How to Market Your Books Like a Pro

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Market Like a Pro by Frances CaballoDo you worry that you’ll either never have the time or the inclination to become the social media expert you aspire to be to successfully market your books?

Do you feel as though you’re so behind that you’ll never catch up?

Are you hoping privately that social media will just go away so you’ll never have to learn it?

Or do you believe that it’s useless to learn social media since it’s always changing, and you’ll always be behind?

Well, guess what? Social media isn’t going away. Yes, it will continue to evolve, but it’s here to stay. And that’s awesome because social media levels the marketing playing field between traditionally published authors and independently published authors.

Even though you’ll need to keep up with some of the changes over time, that’s no reason to despair. After all, all the changes won’t apply to your book marketing efforts.

My Entry into the World of Social Media

If you assume that I was an early adopter of social media, jumping on new networks as they arrived on the scene, mastering them easily, well, you’re wrong.

Here’s what happened.

I was working as a reporter and after covering a particularly tragic story, I decided to get out of the news business.

Initially, I transitioned into the nonprofit sector. But instead of being on the front lines helping people, as I did when I first graduated from college, I decided to work in public relations and fund development.

My experience as a reporter served me well.

I spent my days writing grants and annual reports, meeting with wealthy donors, and overseeing fundraising events and planned giving seminars. It was fun – sometimes – and stressful.

Eventually, I left the nonprofit sector to start a consulting business helping nonprofits to raise money and handle crisis communications situations. (Working with a Catholic nonprofit gave me a lot of experience in handling crises.)

To market my new business, I knew that I needed to learn social media.

Well, guess what? That’s when I fell in love with social media. Okay, the word love is a tad extreme. But I really liked it. And still do.

Let me explain.

I was always the type of person who would take on a demanding job, spend the first year overwhelmed, and then spend subsequent years bored.

With social media, I discovered a field that was never boring. It’s a dynamic field where nothing stays the same for long.

So I decided to combine social media with my other love, writing, authors and books.

Even though I had a huge learning curve, I never doubted that I could do it.

How I Learned Social Media

I started my foray into social media gradually.

FacebookOf course, I started with a Facebook profile. I’d had one earlier but for some reason deleted it. So I returned to Facebook and focused on learning it.

Check out these two posts: 

Are Facebook Pages Hard? You Bet! 13 Tips to Help You Attract and Keep Facebook Fans 

Do Authors Really Need a Facebook Page?

After I wrote my first book, I also added a Facebook page.

Then I jumped on LinkedIn and joined way too many groups. I remember being in a blogging group and diligently leaving comments on everyone’s blogs.

Be sure to read Ultimate How-To Guide on LinkedIn for Writers 

I didn’t know then that leaving comments on a blog about Indian food and other random topics would do nothing to build my brand.

Yeah, I wasted a lot of time. But hey, I was a newbie with a lot to learn.

Then I asked a friend if she was on Twitter. She was, and she advised me to join it too.

Be sure to read these two posts: 

10 Things Authors Should Never Do on Twitter and How Not to Sell Books on Twitter

And What to Do Instead 

I groaned and then reluctantly signed up. My first mistake was to use my company name and logo. I didn’t realize then that people needed to connect with me, not a logo.

Then I noticed that people were using Twit Validation. For some reason, I thought this was a good idea.

That was my second mistake. You can’t grow your tribe if you erect a barrier that prevents people from seeing your tweets and learning about you.

My account went nowhere.

btn_google+_dark_normal_ios@3xWhen Google+ came on the scene, I jumped on immediately. Here too, I was such an inexperienced newbie but in my defense, most people were.

New to Google+?  Social Media for Authors Podcast: How to Conquer Google+

I followed too many people randomly instead of growing a reader base. Then when some experts said that Google+ failed as an experiment, I stopped posting on this network.

I have since resumed posting diligently and even joined some groups, but I lost ground by ignoring this platform for too long.

Pinterest-badge-144pxThen I joined Pinterest, RebelMouse (I no longer use it), Pheed (I ditched it), Medium (I rarely use it), Instagram, and Periscope.

Not sure how to maximize your efforts on Pinterest? Read this: Pinterest Tips for Authors (Plus 57 Pinboard Ideas)

But this took time, effort and a lot of dedication to reading a lot of blogs about social media.

I’ve made my mistakes and gotten frustrated with apps and networks, but I persevere.

And social media has been great for my brand, books, and my business. There’s nothing else like it, and I’m thankful that I found such an exciting career.

My Career Today

Now I not only handle my social media, but I also market books for authors in nearly every genre. I teach social media and have written hundreds of blog posts on the topic. Joanna Penn interviewed me for her podcast and featured me on her blog. I’ve written guest posts for Jane Friedman’s blog and several specialty blogs, including Romance University and  Nina Amir’s blog. And I’m a contributing writer to Joel Friedlander’s blog,

Penny Sansevieri, of Author Marketing Experts, named me one of the top 16 people to follow on Twitter in 2016 and named my website twice to her top 30 list and then her top 100 list.

I’ve taught social media for authors at Stanford University, UC Berkeley, the San Francisco Writer’s Conference, Redwood Writers, the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Conference, the Mendocino Coast Writers Conference, and the Bay Area Independent Publisher’s Association.

My message to you is, don’t worry if you’re still new to social media. If I could do it, you can too. Keep reading my blog, and once in a while try something new.

Don’t try to do it all at once. Start with one network where your readers hang out and master it before you move on to another. Post every day, socialize with your readers, and enjoy yourself.

Before you know it, you’ll be using social media like a pro.



Spend less time figuring out how to use Goodreads, where there are 40 million readers. Get the guide that explains it all.

The Author's Guide to Goodreads by Frances Caballo

Sell More Books with These Tips by Frances Caballo

About the AuthorFrances Caballo is an author and social media strategist and manager for writers. She’s a regular speaker at the San Francisco Writers Conference and a contributing writer at She’s written several books including The Author’s Guide to GoodreadsAvoid Social Media Time Suck, and Twitter Just for Writers, which is available for free here. 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 writer conferences. Not sure how you’re doing online? Ask Frances to prepare a social media audit for you.


Practical Tips for Marketing Your Books on the Social Web

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  1. Hi Frances,
    I have slogged through this first lesson from you, and I see in my inbox more from you. I will get to them. Thank you, I learned a bit and have gotten a few new ideas, especially with Pinterest.
    About what you’re doing today, you said you market for other authors.
    I have spent almost nothing for marketing because what I have spent got me nothing. I have a 4-book series I’d like to push a bit.
    But I’d rather discuss it through private email.
    Thank you,
    James W. Nelson

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