Social Media: Spokes in the Book Marketing Wheel

Updated: Oct 11, 2019



Editor’s Note: For a recent three-Wednesday run, I shared my opinion about authors and Twitter, soliciting outside feedback along the way. One of the pro-Twitter responses I got was from Katherine Pickett, a fellow editor who gave an attention-grabbing response:


I find it okay for marketing but better for learning about the industry – not just writing and marketing tips but also who the movers and shakers are in your field. You can also present yourself as a resource, whether that’s of information or entertainment in some other way.

It was that last line that really piqued my interest: the notion of capturing people’s interest not by saying “Look at me! Look at me!” but by providing upfront “customer” service that can, in and of itself, be an excellent marketing campaign.


Perhaps I’ll even turn that concept into its own blog post down the line…


As for right now, I can’t say I’ve changed my mind on Twitter specifically. But I do respect where she’s coming from… so much so that I asked her to guest blog for Innovative Editing.


And I’m so happy she did! She makes some great points about why we authors need to be on some sort of social media – for our own marketing good.


So, without further ado, I give you Katherine Pickett, author of Perfect Bound: How to Navigate the Book Publishing Process Like a Pro

If you can’t be found on the internet, you might as well not exist.


When I launched POP Editorial Services, LLC, in 2006, I knew only one thing about marketing: Without a website, I might as well not exist.


Sure, I had real-world connections. But I would need more than that to get my business off the ground. How would potential clients know about my company if they couldn’t go online and look me up?


How could my friends refer people to my services if I didn’t have a website they could point them to?


Thirteen years later, and my conviction has only gotten stronger. Today, roughly 80% of Americans shop on the internet before making a purchase. Whether you’re selling a service or product, you have to go where your customers are.


In 2019, that means online.

As an author, you need a way for your readers to find your book. More to the point, you need a way to find your readers.


And that’s where social media comes in.


To be findable online, all you need is a website. It’s the hub of your book marketing wheel. For you to find your readers, which is much more effective than waiting for them to discover you, you also need spokes: the social media platforms where your readers spend so much of their time.


Without social media – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and so many others – you’ll be stuck in a closed loop of who you know right now. But with social media as part of your book marketing plan…


You can grow your network, watching it multiply as your message is shared with not only your connections but also theirs.

Each of the social media platforms has something different to offer, and each has its own culture. However, there are three truths for all of them that you must remember before you attempt to market your book online:


1. Listen before you speak. Take time to get to know the culture of whatever platform you’re using. Read posts, follow the big names in your field, and get a feel for how people use the platform before you jump in.


It is okay to lurk.


2. Always be professional and respectful. No matter what privacy settings you have selected, it’s best to assume everything you post on social media is public. That’s why you should never write a post or share a picture of something you wouldn’t want your mother, your boss, your readers, or potential readers to see.


Also remember that publishing is a small world, made even smaller by the internet. If you’re rude in a comment or post, you can’t take it back. You might be able to delete it – but not before others have seen it and made an impression of you.


With publishers now reviewing authors’ social media profiles before signing a contract, make sure you’re protecting your reputation at all times.


3. Do not make selling your book your first or only post. You might say this goes along with the rule of being respectful, but it warrants its own mention. People are turned off by pushy, in-your-face, self-absorbed salespeople. Chances are you are too. So tone down your excitement and think about how you can promote other people too.

Marketing isn’t only about finding readers. You also need to find the gurus in your field, organizations that are influencing readers and writers in your genre, and your fellow authors.


These people are important to your publishing journey for several reasons. They can:


  • Help you stay up to date on trends in your area of writing and the publishing industry

  • Serve as beta readers for your work in progress

  • Become part of your support network (and who couldn’t use more of that?)

  • Connect you to people and information you wouldn’t otherwise know existed

  • Promote your work for you.


To make these relationships work, however, you cannot think of only how these people will benefit you. This connects directly with our point #3 in the previous section.


You need to put time and effort into your connections – just as you would with a real-world friend or business partner. You must give back to the community by offering your time and talents and promoting others.


With this approach to social media, you’ll be rewarded in more than just connections. You’ll also find that your life is enriched and your book is selling better than you thought it would.

Katherine Pickett is the owner of POP Editorial Services, LLC and author of the award-winning book Perfect Bound: How to Navigate the Book Publishing Process Like a Pro, now in its second edition.

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