I have Luddite tendencies, yearning for the days when people read newspapers and did needlepoint by the fire after dinner.
Yet I’ll be posting a link to this article on Facebook, grateful for its unsurpassed power to spread the word, engage readers and lead to new promotional opportunities even as I sleep.
I’ve been down the book promotion path. For the launch of my debut novel, The Island of Worthy Boys, I hired a PR firm. I pounded the pavement giving library and bookstore talks.
This guest post is by Connie Hertzberg Mayo. Mayo’s debut novel, The Island of Worthy Boys (She Writes Press), won the 2016 Independent Publisher Book Awards “IPPY” Gold Medal for Best Regional Fiction. A veteran of numerous creative writing classes and workshops at Grub Street, Inc., Connie has had essays featured in Writer’s Digest, The Broad Side, The Portland Book Review, and The San Diego Book Review. Her first short story,”Little Breaks”, will be published by Calyx Magazine in 2017. She works as a Systems Analyst and lives in Sharon, Massachusetts with her husband, two children, two cats and her heirloom tomato garden.
When it came to social media, however, I had mixed feelings. It seemed sneaky and self-serving. But urged on by my publisher and writer friends, I went ahead and plunged into Facebook. Now, six months after my novel’s launch, I am convinced that of all the book promotional tools out there, Facebook is the most powerful (and valuable) in terms of reach, results and cost-effectiveness.
Besides being, as I discovered, fun to use and a great place to learn about friends adopting puppies, running marathons and traveling to the Middle East, Facebook has had an incredible ability to interest people in my book. When the time came to start posting links to reviews and launch party pics, people were actually listening. They cared. They commented, shared my posts and helped my network grow. They also bought books.
Like a dream book publicist, Facebook has helped me by:
Generating book club invitations
After seeing my Facebook posts, multiple people from my town have chosen my book for their book clubs and asked me to be the guest author at their meetings.
When drumming up endorsements (something you must do for yourself with many small publishers), several authors were unreachable except through Facebook. Two of those I connected with on Facebook ended up writing blurbs for my book.
Eliciting guest blog post and contributing writer opportunities
After meeting an author at an event and becoming her friend on Facebook, I discovered that her postings, especially about her kids, were hilarious. We traded stories about our children. She ultimately invited me to be a guest poster on her blogging website, and ran a giveaway of my novel. In addition, I landed a gig writing two essays for online book review sites after connecting with somebody on Facebook over a conversation about our cats.
Through Facebook, I learned about the IPPY awards. After submitting, I was awarded the IPPY Gold Medal for Regional Fiction, which in and of itself has been priceless.
Forging connections that have opened doors
After I posted about the IPPY gold medal, a publicist I once met at a conference and subsequently friended on Facebook saw the post. The award inspired her to buy the ebook that very day. Reading it then inspired her to contact me and offer a promotional micro-campaign, which resulted in, among other things, this article published here. So you would not be reading these words if it weren’t for the magic of Facebook.
Most of the people attending the book club meetings in my hometown mentioned above purchased the book. I’ve also seen single Facebook posts lead to quantifiable book sales.
In contrast, one of the worst returns on investment I’ve experienced has been bookstore author events, which take a lot of effort and tend to have low turnout and even lower resulting book sales. Facebook, on the other hand, can be used effectively while you’re in your pajamas on a rainy Tuesday night. Best yet, it’s FREE.
The only catch is Facebook participation must be genuine. Conversations need to be about shared interests. Posting about books is best done in small doses, when there’s a good reason.
In truth, Facebook could not have been my only publicist. My human publicist scored me a place on the Buzzfeed list, “6 Historical Fiction Books To Read This Fall” — which of course provided a great link to post to Facebook. But with so many old acquaintances out there eager to reconnect and who tend to be truly enthusiastic about books written by friends (perhaps because they harbor fantasies of writing?), Facebook is definitely an author’s promotional dream.
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Brian A. Klems is the editor of this blog, online editor of Writer’s Digest and author of the popular gift book Oh Boy, You’re Having a Girl: A Dad’s Survival Guide to Raising Daughters.