How When And Where To Promote Your Book (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, etc.)
I’ve been sitting on this article for a while now and not because I was lazy but because I wanted to test out the promo waters multiple times beforehand (if you read porno waters, you wouldn’t be the first 🙂 LOL).
What you’ll read below is my documented result after running paid promotions on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Amazon. I’m also counting on the feedback of over fifteen novelists writing in Paranormal Romance, Thriller, Romantic Suspense, Urban Fantasy, Science Fiction genres and Children’s Books.
I called them up, consulted them on how they run their book promotions (both free and paid), what worked, what didn’t and you can find a growing list of author confessions at the end of this article (growing because I’ll keep adding more author confessions as I receive them).
Truth be told, I do have a vantage point since I’m a digital marketing specialist but being a front line soldier in the paid promo quest for my own book taught me an extra thing or two and cost me exactly $342. But hey, I regret nothing given that I am now a little wiser and I can share everything with the writing community.
If you’re a writer too and you’d like to share your side of the story, do not hesitate to email me and I’d gladly feature your confession below.
For the ones of you who are new to my blog, I’m Esther, writer, content creator for authors and massive nerd. If you’re interested to know all the tips & tricks surrounding the process From Writing To Publishing Your Novel, you’re only a click away. For more goodies, articles and giveaways, please consider subscribing to my Newsletter.
Consequently, in today’s article we’ll have a look at:
- When, where and how should an author run a book promotion (blogs, platforms, social media)
- Key aspects to figure out before promoting your book
- Free book promotion vs Paid book promotion
Knowing where to start if you’re not experienced in the field is like being transported to the final battle scene of Game of Thrones – you know, when it’s really dark and you don’t know if that’s an enemy sword poking at your behind or your battle pal covering your ass.
How To Promote Your Book For Free
Before even thinking about promoting your novel to readers, you must make sure you’ll be preaching to the right crowd, so getting to profile your niche and readers is step 1 in the promo process.
In Marketing & Book Promo this is called targeting and that’s exactly what you should do: profile that target reader and narrow it down rather than broaden the profile spectrum. You do have something called a target reader and then you have your delightful exceptions.
How old are your readers?
What other books do they enjoy?
Where are they likely to be found online? (age plays a big part here)
What countries do they reside in?
What series or movies are they into?
Lo and behold the wisdom below and let’s do a case study in order to learn by example. I chose Twilight because everyone knows it and I have a major crush on glittery vampires (there, I said it). And before you raise your pitchforks again, take a moment to see the forest before the trees 🙂
Researching books in your genre, especially similar books is step 2. You’ll later use these books to run a promo on Amazon, Facebook and Instagram, targeting readers who liked novel x, y, z. That’s how it’s done and this is homework we’ve all had to do upon entering book promo stage.
You now have a clear idea who your readers are, what’s your niche, etc. Goodreads is the place to be. Because there are tons of ways you can use this platform, reach out to readers and writers alike and promote your book for free if you join the right groups. For more info on how you can use Goodreads to promote your book, click here.
Facebook is another great book promo tool for authors & I recommend giving it a chance. Give everything free a fighting chance and know this first hand: paid promo is mostly a mirage, it takes a long time to become proficient at it and if you only have 1-2 books out it ends up taking more than it actually gives back.
You can also knock on some doors and email reviewers of your genre, send them a copy of your manuscript and wish for the best. If you are a self-published author, you’d better start making some noise for yourself, start networking & work on that hashtag.
The best possible piece of advice I could give you is to always give more than you get. Even more so at the beginning of your journey. Reach out to other authors and leave a review, interact, connect, be a contributing member of the #writincommunity and it will come back tenfold.
Promoting Your Book On #Bookstagram
Get a great and free book mockup here and maybe try to work with a designer for some cool promo pics featuring your novel. Use these promo pics on Twitter and Instagram & post regularly on social media.
Tuesdays & Thursdays are peak days on both Twitter and Instagram, so organize your posts and express your feisty progressiveness by investigating the right hashtags to fit your story.
Just like your book cover, the pictures you use to promote your book on social media need to be very far from the homemade look and true to story and genre. With #bookstagram you can do mostly anything: a holiday look, a casual Sunday look but beware, if it doesn’t look sophisticated, it’s likely to add more to the problem than to the solution.
And it’s sad and I hate myself for saying this because it’s another thing that will take hours of research but that’s what self-publishing is and we’re all in this together.
Behold my poor (and lame) attempt at #bookstagram and join me as I call it hideous. I gave myself a tick just for the effort of cleaning up that glitter.
We all need to learn how to swim before learning how to sail. As simple as that. It’s the little things like being active on social media, networking and joining the right groups that should happen way before paid book promo.
How And When To Approach Paid Book Promotion?
Authors recommend to start promoting six months prior to your book launch. From mood boards on Pinterest to daily posts on social media & Goodreads groups. You can run a paid promo when your book is available for preorder but whatever you do, my recommendation is to start small… $50 small.
Who Should Run A Paid Book Promo On Twitter?
Authors whose readership is +30 and wiser and preponderantly on Twitter. I’m not saying the platform is dying out but statistically speaking, the youth is largely migrating toward others.
Are Twitter book promo ads overall effective? Not from my experience. Not from my literary friends’ either.
Running a Twitter contest on the other hand is a fab way to drive engagement since it offers the chance to win something and a giveaway is likely to attract a higher interest than a simple book promo campaign.
I spent $50 on paid promo on Twitter and got plenty of impressions (when people click your sponsored image), new followers but 0 book purchases. Twitter promo drove users to my website but failed to convince them to buy my book.
Who Should Advertise Their Books On Facebook And Instagram?
Okay, so the reason I grouped these two together is because they come as a pack and you can run a paid book promo on Facebook and Instagram simultaneously. Pretty neat, right?
I spent $100+ running book ads on both Facebook and Instagram resulting in around 5 book sales throughout promo time which translates into around $7 in royalties. And I got lucky having any sales at all. During promo time you’ll see most clicks come from the age segment 13-17. That’s because they’re more active and responsive online compared to their older peers. The post likes I got on Instagram greatly outnumbered the ones received on Facebook and I got 2-3 new followers on Instagram.
If you’ve written a YA novel, chances are your target reader is happily nestled on Instagram because that’s where the youth hangs out (take it from a millennial). Keep in mind I’m taking the largest percentage (age stats) as the common denominator.
A typical mistake when approaching paid book promotion is aiming for quantity instead of quality. The point should always be bringing your book to the eyes of the right reader, so if your advertising segment is adequately profiled and truly defined, you can pat yourself on the back.
Learning how to bark at the right tree is mandatory. If I write Paranormal Romance and associate my book to one of Stephen King’s, readers are likely to purchase it having different expectations and these expectations might translate into negative reviews.
Running A Paid Book Promotion On Amazon
Okay, so I spent +$100 on Amazon and had better sales results than with the rest. Better is not really great. Especially for those authors who don’t have a lot of books under their belt. Amazon however gives your book exposure which (if done right) can give you a boost in the right direction.
Running paid book promo on Amazon could be worth it if an author has multiple manuscripts out. For more information on Author vs Amazon click here. They do have flexible pay per click campaigns but a click ($0.27-0.80 average) doesn’t translate into sales. If anything, it translates into visibility and that’s what you can get for free by using the right hashtag on social media.
What I’ve noticed is that promoting your book on social media generates greater visibility for your profile so if apart from being a writer you’re also a Youtuber/Booktuber, Instagrammer or Blogger, social media promo allows traffic in this direction. Amazon is exclusively focused on the book.
Learning how to run an effective paid book promotion is a trial and error game (mostly error) and from my experience, a necessary learning curve for the self-published author. It’s time consuming but at this point, you’re probably well aware you have to be an all-in-one.
A special thanks to the wonderful Carole P. Roman, Tabatha Shipley, Sionnach Wintergreen, Fran Lewis and Rebecca Hefner whose websites I recommend you check out. They were the first to answer my call and I’ll keep updating the Author confessions section as more replies roll in.
Does paid book promotion work or were you disappointed?
Rebecca Hefner: I find that FB ads work the best. They’ve translated into a few sales but, more than that, they help me get followers on IG & FB. From there, I can now promote my books, when I have sales, etc. I’ve found that AMZ ads have the worst ROI and rarely employ them.
Carole P. Roman: Social media is like everything else we do to promote our books, it doesn’t work unless you use multiple, many times sources with a large reach. I use different means of social media. In the beginning, I hired a professional consultant that taught me how to post on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, and other mediums.
My books sold well. She taught me how to search out blogs, contacting them to see if they would feature me. She also began my blog, set me up on Goodreads and insisted I publish something once a week. I didn’t think I could think of interesting posts. She said it had to be about me, my observations, as well as other authors. When I couldn’t think of anything to write I posted reviews of books I had read.
I built a rather large following on both Facebook, Twitter and my blog. Getting my name out there in various contest to win my books enabled me to build an impressive mailing list. So, the short answer is no, I am not disappointed, but know that using social media is not a one-shot deal.
I was picked up by a publisher for a two-book deal and they paid me extra to publicize my book. They asked me to post three times a week on Facebook running contests, reading excerpts and posting bits of the book.
Tabatha Shipley: In my experience, the return is not worth the investment. It did drive up the number of people following the site. It did not drive up the number of people interacting or sharing things from the site.
Sionnach Wintergreen: I’ve had mixed results. My boosted posts on FB didn’t do well. I promoted my epic fantasy books, but FB bots flagged my romances as “selling adult products” and refused to run them. An author friend who writes BBW erotic romance, however, said she contacted FB and explained she was advertising a book. They’ve accepted her ads, and she found them profitable.
I’ve had my best luck with M/M with genre-specific newsletters like LGBT Romance.
Fran Lewis: To some degree each of the social media sites work but in reality it is the author that needs to promote his/her books. Banners work and posting covers on Instagram does help but there are so many authors and so many books unless you are well known you can get lost in the crowd.
Which book promotion platforms have you tried out?
Rebecca Hefner: FB ads (my best ROI), AMZ ads (terrible return). I would like to try a BookBub ad one day, but haven’t yet.
Carole P. Roman: My social marketing person placed me on everything, but I primarily use Facebook, Twitter, Linked-in, and Instagram. I also post to Medium and my blog.
Tabatha Shipley: Facebook
Sionnach Wintergreen: FB, Goodreads, Twitter, Instagram. I recently got on Tumblr and YouTube but haven’t done much with them yet. The best advice I’ve received was to find a platform you enjoy and concentrate on it. I’m Gen X and have discovered that most of my readers are too. I love Twitter. I not getting rich by any means, but I get sales and page reads every day I’m on it. I have fun there and simply enjoy myself.
My books tend to have political subthemes, and my readers are political, so I tweet lots of political stuff. Most of the issues I champion are also in my books.
What platforms should authors stay away from?
Rebecca Hefner: AMZ is a necessary evil, but I haven’t figured out how to make my ads there work yet, so I honestly stay away.
Carole P. Roman: I can’t think of any- but I will advise not to mix personal or political posts with your books. It’s important too that you don’t make it only about your book, but bring up topics of interest. People will lose interest in you if it’s a constant stream of “buy my book.”
I post pictures or articles related to my subjects, recipes, and things like that. I do post some personal items, mostly articles about things I am experiencing ( having a second career at my age, dealing with ageist issues)- but never posts about my kids or a wedding I went to- that kind of thing.
I also feature other authors- review their books, I am thrilled when they say they sold a few that particular week.
Tabatha Shipley: Facebook
Sionnach Wintergreen: Personally, I hate Goodeads and FB. Many people on Goodreads seem to be mean-spirited. (Maybe just the ones I encounter.) FB bores me and I don’t like the company that runs it.
When is it advisable to run paid promo for your book?
Rebecca Hefner: I’m doing my first blog tour with Silver Dagger Tours from July 12-August 12. I’ll let you know how it is. It’s going to cost between $200-$400, but if it helps me get to 50 reviews on AMZ, I will consider it worth it (I’m at 28 reviews right now. 50 reviews on AMZ pushes your book up in their search engine.)
Disclaimer from Esther Rabbit: This is a myth. While it’s true that on Amazon’s quest against fake reviews a user needs to spend at least $50 before reviewing anything, 50 reviews on your manuscript will not translate into a magic boost. Algorithms don’t work like that. As long as there’s movement (purchases, both positive & negative reviews, etc) your book will get greater discoverability.
Carole P. Roman: Don’t do it on a holiday weekend. If your book is horror -look to push it before Halloween. If you think it would make a great beach read- the time to push is in the late spring.
A thriller is good anytime- use what’s going on in the world and promote heavily when it coincides with trending news. Don’t bother if a crisis takes over national news. I’m not talking about everyday stuff. People will want to read about that issue, not how your book will entertain and delight them.
Tabatha Shipley: I would imagine if you run them when preorders have started you’d have more success.
Sionnach Wintergreen: Probably a lot earlier than I run them!
Fran Lewis: My new book Silent voices came out June 9th. I’m doing a blog tour in September with Partners in Crime. They get reviews, spotlights and interviews and they promote your title on many social media platforms.
Was the balance between money spent and book sales satisfactory?
Rebecca Hefner: We’ll see! I hope so!
Carole P. Roman: Not at all. I consider publishing my books to be a business. I am investing in both myself and my product while I build a brand. Between my son and myself, I manage the marketing and promotion of over 80 books. You have to set goals. If you are looking for that magic bullet where you write a single book that will support you for the rest of your life, like 50 Shades or Twilight, understand that doing this is a gamble. For us, we were after a television or film deal.
Again, If you treat it like a business you’ll understand like all ventures it requires major investments in time and sometimes money. I have done radio ads, ads on the sides of buses, all kinds of expensive ways to promote. Who’s to say what worked and what didn’t? As of today, I have a steady income from all the books, and while that was not our endgame, the fact that both my son and myself have been picked up by publishers, I can safely say that all my promotion yielded something.
Tabatha Shipley: No, not at all. As far as I could tell I didn’t generate a single sale based on the ad, unfortunately. I am likely to try again in the future on a different platform than Facebook.
Sionnach Wintergreen: Newsletters, yes. FB and an LGBTQ blog tour, not so much. I’m trying a book blitz blog tour with giveaways for my upcoming m/f romance release. I have my fingers crossed!
Fran Lewis: It is never balanced and the money spent depending on how you have your book published: self publishing or independent or tea: it depends on the publishing company and their packages. This is something I researched carefully after my first three books were published and learned what costs I should incur and what was added on and I had deleted. It’s hard to tell book sales as compared to money spent unless you insist on a written account of what you sold, their portion and of course Amazon.
Are you in the Writing Industry?
Shoot me an email, I’d love to interview you!
And check out Lost in Amber: An Out Of This World Paranormal Romance if enjoy girl power, adventure & a toe-curling love story.
She just wanted to mope over her breakup but the universe had other plans for Zoey Mills.
Read the full blurb here.