Promoting Books With Social Media

Image courtesy of Brian Solis and JESS3, Wikimedia Commons
Image courtesy of Brian Solis and JESS3, Wikimedia Commons

Social media is a big part of book marketing, and it’s interesting to see how many different tips people offer for all the social networks.

Wishpond created an informative infographic that shows most customers (from social media) come from Facebook and LinkedIn.

The Book Shepard recently posted a guide for the best and worst times to post on social media networks. There’s advice for Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and LinkedIn, though they all tend to work best in the afternoons on weekdays. 

Retailers are also using social media to boost their sales, which could make for an interesting case study for an author. Last year Amazon’s Zappos launched Pinpointing (now currently under construction) which recommends Zappos products based on people’s pins and boards on Pinterest. It kind of reminds me of the idea that authors should pin the covers of their books, as a way to recommend them to new readers.

Lisa Buchan from Vangelizer wrote on PublishingPerspectives some things she’s learned about marketing books. Word-of-mouth marketing is still the best. Like Readmill, Vangelizer found that people were more willing to spread the word about a book either while reading it or immediately after finishing it. Vangelizer also found that “pull” marketing works better than “push” marketing. An example of pull marketing would be to offer a free book to the first x number of people who respond to a post or tweet (though she recommends finding a way to reach people actually interested in the book, not people who just want freebies). Push marketing is the typical use of social media, where people repeatedly post buy links about books on Twitter and Facebook, etc.

Here’s a compilation of advice I’ve learned about some of the major social networks.


Steamfeed wrote some helpful tricks. A couple sound like common sense, such as being relevant, posting images people will want to share that are high quality, and figuring out your target audience and their needs. But Steamfeed also stressed using keywords and strong descriptions in your profile (just as how authors should write strong descriptions/back copy for their books with well researched, well placed keywords). The site also recommends following people with similar interests, which is another tip many people give for Twitter, and pay attention to Pinterest’s new analytics. I think it’s great that Pinterest now gives users analytics on which pins are most popular and how much traffic their getting. But it’s important to pay attention to that information and use it to be even more successful on Pinterest.

Shannon from SelfPublishingTeam shared a few more helpful techniques. She goes over how to set up Pinterest to feed into your Twitter and Facebook feeds/pages. But more interestingly, she recommends taking advantage of Pinterest’s private boards. She suggests using the private boards when doing character research, and once you’ve tweaked it and are getting ready to launch a new book, make the boards public to garner more interest.

Karen Leland had more ideas for pinterest boards on Though her ideas were geared towards businesses, they can easily be adapted for authors. For example, she recommends having boards about upcoming events. An author could use Pinterest to highlight a blog tour, a signing, or an interview. She also says there should be boards with social proof. For authors this could mean pinning positive reviews or excerpts from reviews. It could also highlight the authors’ biggest fans.

Lastly, DIYThemes put together a great checklist for how to run a successful Pinterest contest. First, it’s important to set your goals (want more followers? website traffic? book reviews? feedback? etc.). There also needs to be clear rules and a prize that is proportional to what you ask the contestants to do, meaning the more steps they have to take, the bigger the prize should be. And before launching the contest, it’s best to create a good “pinnable” image of the contest, so people will share. And, it’s important to track results of the contest, so you can see what works and do it again.


Promoting books on Twitter can be fun. Cathy Stucker suggested that authors tweet quotes or other parts of their book. For fiction books there can be plot twists, and for non-fiction books there can be interesting facts. She also said it helps to follow and interact with people on Twitter (just like any social network), and to tweet a lot of images. These can be book covers, photos from the book (if any), or even photos of the author doing research.

And, she gave a lot of great examples of Twitter’s new Vine. Vine lets people share up to six seconds of video on a loop. also has a great infographic that shows How You Can Get More Retweets on Twitter.


Facebook is now rolling out open graph, and that makes it easier to use metadata on Facebook to do audience/market research. Additionally, you can search for relevant Facebook groups to find your niche. But remember, don’t just spam people in the group. Actually contribute to the conversation.


Like Facebook, LinkedIn has a lot of groups. It’s easy to do a search and find groups relevant to your niche. By contributing to those groups, you can slowly build up your network.

Google Plus

According to The Social Media Hat, Google Plus is the second largest social network in the world, behind Facebook, with over 500 million users. Google Plus has a feature called Google Authorship, which links content you post on your website or blog with Google Plus. This helps most of your posts appear in a Google search, as the author. Also, the more connections on Google Plus you have, the better. This is because “whenever you perform a Google search, the top results may contain listings from people you’re connected with on Google+. This is called You+, and while you have the option of seeing World results, the idea is that you may be more interested in results from people you know.”


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