always share content from accounts that you follow! Whether that’s an author you love or a review someone has shared of a book you enjoyed, keep sharing and keep connecting. Take some time each day to share content that appeals to you, has made you laugh, or you think your readers would enjoy.

Hopefully, now you will feel more confident in successfully using social media as part of your book promotion strategy and building a strong online presence. You will be hosting a virtual book event before you know it!