Traditional Book Marketing Campaign V Marketing My Book Through Social Media

Posted at 15:47pm on 3rd May 2010

If you’re selling a product or service, can you conduct your business solely through social media? More to the point, if you’re an author, like me, can you sell books using only the internet? And if you replace the traditional means of marketing your books with internet marketing, are you in danger of throwing the baby out with the bathwater?

I ask because of a series of events that have occurred, recently.


My husband, Paul, and I have just returned from a weekend visiting friends. We had a great time. Our shared interests are simple: good food (Gloria’s a wonderful cook); photography (Graham is a professional photographer); walking; sightseeing; a passion for gardening and the beauty of the countryside. We haven’t known one another long, yet a fly on the wall might have thought us lifelong buddies. We all agreed, when we parted company on Sunday, that we’d ‘clicked’ the first time we met.

I’ll return to this in a moment.


My original question was prompted by an article I came across recently titled Social Media Is Virtual Escapism by Sean Teaford. In it he quotes Adrian Higgins of the Washington Post who, pointing to the “dangers of the constant escapism of today’s society,” goes on to say: “Technology has drawn us into our interconnected webs, in the office, on the street, on the park bench, to the point that we exist virtually everywhere except in the physical world.”

Mr Teaford continues by pointing out the obvious: that relationships - special relationships - are hard work. However, they are quite different to those established through all social media. “Just because someone retweeted your post doesn’t mean you have a buildable relationship with that follower,” he says. “In order to nurture and sustain a viable connection with someone, you must have personal contact that not only reinforces what you are doing but who you are as a person and a professional.”

How true!


I have been an author for more than two decades. Until a few years ago, all my books were published by mainstream publishers, with one reaching No. 4 on The Sunday Times Bestseller list. That’s a lot of readers buying a lot of books!

Then a setback in my husband’s business meant that I had to find a steadier and more lucrative income. Consequently, for some years I have been employed by a firm of publishers in a managerial post.


During my absence from writing, the World Wide Web – and internet marketing in particular - took off. Keen to take advantage of what all social media had to offer when I returned to writing, I set up a website to publicise my latest book, a novel, titled A Painful Post Mortem.

My understanding, from those 'in the know' was that this was the means by which selling would be revolutionised. No more hard slog being a speaker, travelling around the country giving talks; no more book signing sessions in shops; no more TV and Radio shows in different regions. What a relief, I thought!


Which takes me back to my visit to friends this weekend. Because my first meeting with Gloria occurred about fifteen years ago, when a book marketing campaign consisted of a circuit set up by your publishers’ marketing and publicity departments. I had three back-to-back events: speaking engagements in Swindon, Cirencester and Cricklade – towns and villages in the Cotswolds, the heart of England - and Gloria was present at one of them.

I must confess, I don’t recall chatting with her at that point. But whatever it was that I was speaking about, it evidently made an impression on her. Picking up on an article I wrote, some years later, she contacted me, direct, and asked me to be the speaker for a local group with which she was involved.

We had not been in contact in the intervening years, but it was at this point that we struck up a friendship. And through that friendship I have, this weekend, met, again, with some of the people who were involved in that first series of talks in the Cotswolds.

Real people. And real relationships!


Since A Painful Post Mortem was published, I have successfully sold books via Amazon, and direct from my website. But I have never turned down an invitation to speak about the drug-related issues raised in the book. Or indeed, the subject matter of any of my previous books.

I’ve spoken to small groups and to large. Yes, it’s meant travelling around the country, heaving around great boxes of books, and staying away from home. But without a shadow of doubt, I have sold more copies this way than I ever have electronically. But that’s not entirely the point.


Am I saying that traditional methods of marketing are superior to internet marketing? Not at all! Good social media has its place. The BBC, looking for an author / speaker to take part in a debate about stepfamilies, tracked me down via my website – as did the Salvation Army, who invited me to be the Keynote Speaker at their Leaders’ Conference last year. Without a website, Twitter and Facebook accounts, they might never have picked up on my CV.


The point is that it’s not a question of simply selling a copy of a particular book to a particular individual. Speaking and book-signing bring your readers into a face-to-face relationship with you. Special relationships! That physical contact – your facial expressions, body language, manner of speaking – tell them more about you than a brief biography and static photograph on the back of your book cover ever can.

It’s already been established by professional PR people that selling consists of more than creating customers. It’s about building those special relationships with the people who happen to buy from you.

The perfect book marketing campaign is no exception. People you meet in the flesh are more likely to talk to friends about their encounter with you, than someone who’s simply read your Tweet and hit a Buy button on your website. They are also more likely to become fans: readers who will go out to buy all your books. Not because of the subject matter, but because of the author.

Don’t stick to marketing your book through social media and ignore a more traditional book marketing campaign. Combine the two. That way, you’ll build lifelong friendships with the readers of your books.

What has your experience been in this field? Do leave a comment. It provides backlinks for you, and helps others. Your contact details will never be passed on to a third party

© Mel Menzies - All Rights Reserved

Author of a number of books, one a Sunday Times No 4 Bestseller, Mel Menzies is also an experienced Speaker at live events, as well as on Radio and TV. Book her here for your event.

Photograph: Mel at a book signing event.

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