Bethany took her time to answer our questions about social media marketing for indie authors, her pup’s role in SMM, and book cover redesign.
Mibl: Marketing without a well-defined strategy is risky. Looking at your social media presence, you seem like a person with a fine plan. What is your advice for authors who want to develop a social media strategy? What should they pay attention to and what pitfalls avoid?
Bethany: My advice is to take the time to research and learn what works for other authors. Read books, watch youtube videos, listen to other authors and figure out which techniques work for you. Everyone is different. There’s no one right way, so the best way to develop a strategy is to be willing to fail and take chances.
Mibl: How important is money in SMM: Is it possible to grow with little to no investments? In your opinion what is an ideal budget for an author and how is it best spent?
Bethany: Yes of course it’s possible to grow. I don’t spend any money on social media marketing because I believe it’s completely possible to grow organically. Paid advertising can be beneficial with some practice and experience, but if you can’t market well organically first, then paid advertising isn’t going to move the needle either.
Mibl: So, we’ve watched this video of yours too many times, which got me thinking:
Your pup is the goodest of girls. Do authors need such a cute sidekick to succeed in SMM?
Mibl: With the explosion of TikTok and Instagram declaring the shift towards video, It seems, we’re entering the new media era of short videos. What are your thoughts on this new format? Do you think authors could benefit from it and should create such content? If so, how should they approach it: should they lean into memes or stick to a more traditional approach?
Bethany: I think it’s wise to pay attention to what’s working in social media. If you want to be effective on a platform, then it’s wise to use it as it’s intended. Since this new format is clearly what they want users to do, they’re going to promote accounts who use the new formats.
Mibl: You and Mandi Lynn published a series of books on book marketing and author platform development. One of the books, Secrets to Selling Books on Social Media: Social Media Marketing for Writers offers 10 secrets to help sell books on social media. Could you give us a sneak peek of the book’s content and share, or hint at, your favorite secret from the book?
Bethany: I can! The book covers multiple traps that authors fall into when it comes to social media and then each chapter breaks down how to avoid these pitfalls. It teaches about the Know, Like, and Trust sales funnel, three tried and true sales formulas, ten posting templates, content calendar planning examples and tutorials, addresses limiting mindsets and beliefs, and more.
Mibl: Another book in the series is Grow Your Author Platform: Generating Book Sales with Your Website, Email Marketing, Blogging, YouTube and Pinterest Using Content Marketing. In your opinion, what is the most important social media platform for authors now? And what type of content works best for it?
Bethany: The most important platform is the one where your readers hang out the most. That’s going to change depending on your genre. Again, there’s no “one right way” for authors, you need to find the best fit for you and your book, and then when you figure out which platform that is, use it as it’s intended for the best results.
Mibl: In your video “Why book covers change in publishing,” you’ve covered book cover redesigns (and also revealed a gorgeous cover redesign for your The Stolen Kingdom). How did the book cover redesign work out for you?
Fantastic. Cover changes, when done right, can breathe new life into a story and help it find new readers.
Mibl: In your opinion, what is the biggest social media marketing mistake you’ve ever made? How would you change it with your current knowledge?
Bethany: Not starting sooner. A lot of people are afraid to fail, so they don’t start, but social media marketing is far different from writing a book. If writing a book is chiseling something into stone, then social media posts are more like drawing in chalk on a sidewalk before it rains. You learn by trying things and being willing to fail, so just get started.
Mibl: Scrolling through your Instagram, we’ve stumbled upon superb advice on a writing career from your husband, “if you want it to be a career, stop treating it like a hobby.” (You could print it on t-shirts and posters). If you had to advise on building an author career to your younger self what would it be?
Bethany: He’s a smart guy! Honestly that advice is extremely valuable, and I would build on it by saying if I could help my younger self grow faster, I’d study and learn just as much about the business side of things as I did the writing and publishing side of things. That has helped me build a successful business in writing and publishing.
Our conclusion from the conversation with Bethany on SMM for indie authors is: don’t be afraid to start, do your research beforehand, and target your readers on their preferred social media. (Also, you don’t need a cute pet to succeed, but it definitely won’t hurt). Following these recommendations, you’re likely to grow your audience even without investing in SMM. And remember, social media marketing is “like drawing in chalk on a sidewalk before it rains;” mistakes don’t matter that much adn you need to move fast.
Good luck and have fun!