So You Think Social Media Won’t Sell Your Books?

sell your books

Every indie author hears the message, “You have to use social media to sell your books.”

But is it true?

In any language, social media is the queen of discoverability. But – and this is a huge but – does social media marketing sell your books?

Hmm. Let’s consider this question.

If we look at great literature, Ernest Hemingway, Virginia Woolf, and even Miguel de Cervantes, the author of the first novel, we already know that they succeeded in publishing.

They didn’t have to worry about Tweeting regularly or posting status updates on a Facebook author page twice a day.

It’s a silly issue to consider, isn’t it, since social media wasn’t around in 1610 (in Cervantes’ case)? All of the above authors rose to fame without the benefit of what’s considered – in today’s world – as marketing requirements.

If we were to look at Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train andInto the Water, I can’t tell at this point whether Goodreads or other social media fueled her success, or whether it was just the book that caused her book to skyrocket toward financial success with social media helping along the way.

However, she was the 2015 Goodreads Choice Awards winner, which readers vote for, so on Goodreads, she had a considerable presence, and that must have played a role.

There are several commercially successful authors today that according to a HootSuite article, use social media to further their engagement with readers. They are Margaret Atwood, Paulo Coelho, Stephen Fry, and Neil Gaiman. I would add Hugh Howie to that list and Isabel Allende, who has an excellent Facebook page that she updates herself.

Okay, this is what I think: Neil Gaiman, Hugh Howie, and Isabel Allende, all bestselling authors, use social media to further their success. Hugh Howie is, I believe, the only author on this list who self-publishes.

Then we can look at another group of authors – Joanna Penn, Mark Dawson, and Nick Stephenson – who are also popular and sell hundreds of thousands of books as self-publishers. They not only make money off of their book sales, but they also sell courses to help other indie authors find similar levels of success. Hasn’t social media played a huge role in their success?

If your listen to Joanna Penn’s podcast, you know that she credits a lot of her early success to social media, and especially Twitter.

So, let’s end this diatribe of mine and look at our original question: Does social media marketing sell your books?

Five Tips to Help You Sell More Books

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10 Social Media Tips for Indie Authors

10 Social Media Tips for Indie Authors

You self-published your book (whew!), offered your book for presale, celebrated your launch with champagne, and sold books to everyone you know.

Perhaps you’re even blogging regularly.

Reaching out to the press, contacting book clubs, and reading at bookstores are great ways to promote your book offline. But to reach potential readers across the U.S. and around the world, you need to use social media.

Are you silently screaming, “Argh!” You’re not alone.

Like other writers, you want to get going on your next book and spending time in front of the computer posting on social media, pinning images to Pinterest, or snapping photos for Instagram may seem, well, like a bit of a waste of time.

The thought of creating a social media presence can seem overwhelming to indie authors, but it doesn’t have to be. All you need are 30 minutes a day (really!) and these tips.

10 Social Media Tips Every Author Needs to Know

  • Decide who your intended audience is and use the social media networks that your readers are most likely to use. For example, if you write young adult fiction, you’ll want to have a presence on Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram. If your readers are primarily women, create accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. When you wrote your book, you had your readers in mind, right? Now think about that reader and where he or she is most likely to hang out online. Knowing where your audience likes to hang out online will save you time. Long gone are the days when social media experts touted the wisdom of being everywhere. It’s impossible to be on every social media network, too time-consuming, and quite frankly, a waste of your precious time. For more information on where to find your reader demographics online, turn to Pew Research Center.
  • With more than 2 billion people now using Facebook, it’s hard to ignore this social media behemoth. Creating a profile (profiles are for people, and pages are for products, books, authors, businesses, and services) on Facebook is your first step. I always used to recommend that authors have a Facebook page as well. In the old days – say about six years ago – 36% of your fans would see what you posted on your Facebook author page. These days, that percentage is down to 1%. What’s an author to do? You can still have a Facebook author page, but you need to understand that you’ll need to learn and spending money on Facebook advertising. The other option for you is to create a Facebook Group. To learn about how to start and grow a Facebook Group, read this post I wrote for
  • Allocate 30 minutes a day to your social media marketing. In the mornings, spend 15 minutes curating information for your social media posts by scanning your friends and followers’ posts and using one or more of these websites and resources:

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Meet Romantic Suspense Author Sharon Hamilton

Sharon Hamilton is absolutely awesome in this video. There’s no other way to describe it. We talk about how she got into writing about Navy Seals, how she learned to write, why she writes romance, how she developed a street team, how she launches her books, and so much more.

Although Sharon shyly says that she “could be doing more” I can’t imagine an author more hardworking than Sharon. She manages her social media and a Facebook group, sells numerous items on her website, and even writes serials in teams with other romantic suspense authors.

She sells ebooks, paperbacks, serials, audiobooks, and boxed sets.

Don’t let Sharon’s humility fool you; although she is humble – I know Sharon so I can attest to that – she’s a powerhouse romantic suspense writer. In fact, she’s a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who has written 32 books.

Here are some of my notes from our recent discussion:

Sharon’s Early Career as a Writer

  • Sharon began to write after her house burned down in 2008. She was living in an apartment mostly by herself while her husband stayed on their property to oversee the rebuilding of their home. She had always wanted to write a book, but as a Realtor, she felt she didn’t have the time.
  • After reading several books in that apartment, on December 15, 2008, she started to write her first novel. By the end of 30 days, she’d written a 90,000-word novel. After finishing the book, she realized she never wanted to work as a Realtor again.
  • She then joined numerous writing classes online – 70 in all. She learned how to write by editing that initial manuscript 57 times. She spent a lot of time and money on that first book. Then she began to understand what was necessary to write a compelling novel and after realizing she liked to write romance novels, she joined the Romance Writers of America association.
  • She then joined two or three different blogging groups. One was a group of authors who wrote romance, and another team wrote in various genres. Everyone in the groups would share each others’ blog posts online, and her following grew.

Why Sharon Hamilton Writes about Navy Seals

  • Sharon just completed Sleeper Seals. A group of authors who all write military romantic suspense novels decided to coordinate a central theme and release a serial together. Her novel was book five in the series.
  • There is one commander in the series, and each author writes about a different character. She said it’s an excellent way to cross-market books. Several of the books hit the USA Today list. She thinks it’s a solid concept in selling books.
  • Central to Sharon’s books are characters who are Navy Seals. She does that because when her son graduated high school, he decided to become a Navy Seal. Once he passed the training, Sharon learned a lot about the Seals and being a Seal family. In her stories, she uses a lot of the information she has acquired about the Navy Seal community.

Street Teams and Facebook Groups

She developed a street team when a reader came up to her and created a Facebook author page for Sharon. Then the same reader helped Sharon build a street team. The street team became so large that Sharon encouraged many of them to join a Facebook group she calls the Rockin’ Readers.

Sharon eventually streamlined her street team to just eight to ten people who share information about her books. Her Facebook group will occasionally help her post information about her books. She’s had the Facebook group for about six years, and it has more than 500 members. The only rule of the group is that the only books promoted are Sharon’s.

She thinks that the street team and Facebook group are the best way to get the word out about her books. Having a connection with the fans is integral to her success, and she believes any author’s success. Her fans find Sharon.

Sharon also sponsors contests from time to time. To the winners, she sends a variety of t-shirts, books, patches, dog tags, and red wristbands.

Sharon uses eClincher and MeetEdgar to schedule her social media posts. She has 35,000 Likes on her page.

Newsletters, Contests and BookBub Ads

  • She also has a newsletter that goes out once a month. Her readers receive information about new books and excerpts that couldn’t get otherwise. She used to do Facebook parties once a month but believes they are a passing thing.
  • She sponsors a contest on WriterSpace once a month. She also does BookBub ads for pre-orders and new book launches but hasn’t don’t a BookBub promotion yet.
  • She spends more on BookBub ads than anything else. She recently sold 10,000 of her boxed sets with her latest BookBub ad versus the 50 boxed sets a day she would typically sell without the advertisement.
  • She also does Facebook ads using her book trailers. Those generate a lot of interest.
  • She encourages people to follow her on BookBub and Amazon, so even if they lose touch with her on Facebook, her readers will get notices about her books from other venues.
  • Sharon has discovered that her readers like to have boxed sets at a discounted price. She finds that the boxed sets don’t rob from sales of the individual books.
  • The first book in her series Accidental Seal has been free for three years. Once readers read the free book, they become interested in the rest of the series and hopefully those readers will read her other books as well. A series really works, she says. She also bundles her audio books.

The next webinar will be on February 6 at 10 am PST / 1 pm EST and feature Ricardo Fayet from Reedsy. We’ll be discussing book marketing and Facebook ads. Stay tuned for more information about that webinar.

Frances CaballoAuthor of this blogFrances Caballo is an author and social media strategist and manager for writers. She’s a regular speaker at the San Francisco Writers Conference. In addition, she’s a contributing writer at, and blogger and Social Media Expert for BookWorks. She’s written several social media books including the 2nd edition of Social Media Just for Writers and The Author’s Guide to Goodreads. Her focus is on helping authors surmount the barriers that keep them from flourishing online, building their platform, finding new readers, and selling more books. Her clients include authors of every genre and writers’ conferences. Not sure how you’re doing online? Sign up for my free email course.

Practical tips for marketing your books on the social web






Feeling Introverted? No Problem. Read These 10 Tips

Feeling Introverted? No Problem.

I’ve been introverted all my life, although friends who know me well don’t believe it. But it’s true. I don’t like going to parties where I don’t recognize people, although once I’m there, I do tend to have fun.

But the thought of being in a room of people I don’t know can, at times, inhibit me from going out. Even being in a room of people where I’ll know a few people can be intimidating.

Do you ever feel the same way?

If you’re a writer, you probably understand how I feel since most writers tend to be introverts. How else can we bear to spend hours by ourselves writing? We enjoy our own company, or at least the company of our fictional characters.

Many years ago I held a job that forced me to become less introverted. As the development director of a large nonprofit, I had to talk with all the donors and their guests for an evening of fundraising. After a few sips of champagne, I was usually able to step into a crowd of people and greet them and make sure they enjoyed their evening.

Even though I appeared outgoing for the night, the next day I would stay at home and read a book. Introverts get energized by being alone whereas extroverts get energized by being with people.

But I digress.

As a child, my introverted nature served me well.

  1. I always won spelling bees (because I read a lot).
  2. My writing (and reading) skills surpassed those of my sister, who was three years older.
  3. I excelled at school.

But as I grew up, being introverted made life more difficult for me.

  1. I had difficulty making new friends.
  2. In college, I would rather read and study than face a room filled with people I didn’t know at a party.

There have been other benefits and disadvantages to being introverted as well but, I share these to make a point: Being introverted may cause you to feel uncomfortable at times but, it’s also an asset. How else would you finish your books?

As a writer, you need to break out of your introverted nature enough so that you can market the books you spend so much time in solitude writing and perfecting.

In my case, I stuttered as a child, which probably pushed me further up the introverted spectrum. But by the time I reached high school and entered the workforce, my stuttering was behind me.

My career as a journalist forced me to talk with new people all the time, and that in turn made social situations more comfortable. By the time I published my first book, I wasn’t an extrovert, but I was more comfortable pretending to be an extrovert when needed.

This is exactly what you need to do. When appropriate, such as at book readings and signings and when appearing as a guest at book club gatherings, relax and don’t worry about what you’ll say. Let your words flow as you pretend that your closest friends surround you.

There have been studies that indicate that social media is good for introverts because it enables people who love to stay at home get out into the world – even if it’s a virtual experience – and meet and interact with new people every day.

There is a caveat to this. Pretending to be an extrovert should not be interpreted as an excuse for constantly promoting your books on social media. Instead, it’s an invitation to form relationships with writers and readers worldwide and support each other in promoting what you write.

11 Exercises for Introverted Writers

These exercises are for writers working on their marketing platform.

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Indie Author Weekly Update – January 12, 2018

Indie Author Weekly Update

This week’s Indie Author Update focuses primarily on book marketing. Be sure to read the posts by Dave Chesson on Kindle keywords and Joel Friedlander’s take on the release of Fire and Fury.

5 Reasons Goodreads is a Book Marketing Staple by Penny Sansevieri: “Goodreads has mixed reviews at best when I chat book marketing strategies with authors at conferences, but I really want 2018 to be about maximizing on YOU, on using what makes you unique to sell more books, and Goodreads is a great platform for achieving that goal.”

Trapped in the Fire and Fury of the World’s Greatest Book Launch by Joel Friedlander: “Like you, I’ve been trapped in what seems like a book marketing fantasy gone mad. Look, I’ve been publishing and marketing books for a long time, and enjoy watching the really big book launches that still dot the cultural calendar. Politicians launching much-awaited books like Bill Clinton’s 1000 +page My Life was a pretty big deal. Every book launch by Tim Ferris uses tactics no one else has seen. Guy Kawasaki has conducted numerous launches for his best selling books.”

How To Choose the Right Kindle Keywords by Dave Chesson: “Whether you’re a famous author or this is your first book, Kindle Keywords are an important part of any book marketing strategy. Kindle keywords allow your book to be discovered by hungry shoppers on the world’s largest book market, Amazon, even while you sleep. They help make it so that you get sales and get discovered without having to do major marketing. Plain and simple, they are important.”

Authors’ New Year’s Resolutions for Marketing Their Books from BookBub: “It’s a brand new year, which is a great time to get a fresh start on goals. You may already have personal New Year’s resolutions (exercise more, write more, etc.), but you might want to consider setting specific book sales and marketing goals.”

Six Social Media Marketing Tips For First-Time Authors from BookBaby: “If you’re looking for readership and engagement, finishing your book is the first step. These social media marketing tips can help you frame your approach to the process of promoting yourself and your work online.”

Bring Social Media to Your Blog with Embedded Posts  from by Frances Caballo: “Embedding your social media posts on your blog or elsewhere on your website can benefit your website in several ways. First, you can demonstrate your social proof to your blog visitors. In other words, they can see your number of shares, retweets, and Likes you’ve accumulated.”

Quote of the Week

Ernest Hemingway quote

Frances CaballoAuthor of this blogFrances Caballo is an author and social media strategist and manager for writers. She’s a regular speaker at the San Francisco Writers Conference. In addition, she’s a contributing writer at, and blogger and Social Media Expert for BookWorks. She’s written several social media books including the 2nd edition of Social Media Just for Writers and The Author’s Guide to Goodreads. Her focus is on helping authors surmount the barriers that keep them from flourishing online, building their platform, finding new readers, and selling more books. Her clients include authors of every genre and writers’ conferences. Not sure how you’re doing online? Sign up for my free email course.

Practical tips for marketing your books on the social web







Update: How to Host a Goodreads Giveaway

Goodreads Giveaway Update

Goodreads giveaways are always free to list, that is if you don’t count the cost of your paperbacks and the postage you use to send your books to the winners.

Why even engage in a Goodreads giveaway? I’ve found that I always reap a bump in sales. Besides, giveaways increase awareness of your titles and you as an author, and let’s admit it; giveaways are popular.

Host Giveaways of Your Books

 Contests are easy to create and run on Goodreads because Goodreads is a partner in the endeavor. Follow these steps:

Navigate to the arrow next to Browse, click it, and select Giveaways. On the right column, you’ll find a green link that says List a Giveaway.


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