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Books, Bookmarks, Business Cards Or Digital Giveaways. What Should Authors Be Ready To Give Away?

Online marketing is a big part of every author's focus, but we shouldn't forget about the value of meeting readers in person. In this article, C. Penticoff offers four types of giveaways for conferences and other in-person events that will expand your reader base and connect you with those in the book industry.

Books, Bookmarks, Business Cards Or Digital GiveawaysOne of the first things every entrepreneur does after launching their business is to order business cards.

This seems logical, especially since it’s an affordable and professional way to distribute a physical piece of content providing all the ways to find and contact you.

You may have already done this, or you may be thinking about ordering some business cards. But, let me ask you this…

What’s one of the first things you do when you’re handed a business card?

It’s probably thrown away, stuck in a wallet, or tossed into the bottomless pit you call your purse… never to be seen again.

Even though business cards are a very affordable option, what’s the point in spending even a penny for something that is hardly ever effective?

If you’re an author, it seems business cards are even less effective if you’re handing these out to readers. Readers aren’t as interested in contacting you as they are in simply doing what they love to do–read your books!

There’s no doubt having something physical to hand out to readers and other professionals in your industry is beneficial, but let’s make sure every dime spent on your business drives your brand further up the ladder.

So, what can you hand out that will drive your business forward, instead of something that will end up in the trash?

1. Books

One great idea for an author is to hand out a book rather than a business card. Books will cost quite a bit more to hand out, but there is no doubt this can be an effective strategy.

Giving booksThe reader will read your book, and because they’ve met you in person, they are more likely to spread the word about your book and become a serial reader.

Be sure your back or front book matter lists ways they can subscribe to your mailing list. Inserting a separate sheet of paper into the book with that information is a great way to engage your reader, and including a bookmark with that information is ideal!

It’s important to note when you hand out a book to someone you make sure they know right away what is in it for them. When you hand a book to someone and you say something like, “Here is my book you can have for free” — that statement makes the free copy about the writer.

When you say something along the lines of, “Do you want to learn how to double your income as an author?” it makes the statement about the reader.

For my genre, I would say something like, “Do you want to get lost in a magical and enchanting world?” You can come up with a phrase that would best fit your book.


If handing out a book is out of your budget, then handing out bookmarks is a fantastic alternative! What’s great about handing out bookmarks is it will have the useful information a business card would, but it’s something the reader can actually use!

You might be wondering where you can go to get a bookmark design. A Novel Connection creates custom bookmark designs for only $25. After you get your design, head to a website, such as 48 Hour Print or Vista Print to purchase your bookmarks. You can easily get 500 bookmarks printed for less than $80.

Psst…Bookmarks are also great for giveaways on social media or your website!

Your bookmark design should include on the front:

  • Your name/logo
  • Your social media handles and website
  • Eye-catching colors and graphics that matches your brand (Have your designer help you with this)

Your bookmark on the back should include:

  • An easy-to-read link that drives your reader to your mailing list, as email marketing is arguably the best way to reach your readers directly.

Email marketingBonus Tip: My mailing list subscription link is ridiculous in length, which is not ideal for a physical item. Therefore, I created a page on my website that includes my mailing list form that is easy to read: That is easy to read and easy to type into a computer.

Your goal should always be to get readers to your mailing list. For example, I offer my mailing list subscribers a free fantasy book every Friday that I hunt down on Amazon; in addition, I offer free writing tips to writers who opt into that feature.

Read The Creative Penn’s post on How to Build Your Email List for a better grasp on email marketing.

3. Business Cards

If books and bookmarks are out of your budget, then business cards are a good option if you do it effectively.

When you design your business card, consider ordering double-sided cards, allowing you to get everything you need on the card without it looking jammed into a tiny space.

What to include on the front:

  • Your logo (Or just your name if you do not have a logo designed yet)
  • Your tagline

Bonus Tip: Your tag line is a one sentence phrase that sums you up as an author.

  • Western Romance Writer
  • New York Times Best-Selling Author
  • Award-Winning Fantasy Author
  • Teaching Writers How to Build Their Brand

What to include on the back:

  • Contact information: email address and/or phone number
  • Website
  • Social media handles
  • Easy-to-read mailing list subscription link

Remember, the mailing list is the money maker, so the best way to use a business card (or any physical item like this) is to include this link and what is in it for them when they subscribe.

4. Ebooks

It is beneficial to have something physical to offer readers and other professionals, but if books, bookmarks, and business cards are out of your financial reach, then you can always give away an ebook, which will be of no cost to you.

books and ipadThis may not be a physical item that readers can hold in their hands, but it sure beats nothing, right?

Make sure you have their explicit permission and then send them the file to your ebook. In the email, be sure to ask them if they want to subscribe to your mailing list, and what’s in it for them when they do, then provide a link where they can easily subscribe.

[Note from Joanna: BookFunnel also offers Instant Book Giving for ebooks as part of their service features.]

What happens if a business professional asks you for your business card?

At this moment, you would offer them whatever physical item you have to give away.

But, do you stop there?

Oh, no! You’re far too savvy of an entrepreneur to leave it at that.

You ask them for their business card and you contact them. There is a very good and strategic reason behind this. When a business professional asks you for your contact information, there is a great chance you will never actually hear from them.

This is especially true if you met them at an event where they also met dozens or even hundreds of other authors or professionals in your industry and/or they are a well-known figure in the industry who is very busy.

After you obtain their business card, give it a few days (I mean, you don’t want to seem desperate), then email (or call) and remind them who you are, what you discussed, and why they were interested in contacting you in the first place. This maximizes your chances of the professional following through in whatever was discussed.

What do you give away at conferences and other in-person events to connect with readers and others in the book industry? Please leave your thoughts below and join the conversation.

C. PenticoffTo find more useful writing and entrepreneur resources from C. Penticoff, head to her website, and be sure to subscribe to her mailing list for a free fantasy book every Friday. For authors, check the “writer” box to receive writing tips.

This story originally appeared on The Creative Penn

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Book Marketing Tips: How To Grow Your Readership Through Podcasting

Our lives are becoming increasingly impacted by voice and audio technology, something I discuss frequently on The Creative Penn Podcast. Today, author and podcaster, Paul Sating shares why it's a good idea for authors to podcast, and how it can help with book sales.

Book Marketing Tips How To Grow Your Readership Through PodcastingIt’s difficult to get published but finding a reader base for your books can be even more challenging.

Maybe you’ve leveraged every tactic known to ‘writerhood’; newsletters, blogs, paid ads, and various writer-centric websites aimed at readership.

Even writing nonfiction books isn’t a guaranteed path to market awareness of your brand. The challenge of finding readers, standing out from the crowd, becomes more difficult as the crowd swells.

But what can a writer do? After all, there are only so many avenues available to us. The good news is, publishing is a long road, but it is a road with numerous branches that can help us reach our goal of finding new readers.

One way to create a unique presence is by sharing your voice with the world by starting your own podcast. Now, before you say you couldn’t possibly podcast, allow me to tell you how it’s not as difficult as it may first appear and why you might want to consider getting into this medium.

Reasons to Podcast

  1. Anyone can do it (yes, even you).
  2. It can expand your author/book brand exponentially.
  3. It’s relatively cheap (especially compared to book covers and editors).
Humbleworks stand up desk topper

Joanna Penn with her podcasting microphone

It requires determination to publish and now I’m asking you to be as determined in believing you can podcast. Many people think it’s too technical, but if you have a computer, Internet connection, and a recording device, you can podcast.

Lack of experience can easily be overcome and don’t worry about the sound of your voice (no one enjoys hearing their own).

The podcast space is an open and friendly space. Plenty of experienced podcasters are more than willing to provide advice and audiences know most of us are hobbyists. They are patient and supportive.

You don’t need the sheen of a highly-produced Hollywood product for thousands of people to enjoy listening to your show. With drive and dedication, your sound and production will consistently improve, a feature of this medium that is uniquely positive.

Fans actually celebrate the improvement over time of the shows they love. It’s a truly empowering experience.

No one expects you to sound like a professional studio and the podcast market is looking for genuine personalities to connect with. Make that be you.

Still not convinced?

Consider the flooded book market, with millions of titles and thousands added every month.

Standing out from the crowd is becoming increasingly difficult. Starting your own podcast creates exposure for your books like no other writer activity.

[Note from Joanna: I talk about this kind of voice branding in my podcast episode about narrating your own audiobooks.]

How Podcasting Can Increase Your Brand Exposure

Leading to a larger fan base, many of whom will read your books.

1. Intimacy

Podcasts are a dynamic medium that allows you to connect with fans (as a creator and as a person) on a deep level. When you podcast, you know you’re speaking to hundreds or even thousands of people, but they know you’re speaking directly to them.

That connection can be incredibly strong. Many fans identify as “friends” of their favorite podcasters, even if they’ve never met them.

2. Accessibility

iphone with earbudsWe’re busy people with busy lives. A considerable strength of audiobooks is that they’re mobile – friendly. People can listen wherever they are and whatever they’re doing.

Podcasts share that strength. People cannot stop to read your blog or your interview when they’re at the job or working out at the gym. But they can listen to your podcast while doing those things. You become ever-present in their daily lives and, over time, part of their routine—you can’t put a price on that.

Lastly, the explosion of reliable podcatchers (apps users listen to podcasts) allows for a permanent on-demand existence for your content.

3. Flexibility

A podcast platform gives you the ability to be responsive to fans by quickly publishing content that is relevant to them or the latest trends.

The very fluid nature of podcasting allows you to release episodes when they are timely and topical, dropping them into millions of devices around the world.

And you’re not ‘stuck’ in what you first create. The medium is structured for easy transitions between podcast categories (fiction, nonfiction, business, self-help, etc.).

What is your niche?

Even with an estimated 500,000 podcasts in the space, there is still room for you. Though those numbers sound intimidating, it pales in comparison to the number of book titles. The key is to identify a niche that works for you (your book publishing strategy/goals).

By identifying a niche market, you can carve out a following by leveraging social media and “Also Listens” (podcast equivalent to Amazon “Also Boughts”). The best part? You can do this organically (for free) over time.

How To Begin

And that brings me to my last point. Starting your own podcast can be done cheaply — you only need an Internet connection, computer, a DAW (digital audio workstation — more about this in a moment) and a mic (and you can always add equipment if you choose to take this more seriously in the future).

AT4040 MicrophoneMics aren’t scary and you don’t need to be a sound pro to find one that will suit your needs. In fact, great starter USB microphones (plugged directly into your computer’s USB drive) can be found for less than $100. A decent mic can last well over a decade (can you say the same for your book covers?).

[Note from Joanna: for more information on audio set-up for an author, check out this post from Dan Van Werkhoven, the ‘sound guy' for The Creative Penn Podcast.]

Great starter DAW software (like Audacity) is available for free. Though I upgraded to an Adobe product years ago, I know many successful podcasters who still use Audacity (or Garageband, the Apple equivalent).

The only other cost associated with podcasting (besides time) will be your hosting fees (which can range from free for to roughly $25/month, depending on your needs).

These costs are greatly outweighed by the exposure you’ll earn.

Don’t let fear of the unknown discourage you

There are plenty of resources available to help you get started. Many are free. YouTube is a wonderful place to find free educational resources for all skill levels. Just about any social media platform has a wealth of podcast communities with experienced podcasters were willing to help. You won’t be alone.

Audio is a growing marketplace. With our mobile lifestyle and content saturation, it’s important to not get left behind. For writers who want to obtain/maintain front-of-mind-awareness for readers, podcasting is the next natural step in this evolving marketplace.

If you’re looking to stand out, to grow and strengthen your relationship with your readers, build a unique brand presence, and have a consistent platform to cross-medium promote your books (for free), look no further.

You work hard on your books and they deserve to be in the hands of as many people as possible. Hosting your own podcast can not only be the most effective and cost-efficient way of marketing you and your books; it’s actually incredibly fun.

For many authors who podcast, it doesn’t even feel like marketing. Raising awareness, carving out a niche, building bridges to new readers, all while having fun?

What’s stopping you?

Have you thought about starting your own podcast? Please leave your thoughts below and join the conversation.

Paul SatingNovel Idea to Podcast Paul SatingPaul Sating has been podcasting for 9 years with over a million downloads and published his first 3 books in 2018. He writes horror, thrillers, and is currently working on an epic fantasy series.

Find his podcasts and books at Connect on Twitter and Instagram at @paulsating.

This story originally appeared on The Creative Penn

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How To Use Your Book Cover To Sell More Books

Your book cover design is an essential part of your book marketing strategy. Today author and graphic designer AD Starrling discusses how to make the most of the cover design you've worked so hard to get right.

sell with book coverCover attracts, copy sells.

I can’t recall where exactly I first read this eye-opening line but I now live by this motto as both a writer and a designer.

When it comes to selling books, there is no doubt that an eye-catching cover that fits your main genre and targets your ideal reader is an important element to get right.

There are dozens of articles out there by some very big names in our industry about how changing covers changed their sales figures and in some cases, their entire careers.

Our very own Joanna Penn has written a couple of features here and here, and there is this sobering example by H.M. Ward which I always quote as an example of very effective redesign and rebranding.

I also strongly recommend checking out this podcast interview with Stuart Bache on book covers.

So, now that you’ve got a great book cover, what can you do with it besides putting it out there in the world when you launch your book? It turns out you can do a lot, especially to market it. So let’s break this down into three phases:

  1. Prelaunch
  2. Launch
  3. Branding

1. Prelaunch

Buzz building is a crucial element of most bestselling authors’ marketing strategy when it comes to their new releases. Getting your existing readers excited about your upcoming book and attracting new readers to your writing world is a great way to ensure you get good sale figures when you launch, especially if you’re doing preorders.

I would particularly emphasize targeting your existing readers. Remember the Rule of 7 in Marketing 101. Even your fans may have to “see” your book several times before they click the preorder or buy button.

Here are several ways you can use your book cover to build buzz about your upcoming release before your book goes live. You should start thinking about this 1 to 3 months before your book launch.

A. Cover reveal

A cover reveal is an easy, simple, and effective way to build buzz about your upcoming release. From exclusive cover reveals with preorder links to your mailing list and fan groups, to posts on your social media platforms which you can boost, to paid cover reveal book tours. All of these are easy ways to get your book out there to existing fans and potential new readers.

Many authors do giveaways with their cover reveals to engage their existing readers and attract new ones.

There are two ways you can use your book cover for cover reveals. Just use the cover itself or create attractive graphics that include your cover. In terms of cover reveal book tours, romance and YA fantasy are the two genres that can do well with that particular form of buzz building.

This is the cover reveal graphic I’m using for my upcoming release. Here, I used elements of the book cover for the background, a 3D render of the book, and a tagline with a clear call-to-action.

Blood and Bones Pre-order post

And here’s an amazing cover reveal post where the author uses their actual book cover to full effect (note this is not my design).

Cover Reveal Jovee Winters

B. Profile picture

Another simple way to make your upcoming release highly visible is to change your author profile image on your various social media platforms, your Amazon author page, and even your Bookbub page.

Here are a couple of recent guides which will help you get the dimensions right: Sprout Social Social Media Image Size Guide and Hubspot Ultimate Guide Social Media Image Dimensions.

Social media platforms often change their image dimension requirements so make sure to revisit them at least once or twice a year to ensure you’re using up to date sizing guides.

C. Website

Always try and keep your website up to date by displaying your upcoming release prominently on your Home page. Your cover or an attractive graphic with a tagline and preorder links is an easy way to make sure your readers know what’s coming next, especially if you’re driving traffic to your website with advertising.

Consider adding your book cover with its preorder links to your mailing list sign-up page.

Here’s a website Home page graphic I made for Melissa J. Crispin when we redesigned the cover of her fantasy novella The Crimson Curse.

Sample website banner

D. Banners

Adding your book cover to your social media and newsletter banners is another easy way to boost visibility. Many authors regularly change their banners to not only showcase their upcoming releases but also when they’re doing sales on one of their titles.

Here’s the Twitter banner I made for Melissa J. Crispin.

Melissa J Crispin Twitter banner

E. Ads and teasers

Using your book cover in ads is a brilliant way to boost preorders and increase visibility.

You can either use the book cover itself, elements of it, or images that are evocative of the story in your ad graphics.

Here are two Facebook ads I designed for S.E. Wright when we did her boxset cover.

Facebook Ad The Traveller Series Boxset SE Wright

Facebook Ad The Traveller Series Boxset SE Wright

Here’s a teaser template I created for Melissa J. Crispin, which she then used to add content to use in her social media posts.

The Crimson Curse Teaser

2. Launch

Launching your book is a crazy whirlwind of newsletters, social media posts, advertising, and watching sales and reviews come in for your new baby. If you’ve put in the hard work for your prelaunch, it helps make the launch period that much easier.

Your existing and potential new readers have already seen your upcoming book cover several times in the form of the above buzz-building tactics. Now’s the time to dial things up and get them to click buy if they haven’t already pre-ordered your book.

A. Website and social media banners

Once your book is live, updating your website Home page and your social media banners with new launch graphics is a must. Nothing says “There’s naff all to see here folks” than going to an author’s website or social media page on launch day and seeing the proverbial tumbleweed roll across the screen.

You have a web presence. Use it to the max when it comes to your book launch. Remember the Rule of 7.

B. Boosted posts

Boosted posts targeted at your existing readers is a clever way to get sales on launch day. Sure, you would have sent a newsletter out too, but not everyone will open it on launch day and a boosted post doesn’t hurt visibility.

The book cover itself or a pretty graphic featuring the book and your buy links works well for this.

C. Ads

This is where most bestselling authors concentrate their marketing money. Most authors with a backlist that generates good read through and ROI have ads running in the background for their first in series, a boxset, or their reader magnet for mailing list sign-up anyway, but launch day is when the big guns come out.

Since you have no control over your Amazon ads graphics, ensuring the book cover itself is eye-catching from the get-go with a title or author name readable at thumbnail level is the best chance you can give your book in terms of those few precious seconds you have to catch a reader’s eye on a busy Amazon page.

For Facebook, Bookbub, or Twitter ads, the world is your oyster. Here, you can experiment with all sorts of graphics, images, and elements of your book cover.

Bookbub Ad The Traveller Series Boxset SE WrightThe advice for Facebook ads is usually that simple images work better than graphics featuring book covers. But I have seen lots of great Facebook ads featuring book covers that work really well when you consider their social proof.

At right is a Bookbub ad I did for S.E. Wright for her boxset.

Here are some fantastic examples (note these are not my designs) of how you can use a book cover and its elements to create brilliant ads.

Sample Facebook ads

Shayne Silvers FaceBook Ad

3. Branding

The other function your book cover has is to convey your author brand or series brand to readers. It’s advisable to revisit your author branding regularly (I would recommend at least once a year) to make sure you keep things fresh and on target for your genre and the kind of readers you are trying to attract.

A. Website and social media

Here are some great examples of authors who are constantly updating their websites and social media banners to reflect their latest release and branding (again, not my own designs).

Shayne Silvers books

Domino Finn ad

Elise Kova Facebook ad

When I designed the covers for my upcoming urban fantasy series Legion, I decided to give my website and my newsletter a makeover to reflect my new series branding.

AD Starrling newsletter header

B. Swag

Another brilliant and fun way to use your book cover for branding and marketing is by incorporating them in your business card, author event banners, and all your fan swag. So bookmarks, postcards, posters, mugs, T-shirts, tote bags, fridge magnets, popsockets, etc.

The sky is truly the limit when it comes to swag. And you can even monetize these designs by having your own author store on Zazzle or Society 6, or your own website.

[Note from Joanna: for more information and ideas about merchandising that ties into your books and author brand, listen to this episode of The Creative Penn podcast.]

Here are some great examples: Elise Kova, JA Huss, and Marie Force.

One thing to ensure before you sell physical products though is that you have the correct licenses with regards to the images used.

So now that we’ve talked about the various ways you can use your book cover or elements of it for marketing, what about the tools at your disposal to create these eye-catching graphics?

Here are the three I would recommend right now:

  1. Photoshop
  2. Canva
  3. Book Brush

When it comes to design, every designer swears by Photoshop. It can look like the tool of the devil at first but I would recommend starting with Adobe’s own tutorials if you’re new to the software.

If you don’t fancy paying for Photoshop, then I recommend Canva as a great platform for creating stunning graphics.

The other platform to consider is Book Brush. The new kid on the block, Book Brush promises to help you “create professional ads and social media images for your books”.

Before I started my design business, Canva was my go-to tool for all my graphic needs. Photoshop is now my personal tool of choice because it’s so versatile. If you’re not a designer, then I would recommend trying both Canva and Book Brush’s free plans before committing to a paid plan with either of them.

One advantage Canva still retains over Book Brush is that you can do more than just ads and social media images on there. Canva offers a plethora of design features including business cards, book covers, flyers, and posters among many others.

The good thing about both Canva and Book Brush is that they are constantly innovating and adding to their platforms so you will be sure to get a solid product that will only gain in value over time whichever one you choose to go with.

Your last option when it comes to ads and social images is to outsource this completely. There are a few book cover designers who also offer social media kits and ads packages, including my previous book cover designers, the amazing Deranged Doctor Design. And of course, my own design business 17 Studio Book Design.

[Note from Joanna: You can also find more book cover designers here.]

I hope you’ve found this article helpful and will go forth with a better idea of how you can effectively use your book cover in all your marketing endeavors.

Have you used your book covers in your marketing and advertising graphics? Please leave your thoughts below and join the conversation.

AD Starrling17 Studio Book Design is the brainchild of bestselling fantasy and thriller author AD Starrling. Having done all her marketing designs since 2016, AD launched 17 Studio Book Design in October 2018, after obtaining her Adobe Associate Certification.

What can you expect from her? Stunning, professional covers that fit your genre. A reader for over 30 years and an author-publisher-marketer for over 6 years, she knows how this business works. Do check out the 17 Studio Book Design portfolio to see what kind of covers and marketing packages she can create for you.

This story originally appeared on The Creative Penn

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Book Marketing: Social Media Tips For Introvert Authors

Writers and creatives know we need to be present on social media – and it's no surprise that many of us are introverts.

Social Media Tips For Introvert AuthorsSo, how do we reconcile being introverted and being active on social media? In today's article, Ella Barnard gives us some tips.

First, keep in mind that while extroverts like attention, introverts can be amazing at engaging with people on social media, especially when they have the right mindset and tools. Introverts are great listeners, they think before they speak, they are great observers, and they are compassionate leaders.

As an introvert on social media, you can bring all those qualities to your interactions with people. You will stay on the right topic which is the books and readers. You can be genuine, thoughtful, curious, and caring. You just need to know how to express it.

Why is it so important to be engaged with people on social media? Because it’s a key part of building your indie author platform. You don’t have a huge marketing team putting your book all over the internet.

But that’s okay because there are benefits to having direct access to your potential readers on social media. It’s where your readers:

  • spend time
  • chat about what they are reading
  • go to get recommendations

And it’s where you get to interact with them for free! In one friendly interaction, people can go from stranger to friend, or from random customer to your customer.

But knowing all that doesn’t do any good if engaging with strangers is a challenge for you. And if you’re an introvert, you know how difficult it can be to put yourself out there.

First, take some of the pressure off.

You don’t have to BFF everyone on the internet. It’s okay to start with baby steps. Make one comment. Meet one new reader friend. Celebrate and acknowledge your progress.

Here are some ways that introverts can easily start interacting and building relationships with their ideal readers and fellow authors on social media:

Where to Start

1. Join genre-themed Facebook groups. Groups are hot right now. They get a lot of engagement and have a lot of people interacting with each other.

FacebookThey’re great for introverts because, unlike a Facebook Page, the pressure of producing content doesn’t fall solely on you. They’re a great place to lurk and see what’s happening with the fans of your genre.

2. Show up as a person. A big resistance for many indie authors is they don’t want to come across on social media as salesy or sleazy. Which makes sense.

For introverts and extroverts alike, being too salesy feels gross. That’s why when it’s time to interact with readers online, put your “sales” hat away and show up in the groups as a regular person, or better yet, as a fellow fan of the genre.

3. Uplevel your “Like,” by leaving a short comment. Instead of clicking “thumbs up,” “heart” or “wow” emojis, uplevel your response and leave a short comment.

It can be something as simple as “This is great!” or “I love this,” or actually typing out, “Wow!” The couple of seconds it takes to actually type a response pay back dividends over time.

I have a friend who leaves simple comments like, “Thanks!” and “You too!” and he gets exponentially more engagement on his posts because people know that he cares enough to type a real response. This is great for introverts because you don’t actually have to come up with interesting comments. You just have to type out the words instead of clicking and emoji.

4. Comment with a gif. People LOVE gifs! Again, instead of just clicking the “like” button, take a few seconds to choose a pertinent (or funny) gif.

For introverts, this is awesome because you don’t even really have to say anything. Just post a gif as a comment.

What to Post

Diverse Group of PeopleThese are the most effective strategies and they’re great for introverts because they put the focus where it should be, on the readers. It’s not about you or your book. It’s about the other people in the group–your potential readers.

Here are some simple ways to give amazing value without giving too much of yourself:

1. Recommend books (not your own). Readers love book recommendations. They’re always looking for new authors and good stories. So help them out with a simple recommendation.

I’m not talking about lengthy, in-depth reviews here. A screenshot or image of the book cover and some brief text is enough, “Hey! I just read this book and loved it. It has dragons!”

This is great for introverts because the bulk of the process is reading the book! Yes! Another excuse to buy and read more books, “I needed it for my social media!”

2. Post subject- or genre-related games and memes. You know those predictive text posts? They’re super fun, but minimal effort to find and post.

Go to Pinterest and search for “Facebook games” or “reading memes.” That’s right. You don’t have to make them up yourself. You can post someone else’s game, easy peasy. Just make sure they are related to books, reading, or your genre.

3. Start conversations with a question. Don’t want to talk about yourself? Great! Be interested in everyone else.

question markIn Facebook groups dedicated to your genre, ask simple open-ended questions. My favorite conversation starter is “What is your favorite [your genre] book?”

Asking questions works well for introverts because you don’t have to talk about yourself. Instead, you create a space for your potential readers to talk about themselves.

4. Keep asking questions. Be curious. When someone comments on your post or replies to your comment, ask a follow-up question. Let the focus stay on them.

All you have to do is be interested in who they are. That should be natural; you’re writers. Observing and learning people is a big part of what you do. If you are engaging back and forth, and run out of questions, fall back on some of the tips from above, leave a short comment or a gif.

Like anything, engaging with readers on social media gets easier with practice. The more you do it, the more natural it will feel. Especially as strangers turn into friends, readers, and fans. It takes time, but not as much time as you think.

Keep in mind, they’re probably introverts too. And you already know you have something in common–your shared passion for books!

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Ella BarnardElla Barnard hosts the Author Like a Boss podcast. She helps authors who are ready to jump into self-publishing so they can quit their job and make a living with their writing. It’s hard work. It isn’t sexy, but it’s doable. And it’s easier with friends.

She coaches indie authors in her Author Boss Academy. To find out more, or sign up for a free training, go to

This story originally appeared on The Creative Penn