Get It Right: Social Media For Authors

The world is digital. Short of an apocalypse scenario, there is no going back. Authors who don’t utilize social media marketing to promote their writing will become extinct. But there is a fine line between using social media and using social media well to market.

Hard Vs. Soft

If you know anything about marketing, there are two types of selling: hard and soft.

Hard sales are those annoying kiosks at the mall. Those sales associates who get right in your path and offers you all sorts of free things for a minute of your time. It isn’t enough that their product is on display enormously. It isn’t enough to be available. They have to be in. your. face.

That is hard selling. And that is a mistake a lot of authors, new and experienced, make when using social media to market their books. There are several examples of how authors use hard selling in one of my previous articles, Twitter Twits.

Soft sales are the meandering, not directly related to a sale offerings. Like the free song download offered by your favorite artist. The singer hopes that by giving away something small for free they can entice you to buy the whole album. Notice there is always a “click here for more” option on your device at the end of every free song? That isn’t a “click here for more free stuff” option; that is a “click here for more stuff I’m selling” link.

Soft selling is trickier and, sometimes, has less direct results. There are always people who are only interested in whatever can be obtained for free. Those are lost avenues and you shouldn’t be concerned with them. They will always be the ‘only free stuff’ people and won’t ever become your buyers. 

To know how well your soft selling is working, you can track the effectiveness of your soft sales with any number of sources like,, for example.

Social media approach.

Using social media for marketing does take a little bit of thought. But what it needs more of is a whole lot of genuine.

You must be genuine in your approach to social media as an author. Like life, social media is a give and take process. If you want people (potential readers or other authors), you must be willing to give almost twice as much as you take.

For example, on my Facebook page, I promote other authors and artists with my “Pimp A Creative” posts. Was I asked to promote people through those means? Nope. Did that person write or do something I thought was creative, entertaining, and possibly informative? Yep. So I ‘pimped’ them.

Why do I call it “pimping?” Well, to be honest, like any good pimp I do hope to get something out of that non-me promotion. However it can be any number of things I want to earn: give my readers something, good will, establish a relationship, catch their followers’ eyes, build a correlation between their brand and mine, and the list goes on. What’s most important is that unlike most actual pimps, I am genuinely invested in their information I’m promoting (i.e. I took the time to read it, liked it, and thought it should be shared.) Disingenuous pimping would be piggybacking directly off someone else’s established name or information without bothering to at least give them the courtesy of my click-through. 

Social media timeline.

A mistake many new authors make is not bothering with social media until the week or two before their book releases. Building relationships and establishing a presence online takes time and crafting. I discuss it in more detail in my article, So You Think You Can Author? (Part 1).

To use social media well, you have to invest a little time into it before your book is released. Just as importantly, you have to remember to maintain that investment while your book is out and when you no longer have a ‘new’ book out. It’s just as phony to take the time to craft relationships online, release a book, and then drop promoting others in favor of your own promotion. 

Remember, the key to online is to give almost twice as much as you take. If you ask another writer to submit one guest article for your blog, be willing to offer them two articles from you for theirs. For every one “ad” you post about your book, post two other authors’ “ads” as well. 

Using social media is easy. All it takes is a little common sense and a genuine approach. 

BC Brown is the author of three novels and has participated in multiple short story anthologies. Having committed almost every ‘bad deed’ in the book of ‘How to Be An Author’, she now strives to educate others through humor and simple instruction.
Books: A Touch of Darkness ◘ A Touch of Madness ◘ Sister Light

Upcoming: Karaoke Jane (2016)                                                 

How To Start Book Marketing Six Months BEFORE You Publish

How To Start Book Marketing Six Months BEFORE You Publish

The End. Now what?

Every writer rejoices in typing THE END even though they know their work has only started. An ending is nothing more than a new beginning. For IMAGE: A man frowning dramatically and expressing concern. CAPTION: The End. Now what? If you haven't started the process of book marketing months before finishing your manuscript, you've already lost out on sales. BC Brown, author and social media consultantmany writers, the incredible skill and talent it takes to write is nothing when compared to book marketing. And, admittedly, many of us are too wrapped up in what it takes to even get to those all important words THE END to think about what comes next. But the truth of the matter is that if you haven’t started the process of book marketing months before finishing your manuscript, then you’ve already started losing out on sales. In this article we’ll break down exactly what it takes to market your book months in advance of the actual release date. And we’ll do it without losing our minds.

Writing is hard work.

My article So You Think You Can…Writer? describes the very special personality type it takes to be a writer – a masochist. A writer is someone who sits down to write knowing that no matter how hard it is to get the words to flow, the scenes to match up, or those damned plot holes filled, the writing is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. The real work comes after the writing.

Editing, revisions, rewrites, more editing; critique groups, critique partners, beta readers; second round editing, revisions, rewrites. But that’s just all writing still, right?

Sure. Except while you’re doing all that (and don’t forget, you’re probably already logging words on the next project burning in your brain), you’re also gearing up for publication. 

Vetting cover artists and approving designs, book formatting and layout – those are still necessary parts of writing and editing, getting ready for ultimate publication. But those are still only the visible parts of the berg. If this is your first book, you probably aren’t working with a ready base of fans. Unless you’ve managed to roll another fan base into your publishing career. You need to build anticipation for your book release. Book sales can be made or broken depending on the work you put into this critical step.

Anticipation to launch.

Book marketing should start as early as possible to ensure your title has as much exposure to the public as manageable. If you’re an unknown author (meaning you don’t have some sort of built in fan base of more than close friends and family) then you need to capitalize on as much pre-planning and prep work as possible. Let’s look at what you need to do no later than six months before publication.

Set a budget.

Publishing a book isn’t necessarily expensive, but it isn’t free either. Website design, hosting, and domain name; book marketing materials, such as business cards, bookmarks, signage, organizational items, and eventually print copies of your books. Then there are always the basic necessities for everyone writer (and human being): housing, electricity/internet, and food.

So now you’re writing, editing, reviewing artwork, discussing layout and formatting, designing promotional materials, and designing websites. But, so far, you still haven’t started actually building anticipation for the book. The good news is that the foundations you lay now during the first book will reduce the work you have to do during promotion of future books.

Consider your timeline.

Building anticipation ideally starts at six months to one year before launch. On average, most authors seem to stick with the six month mark and do pretty well for themselves.  Like writing, there is a tremendous amount of research that goes into pre-promotion. That research will take a little set up on your part, but once you have done it every step of book marketing will be easy (no matter what project you’re working to create buzz for).

Get to know your media.

Newspapers, TV, radio, podcasts, specialty magazines, websites and blogs, social media. All are avenues for marketing your book. Now is the time to compile your list of media opportunities.


  • publication names,
  • call signs or letters for radio and TV,
  • websites, and
  • bloggers, hosts, reporters, and reviewers
    • phone numbers and emails,
    • notes about their target audiences,
    • distribution areas and circulation numbers.

Know your bookstores and area events.

Find out names, location, managers and marketing person for each bookstore plus the best phone numbers and email addresses for each. Don’t forget to pay social visits to the stores you want to be able to call in the future to arrange signings. Make note of other authors they have scheduled, how they promote, what their layout and primary sales are invested into or geared toward. Having these little details ready on hand when you want to schedule an event is worth its weight in the time it will take you to compile it.

Build your online presence.

Reserving a custom domain name (Pro-tip: create a custom domain branded to you and not the title of your book) and building the website doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. There are several inexpensive domain hosts you can purchase for next to nothing that also come with easy-to-use template website design. Tying a blog in with your website adds visibility, future ability to cross promote with other authors and creatives, plus a boost in search engine results every time you blog. 

Social media.

Many authors are daunted still about using social media for promotion. I recommend a minimum of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+. Each are free and require minimum time to establish and maintain. Just remember to keep your interactions genuine. And above all else avoid the hard sale approach using social media. Social media should always remain about relationships and not sales. If you’re still unsure how to use social media to promote your books, take a look at three articles on using Twitter here and here and here.

Book sites.

There are specific social media sites geared entirely toward books and readers. Goodreads, Shelfari, Armchair Interviews, AuthorNation are a few. Naturally, if you’re self publishing through Amazon, you’ll want to make sure you have an author page established there as well. Amazon author pages give you the added advantage of having a blog that automatically sends updates to everyone who bought your book through Amazon.

Whew! Now that wasn’t so hard, right?

All of this is a good way to start building anticipating for your upcoming release without feeling so overwhelmed your head explodes. Remember that while this may read like a lot of work, you have 30 full days to compile this information. Pro-tip: To build my ‘6 months until launch’ plan, I used 20 minute Pomodoro sprints each day until I had everything I needed to head into the next month which you can read here.

Hopefully this break down makes it feel much less overwhelming. It’s not easy work, however starting your book marketing six months prior to publication gives you a solid base for anticipation of sales.

Announce Image: REdhaired woman playing the piano with a maniacal smile. Several book and e-reader cover images and the Phoenix Comic Fest 2018 logo and dates.BC Brown is the author of three novels and has participated in multiple short story anthologies. Having committed almost every ‘bad deed’ in the book of How To Be An Author, she now strives to educate others through humor and simple instruction, as well as use her celebrity to advocate for others.

Books: A Touch of Darkness ◘ A Touch of Madness ◘ Sister Light (out of print)

Anthologies: Fracas: A Collection of Short Friction ◘ Quixotic: Not Everyday Love Stories ◘ A Chimerical World: Tales of the Seelie Court