Sell Your Books! Part 2

In my last post I introduced you to Debbie Young – book promotion guru. And this post concludes her sage advice:Sell Your Books! by Debbie Young

Many writers worry about the time-consuming nature of maintaining a presence on social media. What is the best platform (blog, Twitter, Facebook etc.) to concentrate on?

All of these do different things, so it’s hard to say that one is better than the other. 

With a blog, you are totally in control. Running a blog on your website will increase its standing before search engines, so I’d recommend it to all authors – and writing blog posts is a great exercise for honing your writing skills, too.
Twitter allows you to reach people you’d never meet in real life, who share your interests and passions – so select the right people to follow and they’ll be naturally predisposed to liking your book.
Facebook is good at keeping your progress before those you know, and for getting friends to “share” your posts with their friends – a kind of pyramid selling! You can also create a Facebook  page specifically for your book, rather than putting it on  your personal Facebook page.
GoodReads is a great way of networking with people who are, by definition, all avid readers (and a lot of writers too).
But social media can be hugely time-consuming! It’s a question of discipline, self-knowledge and honesty. Be firm about what you want to get out of these things, and only use them to help you reach those goals.
How can a self-published author gain national publicity for their book – local papers and radio stations may be willing to promote a writer from their region but how does a writer move outside his own geographical area?
Social media is the biggest opportunity, because you can make contacts with people from all over the world. But there are other, more traditional opportunities too. I’d recommend not touting your book to get national recognition, but coming up with interesting comment and valuable expertise to gain you coverage as a person – as a commentator or programme contributor – from which more awareness of your book will follow. I’ve often listened to an interesting discussion on the radio between anonymous voices and heard at the end the names of the people and the books they wrote. I’ve gone off and bought the book on the strength of it.

On Radio 4 alone there are plenty of magazine shows that need topical, expert material for their programmes – Woman’s Hour, Money Box, the Today Programme, PM. Your book and the knowledge or experience that enabled you to write it might give you viable ideas for an article, or an engaging comment to follow up a programme.

Approach your target programme’s production office with a well-thought out idea, backed up by your credentials as the author of a book on the subject, and you may get lucky.
(Other national outlets can also be approached in this spirit – the nature of your book will dictate what should be your priority, e.g. a special interest national magazine in  your field.)

Whichever media you approach, always have the media coverage you’ve had to date, your sales figures, and your reviews at your fingertips. When you put it all together, you might surprise yourself with what an impressive portfolio your book has.
Keep track of current public debate relevant to your genre. Get involved in national discussion via old-fashioned letters to the editor, comments on blogs or radio phone-ins. Always quote your credentials as the author of a relevant book, this will make it clear that you are an expert with something interesting to say about the subject.
Be opportunist. Manufacture your own luck. If you want to win the lottery, as the old joke goes, you have to buy a ticket…
Thank you for the advice, Debbie and there’s lots more great information in Debbie’s book and on her blog.


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  1. #1 by Helen Hart on October 24, 2012 - 9:30 am

    Good interview questions and very comprehensive responses. Debbie is so generous with her advice. Thank you, Sally, I’m going to repost and tweet a link to this interview.

    • #2 by Sally Jenkins on October 24, 2012 - 5:08 pm

      Helen – You’re right, Debbie is always very happy to share her knowledge and experience. And her book is written in an inspiring, engaging and friendly manner – well worth the money if you want to sell your books!

  2. #3 by Keith Havers on October 24, 2012 - 2:51 pm

    Thanks for these posts, Sally.
    I’ve been blogging for a few years but only recently started onTwitter after advice from authors and publishers at my writers’ club. Already it’s eating into my time and I find I’m having to limit the periods when I trawl the sites. I’m resisting opening a Facebook account because then I’ll have to spread myself even thinner.

    • #4 by Sally Jenkins on October 24, 2012 - 5:10 pm

      Keith, I’m not on Twitter because I’m scared it will waste too much time but am beginning to think I might be missing out on something. I’m on Facebook but not active. It’s really difficult to balance writing time and social media time, isn’t it?

  3. #5 by Christine Howe on October 25, 2012 - 8:40 am

    Thanks very much to Debbie for this advice. So timely: at our writing group meeting yesterday we discussed this very issue of which platform(s) to choose and how much time to spend.

    • #6 by Sally Jenkins on October 25, 2012 - 11:14 am

      Christine, thanks for dropping by and I hope you found it useful. There’s plenty more advice in Debbie’s book.

  4. #7 by Tracy Fells on October 25, 2012 - 4:33 pm

    Another great post Sally & Debbie. Social networking was a topic at my local writers’ group recently too. I’m a great advocate for all of them and have met many helpful contacts and some very lovely people too 🙂

    • #8 by Sally Jenkins on October 25, 2012 - 7:41 pm

      You’re right, Tracy – there are some lovely people out there in the social networks. It must have been very lonely for writers in the ‘olden days’ – but they probably got more writing done!

  5. #9 by Carol E Wyer on October 29, 2012 - 8:33 am

    This is a super post and offers very sound advice.
    I have to admit that attempting to become familiar with social networking sites took some time for me but it has been rewarding in many ways. I started my blog as research to see if a middle aged woman could start a blog and make friends. It certainly worked and I have met some fabulous people on-line and more recently in real life as a consequence.
    I still struggle with Goodreads some days – must try harder…
    Very nice to find you Sally and I shall definitely be back to visit your super blog.
    Best wishes
    (Facing 50 with Humour)

    • #10 by Sally Jenkins on October 29, 2012 - 1:04 pm

      Hi Carol, I haven’t tried Goodreads myself yet – but I can see that it makes sense to connect with avid readers.

  6. #11 by Debbie Young on October 29, 2012 - 1:44 pm

    Thank you so much, Sally, for hosting me on your excellent website, which is always a stimulating read. Thanks also to everyone else for their kind comments here. If any writers’ groups would be interested in having me come along to give a talk and answer questions. please don’t hesitate to ask – I’m happy to visit any within a reasonable distance of home!

  7. #12 by Debarghya Mukherjee on November 11, 2012 - 9:15 am

    Very informative post dear. I like it. 🙂

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