We all know that self-promotion of your new book through social media is important, and I’m sure you’ve read how some authors have used this to great success, selling thousands of additional books and becoming ‘influencers’ in the process.
So, you open accounts in Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and so on, post an image of your book with a link and wait…..
….And wait…………….and wonder why you have zero interactions, no one is following you and no one is following those links to your book either. Surely it should be easier than this, right?
Okay, maybe you haven’t expected results that quickly, but you get the point, social media only works if you work on it too. But for the new author embracing this great form of interaction (and promotion), what should you be focused on to make it more successful for you?
Here are some great ideas that you should be considering with your social media.
ONE – Post great RELEVANT and engaging content
The temptation is to make your social media accounts about one thing, your book or the product your selling, but just ask yourself one question, would you follow a channel which is purely adverts and very little else? No, of course you wouldn’t, we appreciate that ads are the things that keep these channels free to use, in many cases the ads are relevant, and we do engage, but we don’t follow a channel purely for advertising content alone.
So, the primary goal is to post content which engages, stimulates, entertains and/or educates (not too much to ask!).
Creating great content should be the number one focus for your channels, post about subjects and topics that you love, things that you are passionate about and would enjoy reading yourself, ask questions of your followers and respond when you get answers.
The number one rule is to always post great content that will engage your followers.
TWO – Engage with others
When you first start your channels you’ll more than likely start asking everyone you know to like, follow and share your profile, this is a great way to get you up and running but it still won’t amount to as many followers as you’d like.
The next thing you’ll do is look at how to get more followers, but how do you do this? Well you might be tempted by using a third-party service to generate bot followers, all of a sudden your numbers look amazing and you begin to think that you’re playing with the big leagues.
However tempting this is, don’t do it, these followers are completely pointless and most users can see straight away that your channels are not legitimate (a new account of someone who’s not famous/big name author, who’s only following 100 people but has 10K followers). Plus (and more importantly), none of these followers will buy anything you ever promote.
In order to grow your followers you have to engage with people, search out relevant topics and contribute to the conversation, follow people who interest you and some will follow you back. Growing your numbers is a long-term game, it’s something that will only happen when you get involved within the social media community and engage with it.
THREE – Use Visuals
Think of how most people view social media, it tends to be through their cell phones/mobile devices, a small screen which they swipe upwards when scrolling through their page. Also consider how much is posted within someone’s feed, keep in mind that the more people you follow the quicker the feed changes.
So, posting a short passage of text can sometimes get lost within the mass of quickly changing messages, when you use an image/GIF/video your chances of engagement skyrocket, make your posts bright, colorful, eye-catching and appealing.
You have a split second to get someone’s attention, use it wisely.
FOUR – Use a # Hashtag
If you’re not sure what a hashtag is or why you would ever need one, just look up any subject on Twitter or Instagram, in the top posts you will normally see a bunch of hashtags at the bottom of the post, things like #writerslife #writing #selfpublishing etc.
These are how users will find your post, in fairness, adding countless hashtags to the bottom of a post doesn’t look great, so be selective in the ones you do use.
FIVE – Create a promotion
People love free stuff!! Create a competition to win a copy of your book, it could simply be to share your post etc. You can also give away a free chapter of your new book to those who engage with your social media pages.
SIX – Use a headline for your post (if linking to another page)
Create a great headline that captures the imagination of your reader, this should be something which doesn’t sound like an advert but makes them want to read more.
Make the headline a question and/or use exclamation points if possible.
SEVEN – Timing
There is no point in creating great content if it will be seen by no one, the time of day that you make your posts is just as relevant as what you post about.
Usage tends to increase around lunch time and then again in the evening (Mon – Fri), at the weekend you normally see higher use throughout the day, normally from late morning (10am) onward.
You should also consider where your followers are, if posting in the US, then you should take into consideration the different time zones, if it’s 12pm in Florida it will be 9am in California. Also, if you have followers in the UK, keep in mind that they’re going to be 5-8 hrs ahead of the US.
EIGHT – Keep going
Persistence is key when using social media, not all of your posts will work (especially when you begin), but many will engage and over time your success with this media will improve, it’s important to remember this and just keep going.
Have fun with it and enjoy engaging with others, if you treat it purely as a chore which needs to be done then that’s what it will become. Social media is a great way to promote, connect, learn and have fun, but keep it positive, there is negativity within all social media, our advice is not to engage with it, keep your posts positive and follow/interact with those who keep it positive too.
We all judge books by their covers, it’s human nature to do so and why advertising works so well on us, after all, if advertising didn’t work, then all of the products in your local supermarket would be in plain packaging (it would be far cheaper for the manufacturers).
But advertising, packaging and book design works because it targets our emotions, there’s a saying in sales that ‘you don’t sell the steak, you sell the sizzle’, because if you advertised just a raw steak it appeals less favorably to our senses than the same steak just cooked, still sizzling and on a plate ready to be eaten, think of the last TV ad you saw for any major restaurant to confirm their method, you’ll also see the same in banner ads on line and in print too (and for every product).
So, having a plain book cover with just the title upon doesn’t work, or does it?
Well, in some cases (and when done right) it can work, the issue is that the bookstores are incredibly crowed, and every publication is shouting loudly to be heard, so in order to stand out from the crowd, doing what is different can actually work. However, being plain for the express reason of cutting corners and costs normally leads to a book cover design that won’t work hard enough for the author.
Remember, the express goal of your book cover design is to sell the book.
When you look in a bookstore at the rows of front pages, think of how long you spend viewing each one, now think of how long you spend looking at book covers when browsing through Amazon’s bookstore, because it’s a lot less time (and this is where the majority of your sales will normally come from). Your book cover will be either dismissed or accepted by the viewer within a fraction of a second, if it doesn’t look professional the viewer will make the same judgement call about the inside matter and very quickly move on to the next title.
A professional design for the advertising of your book isn’t just for the wish list, it’s a must if you want to compete in bookstores (both online and in the real world).
Your book cover design will need to project a message to its intended audience, you’ll need to ensure that it’s appropriate for its genre, has impact and relevance for the book itself. A lot to ask in one image but it is something that book designers achieve over and over again.
Understanding the genre is important, specific genres will normally adhere to specific styles of design for advertising, this is because of our relationship and association to certain elements. For example, if you place an image of a sword within a cover the association will be with violence, fantasy, fiction etc. On the flip side, if you were to place an image of flowers then the mood swings to romance, love, passion, peace etc.
Being aware of our association to elements and their link to the messages you want to say about the book is important, this is something that most designers spend hours brainstorming when working upon the drafts for a new book cover design.
Along with these specifics within the design are the colors chosen for the cover, this can seem a little obvious (if you see lots of pink you may assume it’s either a romance or ‘chick lit’). However, there are psychological reasons for color selection. This is something that advertisers know only too well and use all of the time, for example, using the color red encourages excitement, passion, danger, decisiveness. Whereas black represents sophistication, security, power, elegance. The colors chosen for a book cover have a far deeper meaning than you may realize and should be chosen wisely.
Once you know what colors, subject matter and elements which need to go into the cover, you should also consider how much you place within the design. As mentioned earlier, your cover will only have a split second to grab the reader’s attention, but there is always the temptation to fill the cover with lots of detail about the book. You will need to condense the focal point of the book down to one or two elements, trying to tell the entire story upon the front page will lead to a design which becomes overcrowded, when in doubt, leave it out.
A great cover design will help sell your book, but remember, there is a lot more than just putting a title upon a stock image, with thought and creativity you can have a great design which promotes your work and catches the eye of your reader.
Organizing a book cover and formatting are two important parts of your publication that can overwhelm many authors, the fact is that you’ve written a great novel, spent weeks, months and maybe even years in creating a manuscript and now the next stage in publishing stands before you, making it look good.
So, what’s the best way of formatting and book cover design? Well, there are plenty of services out there offering both and you can also do the job yourself. However, unless you are proficient in applications like Photoshop, InDesign, Quark, Scrivener and many other great tools, I would look to use a professional to do the job for you.
Both book cover design and formatting are tasks that can be organized separately, there are plenty of companies who offer both services independent of the other and will get great results too. You will also find that more authors seem to be happier in formatting their book themselves, and in some cases using specialist software (both on and off line), you’ll also see that if you use a publisher like KDP, your Word document can transfer quite well to their publishing platform (however, even with Word you can do more than you may realize in formatting the manuscript prior to upload).
However, you still need to keep in mind the presentation and design of your book’s interior, uploading a manuscript directly from Word to KDP is of course doable, but if the justification and line spacing is off, the titles are on the wrong pages or the chapter headings are laid out badly then you do your book an injustice. You can save a few bucks doing it yourself, but is it really worth it?
Book cover design is a little different, this is more so for printed book covers and especially for those who print their book through Ingram Spark. The sizing and layout for a printed book has to be very precise in order for the edges of the spine to line up with the folds, have the copy placed within the margins and centered, to have bleed areas, fonts embedded, correct color profiles and the correct dpi.
There are several applications that can be used to create book covers, but the overwhelming industry leader is of course by Adobe, we always use Photoshop and InDesign for all of our book covers and would recommend it over and above all others (again, it’s what most professional companies within publishing use). So, you could download these applications yourself (they usually have a seven day free trial), but without any knowledge of the software you will need to study in order to use them.
The choice that many will have is over time and effort, how long will it take you to become proficient in these applications and how much effort will you need to invest?
If you are setting up as a publisher who does everything in-house, then maybe learning all aspects of the software needed could be a wise investment of your time (be aware though, even most small publishers outsource these tasks to professional services, we complete work for many indie publishers ourselves). If you are publishing just for yourself, then it is far more cost effective (both in time and resources) to use a professional service instead.
It’s clear that all great authors take their work very seriously, they also know using others to assist in their publication is normally the best course of action too, knowing where your strengths are and where you should use others is an important part of any endeavor.
Book cover designers.