Social media is an incredible tool and platform for you to share and promote your book to potential new readers around the world. But it can also be very frustrating to create social media content to share your voice and share your product (your book) and your brand (you yourself), especially if you’re not seeing much return for your efforts.
Today, I’m offering ideas for relatively easy and accessible social media content for you to create and share on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. We’ll talk about ideas for different types of content – content that promotes your book, content that engages your audience, and content that promotes your brand. We’ll also touch on several reusable graphics and other kinds of promotional material that you should have at your disposal.
Plus, many of the ideas listed below can work very well for email newsletter content too! Keep your email subscribers engaged with fun and interesting content mixed with promotion for your book and they’ll keep reading.
If you’re new to social media, or still working on finding your audience and figuring out where you want to focus your social media efforts, I would definitely recommend checking out this blog post on Basic Book Promotion and this one on Building Your Author Network before diving in here.
Also, one quick note before we start: I want to remind everyone that the most important thing you can do on social media is listen. There is a time and place for promotion, a time and place for fun content, and a time and place for quietly sitting back and listening to what is happening in your particular microcosm of the internet. Do your best to read the room.
Promotional Graphics to Create and Keep in Your Toolkit
There are a few graphics that you should always have at your disposal if you’re promoting a book. At minimum you should have a high resolution version of your book cover art and a high resolution version of your author photo immediately available. Seriously – keep them handy in a folder on your desktop, drop them in a Google Drive folder you can access from any computer or mobile device, email them to yourself – whatever you need to do to keep them readily accessible.
These are the additional materials I encourage you to start with to build your social media content strategy. We’re going to talk about more graphics in the next part of this post that you can create using these materials and ultimately add to your toolkit, but let’s start with these first:
- A high-res version of your book cover
- A high-res author photo
- A high-res version of your publisher’s logo
- Several variations of 3D graphics of your book
- A basic graphic of your book cover and title, sized for each social media platform you plan to use for promotion
Social Media Graphic Content Made Easy
Okay, I know that sounds like a lot. And I’m sure that many of you right now are looking at those last two in particular and thinking, “I’m an author, not a graphic designer.” Luckily for you, there are all kinds of amazing, free, easy-to-use tools out there that can help you create professional-looking graphics.
Don’t believe me? I’ll show you. I made a book cover for the project I’m working on right now, and I’m going to make most – if not all – of the graphics I recommend in this post. Everything I make will use free, user-friendly online tools, starting with the book cover itself. I made this cover using Canva – which will be the primary graphic design tool we use here – and this photo I found for free on Unsplash. The very first thing I did with it was upload it to DIY Bookcovers for their incredible 3D Book Cover Creator, and boom:
Now, for that basic graphic of your book cover and title, we’re going back to Canva. The first thing Canva prompts you to do when you’re creating a new design is choose the size of your graphic – and they have helpfully labeled them by social media platform. I’m a big fan of Twitter, and I know that Twitter has a very active and engaged Young Adult audience, so that’s where I’m going to focus my social media content efforts for my fake book.
The goal of this graphic is to create something both simple and versatile. You want something that you can attach to posts when you’re just saying a simple “Hey, check out my book!” or even something you can send to bookstores or media outlets that you’re trying to set up some promotion with. Canva has all kinds of templates you can use if you want to get creative, but I’m going to keep mine very simple (for now):
Seriously, that’s it. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel, or create a masterpiece that’ll be the talk of AIGA for the next five years – just a simple, clean graphic is enough.
And as for the high-res version of your publisher’s logo? Well, depending on who your publisher is I can’t tell you where to get those. I can tell you where to get the Lulu Primary logo and Lulu Logo Icon in png and vector formats though – and that’s right here:
Social Media Content That Promotes Your Book
Now that we have our basic tools ready to go, let’s get into how to create some content for social media that will help you promote your book! Most of this content is absolutely, 100% reusable, with the exception of a few time-sensitive or one-time-only suggestions. Most of it is also content that can and should be used during the duration of your content marketing efforts, which should start well before your “pub day” and can continue long after it.
First, let’s talk three time-sensitive content ideas that, though they can only be used once, can create awesome buzz for your book:
1. Do a Cover Reveal
Maybe you’ve been talking about your book, maybe you haven’t. Maybe you’ve alluded to it with some tweets about how you’ve been hard at work on something big, or flat out been shouting from the rooftops that you’re working on a book and it’s going to be AWESOME. Or maybe you haven’t said a single word about it on social media, and now that the draft is done and the cover art is finished, you’re ready to start talking. A cover reveal is a fantastic opportunity to show off your beautiful cover art and create some buzz about your upcoming book. It’s also a great time to announce your pub date.
There are many ways to do a cover reveal, starting with who is hosting it. If you’re interested in having someone else host your cover reveal for you that’s definitely an option you can look into – there are all kinds of blogs and news outlets open to hosting an “exclusive first look at this exciting new upcoming book” – if that’s the route you want to go be sure to check them out!
If you’d rather do your cover reveal yourself, that’s fine too! Tease your followers a few times with posts letting them know that you have big news coming soon, that you have an exclusive first look at your new book, that they should check back on Monday for an exciting announcement. Make a big deal out of it! It’s your book! If you’re not excited about it, your followers definitely won’t be.
Just don’t forget – there are NO social media platforms that are formatted to showcase an image in the size and shape of a book cover. If you just post the cover art file as your graphic it’s going to be cropped and likely distorted no matter where you post it. If only you had a basic graphic of your book cover and title handy…
Also, pro tip: cover reveals – and any other “exclusive first look / sneak peek” content – are GREAT content for email newsletters. Especially if you can then turn around and say to your social media followers; “It was so exciting sharing the first look at my cover in this month’s newsletter! Missed the big reveal? Never be left out of the loop again – sign up for my newsletter here:”
2. Post an Unboxing Video
Unboxing Videos are my new Dogs Being Reunited With Their Owners. Seriously, the excitement and pride and joy on an author’s face when they hold the final copy of their brand new book in their hands gets me every time.
What is an unboxing video? It can be a lot of different things, depending on what internet community you’re looking at, but in the publishing community it’s a video of an author opening a newly-received package with final, finished copies of their book. It’s fairly simple content that can deliver a lot of bang for very little buck – plus, video content is huge on social media right now. Check out Bookbub for some ideas of how to make an unboxing video work for you.
And seriously, if you post an unboxing video after reading this, please tag us in it. Both because I’d love to cry over it and also because I’d love to share it on our social pages too!
3. Sales and Promotions
You may run your own sales and promotions for your book, and that will have its own marketing strategy attached to it, but also pay attention to what’s happening at your book retailers. Did you know that Lulu runs weekly promos that apply to ALL print products for sale in our bookstore? These weekly promos don’t cut into your profits at all, but give your potential shoppers a little discount to sweeten the deal when considering your awesome book.
I’ll give you the inside scoop: every Monday morning I post all the details about that week’s promotion on Facebook and Twitter. Every week I see maybe five, at most ten authors use that content themselves. That’s free content right there! Retweet or share my post and add a caption that says “Hey, this works on my book! Click here to buy your copy, and don’t forget the promo code: [link to your book on Lulu].” Boom. One social post for the week done, as easy as that.
Evergreen Social Media Content
Now for the evergreen content. This social media content can and should be reused over and over, and once you have it available, you can share it throughout your marketing efforts – before, during, and after your book launch. This is also the part where we have to make our own graphics, but I promise that tools like Canva, Unsplash, and DIY Bookcovers will make that nice and easy.
1. Book Quote Graphics
This is possibly my favorite type of promotional graphic for many reasons – they’re relatively easy to make, you don’t need to rely on any other outside source for this content, and it’s a chance for you to show off your book and your writing.
Put together a list of a couple of short (very short, 1-2 sentences MAX) blurbs. Pull quotes from your book – it can be a funny bit of dialogue, a sentence of narration that teases the plot, a chapter title that shares some insight into what your book is about, anything that jumps out at you as something succinct and eye-catching. You can also use some quick 1-2 sentence teasers about the plot – think of it as the kind of tagline you’d see on a movie poster.
I’ve made up three examples here: a bit of dialogue, a tagline, and a longer quote. I’ve also made three different graphics for them – one using the book cover, one using the cover art (hey, there are perks to being a self-published author, and having complete access to your cover graphics is one of them), and one using a thematically appropriate photo. All three were made entirely on Canva, using their free tools, and can be sized for any social media platform I want (these are sized for Twitter):
Definitely also note that if you’re doing this with multiple quotes / blurbs – and really, there’s no limit to the number of these that you could make – there is no reason that you can’t reuse the same graphic multiple times and just swap out the copy. The above examples are so you can see different styles, but you could also streamline your aesthetic by reusing the same background graphic with different copy for each post.
2. Book Review Graphics
These are very, very similar to the quote graphics – in fact, you can even use the same base graphics for both and just replace the copy. So instead of repeating the whole previous process, I’m going to share some tips on how to use the book reviews you have for awesome social media content.
A book review from a credible, recognizable source is great – we all want to see “This is the best book ever written, period. – The New York Times” on our books. But that doesn’t mean that a review from an everyday reader, a review from a lesser-known blog, or even a review from your own family isn’t just as valuable!
Goodreads is an incredible source for book reviews – if you’re not already on Goodreads you absolutely should be, right now. It’s a great place to find your audience, connect with your readers, collect reviews, and find other books like yours. Read this article to learn more about how to join the Goodreads author program.
I’m going to let you all in on a (really obvious, terribly kept) industry secret – even a bad review can be used as a good review if you frame it correctly. And, more importantly, as long as you don’t change the words, it’s unlikely you’ll be called out for selectively choosing “pull quotes” from a larger review.
Let’s say I got this review for my book:
Cruel Summer had the potential to be a great book, but with an absolute tool of a main character, a boring love interest, and a trite and generic plot with very basic low-grade conflict, that potential fell pretty flat pretty quickly. Hopefully the author shares the main character’s dry, self-deprecating sense of humor that carries the narrative – it’ll make it easy to laugh off all the bad reviews she’s about to get.
– Paige Turner, Goodreads
That’s clearly a bad review, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t useful. Check it out:
Of course, lean into your good reviews first. An unmanipulated decent review is always better than a bad review manipulated into a good review. Get a great review on Amazon, or Goodreads, or even social media, but not sure how to share it? Check out some of these options:
Pro tip: be shameless when it comes to reviews. Seriously – I know it’s hard, but it’s worth it. If a friend or family member tells you they read your book and they loved it, ask them to leave you a review online on Amazon, Goodreads, or even just to tweet at you or comment on a Facebook post about your book.
3. Bookstagram Graphics
Instagram is a platform that will definitely resonate with some genres more than others – it’s huge for genres like Young Adult fiction, Personal Growth, Art, Crafts, & Photography, and Cookbooks, but might not be the biggest market for a Political Thriller or Educational Resources. If your audience isn’t on Instagram that’s okay – but if it is, then you absolutely need to check out the world of #bookstagram.
If you plan on using Instagram for your social media book marketing content, it is worth your time to take a couple of Instagram-specific pictures of your book. As always, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel or go overboard here – you absolutely can if you want to, and power to you if you do, but there’s plenty to be said for a couple of very simple, clean photos of your book too. I obviously don’t have any physical copies of my fake book, so take this real example instead:
Instagram user @postcardsandauthors shared this picture of Lulu Author Charlotte Harrison’s poetry book Fifteen, and it’s one of my favorite posts we’ve been tagged in in the last year. It’s SO simple – just the book on a clean background and the brightly colored pens – and yet it absolutely made me stop scrolling through notifications when I saw it. At the end of the day, that is the primary objective of any social content you’re sharing – to make users “stop the scroll” and look closer at what you have to say.
Take some time one day and snap 10-15 pictures of your book. It’s okay if they look similar – same background, same props, things just moved around a little bit – it’s still new content to share. You can produce a couple months’ worth of Instagram content from a single photoshoot!
Social Media Content That Engages Your Audience
Of course self-promotion is important – you worked hard on your book, you should be proud of it, and if you’re not going to promote it nobody else is going to do it for you. But – and this is a big but – your social media presence cannot be 100% nothing but self-promoting posts asking your followers to buy your book.
First, if you’re not posting social media content that will draw in new followers, you will eventually hit a wall and max out the number of your followers that will buy your book. You’ll also give your followers ad fatigue – if you’re lucky they’ll just stop paying attention to your posts and skim right over them, if you’re unlucky they’ll unfollow you. Promotion is important and essential, but it cannot be all you do.
Don’t worry, there’s plenty of content you can share to engage your followers – and hopefully gain some new followers – that is still related to your book without specifically being your book.
1. Share News Related to Your Field, Your Book, or Your Audience
I’m operating under the assumption that you’ve done your homework and you’ve done it well – you’re already following relevant authors, users, blogs, media sources, academic journals, businesses, or whatever that relates to the genre or field you’re writing about. In fact, I’m assuming that you already followed many of those accounts before you even started writing your book – obviously you’re interested enough in this subject to write an entire book about it, surely you’re already engaging with it on social media. So first of all, if you’re not already following relevant accounts, now’s the time.
There is absolutely no rule at all that says you have to create all of your social media content from scratch, on your own, and post it yourself. That’s one of the greatest things about social networks – part of what makes content valuable is its shareability. That’s how your readers find you, and in turn how you find them.
So don’t ever hesitate to share social media content that you come across that you think might also be relevant to your readers. If you’re on Twitter, reply to a tweet or retweet with a comment. If you’re on Facebook, share the post to your News Feed or your Author Page. Instagram can be a little dicier with “regrams,” but still could be worth it!
If you come across content that you want to share with your audience but you found it straight at the source, you can absolutely still share it as an original post. In fact, I would encourage you to share a mix of content – some retweeted / shared, some as original posts from you. A great way to still get engagement on your post is to cite your source and use relevant hashtags.
But also, don’t hesitate to share content that might not be relevant to your current readers, but may entice some new ones. I worked with an author one time that wrote a Sci-Fi Horror novel about scientists discovering ancient microorganisms in the Arctic…and right in the middle of promoting his book launch a scientific journal published an article about scientists discovering centuries-old microorganisms in the Arctic. Was there much of an overlap between his existing audience of horror enthusiasts and the journal’s audience? Absolutely not. Did we care? NOPE. You better believe we shared that article everywhere we could.
2. Share Other Books (and Authors) in Your Genre
Book rec lists are GREAT for content. Think about how effective “if you liked, then you’ll love” recommendations can be – if you can compare your book to something familiar that potential readers already know and love, you’ve got their attention. I guarantee you that no matter what your book is about, there is a list on a blog somewhere out there that is perfectly in line with your content. Or hey, if you have your own blog, put your own book rec list together!
A recommendation list doesn’t have to be perfectly relevant either. Are you publishing a photography book showcasing your pictures of different pubs around the UK after a recent travel adventure? A book rec list of books about how to get started with photography, of must-read travel memoirs, of coffee table books by modern artists, or of books about the history of the United Kingdom could all be relevant to your audience! You never know. The worst thing that happens is that this one piece of social media content doesn’t wind up resonating with your followers and you move on to the next idea.
Personal book recommendations are also awesome for engagement, both with your readers and with other authors. Did you just finish a book that you really enjoyed? Share it! Are you about to start something new in your genre? Ask your followers about it! You’re trying to engage an audience of readers – if they read your book, they’re probably interested in other books in similar genres too. Plus, if you’re lucky, you might just wind up connecting with that author.
3. Support Your Community
Supporting your community can mean a variety of different things depending on what, exactly, your community is. As an independent author, one of your communities is indie publishing, another is probably writers. If you’re a Lulu author – or any other publisher, for that matter – that’s another community you’re a member of. If you’re writing genre fiction, there’s a community of readers and authors there, if you’re writing non-fiction your genre probably has communities that exist both within the publishing world and without.
Share social media content about and in support of your communities, whatever they may be and whatever that may look like. It might be broad updates and content, like news about a new discovery in your field or an upcoming conference for fans of your genre. It might be community calls-to-action, like the recent outpouring of support for indie bookstores that are struggling to stay open during the pandemic.
Or, your support could be more specific. In my experience authors of nearly all genres are fantastically supportive of their fellow writers – maybe because it’s a great way to build their author network, but also because that support is built up throughout the community. We already talked about sharing books by other authors in your genre, but there’s plenty more to share too! If an author you like posts an interesting blog post, share it with your followers! If your local bookstore is hosting an event with an author you know, help them spread the word! Build your network up – build your community up – and chances are good they’ll build you up too.
Social Media Content That Promotes Your Brand
I say this at least once per post, and I’ll probably say it again – the most important thing you can remember as an author is that your book is your product. If you build your social media presence and marketing platform around just this one specific product – this one specific book – it will be a short-term platform that will, eventually, stop serving its purpose as it passes out of relevance.
If you want your social media presence to be evergreen and to have any kind of longevity in the communities you’re building, then your social presence should be about your brand. Your book is your product – you, the author, are your brand. Let your followers and your readers and your fans get to know you, so that when the time for promoting this current book is over and you’re ready to promote your next product, your audience is already committed enough to you to come along for the ride.
So mixed in with all the promotional posts and all the posts reaching for engagement with your specific audience of readers, don’t forget to also be yourself. How much you share about yourself is up to you, but even the most private and anonymous author can still cultivate a personality with their social media presence.
How do you do that? Share content that has absolutely nothing to do with your book, your genre, your book-related communities, or your professional communities. Share a hilarious picture of your dog being a goofball. Share a funny meme. Live-tweet the season premier of your favorite TV show, or your reaction to a new movie you just saw. Post a picture from a recent (or nostalgic) adventure on Instagram. Create a Spotify playlist for your morning run and post the link to share it.
You, I’m assuming, are a multi-faceted person who has way more in the way of interests, hobbies, and expertise than just what your book is about. That content isn’t irrelevant to your social media just because it isn’t relevant to your book. Did you just perfect an incredible cheesecake recipe? Share it! Who cares if it doesn’t have anything to do with your personal finance guide. It’s about you, and about letting your followers get to know you, and about building a relationship with your readers that will last through the rest of your career as an author.
Plus, it’s fun. Social media is exhausting if you don’t have at least a little bit of fun.
4,000 words later, this is a small, small sampling of social media content ideas to help you promote your book and your brand. There is so much out there, this barely scratches the surface. But hopefully this gave you some ideas, which in turn will spark more ideas, and before you know it, you’ll be a social media marketing pro. Have you seen great success with a type of content that we didn’t talk about here? Let us know in the comments!
And don’t forget to tag @luludotcom in your social posts every now and then. We love to see what you’re up to with your promo and your books!
Lauren is the Social Media Manager at Lulu, which means she gets paid to spend a lot of time on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram every day. The combined efforts of working as an indie bookstore manager, working as a publicist at a publishing house, and earning an MFA in Creative Writing have all given Lauren an unconventional but well-rounded crash-course in publishing. She can often be found voraciously reading Twitter feeds and YA novels, or attempting to exorcise her cat.