To most authors, social media is a big help – it’s a way to connect with readers, market books, create buzz and establish a platform. And it’s free! Why wouldn’t an author make use of it?
Maybe you find social media a terrible time-drain that distracts you and keeps you from doing your job (writing your book!). Maybe you’re an introvert. Maybe you don’t really enjoy “putting yourself out there.”
Or perhaps you’ve been a big participant in social media and love all aspects of it. Then one day, you find yourself shadow-banned or de-platformed because you’ve committed thought-crime (you’ve posted the wrong opinion, stated an unpopular fact, or liked, linked, re-tweeted or promoted something that isn’t in line with currently acceptable beliefs, opinions or politics).
Bam! You’ve suddenly lost your platform and all your followers!
Is it possible to achieve success in today’s book market without social media?
Happily, I can report, that yes – it is possible!
Personally, I’ve never had much interest in Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, or any of the others. As an author, I don’t use social media. And yet, I make a happy living writing novels.
I didn’t set out to shun social media. I just never got on board. At some point in the future, I may make use of those platforms.
Now, you astute marketers out there are probably staring at your screen in shock. Your fingers are already flying across the keyboard, writing a comment along the lines of, “But you can’t advertise your books on Facebook without a Facebook account!”
That may be true.
And it may be the motivation I need in the future to begin using Facebook – it’s an advertising opportunity I’ve never utilized. And I would like to, someday, when I get around to it. Meanwhile, I’m doing pretty well with other marketing strategies: Amazon Advertising, BookBub ads, and various promotional newsletters like FreeBooksy, Fussy Librarian, etc.
If I begin using Facebook, it will probably be with minimal social interaction, and a primary focus on paid advertising for my books. My work time is best focused on writing books.
So, how do I get by without social media? I rely on God for my financial success, but I have a set of business strategies that any author can replicate. They are:
1. Write great books. This includes all the things that Suite T covers: strong plot, interesting characters, head-turning dialogue, and so on.
2. Get good editing. If you’re not a professional editor yourself, you should have someone else edit your books. If you are a professional editor, you should still have someone else proofread and beta read your books.
3. Pay for a good cover that instantly conveys the genre of your book. This is critical. A reader needs to know at a single glance that your book is the type of book they enjoy. Otherwise, they’ll move on. If your budget is limited, look for pre-made covers. They’re more affordable.
4. Learn to market appropriately. Start with a small ad budget and study how to best utilize the various advertising opportunities. Grow from there.
5. Write a regular newsletter, and ask readers to sign up for it! If you do nothing else, do this. Personally, I use MailerLite, but you should use whatever email management company best suits you. I ask for signups in the back of each book (with links), and on my website. When I release a new book, I announce it in my newsletter, and those wonderful readers drive sales, visibility and ranking. They are pure gold, and I am so grateful for them.
6. Write the next book. This is some of the best advice I’ve received, and the best I can give. When you finish a book, do a happy dance, order a pizza, celebrate, and start working on your next book. (Also, writing in a series is a big career-booster.) When a reader enjoys one of your books, they’ll look for other books you’ve authored. Writing to build a backlist of books is like rolling a snowball down a steep mountainside. Each new book makes it bigger. Pretty soon, it can turn into an avalanche of sales.
Sometimes the things we’re told we need to do to be successful authors can seem overwhelming. Don’t let it get you down. If something isn’t a good fit for you, consider whether it’s absolutely necessary for success. In my case, social media wasn’t. For you, maybe it’s something else.
What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? How can you compensate?
We aren’t cookie-cutter people, and book publishing isn’t a cookie-cutter business. Figure out what works for you, and write on!
Jamie Lee Grey is the author of numerous Christian novels, including the Band of Believers and Daughter of Babylon series. As a teenager in Idaho, she decided she’d marry a man with a Southern accent who played piano. In college, she found and married a guitar-strumming, drum-pounding son of an old Florida family from St. Augustine. He has since learned to play piano.