Engage Your Audience with Social Selling For Your Book

Social selling with Facebook Shops, Lulu xPress, and Shopify

One of the first tenets of sales is to bring your product to your consumers. For authors, that means getting your book in front of readers. Historically, bookstores both physical and online have been the primary location for finding readers. But now, more than ever, social media is becoming a critical venue. If you’re not engaged in social selling, you’re probably missing a lot of opportunities.

Reasons To Sell On Social Media

Where are your readers? Stop and really think about this. Online shopping is synonymous with Amazon for a lot of the world. And for good reason; their marketplace has—literally—everything you could want to buy. Their online store is massive. There’s absolutely no reason not to sell your book on Amazon.

What you need to consider is how you get from your reader to your book. Are you using social media marketing tactics to find new readers? The various social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are ripe for reaching a broader audience. 

And if you are building an audience on social media platforms, should you point those new shoppers to Amazon?

I argue emphatically NO. Never. If you are promoting your book, readers who want to buy from Amazon will go there on their own. But if you’re targeting new readers on social media platforms, why wouldn’t you simplify the process and sell to them right on that platform?

Building Relationships

For authors, your social media marketing strategy will focus on building relationships with other writers and interested readers. You don’t want to just land a sale. You want to earn a follower who will engage with your non-sales posts too. And who will come back and eagerly buy your next book.

That’s what social media selling can do that using a retailer cannot. Buyers are loyal to the retailer, not to you. But with social selling, the buyer is coming to you specifically to buy. There’s a lot of value in the opportunity that kind of relationship represents.

Profit Margins

I’ll illustrate this in an example below, but the opportunity to sell directly to your readers on social media comes with improved profit margins. Earning more money from your sales shouldn’t be the reason to use social selling techniques though. 

The profitability of selling on social is important because it means you can worry less about volume and more about building long-term relationships. Where you sell your book is never an either/or proposition. You can and should sell your book on as many channels as you can. There’s no one print-on-demand service or ecommerce service that will perfectly meet all your needs. 

So if you know you’ll sell more copies on Amazon at a lower return, that’s okay. You can (and should) still sell on social media and your own website to those dedicated buyers who want to support you. And when you do, your profit margin will be that much better!

Pricing To Sell On Social Media

Okay, I will make this quick. Here’s the breakdown of pricing for selling your print-on-demand book with Lulu Direct (which we’ll get into how this fits with social selling next) and Amazon. I’m using a 200 page, US Trade paperback for this example.

Print Cost$5.54$3.25
Retail Price$14.99$14.99
Revenue$9.45 (100%)$7.04 (60%)
Reader Pays$18.98$20.98

This assumes the buyer isn’t using Amazon Prime for free shipping, which would make the Amazon version more affordable for the reader. But you still earn $2.41 more per sale when you keep all the revenue. That means you can sell on social media and compete with Amazon pricing—a key factor when you think about the many benefits of selling to your readers on your terms and not a retailer’s.

Social Selling Logistics

Okay, so how do you sell your book through social media?

It’s surprisingly easy! And with Lulu Direct for Shopify, it’s gotten even easier recently. With the introduction of Facebook Shops and the integration with Shopify, you can build a unique store on social media platforms. 

The first step is to finish your book and create an interior and cover file built to Lulu’s specifications. Then add the Lulu Direct app to your Shopify account and upload your book there. Finally, you add Facebook Shops to your Shopify account and you can create your social media storefront!

Facebook Shops and Shopify

A year ago, if I wanted to talk about social selling techniques, I’d be getting into ways your posts might prompt users to click through. To leave the social platform and head over to your website or a retail site to buy your book. 

That’s all changed and Facebook is keen on driving that change. They’ve recently introduced Shops, a redesign of their Facebook Marketplace that is deceptively simple. Because all Shops does is create a digital storefront on Facebook. 

Think about a normal customer journey: 

  1. Follow you on social media
  2. See a post about your book and click
  3. Get directed to a retail site
  4. Purchase

Facebook shops does two important things here: first it cuts out step #3, keeping them on the social media platform; and second it keeps you in control of the sale.

If you’re using the Shopify integration, you’ll get the same benefits of selling on your own website (user data, better revenue) and you’ll keep the buyer on the platform of choice. That means there won’t be any ‘similar items’ or ‘people also bought’ distracting your readers.

It’s just you and them, on the social platform you both went to for direct connections in the first place. Your social following is the digital equivalent of a captive audience; even more reason to keep them there rather than directing them to a retail platform to buy your book!

Facebook’s Shop update also introduces improved functionality for contacting directly with consumers through Messenger and WhatsApp. That’s just one more layer of the connectivity we crave; giving you a direct means of communicating with buyers!

Social Selling Techniques

The most important part of an effective social selling campaign is consistency. Your social media content focused on selling needs to be compelling and consistent. 

But after you have a stock of graphics and social posting content, the next most important part of an effective sales campaign is ease. Think about it; you don’t shop on Amazon because you have some particular love for the company. You do it because they make buying easy. 

Thankfully, tools like Shopify make social selling easy too. Once you get your book set up for sales on Shopify, you can use tools like Facebook Shop (which also cover Instagram) to sell directly through social media platforms! We’ll get into the details of how to set that up in another post. For now, let’s focus on the sales tactics. 

The Soft Sell

Since you’re promoting your author brand through social media, you’ll have (very broadly) two kinds of posts: direct calls to buy your book and content to drive engagement. Think about engagement content as a soft sell. 

The idea is that, if they find your content interesting, users will interact with a like, share, or comment. From there, the algorithms that run their social media feed will send them more of your content. Which means they’ll eventually see the content that is a hard sell.

N.K. Jemisin, soft sell social selling example
N.K. Jemisin ‘soft sells’ her author brand by sharing her thoughts about other media.

The Hard Sell

This is literally a prompt to buy your book. Or to browse your social selling storefront (thanks again, Facebook Shops). The point is that a hard sell aims to pointedly ask the user to buy your book.

Which you shouldn’t feel bad about doing. If you’re following our recommendations for promoting yourself on social media, you’re building a following of interested users. People who support you want to buy your book. So asking them to do so is just reasonable, it’s essential.

James Patterson, hard social sell example
James Patterson is a master at the ‘hard sell’, sharing sales focused content

Social Selling: A New Marketing Frontier

We’ve known for some time that buyers, when given the opportunity, prefer to buy direct from the creator. No matter what the product, brand loyalty only gets stronger the closer we get to the people behind the brand.

Yes, there is some irony in using a huge brand (Facebook) to establish personal connections. But these are the tools we have available to us; so we’ve got to make use of them. Remember that sales always mean getting your product in front of customers. Social selling has the potential to not only simplify this complex task, but to also allow you to better find more than customer; to build relationships with followers. 

Paul H, Content Marketing Manager

Paul is the Content Marketing Manager at Lulu. When he's not entrenched in the publishing and print-on-demand world, he likes to hike the scenic North Carolina landscape, read, sample the fanciest micro-brewed beer, and collect fountain pens. Paul is a dog person but considers himself cat tolerant.

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