Can You Really Market Your Book on Social Media for Free?
Yes, but with one disclaimer...
...if you wisely invest your time.
As an indie author, you are not only a writer, designer, and website creator you must also be a marketer. The most common question among indie authors is “how do I sell?” Marketing is a big part of self-publishing, something you will be intimately involved with as long as you write. So, you may as well fall in love with the game.
As Albert Einstein said, “Creativity is intelligence having fun”.
Have fun with marketing, forgive yourself for making mistakes, and always look for new ways to learn and improve. Understanding how and what to post isn’t intuitive for many people.
However, if you aim to be just 1% better with each post - creating a better title for the next one, balancing colors, adding in different fonts–you will soon find that you are attracting more and more followers.
This article will cover a lot of different free marketing methods, but you really need to pick 2 or 3 and master those before delving into others. And, to be completely honest, there is no such thing as free.
There is no such thing as free
You either pay with money or with your time. Make a self-assessment and determine which one you're willing to give up to promote your work.
You either pay with money or... you pay with your time. You will need to weigh the time away from your passion against the restraints of your budget to find the ideal marketing solutions for you.
Starting your marketing efforts long before you are ready to publish gives you a ready-made, captive audience for your new book. Yes, that sounds counter-intuitive but as you will discover, effective marketing is not all about pushing for sales.
Social Media Promotions
The big players in the digital marketing arena are Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.
But it may also surprise you to learn the Pinterest could apply to your target audience.
We will delve into each of them individually in a minute, but there are several things to remember when creating posts for any of these sites.
The 30-35-35 Rule.
We must design your social media presence to engage your audience. To gain and keep loyal followers, only 30% of your posts should be designed to sell your book. 35% should be educational and the other 35% should be entertaining or motivational.
If you haven’t published your book yet focus on engaging with your target audience so that when you are ready to sell, they already know and trust you and will be ready to buy.
Consistent Look and Timing.
Posts need to maintain a consistent look and consistent timing.
You want people to look forward to your Friday Freedom posts or know at a quick glance that the yellow & black post will give them a laugh or provide insight into their problems.
Join in with Collabs
Collaboration is key. When you are first starting outreach out to others at the same level as you and set up a collaboration where you cross-post each other’s content.
As a first-time author of a historical non-fiction book, you can reach out to a first-time author of a historical fiction novel and share posts that both of your audiences would enjoy.
This is a fairly easy way to quickly increase your followers and engagement without being in competition.
Look for the Influencers
Reach out to influencers within the platform, be genuine in your approach, capture their heart, provide links to your website and bio and ask for their help.
Remember, even top influencers are real people who were once in your shoes and often once they have achieved massive success, they are willing to give back by helping others. But be realistic in your expectations.
The #1 ranked book influencer will not reply within minutes, you might wait a month or more to even get a canned rejection.
So... What Are Your Best Options for High Engagement?
Instagram is known globally for its stunning visuals, but it has rapidly evolved from the social sharing site for people’s holiday photos. It is the fastest growing social platform in 2019, and it’s a great way to grow your list fairly quickly. Users can click on a picture to buy your books, or you can direct them to a lead magnet, blog post or your author's website with the links in your bio.
You may be surprised that I didn’t list Facebook first, but even though it has been hugely popular for years, its user base is declining and changes to its algorithms have made it harder to get organic traffic. The best ways to maximize your free exposure on Facebook is to post videos and content that discuss popular topics; selectively use popular hashtags and host contests or giveaways.
If you are comfortable on camera and love to engage your readers, then creating a YouTube channel is a great way to reach your target audience. Remember to thoroughly describe your video, loaded with keywords and relevant hashtags. Matching the title to your target audiences’ search terms will be a key factor in getting viewers.
I must admit that I used to think Pinterest was a social media site for housewives! Well, after researching it, I found that it is the 4th largest platform after YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. Furthermore, 40% of the users are male and with a business account, you can add a “buy” pin to your post, so people don’t have to leave the page to make a purchase.
Based on your genre and target audience, other social platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn and Tumblr and online forums such as Reddit may be valuable marketing tools as well. The key to social media marketing is to research where your audience hangs out online and make yourself visible at that stage.
Free Tools to Create & Organize Social Media Posts
There are several free tools to help you create and organize your social media posts, making it easier to maintain consistency both in appearance and timing.
Canva is an excellent design site. There are several free resources, including templates for various social media posts, free photos from both Pexels and Pixaby, and a large selection of emojis. You also can add your existing Facebook or Instagram photos, upload photos from your device, and embed videos and media. It is very user friendly, so even a novice designer can create stunning posts.
The ability to plan and schedule posts in advance is a life changer. You can spend an hour scheduling posts for the next 2 weeks and maintain the ability to change and add new posts if needed. It pays to do a little research to find the best time to post of each site. For instance, consumers tend to access Facebook and Instagram both at home and at work, so posts are often viewed in the morning, at lunch and then in the early evening, whereas Pinterest is typically accessed more often in the evening only. Co-schedule is a paid scheduling service, but they have compiled data from several sources and offer insights in the best times to post a blog.
The best schedulers provide visual calendars so you can see that your posts are following the 30-35-35 rule, and for analytics to track what’s working and not working so you can tweak your content to maximize interactions. Later is designed solely for Instagram, while Hootsuite allows you to manage 3 social profiles in one place.
Bonus: Online Marketing on Book Lovers Sites
KDP Free Giveaway
Offering your book free on KDP provides a lot of exposure and done strategically may result in an increase in sales even after it goes back to its original price. In order to maximize your exposure, list your book on as many “free Kindle eBook” sites as possible.
Goodreads has previously offered a free book giveaway contest platform; However, they have recently changed to only paid versions.
Scribd is a book lovers’ website, and the good news for indie authors is that you can publish an article about your book without a subscription. Just create an engaging title and a short, concise description to make it easy for readers to find you.
While so much of our day-to-day lives seem to revolve around the Internet, there are several offline marketing tools that may appeal to you.
If you have published a children’s book, a summer book reading event at the local library is a great way to garner sales.
Book signings at a bookstore or an event relating to your book are viable options if you are outgoing and love chatting to people in person.
Realistically offline marketing is very time consuming for the results you achieve.
As with most free things, “free marketing” is a misnomer. While it doesn’t cost money, it can cost a fair amount of time to research the best place to find your target audience, develop the confidence to create appealing posts and build up your list. Utilize the tools and tips in this article to reduce the time it takes to create a successful marketing campaign.
To access an in-depth social media marketing course, check out Weekend Publisher's No B.S. Marketing Course.