By Kate Larking

NovelMarketingWhen people hear that my marketing research revolves around marketing and promotion for fiction authors, the first question is usually akin to this:

“Do I need to _______? I’ve been told I need to ________ to sell books.”

What is the ______? It could be:

  • Blog every day
  • Keep a website
  • Be on Twitter
  • Have a Facebook Page
  • Host giveaways
  • Buy advertising on Google
  • Manage an Instagram account for my cat

I’ve heard all of these and more. But the main thing it comes back to is the question of “Do I have to?” Usually, when I am asked this question, it’s because the author asking doesn’t like that specific media. She can’t keep up with blogging every day, or he thinks Twitter is 140 characters of idiocy at a time, or she thinks giveaways are eating her sales, or he doesn’t want to advertise because it seems spammy and fake. Whatever the reason, the question is usually forced out of the perceived need of the author to be on that media.

So what is the answer? Do you have to? No, you don’t need to be.

Before you start sending me every book marketing article on why blogs /Twitter/Facebook Pages/giveaways/advertisements are necessary, let me explain.

If you are in a position where you are forced to do something you don’t like, you usually don’t enjoy yourself and end up hating it. It is therefore not a voluntarily maintainable habit.

If you hate Twitter with a passion and think it’s useless but you’re on it because ‘everyone’ tells you to be on it to sell your book, you’re in a pickle. There are three potential fates for your loathed Twitter account:

  • You will do the bare minimum and have absolutely no reach. You can thank random followers for following and retweet the occasional charity case. But will you sell books without being engaged in the social media? It’s unlikely.
  • You’ll abandon your account. You’ll try it, hate it, and just drop it. But when readers find you there and see Tweets from two years ago, talking about nothing? It isn’t likely to help you sell books.
  • In a worst case scenario, you’ll stick it out and keep tweeting. It’s pure drudgery for you to figure out what to tweet about. Your distaste for the media will show through in your feed and your reader is going to wonder what your problem is.

No matter what you do to market your fiction, there is one essential rule when it comes to building the base of your author platform: Do what works for you, first and foremost.

To market your fiction effectively, you have to establish relationships with your readers. Social media gives authors a wonderful media to be social with your readership no matter where they are located.

But the media has to work for you in order for your marketing to work in the long run. While certain social media platforms have better success with certain demographics, you don’t have to be on it if you hate it. It’s as simple as that. As an author you should spend your time doing things you enjoy and you should find the means of marketing that is most enjoyable for you.

If you’re writing romance, your general target market will be college-educated women. If you look at marketing research on which social media platforms appeal to this crowd the most, you’ll see that Facebook and Pinterest are standout winners. If you like Pinterest but don’t want to work with Facebook, that’s totally fine. That’s your call, as an author, to pick the media that works the best for you and with you.

It’s better to invest your readership building in a platform you love and will use in the long run rather than spreading yourself too thin across platforms where your target audience demographic is supposed to be found.


KateLarkingKate Larking is a University of Calgary graduate with a degree in Marketing and a minor in English. While keeping on top of the newest digital marketing research, she writes speculative fiction for both YA and adult markets.

Her book Novel Marketing: Making Your Author Brand Work for You & Your Books contains many more handy tidbits for authors that allow them to do novel marketing right so they can keep writing.

You can reach Kate at:

Her website: KateLarking.com

On Twitter: Twitter.com/astres

On Facebook: facebook.com/novelmarketingbook

On Pinterest: pinterest.com/astres

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