Self-Publishers and the Social Media Divide

by | Oct 14, 2010

Self-Publishing has been around for a long time. Walt Whitman and Benjamin Franklin were both self-published authors from a time when self-publishing had no negative connotations.

Social media, on the other hand, is a pretty new phenomenon. Blogging is about ten years old, and the social media space has only become powerfully influential in the mainstream in the last couple of years.

When you see anchors on CNN and other news shows featuring Twitter posts and advertising their blogs in prime time, you know that social media has become a real force within the bigger world of media.

The Social Media Divide

Those of us deeply involved with the rapidly expanding world of social media sometimes forget that there are millions of people who don’t participate in it, or limit their involvement to Facebook groups and making connections on LinkedIn.

When it comes to self-publishers, there’s a clear divide on social media. On one side are the authors who primarily sell their books online, who use tools like article marketing, blogging, Twitter posts and all the other ways we seek to drive traffic, engage a community, and sell books.

On the other are the self-publishers who have stayed with traditional marketing, press kits, review mailings, bookstore appearances and all the other ways we’ve developed over the years to launch and promote our books.

These publishers, when confronted with social media initiatives, are likely to disregard the amazing power of network marketing, which is where social media gets a lot of its juice.

Self-Publishers Who Miss the Point of Social Media

  1. Think blogging is “giving away my content instead of selling it.”
  2. Consider Twitter “a waste of time—you can’t say anything meaningful in 140 characters.”
  3. Write two or three articles and keep submitting them to blogs and article sites, over and over.
  4. Open Twitter accounts and then send the exact same tweet to their 10 followers, day after day.
  5. Visit forums only to market new books or announce appearances.

Self-Publishers Who Really “Get” Social Media

  1. Actually want to interact with interested readers.
  2. Realize that social media give them access to crucial information they need to succeed in their chosen market.
  3. See peer-to-peer networking as an important part of their marketing efforts.
  4. Understand that books are changing, and that change creates new opportunities.
  5. Are on the lookout for new technologies, new venues and new ways to market their books.

Obviously, these are not iron-clad lists. We’re all complex creatures.

And you might say there is a third group, those who use every tool at their disposal, traditional and web-oriented, to maximize their books’ sales potential.

Which one are you?

tbd advanced publishing starter kit


  1. Elizabeth Barone

    I’d say I’m somewhere between the second and third. I’d like to do it all, but I have little time as it is; I can only do the most effective things. (I do like to experiment, though!)

  2. Jaye Manus

    Advertising versus connecting. It’s a subject I’ve been studying lately. Even wrote a blog post about it last month.

    Personally, most writers I know are poor sales people. Tell them, “Make people buy your book,” and either they freeze or turn into ad-zillas with zero boundaries and a deaf ear to buyer resistance. On the other hand, most writers I know, when you get them wound up about a subject they care about then put a pen in their hand and turn them loose are witty, eloquent, sharp and interesting. Does the world need more sales people? Meh. Give me passionate, poignant, funny, off-the-wall, angry writing that makes me think and touches my emotions and I’ll follow those writers anywhere.

  3. David Harry

    I think you are right on about social media, but the hard part is getting exposure. It is not easy.

    • Joel Friedlander

      You are exactly right. It’s never been easy, either before social media or since. But social media has put very powerful tools in our hand and allowed us to “be the media” in a way never possible before. That’s the power we need to learn to tap into to get our work noticed. Thanks for the thought.



  1. Mailbag Letters from Self-Publishers — The Book Designer - [...] of making yourself available in social media is that you are available. Quite a few people read the blog…
  2. Book Marketing Blog Carnival – October 27, 2010 : Selling Books - [...] Friedlander presents Self-Publishers and the Social Media Divide — The Book Designer posted at Joel [...]
  3. Tweets that mention Self-Publishers and the Social Media Divide — The Book Designer -- - [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Harriet Smart, Harriet Smart and Jamie DeBree, Joel Friedlander. Joel Friedlander said:…

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *