Does Social Media Sell Books?
Updated: Nov 24, 2021
Today, we're going to talk about the 60/30/10 Marketing Plan for Books & exactly what part social media plays in that equation.
We've seen the posts:
"Has anybody actually gotten any book sales being on social media?"
What follows is often a litany of lamentation that, no, social media hadn't resulted in concrete book sales for those particular writers.
Here's the not-so-small thing most of these posters forget when asking if social media results in book sales:
Social media isn't supposed to generate book sales.
That's right. Social media is exactly what it states in the name - a media platformed designed around social interaction. While social media can result in a writer gaining exposure and clout or popularity, it isn't designed to be a sales platform. At best, social media can be described as a sales tool.
"Wait, BC. How is it a sales tool?"
Social media is a sales tool in the following ways:
Creates brand awareness
Builds potential client base
Raises product awareness
Gains writer SME (Subject Matter Expert) authority
Offers client accessibility to writer
Increases writer influence/base
60% of a writer's time on social media should be spent chit-chatting & not mentioning your book/s.
It may seem strange to tell a writer to actively not talk about their books when they want to increase sales, but it's true. Social media is where people come to be social, to share ideas & talk with other people. It isn't where people go to have advertisements constantly in their face or to feel like they are only walking wallets by business owners like writers.
Think about it. How frustrating is it when we pop out to any social media site just to see what the latest news is or chitchat with a long distance acquaintance/friend, only to have to scroll past ads to get to anything we really want to see? If we feel that way, imagine how the average non-business owning consumer feels?
By adhering to not talking about our products or website, etc. 60% of our time on social media, we achieve the following from the above list:
Creates brand awareness - Our brand name is going to be in front of them every time we chat & they might go look at our profile, etc.;
Builds potential client base - If they do look at our profile & we've done our job of branding properly, they will see we're writers with books & they might be readers;
Offers client accessibility to writer - Pretty simple really because people can get ahold of us & having a relationship with a published author is pretty freaking cool;
Gains writer SME (Subject Matter Expert) authority - Authors can talk about anything they want & most of us talk writing because it's what we know. Talking (correctly) about writing/books/etc. shows potential readers we know our stuff, which means we probably wrote a pretty good book;
Increases writer influence/base - But writers are people, too. Not surprisingly, we know about a lot of topics since we research so many things to create good stories. That means we have a lot of different people to engage with on topics outside of reading. Just because a person isn't actively looking for book content on social media doesn't mean they don't read. If we spread ourselves out to non-reading/writing subjects, we put ourselves in front of these people who could become potential readers.
"So I shouldn't ever try to sell my book on social media, BC?"
Of course not. Sales have a place in social media as a valid form of advertisement. They should just be approached two-fold: 30% & 10%.
30% of a writer's time on social media should be engaged in soft sales.
Soft selling is a form of sales that is less like a sales pitch & more like a casual mention. It isn't so much pressing for a sale as it is planting the seed a reader might want to buy something from us.
For example, we engage in a conversation online with someone who posted something along the lines of "I love karaoke! Anybody know of any cool places to go near...?"
Just so happens that we are avid karaoke-goers. So we answer "Hey, I know a few places near there I've gone to before. I researched them writing my book Karaoke Jane & kept going because I liked the places. Try..."
See what we did there? We mentioned we have a book out, even slipped out the name, that is related to something of interest to the person. But we didn't add a link to the book, describe it, or anything that could be considered a sales pitch. It's a casual name drop moment with no pressure. Then we wait to see what the response is. If we get something back like "G8! TY. Cool about the book." then we drop the subject or just stick to chatting about karaoke as a common interest. But if we get something more like "G8! TY. You write? Cool. What's it about?" Then we have a green light to drop a link to the book & talk more about it.
Now, let's talk about sales pitches.
10% of a writer's time on social media should be spent advertising.
With the above statement, we need to discuss the difference between having an ad campaign or posting a graphic about our latest book being available & posting cringey Buy My Book! spam.
There is nothing wrong with starting a social media ad campaign. Just like there isn't anything wrong the occasional post that our latest work is available & where people can buy it. What is bad social media/brand policy is shoving our book sale sheet info down everyone's throat we interact with.
It's also important to note that 10% of our time actively selling to our social media
followers isn't even going to be all about our books. Remember that we want to use social media to build our SME (Subject Matter Expert) authority, too. One thing we are definitely subject matter experts on are books. So some of that time should be spent not only promoting our own work but promoting other writers' books. By doing so, we achieve a couple of things:
Gains writer SME (Subject Matter Expert) authority - Readers will come back to us for book recommendations;
Increases writer influence/base - Most writers are appreciative of anyone who supports them & usually try to support right back. This can lead to expanding our brand awareness & expanding our influence/base;
Builds goodwill & trust - Not only with other writers (although that's a cool benefit) but with readers. Folks like nice people & often like to reward them for being nice. A nice writer who promotes others over themselves can find a rabidly loyal fanbase as a result.
Another part of this 10% we didn't really touch on but should make note of is spending some of that time planning our marketing schedule, as well as reviewing & adjusting it if needed. Marketing trends change rapidly, so our marketing approach/schedule needs monitored & adjusted frequently.
Some writers will argue that writing our next book should be part of our marketing plan/formula. And, to a degree, they are right. More quality products available will help increase sales. However, writing the next book is usually reserved for my Writing Plan 60/30/10 formula. Want an article about that? Drop me a comment below.
BC Brown is a hybrid published author with 20 years of experience in writing, marketing, & publishing. She prefers to write in the urban fantasy & fantasy genres but has published works in contemporary fiction, women's lit, & playwriting. She publishes writing-related videos on Youtube & streams live writing content on both Youtube & Twitch.
BC has an urban fantasy series, The Metaphysical Chronicles, available & a contemporary fiction novel, Karaoke Jane, available. She is an active member of the Central Phoenix Writer's Association in Arizona where she lives with her wife, 4 cats, & german shepherd mix dog.