Social Media for Book Marketing: One Myth and One Truth

The Myth: Social Media is Free


Last year at the 2014 Muse & the Marketplace, I sat at a table with the wonderfully talented Randy Susan Meyers (whose latest book, Accidents of Marriage, needs to go to the top of your To-Be-Read list right now). The topic was how publishers rarely ante up dollars anymore to promote books. Coupled with that is the challenge of how social media takes so much time.


Say those last four words in your whiniest voice. I ask you to do that because it’s one of the number one complaints I hear from writers. That’s another myth entirely, but it dovetails into the next part of the conversation. Randy spoke up and in a very matter-of-fact way told the little group that you either “work at it, or you pay for it” when it comes to book promotion. There is no inbetween.


If you know me or have read other articles on social book promotion that I have written, this may be a familiar story to you. I repeat it because it is 500% true.


Social media book promotion is not free.


It costs either time or money but in the end, there is a cost if you truly care about selling books. If you aren’t willing to take the time (ongoing time, not a one-month-before-and-after-the-book-launch sort of time) to work at building your social media presence and interacting with potential readers, then you need to pay a publicist to help you do so. There is no inbetween.


The Truth: You Get Out of Social Media What You Put Into It


This is true of pretty much anything but especially true of social media. Building an audience takes work. Interacting with that audience takes time and energy. It’s also time and energy that may need to take place over a long period of time. I have 14K Twitter followers, for example. Because I care about very quality followers, ones that are extremely relevant to me, that audience has taken me eight years to build (most of it within the last three years). I am still building it. Could I have done so faster? Certainly, if I had taken more time to nurture it. Or if I had put some money into it to buy followers, which I don’t recommend, or to buy advertising to extend my reach. The truth is when I spend 20 minutes a day posting quality content, following relevant individuals and conversing with interesting people, my followers grow fast and regularly. When I don’t do that, nothing happens.


It doesn’t mean you can’t have help. There are a slew of tools out there to help you make social media easier. Services such as Buffer, ManageFlitter or Hootsuite can help you streamline the work. It’s also very helpful to create a schedule for yourself that you stick to. Consistency is your best friend in the world of social media. You’ll find that if you are regularly active that you will have regular interaction. Post consistently and have conversations with others often. It won’t be free, but it will be rewarding.


Join Crystal at The Muse & the Marketplace 2015 to find out other truths and myths about social media in her 11:45 Friday morning session, Five Myths and Five Truths about Using Social Media for Book Promotion. On Saturday, May 2, at 2:15PM she will be speaking on How to Use Social Media for Self Promotion Without Being Annoying.


*Image by Flickr user Jason Pier, through a Creative Commons license. Statue of Perseus and Medusa by Benevenuto Cellini, Florence, Italy.

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About the Author

Crystal King is a 30-year marketing, social media and communications veteran, freelance writer and Pushcart-nominated poet. She is the author of the FEAST OF SORROW, about the ancient Roman gourmand, Apicius, and THE CHEF'S SECRET about the famous Renaissance chef Bartolomeo Scappi. Currently Crystal works as a social media professor for HubSpot, a leading provider of Inbound marketing software. Crystal has taught classes in writing, creativity, and social media at Harvard Extension School, Boston University, Mass College of Art, UMass Boston and GrubStreet writing center. A former co-editor of the online literary arts journal Plum Ruby Review, Crystal received her MA in Critical and Creative Thinking from UMass Boston, where she developed a series of exercises and writing prompts to help fiction writers in media res. Find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or at her website:

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