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 help in selling ebooks online 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 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 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 is 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.
It is not digital marketing, but it is close to spamming.
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.”
There is much more involved in marketing 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 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 intelligent blog posts and articles is the best way to indirectly selling books 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. This 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.
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. You do 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. 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 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.
While you do need to post other content, so you don’t look like you’re merely 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. 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.