Dear Indie Annie,
I’ve started a new social media account to market my book, and I love posting photos and videos of the other things I read! But I get nervous posting anything about my own writing. How do I build up the confidence to market my work to strangers?
(Sort of) Social in Seville
My dear sensational Social,
What are you afraid of, my little social media butterfly? I guess you have followers, right? Avid readers who are looking to you for tips and suggestions about what to read next? They obviously agree with your choices. They like what you recommend. They like you. Chances are high that they will also like what you write.
But how can you be sure, my fluttery friend? Ah, there’s the rub. You can’t.
There are steps you can take, though, to test the waters and put your mind at rest. Ask your followers to beta read your stories.
I would begin by hinting in your posts that you have been working on something in your spare time. Share books, movies, or real events that have inspired your story. Check your comments section for people’s reactions. Are you getting a lot of likes or interactions from a couple of really engaged individuals? They could be the foundation of your beta team. You could then put out a call on your social media to recruit readers and/or direct message those who you have identified as the most supportive.
It would flatter most people who love the same books as you to be asked to help launch another author’s career. Who doesn’t want to be there on the ground floor? If you turn out to write a bestseller, they can boast they knew you when no one else did. They can share in your success.
You see, many have the distant dream of becoming a writer themselves, and you can invite them into your process.
In return, you’ll get hopefully honest feedback on your stories before you release them into the big bad world. Remember, you are not asking them to edit your work. That is what your alpha team, including professional editors, would do. They may and probably will spot some typos, but most importantly they will help you get valuable feedback on the success of your story. In other words, they will let you know if they enjoy it.
And if they enjoy it, you’ll no longer have followers—you’ll have fans! Fans who will become your street team, pushing your books through their social media and leaving you positive reviews when the books are finally released.
“Oh, but Indie Annie,” I hear you cry, “what if they don’t like them?” That is a risk, I grant you, sweet Social. That is why you need to find several beta readers. One person’s opinion is not fact. In fact, several people’s opinions are not fact. However, if they all tell you that your story could be improved by changing the opening chapter or tightening up a soggy middle, then perhaps that is something you can work on before publication.
I appreciate this idea is terrifying, but every successfully published author has been where you are now. No book will ever be perfect. No book will ever be universally applauded. Perhaps you will need to rewrite huge sections of your story before it is ready, but that, my dear, is part of the process.
I will take this opportunity to remind you about the books you have loved and posted about. Not everyone will have agreed with your selection, but you thought them worthy of support. I can promise you that if you reached out to those authors, they too could tell you about receiving painful critiques. They could also tell you that the biggest fear is fear itself.
So, as you have already dangled your feet in the social media pond, cast the line, and reel in your new fans. It will be an exciting adventure!