eBook review: “SMART Social Media for Authors” by Chris Syme

smart social media for authorsIf you are an author, you need to promote yourself on social media. There ought to be a manual on how to do that, and now there is. It’s Chris Syme’s book “SMART Social Media for Authors,” and at $3.99 for the Kindle edition, you really ought to get a copy.

This is the book I always wanted to write. Except that unlike me, Chris has actually done the research on how a variety of types of authors promote on social and written it all down in an organized package.

As she says:

If . . . you are confused about how to use social media to sell your books, you are in the right place. You may already be using social media to build a fan base around your books, but you’d like to learn how to use it more effectively. This book is for you. If you are a skeptic, I think you’ll like my premise that one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to marketing.

“Authors must wear a marketing hat — no exceptions.” That’s her message, and it’s true. If you’ve already written a book and want to know how to promote it, your answers are here. If you’re at the proposal stage, read this short book and use it to beef up the marketing section of your proposal.

The SMART in “SMART Social Media” is, of course, an acronym. Syme wants you to think about a plan that’s:

Sustainable. You can keep it going.

Manageable. It doesn’t take over your life.

Author-specific. It’s not generic, it’s suited to your strengths and contacts.

Relevant. It’s suited to your book and your audience.

Tactics last. That is, strategy first.

This book is not a laundry list of a thousand pieces of tactical advice, because every book needs a plan that’s uniquely fitted to that book and that author. (Also because tactics change rapidly, and this book needs to stay relevant for more than 15 minutes.) It’s more about getting into the mindset than about what price to pay for Facebook ads. But there are plenty of specifics here that any author can sink their teeth into.

A few key takeaways that stuck with me:

  • Focus on building networks organically. While the book addresses paid ads on Facebook and Twitter, these are for campaigns — it’s connecting to your fan base that will pay off in the long run.
  • Don’t target everybody. Choose a specific audience and reach out to them (you know, like people who care about bad writing).
  • Choose the right Facebook tools. Facebook is the queen of social media marketing for authors. Syme goes through the strengths and weaknesses of profiles, fan pages, and groups. After reading this, I immediately realized that Facebook groups would be an ideal tool for me to build up next.
  • How to prioritize social tools. Syme divides social tools into three groups. The “big 3” are Websites, Mailing Lists, and Facebook. Every author should use these. The “next 3” are Pinterest, Author Pages, and Blogs — these are useful for some authors. And the rest — Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Video, and Podcasts — are a lot less useful, unless you’ve made them a specialty. This is far better advice than the usual “Here are 12 things an author can do” with no consideration for the balance between time spent and value generated.
  • How to build a campaign planning calendar. Having worked on five books (with another in process), I’ve learned the rhythm. Sell first, then write, then wait 6+ months, then launch. Somehow, the “wait” stage always turns into recovery, when it ought to be planning. I’ll be using Syme’s calendar to plan the launch for my next book, making sure I have all the promotable pieces lined up well ahead of time.

There were a few things I was wishing for. I’d love to see some more case studies for books, especially non-fiction books (it’s a little hard to write a manual that addresses romance novelists and business strategy authors in one place). And I’d like more specific advice on advertising — Syme includes some, but I crave numbers. But all in all this is a quick, enjoyable read that any author would find useful.

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  1. I have a question. Does it seem the techniques and advice applicable in other creative offerings beyond books and writers?

    1. Some techniques do, some don’t. Promoting books is a task with unique qualities that makes Syme’s book possible. The value in her book is its specificity with regard to book publishing.

      1. Got it…It’s four bucks, and it sounds like a fun, interesting read in the world of social media marketing anyway. Also, I can help consult author friends.