The Debut Author Survival Guide is a series that explains everything that happens between selling your book to publication day in an attempt to demystify the process of publishing your first novel (through a traditional publishing lens). Go HERE to see the rest of the series!
Self-promotion is daunting, especially when you’re a brand new author with a brand new book deal. Sometimes you’re known in the more insular writing community, but now you’re trying to get your name and your book out there to the greater reader world. And that world is vast (far bigger than what we see in the small subsection that is writing/reading Twitter and Instagram). However, if we want to take action to help with the success of our debut book (or any other books we publish) then doing self-promo on social media is a free way to do it.
First, you have to have social media accounts. If you don’t have one, then don’t worry! It’s not a requirement that you already have a social media account before you get a book deal. But if you do make new ones try to get the same handle across all platforms, it makes it easier for people to find you on other websites.
You should also have an author website. We talked about why author websites mattered in a previous post. And one of the biggest reasons is to have a landing page with all your links and information that you can design and control.
Also, as soon as you get your book deal, start a press kit on your website for any interviews you do. As you get more information or materials for your book include links and graphics in your press kit. Most press kits will at least have a bio, a headshot, and a good resolution photo of the book cover.
Now that you have those basics, you’re ready to do some self-promo. But where do you start? First of all, you need to know that you shouldn’t tweet only about your book/how to buy your book. There are some author accounts that are “update accounts” but that’s after the author has become established and there is a fan base that wants constant updates on their books and their appearances. When you’re just starting out you want to let people know who you are as an artist/creator and what you write about so they’re interested in reading your work.
Therefore, you should try to show some of your personality if you can. Maybe tweet sometimes about other books you’re reading, your favorite craft topics, what TV shows or movies you’ve watched lately and what you thought of them. GIFs or memes that made you laugh. Funny observations about writer and publishing life. Anything that will allow your audience to engage with you.
There are some great times that you definitely should talk about your book. That’s when you have news or exciting things to share about your book or adjacent to your book.
The standard major announcement times are:
1) deal announcement/Goodreads page for adds
2) cover reveal
3) ARCs exist and may be requested for review (usually occurs 4-9 months before publication, but can vary depending on if the book is lead title and what season it publishes)
4) pre-order links are live (usually occurs 4-6 months before publication)
5) good trade reviews/awards
6) announcing pre-order giveaway (usually done 2-3 months out from publication)
Other optional announcements which are never guaranteed include: going on tour, being included in a big lists, movie rights sold, foreign rights sold.
Always include a call to action in anything you post on social media. It doesn’t always have to be the same call to action. No one likes it when you’re always saying “buy my book” but you can ensure that your self-promo is ensuring that people will continue to engage with you. Calls to action include: buy link, RT and/or follow, add on Goodreads, join an author FB page
You are also allowed to do an ICYMI (in case you missed it) post that QT’s your original post within a couple of weeks of your original tweet. This is because people know that not everyone is online or scrolling the feed right after big news is announced, so some people might have missed your tweet and would have wanted to celebrate with you if they saw it.
Also, if something happens in the publishing world or in your life that seems applicable to your story or your author career, then feel free to tweet about it and then gently guide people toward your book. It’s a way for you to acknowledge your influences and that no one writes in a vacuum, things that happen in the world can affect our writing or remind us of why we write all the time. So that’s a great way to engage with your followers and readers.