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.
No, social media doesn’t sell ebooks and books very well by itself.
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 these messages, which for me numbers in their hundreds every day, is to ignore them completely. Exactly the same as most people would do I think.
However, social media offers the logical temptation to sell books, especially to those who are new or inexperienced.
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 has been that direct selling like this doesn’t work at all.
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.
Not only that, it is a sure-fire 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 simply sending out thousands of messages on social media saying, “Buy my fantastic books”.
What does sell ebooks and books then?
What does work, though, is the slower process of building your author name recognition and reputation as a provider of relevant, useful and perhaps entertaining information relevant to your domain as a writer.
A well-written and maintained blog linked to social media is the logical means to do this, as is intelligent posting of articles from around the Internet.
Commenting on other blogs is another great way of leveraging social media and building your profile. One means I use to take this even further is to share some of my blog’s comments on Twitter. This serves a few useful purposes.
Firstly it creates great content on Twitter and of course, directs new readers to my blog, and at the same time, it gives exposure to my commenters and their blogs to my followers on Twitter.
It also helps start a conversation, which is what social media is all about. I did try this on Facebook, but it was a failure, bordering on counterproductive.
It proved that there are horses for courses on social networks, so you do need to think about how you 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. While my blog may get only a few Likes on each post, every 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.
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.
While you do need to post other content so you don’t look like you’re simply flogging books, they 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.
While you do want to let the world know what you do, and what you have to offer, 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, and as your author 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.
I started my working life as a lithographer and then spent over 30 years in the printing and publishing business.
Originally from Australia, I moved to Switzerland 20 years ago. My days are spent teaching English, writing and wrestling with technology while enjoying my glorious view of the Alps.
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