How to Use Social Networks to Promote Your Book

A Q & A with Book Promotion Consultant Sandra Beckwith

Sandra Beckwith helps authors create publicity buzz for their books
Sandra Beckwith helps authors create buzz for their books. photo by Mark Bennington

Book marketing campaigns certainly benefit from effective use of online social networks. In Part I of this Q&A with book publicity and marketing coach and consultant, Sandra Beckwith, she shares her thoughts about how authors can do a better of job of leveraging their online social networks to promote their books.

Social Media Networks Seem to Be the Focus of Most Book Sales Promotion These Days. How Does an Author Make Sure He or She Rises Above the Noise?

Sandra Beckwith: Social media networks are certainly an important part of a book marketing campaign and, because they're so accessible, that's what most authors tend to focus on.

But one book promotion tip that will help you stand out across all your networks, social media and otherwise, is: Focus on what readers will get from your book. The fact that the book exists is not news enough. Your friends might buy your writing because they want to support your lifelong dream of writing a book or help you get further in your goal to be an Amazon best-selling author—but how many friends do you have? Their friends want to be entertained, or are interested in the information they can learn from your book—it's the content that will bring readers to your book. That's what you need to make sure to share in your book marketing and publicity efforts.

That's a Great Book Marketing Rule of Thumb. Are There Any Other General Book Promotion Rules That Apply?

SB: In terms of rising above the noise, what's true for traditional media is true for social media, as well: crafting your message is not a one-size-fits-all situation.

The type and tone of information you share might vary from network to network. For example, say you wrote a professional book about your industry—your tweets would be short, pithy and informal, while your blog posts might be information-rich and full of useful links.

Can You Give Some Insights About How to Leverage Online Social Networks for Book Promotion?

SB: There's a whole book about that!

But for starters:

  • Make Friends with Facebook (Personal)
    Here's a good case for why content is important—in order for information to go viral, it needs to seem interesting or useful enough to pass along. How many of your Facebook friends (and their friends) might find something interesting enough about your book to share it with their networks? Send them a message with a link to the book's purchase page at your favorite retailer, and ask them to share it on their walls.
  • Make Friends with Facebook (Professional)
    Do you have a separate fan page for your book or one of its characters? These pages encourage interaction, which, in turn, drives traffic. Ask people to participate, as well as share information about the book on their own pages.
  • Blog Your Book
    You have more flexibility on your own blog so, if at all possible, create a page for your book and share why your book is important and how it will help educate, entertain, or inform readers. When you post updates, you can link back to that page. Ask your blog subscribers to consider sharing that information with their own networks and groups, and, of course, offer to do an interview or guest post related to your book on their blogs, too.
  • Twitter Strategically
    Of course you'll tweet about your book to your followers—be smart about it. Don't do it constantly, and be sure to not to make it a hard sales pitch ("Buy my book"), but instead, share tidbits that help people understand your book's value. These are the most likely to be re-Tweeted.
  • Your Google+ Circle
    The "Circles" tool on Google+ is tailor-made for author networking. Create a Circle for those in your Google+ network who might be interested in your book and share interesting book-related information with them.

What Other Advice Can You Offer About Online Social Media Book Promotion Efforts?

SB: Be sure to keep all your online social networks updated on your virtual book tour stops, media interviews that appear online, and so on. You never know which one a potential reader will visit—you don't want to take the chance that someone interested in your book will miss information that might engage him or her.

Also, it's important to remember that social networks were developed to emulate our real-world networks—to be social, to engage, to share, to learn—not merely to sell. Be active in your groups, participate in online forums.

Share news of your book, but avoid any hard-sell messages. And be generous and reciprocal with those in your social media networks—do unto them as you would have them do to you. Post, tweet and share their news, as well.

Of course, online social networks aren't the only kind we all have. Utilize all your 'social networks' in your book marketing campaign. Read Part II of this Q & A for some of Sandra's "off-line" social networking tips.

Sandra Beckwith, a former award-winning publicist, now teaches authors how to become their own book publicists. For more book publicity and promotion tips, and to sign up for her free newsletter, visit ​buildbookbuzz.com.