Does Social Media Really Sell Books?

In brief, yes and no.

Over at Writer Unboxed, I’ve written a post on social media marketing. It begins:

Most new authors, upon securing a book contract or planning a book launch, are advised they need to establish a Twitter account, a Facebook page, or [list social media channel here]. Why? To market their book, of course.

This presents an immediate dilemma: If the author is not already active on these channels, of her own interest and volition, she now has the mindset of using these tools to “market”—and the new author may have no idea what that means beyond telling people to like their page or follow them.

Go read the full post (with a wonderful discussion in the comments), A Key Marketing Principle That Authors Must Learn (or Not Forget).

And for those paying attention, I am once again a regular Writer Unboxed columnist. It’s good to be back, and my thanks to Therese and the WU family for so warmly welcoming my return.

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Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) has more than 15 years of experience in the book and magazine publishing industry, with expertise in digital media and the future of authorship. She speaks around the world at events such as BookExpo America, Frankfurt Book Fair, and Digital Book World, and has keynoted writing conferences such as The Muse & The Marketplace. She currently teaches digital media and publishing at the University of Virginia. Find out more.
Posted in Marketing & Promotion, Social Media and tagged , .


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  5. The short answer… no, social media the tool does not sell books.

    YOU, as an author, are responsible for using these tools to sell books. That means you must build and respect a community of people who choose to read what you post on social media.

    If you don’t already have that community built, you can still use social media tools to help you market your books, but under the right context, the right mindset when doing so.

    The short version?

    Social media is not an advertising billboard, it’s a cocktail party at first, and then you’re inviting people over to your “house” on social media.

    When you invite people over to your house, you don’t start the conversation by shouting out “HEY, everyone, I’m selling books I wrote!” … do you?


    And, when you’re at a cocktail party, you don’t do that either.

    Social media is exactly what it says it is… social. And, most people (and larger companies, unfortunately) who are marketing on social media forget one important thing:

    Social media tools were created for people to connect first, NOT to have marketers interrupt people with their marketing messages.

    No one logs on to Facebook thinking “You know what? I’m going to look for the first person who’s marketing something today…”

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