With the popularity of Amazon’s Kindle eBook reader, and the ensuing mass marketing of similar devices from Sony, Cool-ER and other companies, authors will find they must rely more on the Internet to promote their works. When one considers how bookstore chains are slowing moving toward a different inventory model that involves holding fewer books – many of which enjoy a brief shelf life as it is – the need to keep readers appraised of eternal, virtual stores is fundamental. Social media, to this end, provides authors with a variety of option to reach book lovers and maintain good connections with fans.

Authors Must Give Good “Face”

As the executive editor of a small press and electronic book publisher, I have studied the submission guidelines of similar houses to discover acquisition editors wish to see a marketing plan in addition to the manuscript. It it true among small-scale businesses that can’t afford to send authors on a world tour that some leg work is expected of any author contracted. Ads and reviews make for good PR, but ultimately the best method of promotion remains word of mouth, and in this age social media is the catalyst. That any author interested in selling books should at least have a Facebook and Twitter account is a given. One need not post status updates with regular precision, but using these profiles to inform readers of new releases, booksignings, and writing updates is a good way to establish relationships with people who buy your books, and in turn recommend your works to friends. Because Twitter and Facebook can be integrated to work together, you only have to update one to see changes in both.

Go Where the Readers Are

One common drawback to social media for authors is that writers tend to friend other authors, which leads to an endless cycle of promotion within a small circle of like-minded people. Yes, authors do buy books, but you don’t want to ignore the important demographic that doesn’t write and who regularly purchase books in your genre. Presently there are four social media networks geared specifically toward people looking for a place to organize the books they have read, are reading, and hope to read. As an author, it’s important to have profiles established in these spots to make your work available to somebody who otherwise might not know of the book.

Goodreads – Goodreads allows users to add books via Amazon.com search or manual entry. Authors can integrate a blog into their accounts to update readers on new developments.

Shelfari – With Shelfari you can create widgets to place on blogs or other social networks to inform readers of books you’ve written and read. Sharing your personal library enhances a level of camaraderie with readers – you might find you share similar tastes.

LibraryThing – This network offers applications for cell phones and blog implementation. Online groups provide a forum for genre readers and authors to discuss works.

As you establish profiles on general and focused social networks, you set your author name as a brand, indelible in the mind of readers. Be social with book lovers and share what you write. You may find readers will share that information with others.

Kathryn Lively is  a freelance writer and editor of erotic romance, specializing in articles on professional social media services and SEO for travel companies.