Book Marketing: Do you need social media?

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So you’ve published your book. What’s next?

These days, most authors realize that they should dive into social media platforms to promote their book. But many authors still ask, Do I really need to do that? By definition, authors lead busy lives. They’ve carved out time to write a book! Finding more time to develop relationships through social media can seem daunting.

The truth is: If you’re trying to reach Americans with your book, then you need to speak to Americans in the public squares where we meet every day.

What the research says

Pew Research chart: percent of adults who use social media
Pew research shows the portion of Americans using social media rising across all age groups every year. Image courtesy of Pew Research.

According to the Pew Research Center seven-in-ten Americans use social media to connect with one another, engage with news content, share information and entertain themselves. Since PEW began tracking social media in 2005 the number of social media participants continues to rise.

Isn’t it just for young people? What about reaching older readers? We still get these kinds of question, even though research clearly shows that all age segments now are using social media to interact with friends and family. From the same 2017 Pew report: Young adults were among the earliest social media adopters and continue to use these sites at high levels, but usage by older adults has increased in recent years.

When to start

So, when should you turn to social media? When your book is ready to be published? No! You need to be an active participant in social media while you write and develop your book for publication.

Front Edge has been on the cutting edge among publishing houses in encouraging authors to build a network of allies from the time you are conceptualizing your book. You’ll find more about our approach to allies in future Front Edge columns about trends in media. But the key take-away from this column is: If you’re planning to publish a book, you should already be an active part of social media networks.

Don’t think of this as a waste of time. Social media can be a valuable tool for authors. By engaging with a base of potential book readers—your readers—you can invite them to become your preview audience and sounding board. You can question them about your topic, your characters, even potential titles and book covers.

Where to start

Where do you find these potential readers? You can start with friends and relatives who have a vested interest in your work and your writing. Then you can add colleagues and acquaintances. As you become active in social media, you also should friend or follow other authors who write in your genre.

Remember: It’s not all about the sheer number of followers and friends you rack up. It’s about developing friendly and helpful relationships with people who will one day buy your book, write a positive review, and recommend your book to a friend or colleague.

Social media is here to stay. Jump in—the water’s fine. Watch out for sharks. Focus on building authentic online relationships and your audience will be eagerly waiting when your book finally is launched.

About Susan Stitt

Susan Stitt is marketing director of Front Edge Publishing. Over the years, she has guided many authors through the challenging process of launching books and developing strategies that will grow readership. She also has worked widely with nonprofits. Now, she shares her expertise twice each month on our Front Edge Publishing website.