Five Great Things That Don’t Sell a Lot of Books: #4 Online Social Media

Social media is possibly the hardest topic on this list to write about because there will be exceptions to what I have to say, and cultivated properly, social media can do quite a bit to spread the word about a book. Once something goes viral an author may well have it made.

While there is much to commend about building up a presence on social media, and it can work over time, I’ve spoken with plenty of experienced publishers and marketing experts who caution authors about the danger of giving up on traditional marketing tools in favor of, as one put it, sitting at their computers all day to do online networking.

Don’t get me wrong, it can be incredibly powerful, especially when someone can read something you’ve written or a video you’ve made and click through to a sample of your book and then a sales page.

However, many times social media may only result in more blog views, followers, and interest rather than actual book sales. Online tools may still only make a weak connection with readers.

You can take Seth Godin’s discussion of faux followers vs. viral growth as a great example of this. Someone could spend a lot of time amassing followers on Twitter or friends on Facebook, but how many of these connections will actually become invested in your book, buy it, read it, and tell their friends about it? Godin suggests, “A slightly better idea defeats a much bigger but disconnected user base every time,” but we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

In order for book sales and referrals to happen, you certainly need to use social media and to become a contributing member of the community. However, for people to actually buy your book there needs to be a bit more going on than a weak social media connection. While social media is essential, it’s not powerful enough on its own to help authors put books into the hands of readers.

The rest of this series:

Great Endorsements

A Great Forward

Great Reviews

Online Social Media

A Web Site


Two Thing That Do

A well-written book that is targeted to a specific but wide audience.

A Trusted Name with an Extensive Platform

3 thoughts on “Five Great Things That Don’t Sell a Lot of Books: #4 Online Social Media

  1. So true. I have had some surprising success helping some others translate social media into notable sales. Others, seeing that success, simply started using Twitter, Facebook, etc. as a means to blast people with constant adverts. It can be a helpful hammer in your tool belt, but you can only do so much with a hammer, right?


  2. Thanks Jamie. You’re absolutely right. And I just realized that I forgot to post the third part of this series and deleted it!!! ACK! Well, it’ll just have to be wrong for now. And by the way, how the heck do you get your avatar to show up here? Is there a plug in that I need??? It’s a total mystery to me.


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