March 2, 2016

Promoting your sci-fi/fantasy book on social media: a newbie’s guide

By Graham Dickson

metropolis-1141609__180You did it, your book is finished!  It’s a moment worthy of celebration. But if you have dreams of finally setting your laptop aside for awhile, it’s time to think again: In today’s book world, the reality is that you’ll be busier than ever, looking for online ways to market your book. This is the next step for the savvy self-publisher.

In this ongoing blog series we offer genre-specific advice on selling your book on social media. Today, we focus on science fiction and fantasy titles.

When it comes to science fiction/fantasy, there are countless groups online ferociously devoted to the genre. Your task is to find these forums and engage with them. When using social media, it’s important that members feel you are a dedicated participant, not someone solely interested in promoting your book. So you will need to join in the conversations going on in each forum. Once you’ve established yourself, you can let members know of your book, even giving out special offers and so on.

Below are many useful resources. Feel free to share your favorites with us and we will add them to the list.

FACEBOOK

Facebook is invaluable for those marketing on a budget. You’ll want to start by creating a business page devoted to your science fiction book.  After that, you have to get people to like your page— the hard part. There are numerous webinars, books, and blogs devoted to how to do this.  Facebook has an easy step-by-step guide to help you out with this:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/create/

Keep in mind that Facebook has now become monetized, which means that while you can reach a small segment of your Facebook friends with any post, to reach a larger audience, you’ll have to pay small sums of money. Facebook calls this “boosting” your post.  Once you post something on your page, Facebook will ask you if you’d like to “boost this post?”.  If you say “yes,” a box will pop up allowing you to decide how much you would like to spend and telling you how far your reach will go based on how much you spend. Once “boosted,” Facebook will send the item out to like-minded pages, where it will  appear on those timelines. It’s a sure way to get your book on the feeds of people interested in your topic and to begin reaching out to those beyond your immediate circle.

One way you can start finding those people yourself is to join the Facebook groups that draw readers of your genre.  Below are a few of our favorite Facebook groups for the science fiction genre:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/fsfwia/ A group of American science fiction/fantasy authors who promote their works and workshop their ideas.

https://www.facebook.com/Throc/ A place where authors can promote their works and receive feedback.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/239793746052181/  A group of over 5,000 science fiction/fantasy fans and authors where members can post their books.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/324474741072693/ A group of over 5,000 authors and readers that allows authors to promote their books. Note: this is an all-genres’ book group.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/9990182714/A group of over 5,000 members dedicated to readers of science fiction/fantasy. Promotion encouraged.

 https://www.facebook.com/groups/7568774341/ A group of over 5,000 members interested in Space Opera, a sub-genre of science fiction dealing with stories of epic adventure and conflict on a grand scale. Authors can promote their books through special promotion threads.

https://www.facebook.com/ScienceFictionBookClub/?fref=ts A page with over 44,000 likes. You can find out here about the latest in science fiction and connect with fans.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/scififan/ A group of over 3,000 science fiction and fantasy fans, where authors can post their books and discuss current books and other related topics.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/SciFiHorrorEnoftheworldscenarioTruestory/ A group of over 2,000 members where authors can share their pages, books and ideas.

https://www.facebook.com/SFWA.org/   This is the Science Fiction Writers of America’s Facebook page. It contains relevant news.

TWITTER

With posts limited to 140 characters, you’ll have to be clever —and brief— in order to effectively use this medium. Planning to post your book jacket image with your tweet? Subtract 25 of those characters. And you’ll use up even more characters if you want to link to your website. Moral of story: Think small.  (Note: If you are linking your post to another site, make sure to use a link-shortening service like bit.ly.  Bit.ly takes a long url address and reduces it to only a few characters, freeing up valuable real estate on your limited character allowance.)

Remember to use hashtags. These can make a huge difference in how many people see your tweet. A hashtag is used to show what the post is about or related to, preceded by the pound sign (#books, #SciFi, etc.). Each hashtag has its own Twitter “address” so people interested in science fiction, for example, might simply visit #SciFi and look at all of the posts with this hashtag.  Using multiple relevant hashtags, while not going overboard, is paramount to a successful Twitter presence. If you’re offering a Kindle deal for your book, be sure to add the hashtag #kindledeals, as many readers look there for inexpensive books.

Here are some relevant hashtags:
#SciFi
#SciFiChat
#scifibookclub
#speculativefiction
#fantasy
#sciencefiction
#amreading
#indieauthors
#mustread
#kindle
#kindledeals
#BookMarketing

REDDIT

Reddit is an actionable community that is divided into convenient “subreddits,” prefaced by the letter “r.” This allows you to promote to a wide audience, such as r/books, or to a more specialized community, such as r/steampunk. Each page or “subreddit” is basically a chat space that focuses on a particular subject.  Visitors can initiate a topic or simply respond to comments that others have posted.  The more people who respond, the higher on the page that discussion goes.  Here’s reddit’s description of itself:  https://www.reddit.com/wiki/reddit_101

Make sure to look at the right sidebar on every subreddit you visit, where you’ll find related subreddits as well as the page rules. Some pages allow self-promotion; some strictly forbid it, and others have special times or threads for self-promotion.

While Facebook undoubtedly reaches more people, it does not allow for this sort of specialization. We’re offering a few suggestions on the site here, but once you start poking around, you’ll find plenty more threads to get involved with.

https://www.reddit.com/r/books This is a community dedicated to lovers of the written word. It’s a good place to start on reddit in order to get a feel for the world of books on the site.  While there are no direct promotions allowed on this page (remember: you can always see each subreddit’s rules on the right side their homepage), they do have a “new releases” section where you can promote your book. Here’s the link:

https://www.reddit.com/r/books/comments/48fei9/new_releases_march_2016/

There are two rules for this group: 1. The books must have been published within the last three months, and 2. No direct sales links are allowed.

You’ll see a number of options on the sidebar, including reddits for: Authors, Writing, Genres…

https://www.reddit.com/r/scifi For all things science fiction, this is a great thread to seek out.  There are always lots of visitors discussing books, movies, ideas.  And, Saturdays are deemed “self-promo Saturdays,” so be sure to log in on Saturday to promote your book to this active group.

What you’ll find on the sidebar here: Numerous subreddits, from science fiction to cyberpunk to Frankenstein.

https://www.reddit.com/r/sciencefiction/ For fans and creators of science fiction, this is a place to discuss science fiction ideas and get feedback on your work.

What you’ll find on the sidebar here: lots of science fiction specialties, from steampunk to cyborgs to futurology.

PINTEREST

Pinterest is a site of virtual bulletin boards. Each board is theme-based. You can find boards on everything from bathroom remodels to Indian recipes to science fiction books.

Each board features images of the topic at hand; clicking on an image brings up more information. For example, on a book board, if you click on the image of a book jacket, that might take you to a review of the book or the author’s website, the book’s Amazon page and so on.

The site is used for sharing information, but too much self-promotion is frowned upon.  So, when you set up your Pinterest board, you may want to set up a board devoted to a larger topic, such as self-published science fiction or favorite classic science fiction books, and allow others to share their titles with you. Join in the fun of creating interesting boards that not only will promote sales, but will also be fun and engaging to others.

In addition to creating your own boards, be sure to search out other boards where you can share your pins (your images) and connect with others in the science fiction community.  Here are a few that we like and share our pins with:

 https://www.pinterest.com/jellybooks/scifi-books-community-board/

https://www.pinterest.com/bayajack/sci-fi-fantasy-books/

https://www.pinterest.com/mulluane/sff-author-interviews/

https://www.pinterest.com/bayajack/bookaholics-anonymous/

https://www.pinterest.com/bayajack/indie-authors-and-self-published/

We hope you find these links helpful. They will certainly keep you busy for a while, but once you get involved with the social media world, you’ll find this is only the beginning.  Next stop: Instagram, Snapchat, Vine…

Graham Dickson is a student at the University of Colorado Denver majoring in marketing and minoring in German. He is an intern at BlueInk Review.

BlueInk Review is a fee-based book review service devoted to self-published titles exclusively. For more news and tips, sign up for our mailing list. And be sure and visit us at https://www.blueinkreview.com.

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