I absolutely wanted to share this article on how to market your book without social media because first off, I think it’s very brave. But also, it’s a dilemma we all face. We have a finite amount of time to do all the things and social media sucks up a lot of those “things” as we know. Even more startling was how long a post actually “lives” on social media (you’ll see what I mean farther down the page in this article).
I think leaning less on social media for exposure is really smart and I hope you enjoy this article! And even if the idea of scrubbing social media entirely from your list of to-do’s is scary (or even impossible), there’s still a lot of things in this article you could easily implement into your book promotion plan!
How to Market Your Book Without Social Media
By: Carol Michel
I gave up social media in July 2020.
I did what the computer scientist/author Cal Newport calls a 30-day digital detox. I signed out of Facebook (2,200 followers on my business page, 750+ friends), Instagram (1,100 followers) and Twitter (7,000+ followers). I removed the apps from my phone and other digital devices and stopped using them for 30 days.
Those accounts don’t have great numbers, but they aren’t trivial either. Some people thought I was crazy for doing it. Other people were envious and wanted to do it too. Another friend told me she would love to do a digital detox but thought her publisher would freak out since she was just getting ready to promote her new traditionally published book.
Fortunately, since I self-publish my books, no publisher was leaning over my shoulder telling me to get back on social media before I lost my followers.
Instead, after 30 days, I decided I liked my new digital-light world. My next brilliant marketing move was to winnow my Facebook friends down to a manageable 75 people, mostly relatives, and continue to ignore it and Instagram. Then I deleted my Twitter account.
It’s been over a year now, and I have no regrets about junking the big three—Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram—though I keep my accounts on Facebook and Instagram for occasional visits. I also kept LinkedIn, which technically falls under the umbrella of social media. (I never used TikTok and I have a Pinterest account I ignore.)
Social media has a shelf life
Recently I ran across some information about the shelf life of a social media post that has given me the courage to keep moving forward without social media, even though I now have a new book to publicize. Most sources credit an IT services company, Mamsys, for these stats. In ascending order, the shelf lives are:
- Twitter – 18 minutes
- Facebook – 5 hours
- Instagram – 21 hours
- LinkedIn – 24 hours
- Videos – 3 months
- Blog post – 2 years
How I’m promoting my book without social media
We all know that my smug feelings about being one of those people who broke their ties with social media (I refuse to say I was addicted) won’t get the word out about my books. But there are still many avenues on and off the Internet to help drive book sales. Here’s my first dozen.
- An author website. My books are featured on the main page of my author website. I’m searchable on the web and try to have everything anyone needs to know about me and my books on my website
- A blog. I’ve had a blog since 2006, if you don’t count those three posts I attempted in 2004 and 2005. That blog, which I started on Blogger, now lives on my author website under WordPress. I try to update it at least once a week. I also set up MailChimp to send an email to those who subscribe to my blog.
- An email newsletter. Once I gave up social media, I found I finally had the time to write and publish monthly newsletters. I always include something about my books, plus other tidbits about gardening and life. My subscriber base is currently around 375 with a few new subscribers added each month.
- Guest posts. If you don’t have a blog, are just starting a blog, or want to see if you can reach an audience beyond your blog, offer to write guest posts for others. People all over the Internet are looking for good content to share with their readers. Ask them to include a link back to your website.
- A weekly podcast. I record and publish a weekly podcast with another garden writer. It brings in readers and book buyers who might not otherwise find me. What’s the shelf-life of a podcast episode? I’d guess around one week or longer. We get most of our listeners the first week after publishing the episode, and then the number of listeners per week for that episode tapers down quite a bit.
- A YouTube channel. From personal experience, I can tell you that you can waste as much time on YouTube as you can on any social media platform. I have a small (micro) channel with per video views measured in double-digits. Why bother? Shrug. I enjoy making the videos. A video might reach another dozen people.
- Professional organizations. Most writing genres have a professional group you can join which puts you in contact with like-minded writers. I belong to Garden Communicators International (GardenComm) which puts me in contact with hundreds of other writers and garden communicators who are looking for gardening related books to review on their own platforms, which include newspaper columns, magazines, radio shows, podcasts, etc. And when they publish something about my book, they are likely to promote it via their social media channels. I also belong to a local writing group which helps me keep track of local opportunities for promoting my books.
- Guest appearance on a podcast or radio show. Many podcasters rely on guests for content, and radio shows usually like to feature guests on their programs. Everyone is looking for someone interesting to feature. Be interesting. Ask to be a guest and tell them what great information you have to share.
- Review copies of my books. I freely send out review copies of my books to anyone who might have an opportunity to tell someone else about it. I just published a new book this month and have already sent out close to 80 copies, many to people I know through the professional organization, GardenComm. Right along with review copies I occasionally offer to provide copies as giveaway prizes on radio shows and podcast episodes when I’m a guest.
- Speaking. I sell copies of my books when I speak to groups about gardening. I include information on my author website about how to hire me to speak to a group, plus I am registered on a site called Great Garden Speakers where I’m found by people who otherwise might not know anything about me.
- A LinkedIn presence. I remain on LinkedIn and try to keep my professional information up to date. I’ll occasionally post information about my books or other achievements related to my writing.
- Local bookstores. I shop at a local bookstore and the owner is more than willing to purchase copies of my books via IngramSpark to sell in her shop. (I use IngramSpark as my book distributor instead of Amazon.) Another bookstore a bit further away takes a few books on consignment and has hosted me for a book signing, which they promoted. And don’t forget author fairs sponsored by libraries, historical societies, and others where you can set up a table and sell your books.
By now, you may have decided it would be easier to just keep posting and tweeting to get the word out about your next project rather than follow some of the suggestions I’ve listed above.
Or you may be doing many of the items I suggested, plus exhausting yourself by regularly posting and interacting on social media channels.
Regardless of what else you are doing to market your books, ask yourself if that time spent on social media is really getting the word out about those books.
Or would it be better to spend that time on activities that might have a longer shelf life? Only you, with your own stats and observations, can decide if it is.
This article was written by Carol Michel, an award-winning author of five humorous gardening essay books and one children’s book, and originally appeared on Jane Friedman’s blog.
I hope you enjoyed reading this article and discovered new ideas for how to market your book! Let me know down in the comment section which tips you plan on implementing into your own book marketing plan.
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Check out more helpful articles from Jane Friedman’s website. She’s an excellent resource!
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Check out our Podcast for more tips on How to Market Your Book
Infographic: Reader Centric July Observances to Bolster Your Author Branding
How to Market Your Book: 9 Tips You Need to Know For Your First Book
This is an excellent post.
Authors who only have one book to promote have some unique challenges to face and probably have to depend more on social media.
I am overwhelmed with the notion of marketing my memoir on social media, and like the idea of a good author’s website, podcasts, and local bookstore appearances.
I am mostly social media detoxed anyway, and I don’t have Wi-Fi in my house!
My new book is my 7th non-fiction entitled Gambling with the Hidden Epidemic of .STDs: Choice, Risks Consequences. Initially , the traditional and semi-traditional publishers kept most all of the royalties. eg. Tate Publishing. Social media for me is a waste of time and energy. I meet readers at political, health, or educational events and make my readers into representatives for my book. If they belong to an organization church, temple or synagogue then parents can purchase for the people. Prevent the epidemic from spreading -to your neighborhood.
I found this really heartening. Social media just isn’t my thing, and I keep putting off anything to do with it. I’m in the midst of setting up my second website (the first wasn’t very good). I will now concentrate on this, and try for the in-person promotion too. That wasn’t an option for me when my book was self published last year, with the restrictions in place.
I’ve been used to using social media for a long time. So marketing with it made me forget that besides social media, there are still many other ways of marketing. Thank you for your article that helped me not to forget those things.
I just wanted to add as anecdotal evidence that I make a living as a fiction writer without a single social media account. I rely exclusively on various paid advertising venues (BookBub advertising, Amazon Advertising, and paid promotional newsletters) to drive readership. Social media is certainly optional in publishing success, and I’m glad to see that word is getting out.
I’d also highly recommend Cal Newport’s book, *Deep Work*. It’s definitely worth reading.
Great post, and I heartily agree. I am getting ready to promote my 11th cookbook Bitter Sweet: a Wartime Journal and Heirloom Recipes from Occupied Franc, using family documents and recipes. Social media is daunting. I agree. I would alo suggest cold calling indie bookstores around the US that might carry your kind of books. I have, and I have developed a nice little sales channel. Bravo to you!
My specialty is Moroccan cuisine, and Cooking at the Kasbah is also going out of print from Chronicle. They are very hard to get a hold of. Any ideas?