Social media marketing for authors

Make friends, sell books, don’t be annoying

Derek Murphy


Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

This is the preface to my revised book marketing guide, you can find the whole series on Medium or download the free PDF.

Because I operate in self-publishing circles, I have a lot of authors and author services on my Twitter feed. Depressingly, I’d say about 90% of authors I come in contact with come off as spammy self-promoters. Even more depressingly, the author marketing services, author networks and self-published book promoters come off the same way. (And these are the people that are taking authors’ money to do promoting for them.)

There’s a very simple rule: 90% of your content should not be about yourself or your book. You should be sharing other people’s posts, researching and finding useful information online, helping people solve problems, and making positive relationships by providing value.

I know authors who tweet about their book 20 times a day, each time trying to use a clever new twist, sale, giveaway, prize or description.

Advertising takes repetition: if you are paying to advertise, people may see your ad 25 times before finally wondering what it’s all about and clicking the link.

But social media is not advertising

Spammy, self-promotional announcements may seem to work in the indie community, because everybody is doing it and indie authors support each other, but you’re not reaching the much broader market of everybody else.

Everybody else is made up of savvy consumers who got used to sales-speak and are cynical, hesitant and skeptical. They won’t trust you when you tell them your book is awesome.

This is why, during Stage Two, you shouldn’t be marketing. You are trying to establish trust and make friends. And you can’t do that by selling or marketing your book. Instead, you need to be useful, friendly and helpful.

“Being useful, helpful and generous is satisfying to you personally, but also builds up a bank of goodwill. When you later mention that you have a book out, or people are attracted to you because of your generosity, and see you have books/products available, they are more likely to buy” (Joanna Penn, How to…



Derek Murphy

I rent castles and chase kittens into dark alleys. PhD in in esoteric literature, creativity alchemist for authors, finish your best work @