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How to Develop a Social Media Strategy for Books

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(…and why your free book doesn’t interest anyone!)

It’s time to develop a social media strategy! Attention all you authors and writers-soon-to-be-authors! If you’ve got a book, you need a strategy.

You’re probably wondering… why did Kerrie say “and why your free book doesn’t interest anyone”? I’ll tell you why – and it’s a crucial mistake that authors make as part of their marketing.

Time is our most precious resource.

If you’ve gotten to know me and have read some of my posts, you’ll know that I’m very time-oriented and extremely productive. Time is our most precious resource, so I’m fairly selective in how I spend it. And I’m not alone in feeling this way. I don’t want to waste my time reading things or doing things that are not enjoyable. I don’t spend time talking on the phone – I don’t enjoy it. I love playing Legos and building forts with my kids. Reading romance novels at midnight by authors who have convinced me that their book will let me live in their made-up world for a while. Reading nonfiction titles that help me as a mom or business owner. Cutting up magazines for my vision boards. Working with my goats. Those things I enjoy doing. Not reading a free book that I’m taking a complete gamble on just because it was free.

I can’t tell you how many times I get a direct message on Twitter with a sales pitch of “Check out my free ebook entitled ‘blah blah blah here” with the download link. And there it is. I could have a free book if I wanted. But I don’t want it. Why?

You haven’t convinced me that I DO want your book.

You haven't convinced me that I DO want your book. Click To Tweet

By telling someone “Download my book – it’s free” or “Check out my book it’s free” or “I’d love to give you a copy of my free ebook just tell me where to send it”… you haven’t explained to me, your audience, WHY I will enjoy it. You haven’t convinced me that it’s worth taking a look at or why I should bother clicking on the link. Giving away your book for free isn’t a social media strategy. Pricing is a feature.

Align Your Book with More Interested Readers – Let Them Find YOU

One of the things you can do to help your book reach people who are actually interested in your kind of book is to focus on a Pinterest strategy. I’m the resident expert on Pinterest in the publishing community, both as a marketer and an author. Your book, thanks to the help of Pinterest’s search engine, will find buyers with a higher disposable income on Pinterest than it will on Facebook. You’ll also be found through natural search, as pins have a longer lifespan of visibility than a social media post.

You can learn more about Pinterest in my own book, Pinterest Marketing: 80k to 10+ million in 3 months, and Pinterest Marketing Amplification.

What is the best social media strategy for marketing a book?

Convincing people is a strategy. Encouraging downloads via quality teasers is a strategy. Your strategy needs to be centered on the HOW part of getting that book into the hands of people – and the fact that it’s free is not a great strategy, because price is merely a feature.

Let me explain it better for you. Some authors say “I’m going to give away my book for free so that people will read it, give me their email address and leave reviews.” Ok, that sounds fine, except for the point of this: “How will you get people to download it and be interested in downloading it?”

Authors stare blankly at that question. Why? Because they’re now confronted with the “how” portion of their “strategy”. So then they say, “Oh but it’s free so people will automatically want to download it. Because it’s free, and all they have to do is give their email address. Easy.”

Um, not so much. Authors often make the mistake of confusing price (a feature) with how to convince people to download or buy (a strategy). How do you fix this?

Fix your book sales strategy. Here’s how.

Explain the following: WHY, WHAT, HOW, WHEN, WHERE. Yes, it’s really that simple. Now, all these elements combined make up part of your sales strategy. Time for an exercise. Grab a notebook, my friends, and take some notes. Don’t just ramble off the synopsis. Give me the life-changing highlights.

WHY will I like your book? (This is a HUGE question so take your time writing things down).
WHAT will I get out of it? Will I learn something? Will I start to question something? Will I escape? (Convincing strategy)
HOW can I buy your book and is it easy? (Features)
WHEN will your book be available or be made on sale? (Features)
WHERE can I buy your book? (Features) 

I have a book out, too, and more to be published. I’ve made sales with my Learn Pinterest Strategy because I honed in on a key factor of WHY people will want to buy it. They’ll learn how to get free website traffic. That’s a game-changer for a lot of people, and that’s a primary factor of why they’ll want to buy it. I don’t give it away for free.

How to handle social media strategy.

Stop saying “Check out my book” and such. Create a dialogue. Create a social media stream. Explain the 5 items above. But most importantly, explain the why. Relate to people. Help them understand why they’ll love your book. What they’ll learn – what the takeaway is. The tricky part is Twitter – how to convey it in 140 characters per tweet. Get creative with this. Sometimes a tri-post (1/3, 2/3, 3/3) works great for longer messages. Otherwise, you can focus on the big highlight key points of your WHY.

I’m actually excited for you. Now that you know all of this, you’re going to be different than everyone else peddling their book online. You’ll actually start making money on your hard work instead of giving it away for free! But you have to do the work upfront. Contemplate this. Try a few things out. Do some A/B split tests. What words work and what words do not?

Parting thoughts… on the joy of giving.

Sometimes authors complain online and make themselves out to be martyrs when it comes to giving away a book for free. Life is about what you can give, not what you can get. Don’t give a lot just so you can get a lot. That’s a tit-for-tat approach that will leave you feeling… well, empty. “I give all these books away for free and I don’t get any reviews or sales on my other books.” You’re missing the spirit of giving, and it really has no place in your marketing strategy. You’re giving with the expectation of receiving either an email address or a review.

The joy of giving doesn’t come with an expectation of what you’re going to get back. It defeats the whole purpose of giving. If you like to give away your books for free, then by all means, do that. But do it without the expectation of receiving anything back. No complaints.

If you actually want to make sales and get reviews, then focus on the strategy above and make some adjustments with your words in how you convince people to download or buy your book. I mean, by the time you get done revising your sales pitch, you might as well ask for the sale instead of offering it for free. Give it a try. I know you can do this!


Also published on Medium.

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About Kerrie Legend

She is a writer, graphic designer, and Pinterest nerd. BFA in Graphic Design, a BS in Marketing, and minored in computer science, Spanish, and Business Administration. Classical pianist. Prolific and bestselling author of Pinterest Marketing, and boundary-pushing template creator. Goat wrangler and mommy to six adorable boys.

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