Leverage Social Media to Market Your Book

Founded in 1997, Smith Publicity has evolved from a one-person operation run in a bedroom office to one of the leading book publicity agencies in the world. Founder Dan Smith’s goal for the company was to offer unparalleled customer service and work to exceed, not simply meet client expe


In the early days of social media, some people in the publishing industry questioned its book marketing value. There were plenty of examples of it being used poorly and with underwhelming results. But in the ensuing years, authors with a touch for engaging posts have demonstrated the possibilities. Being overly promotional won't work, and your posts need to have value beyond promoting your book. You also need to be posting consistently and genuinely engaged with your followers. People respond best to two-way communication that is more than an endless stream of promotional messages or posts.

Experience has also shown that being present on social media long before publishing a book is preferred. Everyone hears stories about authors and books that go viral but don't count on being that lucky. If it happens, that's excellent, but be prepared for the need to build followers over time. If you're a nonfiction author, you also want posts about your book (or future book) topic, so you build a following of target readers. If you're a novelist, you can create a more general following and might drop tidbits about your book to interest people in its story and characters. You might even take suggestions.

There is no absolute right/wrong way for authors to use social media. But based on the experience of those who have gone before you, some things tend to work—for example, planning a calendar of posts so that what you say is consistent and follows a thread. Of course, you might make last minutes changes if something newsworthy related to your book or its topic comes up. It's too easy to forget to post, and having a plan will help you stay current. Entertaining or informational content will do the best because people enjoy or benefit from it. Some opinion is okay but don't go overboard.

If you wrote a book about politics, you might post about political topics on social media. If you write about other things, avoid political views if you want to sell books. They quickly can turn off some target readers and cost you book sales. People come to social media to pass the time, and while some become mired in bitter debates, you can stay on topic and be above the fray. Funny posts can be popular if you have a good sense of humor. Test the water with several kinds of posts when you start and see what does best for you with your followers. No two writers are alike, and you'll need to discover your niche online.