Marketing on Social Media . . . by Not Marketing

Guest post by Jenn Gott, indie authorwhat are you baking today

I follow a lot of authors on social media.

This should come as no surprise. Anyone with an interest in reading or writing, especially if you hope to build a career in “the biz,” has undoubtedly followed their fair share of wordsmiths. And sure, some of it is for networking purposes, and some of it is because they post a lot of marketing and publishing content that I find useful.

But by far, the largest group of authors I follow is made up of those that I simply like following.

Maybe they have a cute cat they’re always posting photos of. Maybe they offer relatable, encouraging insights into their writing process. Maybe they support the same political causes I do and I like how they articulate their convictions. Maybe they’re just funny, or have a unique way of expressing the feelings we all experience while trying to get through the day.

But here’s the crucial thing: of all the authors I’ve started following just for fun, I’ve gone on to purchase books from nearly every single one of them.

It’s a weird balance when you start using social media as a writer. You have work you want to promote, but you know that you can’t just post a stream of constant “Buy my book!” tweets. You want to be authentic and connect with readers. Yet at the same time, no one is interested in what you had for breakfast, right?

Like everything in writing, there’s a delicate balance to using social media. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that people are interested in the tiny details of your life — so long as you make it interesting.

Don’t just post a photo of what you’re up to; make a little joke in the caption, or ask a question to get people to interact in the comments. Also remember to mix it up! Living through a pandemic doesn’t always make for the most exciting social content, but whenever you find yourself doing something different or a little adventurous (going for a hike in a new location, or trying out a cool recipe), make an effort to record it.

Of course, “being interesting” doesn’t mean that you can’t do any kind of promo or marketing for your book. Obviously you’ll need to let your audience know when you’ve got a new book, when you’re running a sale or a giveaway, or even just when you reach an important milestone and want to celebrate it with friends and fans!

The important thing is that if you’ve built up an authentic audience, these bursts of news are going to be read by people who want to know about them. Especially if they’ve seen your progress as you’ve been prepping your book for release, the enthusiasm and support that follows will be a lot stronger and more effective than if you’d simply shouted into a disinterested void. I can’t even tell you how many authors I started following before they’d ever published, and eagerly pre-ordered their debut — so don’t dismiss the idea of building up your audience early.

What’s even better, the sort of audience you cultivate with genuine engagement is much more likely than a disengaged audience to tell other people about your books — and we all know that word of mouth is the best marketing of all!

So truly, if you’re ever feeling short on content to post to social media, just ask yourself: what would you talk about with a friend today? Because, in the end, that’s what you want each of your followers to feel like: a good friend.

Jenn Gott is an indie author and writer with Reedsy, so she basically spends all her time either writing books or helping people learn how to write books. She firmly believes there is no writing skill you cannot learn with practice and the right guidance. You’ll find her on her website and over on the Reedsy blog, where she covers topics ranging from writing craft to how to launch a book for the first time.