How to market your book through social media
As well as being a fine poet and novelist, Sarah Salway could teach some of her contemporaries about how to use social media to spread the word about their work.
An avid user of Twitter and Facebook, as well as a blogger, Sarah admits social media has revolutionised her approach to publicising her books. No longer does it feel like a terrifying slog driven by a publicist spread across too many titles, instead social media has turned promotion into a creative and fun way for authors to build relationships with readers new and old.
A year ago Sarah’s 2004 novel, Something Beginning With, was republished as an ebook in the Friday Project’s The Library of Lost Books. When it was first published by Bloomsbury, Sarah admits she was sick with nerves trying to publicise the book. But Twitter has changed all that. A copy of the new edition found its way to Neil Gaiman, who instantly tweeted about how much he loved it. He also wrote a rave review of the book on his website. William Gibson did the same.
Instantly Sarah’s website was swamped with enquiries about Something Beginning With. Even better, Gaiman’s and Gibson’s enthusiasm for the book was catching: Sarah’s fans responded with a Twitter campaign of their own, and the book started a rapid climb up the Amazon charts.
This was not a hard sell, it was enthusiasm. Just like when you tell all your friends about the book you couldn’t tear yourself away from last night. And that is the biggest lesson authors must learn from Sarah’s experience: don’t use Twitter or Facebook to push your book into the faces of readers – a guaranteed turn off – instead, be yourself, be enthusiastic and enter into conversations with readers. Conversations are two way, sales pitches are not.
One way in which Sarah interacts with her followers is through writing prompts, random lines that can be used as starting points for creative writing. They are a great way to fight writers’ block and get into the daily discipline of writing.
Sarah loves the creative opportunities offered by social media, she says: ‘I’m amazed every day by the brilliant, fun things people put up on twitter, from crowdsourced poetry to recipes for Elizabeth Bishop’s brownies.’ She adds: ‘I particularly love it when I get responses to my own writing prompts.’
This reaction is why Sarah has decided to launch her new poetry collection You Don’t Need Another Self-Help Book with a virtual poetry tour. My website is one of the lucky staging posts.
The collection of sexy, subtle and witty poems has already received rave reviews, including this from Philip Gross: ’Subtly angled glimpses of love, sex, marriage, which reveal them as they really are: matters of life and death. There’s a quiet sizzling underneath the surface of these poems, which can make you smile and wince at the same time.’
I couldn’t agree more. The poems scatter gold dust on the most mundane areas of our lives from the office to the kitchen. I promise you will never look at a Post-it note in the same way again.
Sarah has kindly recorded one of my particular favourites – Different Lives, a poem every parent can relate to. Listen to it here:
And buy it here: