How I Sell Self-Published Books Using Social Media

“How I Sell Self-Published Books Using Social Media” was written by author Laura Burton. Laura writes clean romance and poetry for bereaved families. Check out her “Love Me” series here, which is a collection of standalone romance novels packed with twists and surprises to keep you turning the page. Laura’s new sci-fi romance Love Me, Dreamy will be released July 19 and is available for pre-order on Amazon.

If you want to sell self-published books using social media, the first question you should ask yourself is:

Why Do People Use Social Media?

  • To be entertained
  • To be educated
  • To be heard

NOT to be sold to.

Then it seems counterintuitive to use social media to boost book sales, right? Not if you understand how to do it correctly.

Using the tactics below, I was able to sell 60 paperback books within 48 hours.

Want to learn how I did it? Let’s dive in!

The Secret to Selling Self-Published Books on Social Media

If you take a quick look at your newsfeed and start scrolling, you’re sure to come across an ad or two pretty quickly. Now, pay attention to those ads. A few years ago, that ad might have been a picture of a product, or a pretty book cover with the words “BUY NOW” plastered all over it.

Now, you won’t see many of those ads, because companies have realized: most people are conditioned to ignore them.

We Don’t Want to Be Sold to. Period.

Companies know this, which is why you’ll find that adverts now have a message that resonates with people. Create something that will make people pause…and feel something…and you’ve just created an advert that will spread.

For example, in Facebook sales posts, you might come across a photograph of a couple on their wedding day, captured in a moment of laughter as they reminisce through their wedding photo books. Or a close up of the most adorable pug you have ever seen. Maybe even a short video clip of a flower opening up in the sunshine.

These images and videos usually have nothing to do with the product or service for sale. They are disguised as normal posts you’d see from friends and are designed to get you to stop scrolling.

It’s important to understand this if you want to sell self-published books using social media, because people can smell a salesman from a mile away. The brain is designed to warn against these people. “Oh no! He’s going to sell you stuff! Quick, hide your wallets! Run away! For the sake of your bank balance!”

So, what you need to do is stop your followers from going on “auto-pilot” and scrolling right past your sales post.

How do You Get Followers to Stop Scrolling?

Great question! Well, we covered this a couple of paragraphs ago. The not-so-secret secret is… post up a picture that has absolutely nothing to do with your books. Or at least, not about what it is you’re going to sell.

Maybe you’ve published your first novel. It’s live in the Amazon store, or maybe on your website. Time to celebrate! What better way to let people know of your new baby – ahem, I mean published book – than to post a celebratory picture up!

Maybe it’s of you holding a glass of bubbly and smiling victoriously at the camera. Or a funny picture of your head resting on the keyboard with a caption about how exhausted you are.

Post a picture that does NOT feature your book cover. Instead, post about YOU and how you’re feeling.

Are you anxious about how the book is going to do? Proud of the achievement of getting your book out there? Are you feeling hopeful for the readers who are going to stumble upon your story? Do you envision people telling their friends about this incredible saga you’ve written? Write about it, and let people connect to you.

Your Greatest Advert is YOU

I post regular “Writing Updates,” on my social media. I have noticed that my updates – which vary from in-depth analyses of my sales and reviews, to ranting about writer’s block – can be extremely popular with my followers. So much more popular than my “Check out my book!” posts.

Remember what people use social media for? Let’s remember to tick those boxes:

To Be Entertained

Post interesting, amusing and engaging content. Ask your followers a question. What are they reading right now? Where is the weirdest place they read a book? Have they ever written a novel? Share memes, videos and jokes that suit your personality and brand.

To Be Educated

Share fun facts, something new you’ve discovered, and be open to teaching others.

To Be Heard

Offer a platform for people to add their voice. You could ask for advice, opinions and strike up debates!

I like sharing my journey learning about the indie publishing business. I’m an over-sharer actually. I should probably keep a lot of this stuff to myself.

Heck, I could make a killing writing this up in a course and charging hopeful writers to learn it. And it would be worth it too, because this advice I’m sharing with you is GOLDEN.

But if you can add value to your followers and teach them something, they’ll keep coming back for more.

And don’t overthink it. Your post can be something as simple as:

“Today I learnt that Rik-o-shet-ed is not a word.

But Ricocheted is.


Has anyone else spent their entire life pronouncing something wrong?”

It’s funny, potentially teaches someone something new, and offers a platform for people to be heard. I posted something very similar some months ago and the comments were fabulous!

Now You’re Ready to Create a “Warm Market” List

Okay, so you’re sharing great content, you’re getting engagement too – now what?

Pay attention to the names of the people who are liking and commenting on your posts. You’ll start to see a trend. The same group of names will keep popping up.

My general rule is this:  if I see a name engage positively with my writing-related posts seven times or more within a month, I’ll add them to my “warm market list.”

Yes, I’m advising you to write a list. You need to identify your warm market. This is the group of people who are being primed to buy your book. They follow you. They engage with what you share. They are interested.

Once You Have a Warm Market List, What Do You Do With It?

I profile them. Get to know what their interests are – Facebook has a lot of data, and it is likely you’ll be able to see some of it. Their location, age, interests. What movies do they like? What pages do they like? What are their posts about? This information is free to gather and useful for your future book marketing plans.

Be sure to engage with their posts. Be friendly, this is SOCIAL media, after all. Maybe send them a private message thanking them for their comment on your post. Or offer some thoughts on a post they shared which resonated with you.

Next Step: Private Messaging to Get Book Sales on Social Media

I can hear the collective sharp intake of breath after reading those words. Laura, how DARE you! Selling books over social media is so icky!

But aha, worry not, my friend! You have to trust me that I know what I’m talking about here.

Firstly, you’re going to message your warm market. These are people who actively engage with your posts AND you’ve sent a couple messages back and forth already. You are NOT going to spam your entire friends list or followers.

I know this sounds surprisingly simple, but the thing is that with sales, people tend to overthink it.

You just need to ask:

“Hey Sally,

I just wanted to say, you are simply awesome for being so supportive to me. I want you to know that your likes and comments are appreciated and haven’t gone unnoticed. I was just curious, have you read any of my books yet?”

In the book, How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, he explains that people have a need to feel important.

Like, an actual need…not just a nice-to-have. It’s a requirement, just as important as the need for food and water.

Always remember that. Because if you can fulfill that need, you will attract people to you.

Your personal message will start out with a token of appreciation for that person. And no, it’s not contrived, because you SHOULD be grateful for that person taking the time to be supportive!

Then you simply ask them if they’ve read your book! They’re either going to reply with:

  • Yes.
  • No.
  • *Ignore* AKA – they don’t reply.

But if they say “Yes” – GREAT!

Ask them what they thought. You VALUE their opinion, remember? Then you can see if they are willing to write a review for your book. Or maybe they could recommend it to a friend. A public shout out wouldn’t go amiss either, but you may want to do some back and forth messages before you start adding them to your “scream team.”

If they say “No”

Ask if they would have the time to read the free sample and offer their opinion. If your book has a great opening hook, it should grab them enough so that they’ll download the book to read more. If they come back with thoughts instead, especially on how it can be improved – that is invaluable information!

Now, imagine doing this with not just one person, but 5, 10, 20! You’ll either end up with a whole heap of sales and reviews…or you’ll get a bunch of feedback that could help you become a better writer. It’s a win-win!

I also like to buy author copies of my books and sign them. Then I message everyone on my warm list and ask if they would like to purchase a signed copy of my book. Pretty much everyone said yes to me, and the odds are high that your warm market will say yes to you – if you’ve played your cards right.

Then repeat the whole process again and again until you find that your reader base has grown, people start reviewing the books and sharing your new releases without you even asking!

Don’t Underestimate Social Media

If you want to sell self-published books using social media, it does take work to gain momentum, but I promise it’ll be worth it in the end. The power of word-of-mouth is the most influential tool for getting your book out there. The above method is exactly how I sold 60 paperback books within 48 hours.

Now, go forth, harness the magic that is social media and get your book out into the world!

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