There are a whole lot of people out there in internet-land trying to help you become a self-publishing millionaire. The vast majority of them have one thing in common. They are trying to make money out of you. Indeed judging by just how many of them there are out there, one of the best ways to make money out of self-publishing would seem to be to offer to help people make money out of self-publishing ‘for a small fee‘. Which says a great deal about human nature in many ways, both about wide-eyed writers dreaming of success, and the buzzards circulating to feast off them. The promises are always large, the fee always small, and the results generally are negligible. As a wide-eyed writer myself, I know of what I speak. So in this post and some more in the future, I am going to try to offer a little advice and help to my fellow writers, based on my experience in self-publishing. I have been at it a while, so while my experience may be coloured by my own successes and failures, it will at least be utterly honest, and I promise none of this will involve a small fee…
Social Media Strategies
So, first off, if anyone advertising services to you claim to offer ‘successful’ social media strategies, and access to 2000000 Facebook users (or Twitter feeds or whatever). Don’t. Just don’t. I know it sounds tempting, particularly when they are advertising on ‘Fiverr’ and its only five dollars. I know they offer proof that they are members of the groups they claim to be members of, and show headers with their Twitter following. I know…. but just don’t…
The first thing you need to know about social media strategies is that while they are excellent things to have if your advertising the new blockbuster movie. For something you have self-published and are looking to build an audience for, you need a more focused personal approach. But more importantly, you need to know how social media works. By which I do not mean how to update your Facebook status, or send a tweet, but how it actually works. The reason being, it is very easy to get drawn into the idea that just because a Facebook group has 30’000 members that by posting to it you’re reaching 30’000 people. It doesn’t, you won’t, and neither more to the point will those ‘friendly’ people offering to post for you, ‘for a small fee‘. What actually happens is a post may appear on someone’s feed if they have notifications for the group turned on, and a relatively high percentage won’t have. Even then it depends on algorithms deciding if your post to that group is going to appear on someone’s feed. Which depends on how often they look at and respond to posts from that group. As for people visiting the group, if its one of the ‘author advertise here‘ groups that proliferate Facebook it’s a safe bet the only ones who actually visit the group itself are authors looking to post there. Facebook pages are a better bet, if you make your own, but again now many see a post on a page is always far fewer than those who follow the page. Which in fairness Facebook will tell you when it informs you how many viewers it has reached. You can, of course, boost a post on Facebook if you pay ‘for a small fee’. Though Facebook will direct these ads at your page followers first, then the wider public of people interested in your kind of post. Which is why one of the first people to see your boosted post appear on their feed will be you… It will get to a wider audience, though, and more effectively than posting on 30 or 40 ‘author advertise here‘, groups.
You can drop a post on multiple ‘author advertise here‘ groups twice a day, posting in the for sale posts as well general feed, and do so for months on end, and achieve little. This is not to say you’ll gain nothing. I have sold books this way and indeed met some kind readers through it who have posted reviews and enjoyed the books. But if you do take this approach then accept you will be disappointed with the results, and for the sake of all that is good and holy vary the posts, have more than one hook. It is amazing to me how many people will post exactly the same advert for their book every day for months on twenty to thirty groups and somehow expect a positive reaction. What happens is people glaze over, they have seen your post so often they cease to hold a spark of interest.
Everything I have said above about Facebook goes double for Twitter. Twitter is the ultimate in disposable narrow band social media. So to make the point again the ‘for a small fee‘ what you get from those who claim they will tweet about your book is rarely if ever worth the ‘small fee’, and importantly you can do all that yourself. Though I would advise letting yourself fall down the rabbit hole of social media. More than one writer has found themselves spending more time trying to sell a book than writing the next one. Indeed that is the point where finding good social media people becomes worth that ‘small fee’.
After all that bad news, here is some good. There are people out there who will help you with social media, there are websites where the words ‘for a small fee‘ never come up, or when they do its worth it. The best example I have found is Readers Gazette, but there are others. Readers Gazette will list your book and tweet about it with a nice little professional ad’s for nothing every couple of days for a year after you register your book. (like the example below which is a link to one of my novels there). Frankly, I can not say enough good about them. Good reads equally are free to use, and an excellent way to interact with readers. In both cases, they link into Amazon Kindle, host pages for you, and offer ways to advertise when and if you put your books on sale with Amazon. There are a lot of others, but I recommend those two as a place to start. They are both free and offer free exposure to readers.
Interaction is the key word, it is always the key word. If you use social media just to post adverts then you’re missing the biggest use for it. Connecting with your readers and finding new ones, connecting with reviewers, bloggers, interviewers and other writers is what it is all about. An endless stream of adverts for your novel will not get you far. Engaging with the community is worth more than all those ‘for a small fee‘ options out there. If you take the time to look at what other people have out there, help others to spread the word about the own books, write reviews, share posts, retweet, and like stuff. Then people will reciprocate. If you want to reach people through social media, use the community, but do so by been a part of the community. What you give out will come back to you, retweets of your posts because you retweet theirs. Shares on Facebook because you share theirs. The more you engage with others in the community, the more rewards social media offer the self-publisher, and for that, there is not ‘a small fee.’ Engaging with the community, that is priceless…
Useful links for the self-publisher
second post in this series
Links to my own social media, by all means, connect with me on them.