How to Lose Fans and Alienate Followers

selling your book

Your social media followers aren’t there to be sold to; they want to be engaged and entertained. But you’re focused on selling your book. Where do you draw the line?

“Buy my book! Buy my book! Buy my book!” After a few emails, blog posts, and tweets sounding like that, even your grandma’s going to stop paying attention to what you have to say.

A sales pitch, no matter how you dress it up, sounds like a sales pitch. And who likes being sold to? Premium cable channels and the DVR industry have been built on the premise that nobody wants to watch commercials.

The same is true for social media updates; fans and followers who have chosen to follow you and see your posts are like everybody else: they don’t want a sales pitch. They want to be engaged. They want to be entertained. They want to get to know you.

But wait – you’re not here to make friends. You’re focused on selling your book. Lots of books, if you can help it. So where do you draw the line? How do you sell without “selling?”

For starters, cut the gimmicky advertising techniques “guaranteed to get people into your sales funnel” to get your point across. There’s a much better way.

Craft a story

Like writing a press release, crafting a great social media post demands that you develop a story before you try selling your book over your network. Once you’ve done that, you’re in a much better position to throw a link back to your book’s blog or website in the post.

Let’s say that you have a zombie-romance-thriller. Zombie meets girl, girl falls in love with zombie, zombie nearly gets killed by jealous boyfriend – and that’s just the first chapter. It’s awesome: your friends and writing groups love it, and, more importantly, you love it. It’s a terrific story, but how should you begin pitching it to your social followers?

You could, perhaps, start by writing a blog post that focuses on how you came to the idea of writing such an unusual story. Perhaps even take your blog readers on a journey through your writing process and techniques, occasionally quoting paragraph or sentence right from the book. The gist is that while you have a great book, the way to get people to notice it is to tell a story that make you and your book “approachable.”

If you can get people interested in the book on your blog, and bring people to your blog via social media, they’ll be much more likely to discover and read your book.

Write a compelling headline

Instead of “My book’s out! Finally! You should buy it!” why not try “My journey from blank screen to zombie scream: How I wrote Cold Hands, Warm Heart.” The second title is interesting, has emotional appeal, and it makes people curious. The first title sounds like a commercial and is a definite turn-off.

After you have a great story to make you and your book more “human,” (even if it is about zombies), come up with a Tweet. Think of this as your headline. Something short, engaging, and interesting. You can even use the title of the blog post you just wrote (I do this all the time, and it works great).

You still get the message across about what you have to offer, but people don’t feel like they are being sold to. And Grandma’s still listening.

The End

Read More
How To Promote A Horror Book on Social Media
How To Promote Your Romance Novel on Social Media
How To Promote Your Mystery Book on Social Media
How to promote your science fiction book on social media
How to Promote a Young Adult Novel on Social Media
How To Promote Your Christian Fiction Book on Social Media


  1. As always, it’s a pleasure to read a helpful how-to article from Boolbaby! Got any tips for making non-gimicky content on Pintrest? I was thinking of making cute graphics for my new non-fiction book. What are your thoughts on that?

    • Regardless of the medium, the key to creating content that’s non-salesy and non-gimicky is to place yourself in the reader’s seat. What would you want to see or read more of re: this book?
      Decide who your target audience is (people who have read/bought, people who haven’t read/bought), and ask yourself this: “What can I offer this person? How can I entertain this person?”
      If you succeed in providing critical info or good entertainment, then the reader’s going to keep coming back (and probably buy your book at some point, too).

  2. Nice advice. How would that work for those building a social media presence? You say people want to get to know you, but if you are still trying to attract viewers, they don’t know who you are, and they don’t care that you wrote a book. Telling them how you came up with your book idea sounds a lot like “Buy my book!” This nice article seems to work best for those who already have a loyal group of followers.

    So the real feat is how to build followers without saying “I’m writing a book and you should buy it.” Obviously if the book is an instructional how-to (maintaining a budget, weight loss, designing a garden, etc.) then the person could start a blog or tweet about the subject until eventually they build up a following… eventually in a marketplace filled with such people. Perhaps that would even work for a scientific work as long as it isn’t too esoteric. But if the book is fictitious, or maybe even historical or biographical, the route to building a following is less clear. If you have your zombie romance and you want to build a following without talking about your book to people who have never heard of you, what would you tweet? Random things about zombies? Bad example because zombies are trendy. What if your novel is more substantial like “Surfacing” by Margaret Atwood? Would you tweet about confronting identity? Starting with zero followers, I doubt it would work.

    • Good point. I have, however, seen authors successfully create/promote posts and content about their book’s background and subject. Don’t forget: there’s nothing wrong with tying your social media and blog content together. Twitter, for example, is most commonly used as a place to draw you away to outside sites/blogs. If your book’s subject is interesting enough to blog about / present research on, then it’s FINE to push those “Click Me” posts via social. When in doubt, ‘boost’ the posts to fans of similar authors.

    • Say your book has werewolves in it, you could blog about werewolf myths. That would get people who are interested in werewolves around your blog. Or you could write short stories and post them on your blog for free to give people a sample of what your writing is like.
      I’m more successful on Instagram than anything else because I find it easier to find it readers. I hashtag a lot to get a wider audience and I post book covers of what I’m reading, book memes and also bits of my own life. I find it’s easier to reach others readers that way as opposed to blogging about writing and getting writers as followers (who are also readers, but not all readers are writers).

  3. As a newly published novelist, whose publisher has suggested that I need to get a presence on social media by having a Facebook page, this post is interesting to me. I had been wondering how to use FB to help promote my books.

    My first two published works were a short story and a longer novella to introduce my series of crime novels. Both were published purely as e-books.
    The first of the full length stories has also been released as a Kindle book, and is at present being typeset for paperback.

    My problem is this. I’ve registered with Facebook, but I haven’t a scoobie what to do next. I don’t even know how to post, and FB don’t appear to give any instructions for beginners.
    Initially, I thought I’d just have to write some sort of blurb for the book then post it, but your piece makes a lot more sense. However, it presupposes that a writer already has a presence on Facebook. So what do I do to get that presence?
    I’d always steered clear of ‘social media’ before. Everything I heard about Facebook made it seem so fatuous and quite frankly pointless. I didn’t see it as being for me. No one I knew used it, or at least, not socially. Those who used it for business had others to write the entries. Before registering, I’d never seen a Facebook page… I still haven’t. I still don’t know how.

    Now, since registering, I’m getting daily e-mails from FB suggesting I ‘import’ my contacts to ‘find’ my ‘friends’. I know where my friends are, they’re on the other end of the phone. But to ‘import’ them? Facebook doesn’t tell me what this means in plain English, or how to carry it out.

    So you can see my dilemma. I’m a Facebook virgin with books to sell, but no idea how to do it… and now I’m told that I shouldn’t actually sell my books, but engage my social followers. Not the easiest trick to perform when I haven’t got any, or at least none that I know of.

    • “But to ‘import’ them? Facebook doesn’t tell me what this means in plain English, or how to carry it out.” It’s referring to your email address book that is full of your friends’ email addresses, which they may have used to register their facebook accounts. Don’t waste your time. The more you use facebook, the more you will hate it and the time you spend, trying to get people to “like” your page or comment so that you know somebody is reading what you post, etc. The only thing that works with facebook is paid ads that send people straight to your sales page when they click on it. Everything else is a waste because facebook will change their rules once you figure anything out. Facebook users want to see photos of their little grandkids or nieces that live far away, not your posts about a book, so even if facebook allowed them to see your post (maybe once a month), the likelihood of their caring on that particular day is not good. Go straight for the sales, testing different ads that are aimed at different types of people: facebook can target any age, any location, interests, marital status, etc.

    • When dealing with Facebook, don’t use a personal page as your author page. In order to truly establish your presence as an author of consequence, you have to have a ‘Fan Page’.
      You can do this by signing in -> at the top, right-hand corner of the screen, there’s your profile picture, a picture of a globe, a padlock graphic, and a an upside-down triangle -> click the triangle and select ‘Create Page’ -> follow the on-screen instructions from there.
      After you do that, you’re likely going to have to work with Facebook Ads. This is actually really straightforward, and targeting them is simple, too.
      Remember: post interesting links (not just to your blog or website), useful/entertaining content (somewhat relevant to your book’s subject-matter), and have fun.

  4. I hate when people try to sell me (especially with their free book). My biggest pet peeve is when people DM me with an ad. OMG how invasive is that. That is serious spam. I give writing tips and little one or two sentence blurb on my posts. I try to show I know about writing and things I like to write about.

  5. Good clear advice, but I’m still stymied by a particular issue. I have a new illustrated nature radio series: The Art of Paying Attention. I’m not trying to sell, just asking people to comment on the radio website. I can’t seem to move the Facebook “likers” over to the radio page where adventures await right outside your door…
    You can find Rabbit Warren here
    Stink Bug Love here

    • Perhaps trying to post material/links that’s not from your site may help? Sometimes, even if your material is entertaining and not overtly promotional, when readers see nothing but self-referential material on a page, they tend to ignore it. Try changing up your posts a bit.

  6. I have noticed this for a while. My followers want to be inspired and entertained. I came to the conclusion that Facebook is not a place to sell books. I’ve sold some through the page but not enough. But I have 1400 page likes in my niche. My next plan is to write interesting blog posts that begin on the Facebook page and then the reader has to click over to my website to read the rest. I also hate pushy or slimey sales techniques like “Click here for your free download” and I do not want to become one of those people but I do want to sell my book on how to have a successful massage practice. I have valuable stuff to share and it’s well worth the cost of the book. Social media is very tricky and it can take up a lot of time that I could be spending writing my next book. Bottom line is, I’d rather be writing than marketing. Good post!

  7. These are tricky waters to navigate. When you recommend a book to a friend, you tell them about it and they get excited because they know you, but if you do the same thing online, without establishing a relationship with your target first, how can they help but take it as spam? Especially given just inundated with these messages the internet has become.

    And, yet, these is still something to be said for the thrill of discovery. The finding of a new artist or song or story that speaks to us. And the thrill of sharing these with a friend and having them experience the same excitement about it. There must be a way to get these stories in front of an audience that will be excited to read them without turning into a shill.

  8. Some BNW’s (Big Name Writers) and BNP’s (BN Publishers) should read this, and follow the advice. Without that *reader* putting down money that *they worked for,* there is *no income stream.* No books sold, no _royalties_ paid, NO “I’m so and so, the author.” IOW, no “egoboo” to the author.
    Fans, AKA readers, are the *Foundation* of the process, and should be looked out for.


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