What Social Media is Actually For (Most Authors Get This Wrong!)

A fellow indie author asked recently on Facebook what works for engaging readers in marketing and social media, and I realized that this is something that a lot of authors don’t get quite right.

Too many authors want to focus on social media and growing their following there rather than focusing on the activities that will truly move their author businesses forward.

Like writing the next book or running a limited time sale with stacked newsletters.

I’ve written and published 8 books across two different YA contemporary romance series since 2014, so I’ve learned a thing or two about this marketing thing since then.

One of the biggest marketing lessons that I’ve learned as an indie author is this one: social media is not for selling books or finding new readers.

This is not what social media is good for.

If all you’re doing is posting links for your book, then you’re not going to see any traction or results. In fact, you’ll probably be unfollowed pretty quickly, and maybe even blocked.

Why Do People Get on Facebook (Or Twitter, Instagram, etc)?

You have to remember why people are on social media in the first place.

They’re there to keep up with friends and family, catch up on this week’s most viral memes, and participate in groups related to their interests.

They’re not there to buy stuff, and they’re going to get tired of seeing only promotional posts from you.

You can still use hashtags and things like that to help readers become aware of your books, but the majority of readers who see your post just aren’t going to buy from an author they don’t know.

Be Smart About How Often You Post Book Links

If you have a new release, sharing the link is completely fine, especially if you make it fun by going live, posting a pretty photo, or sharing a giveaway. You should let people know about your new book!

But there should be 8 non-promotional posts for the 1-2 promotional posts you do share.

You can always ask your followers to help you share and spread the word, but don’t expect your book to become a bestseller because of this.

This mainly helps with raising awareness of your books (because most people need to see something an average of 7 times before they buy or seriously check it out).

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What You Should Be Sharing on Social Media (And What It’s Truly For)

Most of the people who do end up following you on social media are going to be readers who already know about you.

They’ve read your books, and now they want to know what you’re up to and get an inside peek at what’s coming next. They’re there to have fun with you and check out pictures of your kids, you walking your dog, you writing your next book, or the mess on your desk.

This is what social media is for.

It’s for engaging your current readers and for you to get to know them as people and vice versa.

Be personable. These readers want to be your friend, and you wouldn’t spam your friend, right?

Give them an inside look at your life and your work. Don’t just post book links, and don’t expect social media to sell books for you.

It’s there to help you build relationships.

This is how I use my secret Facebook groups for readers. I only share it with newsletter subscribers (I call them my VIP readers), and I keep it fun in there with extra teasers, inspirational quotes, sneak peeks, pictures of my kids, reposts of bookish or funny posts, and heads up about review copies with the occasional book link post when I have a new book out.

Don’t Obsess Over Your Number of Followers

Another thing is that most indie authors are not going to have very many (if any) social media followers at all at first. This is normal and nothing to worry about.

Whatever stage you’re at, your #1 focus should be your next book, but this is especially important if you’re new to self-publishing.

The more books you have available, the more likely readers are to find you and the faster you’re going to get to a full-time income.

Social media numbers should never be the focus of your author business. They’re going to have little impact on your sales ever so don’t worry about them.

Obsess over your number of email subscribers instead!

Don’t Let Social Media Suck Up Too Much of Your Time

If you don’t have a lot of time or if you don’t really get social media, pick just one channel to focus on and master.

Where are your readers at? Which social media channel is genuinely fun for you?

Share that one channel in your newsletter and website, and with time, you will start to see people follow you.

Don’t spend too much time there, though. Social media should just be a place to have fun a few minutes every day (or every other day) and be at the bottom of your to do list.

Spend most of your author business time focusing on your next release (and the next and the next…).