Nowadays, the success of a novel largely depends on the publicity it gets. It depends on whether it’s featured in newspapers and magazines, where it’s placed a bookshop or if it makes the Waterstones top picks or the Richard and Judy book club list. It depends on whether publishers invest in posters and advertising or on the competitions they run on their websites.
But it also depends on social factors – on who’s talking about it online, on the number of people reading it on the train, on casual conversations around the office. And it’s this social platform that offers the greatest scope for authors to promote their books directly to their readers.
One of the best recent examples of authors that have really made the most of the tools at their disposal is John Green, the bestselling author of ‘The Fault in Our Stars’, ‘Looking for Alaska’ and ‘An Abundance of Katherines’. Most people will have heard of his books. But what you might not know is the role that social media played in his commercial success.
In fact, John Green invested a huge amount of time in building up his social media presence. He is incredibly active on Twitter, Facebook, tumblr and forums. He does Twitter chats and online, interactive interviews where he answers questions from his followers. He also does extensive video blogging over YouTube – talking about the writing process and upcoming book launches and reading sections of his novels aloud.
Then, he announced to all of his social media fans, including over a million twitter followers, that he would be personally signing all 150,000 copies the first press run of ‘The Fault in Our Stars’. This inspired massive pre-orders from his online following, culminating in the novel hitting the number 1 spot on Amazon before he had even finished writing the novel.
It’s an amazing example of the influencing powers of social media, and it really shows the value of authors investing time into engaging directly with their fans and readers. Even though John’s efforts were initially focussed on America, his social media channels attract followers from all over the world, and he managed to create a real buzz prior to the book’s release that no doubt contributed to a global increase in sales.