As an author, you’ve probably been told that being active on social media will help you sell your books.
And maybe you’ve been doing all you can to promote your book and engage with your followers on various social media platforms.
But it’s not working.
We’ve worked with a lot of authors at TCK Publishing, and we’ve come to an unexpected conclusion. If you’re an author trying to sell more books, you probably should NOT use social media.
There are plenty of people out there who will tell you why authors should use social media, but here are three essential reasons why you really shouldn’t:
1. Organic Reach is Falling
Organic reach is the number of people who see your post without you paying for it. If you’ve noticed that you are not getting much engagement on your social media posts, that’s because every business page is getting less engagement due to less organic reach.
The average number of engagements with Facebook posts by brands and authors has fallen by more than 20% since the beginning of 2017, after falling by more than 50% in 2016. Back in 2012, the average Facebook post used to get 16% organic reach—that meant if you had 100 fans, 16 of them, on average, would see one of your posts. Today, the average organic reach is closer to 1%. That means posting on your Facebook fan page is (at least) 16 times less effective today than it was just six years ago.
The numbers are similar for other social media sites. Recently Instagram has had high organic reach for businesses, but even that is starting to fall after introducing ads and other changes to the platform.
One reason for this is that your social content has to compete against an ever-increasing sea of social posts in the news feed.
In the case of Facebook, you could be competing against 15,000 stories at any given moment.
If you want more than 1 or 2 people to even see what you post, you need to create social media content that gets people to notice it and engage with it—by liking, commenting and sharing it.
It takes a lot of time and effort to understand and implement the nuances of social media marketing, and even then you’d be betting on organic reach not dropping even further (which it most likely will).
So if you’re not a seasoned marketer, it’s best for you NOT to use social media to promote your books.
And even if you are a seasoned marketer, you’ll be able to find much more profitable ways to spend your marketing time and money.
2. Your Time is Better Spent Writing
The average person spends 2 hours and 25 minutes every day on social media. That’s an enormous waste of time. That’s equivalent to nearly 20 full work weeks of time each year!
To give those numbers some perspective, if you spent that time writing every day instead of on social media, you could probably produce about three full-length novels each year (if you follow a good writing process).
Like most self-published authors you probably hold a day job and try to write between that and other activities in your personal life.
If you’re spending all that time trying to engage with your audience on social media, you’re hardly left with any time to write.
And writing is what you need to do to become a successful writer. Getting 1% of your fans to read what you have to say is never going to return to you the kind of value that writing a great book (or several great books) will.
Lack of time also results in poor quality writing which will ruin your chances for success if you try to rush through the writing process so that you can spend more time posting on social media.
So perhaps you should leave social media marketing to professionals who can handle it for you once you’re swimming in cash from all those books you’re able to produce now that you’re not wasting years of your life on Facebook.
3. Avoid Social Media Anxiety
Social media use can increase your anxiety, and too much anxiety is can destroy your creativity and productivity.
Social media is a place where your personal and professional life merges. Everything that you post on social media creates an impression of who you are as a person and as an author.
And this creates a dilemma about what you should share and what you shouldn’t.
The very nature of social media makes it a place where anyone and everyone can give their opinions—some of which will be good, but some not so much.
If you are vested in these opinions, it can affect you mentally and emotionally, leaving you depressed.
This can impact your creative process and stop you from producing your best work.
If you obsess over what people think about what you write, you’ll never be able to write something truly great and unique.
Social media is not only an ineffective marketing tool, but it can also end up costing you more in time and stress than the benefits it provides.
If you’re worried that you will not be able to sell your books if you don’t use social media, think again.
There are lots of great ways you can market and promote your books effectively.
How to Market Your Books
- Use Amazon Book Promotion Programs
- Cross promoting with similar authors
- Write an outreach email to influencers
- Use book promotion sites
- Host book signing events
- Build an author’s press kit
- Use AMS Ads
- And much more!
Social media is not mandatory for authors.
But good writing is.
If you want to be a great writer, you have to make a choice about how you divide your time between writing and marketing.
I recommend you follow the 80/20 rule—spend 80% of your time writing and 20% of your time marketing. And try to make sure that the time you spend on marketing is going to make a difference for you.
If that makes sense to you, I recommend you skip social media marketing and focus on the other strategies mentioned above and in our other book marketing articles.
Tom Corson-Knowles is the founder of TCK Publishing, and the bestselling author of 27 books including Secrets of the Six-Figure author. He is also the host of the Publishing Profits Podcast show where we interview successful authors and publishing industry experts to share their tips for creating a successful writing career.