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How to Promote a Book on Social Media for Authors

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If you're an author struggling with how to promote a book on social media, this blog post offers creative book marketing ideas from a unique perspective. While I am not an author, I am a reader, blogger, and Bookstagrammer who can tell you exactly what I have learned about marketing books online as a one-woman show.

I'm going to share marketing strategies for authors specifically, as I know you aren't likely trained marketers with big budgets yourselves, based on what I have learned as a blogger with a now full-time blog.

My blog and Bookstagram haven't grown by magic or luck -- it has taken a massive amount of self-education and implementation of those strategies. It's a virtual type of sweat equity, but it CAN pay off when done right.

Yes, it will take YOU lots of work too, but I'm hoping to provide you more clarity, so you can focus on what works and what you can control (not just waiting and hoping for others to say "yes" to you).

At the end of the day, you have created a product. Products need marketing and marketing takes work and costs money. Buzz doesn't just happen!

So, keep reading to learn my best tips on book marketing for authors.

How to Promote a Book on Social Media

This post is about how to promote a book on social media, because that's where people like to hang out, and there are great book communities on both Facebook and Bookstagram. Those two outlets will be the focus here, as they seem to be the most popular for book promotion, but I will also touch on some other outlets.

But, I will also talk about content marketing more generally, because you need content to share on social media as part of any marketing plan for authors!

Content Marketing for Authors

First, let's talk about content marketing for authors because this is really the basis of how to promote your book on social media. You can't have social media without content, and it can be frustrating to just rely on the hope that Bookstagrammers will rave about your book. It's so out of your control!

I know you worked HARD on writing and publishing your book and, unfortunately, that's only PART of the work that needs to be done to get it read. While I am not an author, believe it or not, writing is only a small fraction of the work I do to maintain and grow my blog too. So, I "sort of" get it, though I certainly won't claim to truly know how it feels!

In my opinion, the best marketing plan for authors includes unique content related to you and your book. A few ideas of what you can share are:

  • behind the scenes images and stories,
  • playlists,
  • recipes,
  • pictures,
  • maps,
  • family tree,
  • travel,
  • who you would cast in a movie adaptation,
  • mood boards,
  • discussion questions,
  • quotes,
  • reviews, and
  • read-alikes ("If you liked [this book], you'll love [book you're promoting].").

While you can certainly share these things *ONLY* on social media, I recommend first posting them on your book or personal website, then re-sharing them.

Why? Google is POWERFUL and has the power to bring in so many more views than you can get for free on social media.

The average social media engagement rate is about 1-2% of an account's following, and ALL social media currently accounts for only about 10-12% of my total blog traffic.

That's right -- about 90% of my traffic (and thus, the money I earn) does NOT come from social media.

So, if you start by creating content on a website, then syndicate it to social media, you are immediately increasing your reach with little extra work. BOOM!

Whether you do it on social media and/or a website, I urge you to get creative about creating content specifically for (a) your ideal reader to buy your book and (b) for your biggest fans to re-share.

For example, if your book is a thriller with an unreliable narrator, write a post about thrillers with unreliable narrators and include your book in the list. People searching for that specific type of book will find it and learn about your book!

And, I know I personally love little goodies like playlists inspired by a book I loved. If I'm already a fan of your book, I'm very likely to share something fun you created for it so others can enjoy it too.

Website Help: If you need help starting your own website or blog, I have a few posts on how to start a blog and my top blogging resources, most of which are free.

How to Promote a Book on Instagram

Now, it's time to talk about how to promote a book on Instagram. This is where all the cool book kids are currently hanging out, so you definitely need creative book marketing ideas for Instagram.

I have heard chatter from both authors and Bookstagrammers feeling overwhelmed by requests in the space. I hear that authors can feel a lack of respect by demands for free copies of their book. I have also heard Bookstagrammers feeling a lack of respect by tons of demands to read and review books, which takes so much time for something they deem to be a part-time hobby.

At the end of the day, everyone is putting in real work and both deserve respect and have the right to say "no" when they choose.

On the Bookstagrammer side, I used to get so overwhelmed and literally panic both at the sheer amount of requests for my time and also how hard it was to say "no" and feel like I was disappointing an author.

It took me a long time to process my feelings and be so "zen" on this topic, but once I accepted the space and my time for what they are and set personal boundaries it became easier for me to happily exist in the space.

I'm not an author so I can't know what it feels like to have to give away your "baby" for free or seek PR for your book, but I hope you already have or can find the same zen I found as a Bookstagrammer.

What I'm dancing around here is that a lot of tips I provide in this section particularly ask you to do work and give your book away (and sometimes pay money too, if you choose).

I know this is hard. I too have put literally thousands of hours and dollars into my blog and can feel pulled so pulled apart sometimes. In the end, I hope you can take my tips for what they are worth to you and use them at your own discretion, in ways that suit you, your boundaries, and your marketing plan as an author.

Without further ado, here are my thoughts on book marketing for authors as a Bookstagrammer myself:

First and most importantly, genuinely engage with like-minded people in the Bookstagram community.

I would be surprised if any Bookstagrammer told you something else was more important. This is exactly how we grow our own accounts, and we can quickly become loyal to like-minded authors who are super nice to us (Follow us! Share our content! DM us!).

The authors I ALWAYS say "yes" to are exactly the ones who have supported me and/or created a connection first. Yes, it's work, but it's also work to blindly reach out to as many of us as possible with only the hope of getting a response, then the hope of getting a review, etc.

Create a separate account that inspires focused growth and community.

Most authors have personal Instagram accounts (i.e., their personal name is their handle), but I think it can also help to have a separate, very focused account. I do this with my book club, @TheRoryGilmoreBookClub, and I see much more growth and engagement than on my personal account.

For example, if you write diverse romance novels, create an account with those keywords in your handle and bio (i.e., DiverseRomanceBooks). It's far more likely to get followers from exactly the type of person who would be interested in your book than just a personal account, as the reader isn't necessarily familiar with you or interested in you personally just yet.

Create a hashtag challenge to inspire content creation.

Cultivate more buzz and relevant content curation with a specific hashtag. And, I don't just mean the title of your book! Give people something special to talk about.

For example, if your book takes place in an exotic location, maybe you can create the hashtag "#[BookTitle]Travel" and have people post their personal pictures in that location.

Offer your book with "no strings attached."

I know this is a tough one, but I recommend that instead of offering a book in exchange for a review, just offer the book "no strings attached," or ask for something less time-consuming than a review, like a cover reveal or book tour.

It takes a lot of pressure off of Bookstagrammers. When asked to review a book, it can mean a 10+ hour commitment of our time, and we get requests daily! Knowing I don't "have to" read a book and review it by a certain day makes me more likely to say "yes" and promote it in some way, even by sharing it as "book mail" I received, then reading it when I have the time.

Not requiring a review can also help you prevent negative book reviews.

Give us an extra copy of your book for a giveaway.

I know what you're thinking: first, I have to gift a copy of one of my books, now I have to gift TWO?! I know this is a hard pill to swallow, but an extra giveaway copy is just about guaranteed to make it to a Bookstagrammer's page, plus get shared by other Bookstagrammers.

So, gifting two books to one person may actually have more reach than gifting two books to two people (it's also cheaper to ship once!). And it helps better compensate Bookstagrammers for the time they spend maintaining and growing their accounts (literally hours every single day).

Create shareable graphics for us.

Creating shareable graphics for Bookstagrammers takes a lot of work off of our hands. If I reached out to you and said, "Hey, here's a promo graphic for my book blog. If you like it, would you mind sharing it?" VERSUS "Hey, here's my entire blog of 400+ articles. Can you read it, write a review, photograph it, and promote it?" ... which one would you be more likely to say yes to?

Personally, I offer free Instagram templates, and Bookstagrammers regularly share them and tag me. You can VERY quickly and easily create social media graphics on Canva.

Consider whether to pay for the promotion of your book.

Next, I have some paid promotional options to talk about, and I know this is controversial. At the end of the day, it's up to you whether to pay to market your book.

If it makes you feel better, I pay to market my own blog, as I view it as the product that's the core of my business, and often times this has meant reinvesting a lot of my profits and/or paying others for years before I paid myself. Paid advertising just "is" a part of marketing ANYTHING for you to consider.

If you feel comfortable, consider offering payment for book promotion or even donating a certain amount to charity for each promotion of your book (we LOVE charitable causes on Bookstagram).

And if you just can't offer payment or don't want to, feel free to share with your potential reviewers/promotors my post with creative ways for Bookstagrammers to make money without you paying them.

"Promote" one of your Instagram posts.

You can very easily click "promote" on one of your Instagram posts and let Instagram do the hard work of getting your post out to the right people.

I have done this myself! I have found that it works well for giveaway posts because they help you gain followers and are often re-shared. I usually only spend a few dollars over the course of a few days to see some traction.

It's totally up to you whether you want to do this, but it may actually be more effective (and cheaper) than shipping a bunch of ARCs out blindly.

Do what's working right now on Instagram.

For example, at the time of this post, Instagram is really focused on pushing out videos and reels to users. So, allocating time thereto versus creating and posting images may reach far more people in the same amount of time.

It's not as hard as you may think, either. Start by just clicking video instead of photo on your phone, and just adding a bit of movement to whatever you are filming. Or, create them in a few clicks from templates on Canva like I sometimes do. It definitely also helps to add popular songs!

Related Post: Ultimate Guide to Bookstagram

How to Promote a Book on Facebook

If you're also wondering how to promote a book on Facebook, I have a few marketing strategies for authors in this space too.

Facebook has changed SO much over the years, and it's really hard to get a lot of buzz there right now.

What seems to be working best right now on Facebook are Groups and good old-fashioned networking with the people you know.

As far as networking, I have found that general "day in the life" type updates have worked well for me. Then, you are top of mind whenever the time is right for someone to make a connection.

"Recommendation" posts are always so popular too. Get creative. Maybe you can ask your network something like, "I'm getting ready to hire a designer for my book cover. Any recommendations?"

All of this gets people engaging with you about your book, and reminding people about your book, but in ways that won't be received as spam or ads.

With a "warm" audience like your family and friends, I also think it's fair game to directly ask for shares of your book, a positive review, etc. People like to help out people they know, and re-sharing a post is so easy!

People also seem to really like and trust communicating via private Groups of like-minded people on Facebook. I often go to my Groups for advice before my own friends!

You can search for relevant Groups in the Facebook Groups section and join them, but be sure to follow the Group's Rules, as many do not allow self-promotion.

In Groups, you can make connections in more personal ways, like getting input on an upcoming book title or what you should wear to your Publication Day celebration.

In the end, all (most?) press is good press.

What really doesn't seem to be working on Facebook right now is just posting to your business page. It just doesn't get you much reach without paying for ads.

How to Promote a Book on Other Social Media Outlets

GoodReads

GoodReads is an excellent source of ideal readers for your book. Add as friends those who share positive reviews for books similar to yours.

You can also review similar books and note that you have written a similar book, adding a link thereto.

And, did you know you can post updates in the feed (like Tweets)? On the top left of your home page, click "General update" then type your update and post it. It will show up in the feeds of your friends. I often use this feature to announce and link to new blog posts.

YouTube

I'm just getting started with YouTube myself, but I hear it's still not that hard to do well there. I have read that the key is using the right keywords. So, like I mentioned earlier, post videos with keywords that will attract both your ideal reader and your top fans.

For your ideal reader, talking about something similar to your book would be helpful for them to discover your book and, for your top fans, something like discussion questions or behind-the-scenes scoop may work.

If you are already appearing somewhere either in person or virtually to discuss your book, make sure you videotape it or get a copy of the video to upload. It's a no-brainer! OR, create slideshow-type videos on Canva. I do this all the time.

And remember, Google owns YouTube. So if you are using relevant keywords in your video title, description, etc., Google will serve your videos to people searching for information on Google as well.

Pinterest

Do NOT underestimate the power of Pinterest! It's a search engine, like Google, which means you can be found for years on end by posting things with relevant keywords. I get hundreds of thousands of views of my pins each month, which brings traffic in the thousands to my website as well.

You can create pins on Canva that link to your book, your website, your Instagram, etc. Make sure to use headlines on the image that will generate a click-through, like "Hot New Summer Beach Read - Click Here."

Twitter

I don't use Twitter much, so I can't offer you too much advanced knowledge here, but I can share one quick tip. You can use If This Then That (IFTT) to schedule tweets like book quotes to go out repeatedly on certain days and times each month. Get creative with writing tweets that share quotes, similar books, etc., then "set it and forget it."

If This Then That (IFTT) can also automatically push your Instagram posts to Twitter WITH the image included in the tweet.

TikTok

I am new to TikTok also, but I wanted to briefly touch upon it because I know it's the hot newcomer to the block. You can get a lot of views and follows FAST on TikTok right now, so if you think this may be your thing or really want a jumpstart to your growth, you may want to dive in here.

I'm hearing that the best way to use TikTok is to put your own spin on whatever sounds and topics are trending there at any given moment. It's not hard to find out what's trending either, as when you click to "add sound" to a video, TikTok TELLS YOU what's trending!


PHEW! That concludes my best tips on how to promote a book on social media for authors -- on Instagram, Facebook, and other social media.

While I am not an author myself, I have learned a TON over the years about online marketing, so I sincerely hope I helped you find some creative book marketing ideas.

(Please note that I personally am no longer taking on unpaid book review and/or promotion requests for a variety of reasons, including the volume of requests I receive, but rather I share these tips with you based on my education and experience so that I can still help you by "teaching you how to fish" on your own.)

Related post: If you liked this post, you will also love my post on how to get more book reviews.


Did this post help you?

If yes, will you consider leaving me a tip? I pay all fees associated with my marketing education, experience, and website, but because I want authors of ALL means to have information that helps you promote your books, I have chosen to provide free access instead of selling an ebook, course, or 1 on 1 consultation.

That being said, if you do have the means and you feel like you received valuable marketing information from this post, tips are appreciated in order to keep access free to all.

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Shawn

Monday 28th of March 2022

This is a great article! I'll be self-publishing a novel very soon and hope to reach out to some smaller bookstagrammers. I figure a few growing accounts would be better than the huge ones that are backed up, and will certainly charge for a review. Any advice on how to reach out? The last thing I want to do is turn any of these people off. Bookstagram is growing by the day and I want it to be a big part of my social media campaign. Thanks in advance, and cheers!

Jules Buono

Tuesday 29th of March 2022

Shawn, Congratulations on self-publishing your novel! I think the best way to reach out is the long-term approach -- just creating genuine relationships with like-minded people over time. It sounds like you want to "cold" pitch as well, so I think finding some sort of connection, whether it's someone local, someone who likes a similar book, etc. is a good starting point. But, still keep it genuine. A few automatic turn-offs for me are when someone doesn't genuinely support my work, very vague and/or non-personal messages, messages that are either super short or super long, lack of gratefulness, and begging. If it's hard for you to place yourself in the shoes of a Bookstagrammer, then think about what type of product marketing has really gotten your own attention or really turned you off as a consumer. I hope that helps!

Chrissy

Wednesday 22nd of September 2021

I'm finally publishing my book. Took me 3 years to write. Thank you for sharing on how I can get it out there

Jules Buono

Thursday 23rd of September 2021

Congratulations and best wishes!!!

Pearl

Saturday 31st of July 2021

"The average social media engagement rate is about 1-2% of an account’s following, and ALL social media currently accounts for only about 10-12% of my total blog traffic. That’s right — about 90% of my traffic (and thus, the money I earn) does NOT come from social media." This validates the need to diversify how you reach your audience. I really needed to see this today!! :) I was getting frustrated with the lack of engagement on SM and now I see that it really isn't me...I need to diversify! Thank you. This post was very helpful!

Jules Buono

Saturday 31st of July 2021

Pearl, thank you for your message, and I am so happy this helped you. Social media can be a real beast! While it may work for some people, I have found diversification and search-based options like Google and Pinterest to work best for me long term. I hope it works for you too!

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