Guest Post: You don’t need social media for sales! | Jon Cantin

It seems like every second word out of some marketers’ mouths somehow involves social media in one form or another. It has almost become the default and seemingly essential buzzword to get people’s attention! Companies big and small have jumped on this bandwagon, which I think is a rapidly fading fad, and authors are being mesmerised with the endless possibilities billions of “social media users” offer them.
Before we jump into alternative ways of marketing a book, here are the obvious ways businesses right now are using social media networks to promote products and services and why they are such wonderful money pits.
  • Creating a “fan page” and then inviting all your friends to like the page… how exactly does getting them to like your page generate sales of your book? Well, it’s likely they already knew you had a book… and if they didn’t buy it before you set up your fan page… it probably won’t change. [ED: Too many authors also leave social media marketing until their books are published. You should use social media to help build a fan base first!]
  • Creating an online ad in Google, FaceBook and on a host of other sites, can still mean the ads are invisible to the right target audience, which is why they often result in such a low click-through rate. There are so many ad types now (static image, animation, video and in-text links) that our brains efficiently block them out because due to familiarity and repetitiveness. We don’t even know it! I check my gmail several times a day and every time I know there are ads appearing on the right hand column based on keywords from the content of my emails. But guess what, I still don’t remember seeing them or what they are about, much less clicking on them.
  • Print advertising is not only expensive but the repetitive nature of ads diminishes impact value quickly. If you wrote your book for a specific niche, and happen to find a magazine or newspaper that fits perfectly with the subject matter and content of your book, then you may be in luck, but in general, print advertising is dying.
Alright, so advertising and pestering your friends to join your fan page isn’t necessarily going to lead to enough sales to offset the time and money you invested. How do you actually get some real traction with your book? Here is what I’ve found works great!


  • I know this sounds like a lot of work, but set-up a blog and start writing about the various topics that your book addresses. Articles should be at least a thousand words and try to post at least 3-6 times a week. Blogging platform WordPress is free and a domain is only $8 a year. You should promote your book on EVERY PAGE OF YOUR BLOG! You can see what I’ve done at Click on any of the 950+ articles and you’ll see an advertisement for my book!
  • Network with other businesses if you have a book related to business. It is another great way to get the word out. Print some business cards and give them out after you’ve had a short conversation and see a possible fit for your book.
  •  VistaPrint generally has sales promotions and discounts giving you 250 business cards for free. Find your target audience, reach out, engage, and above all don’t be afraid to press the flesh.
  • Ask for the sale—seriously, if you don’t ask “which address do you want my book shipped to?” then you can’t expect any sales. Notice how I assumed that you’d buy my book? There are endless books about negotiation and marketing, much of it regurgitated from other works, but learn how to target, engage and sell. Learn how to motivate and learn how to close a deal!
  • Generate interest by giving your book away for free, no strings attached, to those influential in your field of interest or expertise. I know this is an oldie but it still works! Don’t send your book to J.K. Rowling if you have a kids science fiction book—it will not be read and is a waste of your time. Go for people lower down the totem pole and use their reviews and comments (if they write one) to generate the attention of those higher up the pole. If there are some magazines writing about topics in your book, then their readers are also likely to be interested in your book. Contact one of the journalists and ask them how many staff are there, and send each one a copy of your book! [ED: Offer to write an article!]
The returns from social media just haven’t been there in my case. I still play the game but dodge any requests for financial donations (advertising that goes nowhere). I’m not saying that they don’t exist, but there are many other more effective ways to market your wares. For me, social media just isn’t really needed in order to be successful in the publishing industry.

Jon Cantin is the author of seven self-published books over the past five years. He wrote four about designing for CNC machines (laser cutters, 3D printers, table routers), one science fiction, one teaching Mandarin Chinese with his wife and another self-help. All the layout, copy, photography, rendering and drawings were done by him and professionally proofed. He has travelled extensively around the world sharing his passion for learning, teaching and experiencing life. A Canadian by birth, he’s currently residing in Australia with his wife while pursuing his design ambitions with his company, which he founded five years ago and sells digital plans and physical model kits globally. He also produces many videos showcasing his passion for CNC machines and their capabilities to revolutionise manufacturing.


Mick Rooney – Publishing Consultant

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