Does social media sell books?
After many years of being active on social media and having accumulated reasonable followings, I would have to say that the answer to this question is no, not directly.
I don’t know how many times a day I see; check out my book, Like my Facebook Author Page, or download my book for free.
My reaction to messages like these is to ignore them completely. Precisely the same as most people would do, I think.
Social media platforms are tempting
However, using social media to sell books offers a logical attraction, especially to new or inexperienced authors.
After all, there is a whole world out there, and it’s just so darn easy to send a little message out to millions of people saying, “Buy my stuff because I’m really so special.”
My own experience is that direct selling like this doesn’t work.
After many experiments, misadventures, and missteps, I can honestly say that sending out hundreds of messages with a buy link to your book on Amazon is a complete waste of time and will not sell books.
It is not digital marketing, but it is close to spamming.
Not only that, but it is also a surefire way to create a negative image of yourself, which results in annoying people and therefore losing followers.
Of course, I try to promote my books and would love to sell thousands of copies each month.
But it’s just not going to happen by merely sending out thousands of messages on social media, saying, “Buy my fantastic books.”
There is much more involved in marketing books.
What sells ebooks and books?
What does work, though, is the slower process of building your author name recognition and reputation.
You should become a provider of relevant, useful, and perhaps entertaining information pertinent to your domain as a writer.
A well-written and maintained blog linked and sharing to social media is the logical means to do this.
Writing and publishing original and intelligent blog posts and articles are the best way to sell books indirectly on social media.
Commenting on other blogs is another great way of leveraging social media and building your profile.
One method you can use is to share some of your blog’s comments on Twitter. It serves a few useful purposes.
Firstly it creates great content on Twitter and, of course, directs new readers to your blog.
At the same time, it gives exposure to your commenters and their blogs to your followers on Twitter.
Sharing comments also helps start a conversation, which is what social media is all about.
I tried this on Facebook, but it was a failure, bordering on counterproductive.
It proves that there are horses for courses on social networks.
You need to think about how you can best use each platform.
A Facebook Page, I believe, is a necessity.
The power of the Like button and two billion users means there is unlimited potential.
While it may seem slow at first to build an audience on Facebook, it is worth the effort.
My blog might get only a few Likes on each post, but now and then, one post will attract many more and my following increases.
But again, this is a platform where trying to sell directly simply doesn’t work either.
It’s very much about building your reputation and profile and using your blog posts as a form of content marketing.
Flipboard and Pinterest are useful platforms, but they don’t create a conversation. They are helpful, however, in gaining exposure for your books and reviews.
You need to post other content, so you don’t look like you’re merely flogging books. Allow people to discover your books and take a look.
There are many other useful networks, such as Goodreads and Author’s Den, and these are sites that lend themselves to promoting your titles a little more directly.
You do want to let the world know what you do and what you have to offer.
But social media is more about marketing and reputation building rather than direct selling.
By all means, post the occasional buy link to your books on Amazon, B&N, or Smashwords or links to reviews you receive.
But make sure there is a lot of informative information and intelligent conversation in between.
My advice is to be patient with social media.
As your author’s reputation and name become better known, people will find your books and ebooks, especially using search when they are ready, and book sales will follow.
Related reading: Nine Book Promotion Ideas That Just Never Really Work At All