Marketing Your Novel: Indirect Marketing through Social Media


Want to know a secret?

I don’t like social media. I use it, like most people, to keep up with friends and family and laugh at dank memes and cat videos, but otherwise, I rather despise it.

There’s just too much noise, and it stresses me out with overexposure. I’m an introvert by nature, and social media only tends to amplify the loudest, most reactive, and most obnoxious qualities of human interaction.

But, the fact is, some form of social media is basically a required piece of a marketing strategy. It is the easiest, fastest and most direct way to reach a wide audience of followers, hands down. According to a report put together by  HubSpot in 2014, 66% of marketers spending as little as 6 hours per week saw lead generation benefits with social media.

So, what can social media mean for your author brand?

Authors on Social Media

Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat, LinkedIn, Imgur, Tumblr, Flickr, Pinterest, or any of a wide array of others help authors and writers reach out to their audience directly, rather than just relying on people to visit their websites or blogs.

Now, the ultimate goal of social media is to drive traffic to your own website and (potentially) increase book sales, but you can’t get more sales without first engaging with your audience in meaningful ways.

For today, I want to provide some tips for engaging with your social media audiences effectively, and then go into my own social media strategy so far.

How to Engage Your Audience through Social Media

Whichever social media platform(s) you use — and you should probably be using at least two or three — you will need to learn how to engage your audience appropriately. Posting ads for your books or contest giveaways will get tiresome, but exclusively posting cat gifs will ultimately not do you much good. There has to be balance.

Enter: the 80-20 rule.

Tip #1: Your social media posts should be divided between promotional and non-promotional content.

  • 80%, or 4 out of every 5 posts, should be non-promotional
  • Only 20%, or 1 out of every 5 posts, should be promotional

Non-promotional content can include images you want to share:

  • random thoughts
  • status updates
  • links to external content you find interesting, informative, or entertaining.

Promotional content is anything the promotes your brand or products directly, such as:

  • book/contest giveaways
  • announcements of new publications
  • upcoming events/appearances at conventions, book signings, etc.

Dividing your content in this way will help keep your audience interested in what you have to say without being too spammy, while also maintaining the actual business side of your marketing efforts.

Tip #2: Quality over Quantity

This is a rule I tend to harp on, because it bugs me when I see companies or brands posting multiple, mostly useless posts every day. One cat gif can be fun and enjoyable. Six in one day is overload, and will ultimately push me to ignore your brand altogether.

Develop a schedule of how often and when you want to post. Track metrics like reach, shares, likes, comments, etc. to see when your audience is most likely to engage with your content, and adjust accordingly.

Tip #3: Engage with your audience.

Like their posts, see what they’re talking about, and join in the discussion! Social media is a two-way street (or, more appropriately, a multi-highway interchange), so expecting people to engage with your content when you seem to hide in your own corner of the internet will appear apathetic at best, or selfish at worst.

This engagement should also include reaching out to other people in your industry. Find other authors or writers who have sold more books than you, or have wider audiences than you. Build relationships with those people by sharing their work and commenting on their posts.

Tip #4: Become an expert.  Most writers and authors I follow on WordPress write posts about writing or editing or publishing. Why? Because they have experience in these areas and feel like they have something to share with other people.

That is exactly why I am writing this marketing series. I feel like I have something valuable to share with others.

My Social Media Strategy

Hey, look at that — a natural segue!

So, I’ve talked a lot in this space about how I am using WordPress to try to reach out to more people (appreciate you, fellow bloggers/writers!), and this has been the first big step for my marketing strategy, but also personally as a writer. Engaging with other writers has been truly rewarding, and I’ve learned a lot. And if some of you have learned something from me, that’s just frackin’ awesome.

My social media campaign has not quite taken off, and that is by design. I tend to use social media in spurts. I’ll be fairly active for a few days, liking posts, commenting, sharing content… and then I’ll disappear for a while. Sometimes a week at a time.

The only social media platform I’ve tested so far is Facebook, where I have a page for Red String PaperCuts. I have not used Facebook’s built-in Boost tool, where you can pay to “boost” your content to more news feeds, and that is frankly because I am not counting on Facebook to drive book sales.

I launched the Facebook page on July 24, and I am using it to reach out to an audience I might not otherwise find — namely, people who do not use WordPress or follow small-time blogs like mine. I am trying to do this organically, without paid ads through Facebook, to see how many people stumble onto my page and decide to follow.

Here is How I have Done so Far:

  • 45 Followers, including 28 Friends — that means I have 17 followers whom I don’t know directly
  • 890 combined Reach over 20 posts, for an average of 44.5 Reach per post (Reach refers to the number of times your content appears in another user’s news feed)
  • Reach high of 126 on one post and low of 15 on another
  • 97 total engagements (likes, shares, clicks, etc.), for an average of 4.85 per post

Most of my posts have been haiku that I have shared exclusively on Facebook. (If you enjoy my Haiku Sunday series, follow my Facebook page for some extra poems!)

Areas Where I Need to Improve:

  • Consistency. I have tried to post about once per week, but this has not been consistent. I post so infrequently because I don’t want people to feel overwhelmed by my content. I want my posts to feel natural, like I’m having a conversation with my audience, and posting every day is not natural for me.
  • Outreach. I have not been active in reaching out to those 17 followers who have liked my page. Again, it’s not very natural for me to just start spam-messaging strangers online, but a simple “Thanks for the follow!” is the least I can do, and that’s something I need to work on.

As you can see, I have a very loose marketing strategy for Facebook. It has taken a lot of testing to see how I can best reach the most people, and I haven’t quite found my footing there yet.

I will explore other social media platforms in depth as I begin to use them for my own marketing efforts. For now, feel free to comment, ask questions, or follow the Red String Facebook page!

Which social media platforms do you use? What do you find to be effective?

References and Other Resources

Entrepreneur, “10 Laws of Social Media Marketing,”

Forbes, “The Top 10 Benefits of Social Media Marketing,”

Harvard Business Review, “Branding in the Age of Social Media,”

HubSpot, “16 Stats That Prove Social Media Isn’t Just a Fad,”

Social Media Examiner, “20 Social Media Marketing Tips from the Pros,”

Steve D

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