Sometimes, you’ll have people follow you on social media who are in no way familiar with your books. This could be because you’ve interacted with other people they follow; it could be because you have a reputation for being a fun person to follow on social media (in which case, congratulations!); it could just be that they hit the button by mistake and haven’t bothered to correct their error.
Regardless of the reason, you want to do your best to make sure these followers become fans and actually read your books. Inflating your follower number is never bad, but inflating your number of dedicated readers is obviously better. So, here’s a few way to pick up those stragglers.
1. Mention what you’re reading/favorite books you have read.
We all know the algorithm bookstores use to get you to buy more. “If you liked x, you might like y,” it says. Maybe you end up buying y, maybe you don’t, but it has been planted in your head, and you’re more likely to buy it knowing it’s similar to another book you like than you would be if you were to randomly stumble across it in a bookstore or library.
As an author, you can indirectly apply that sort of algorithm to your own work by citing influences on your writing. You don’t even have to be direct, tweeting about how x work directly inspired your own recent novel, although that’s certainly an option. Just post about books and authors you like, and do so often. If you truly love a certain author, they will have rubbed off on you in some way, right? And if a follower also happens to love Author X, they’re more inclined to pick up your novel now that they know there’s a good chance it’s been influenced by that author.
2. Share praise that you receive.
Another standard device used to lure buyers into selecting a particular novel is that of the blurb, whether it’s on the front cover or inside the flyleaf. If the shopper sees a list of accolades as long as their forearm emblazoned on the back cover of a book, they automatically have several votes of confidence encouraging them to pick that book up.
Online praise can work in much the same way. And one advantage online praise has over professional praise is that it often comes from readers who are just like that follower you’re trying to convince to read your books. If you retweet or repost several dozen happy readers, Goodreads reviewers, etc. lavishing praise upon your latest piece of writing, it’s direct testimony from a huge demographic that you’re crafting books that are genuinely good. And of course, sharing professional praise doesn’t hurt at all either—fellow authors and industry publications complimenting your book gives it a stamp of approval from on high. Both types of praise have the potential to draw new readers in.
3. Interact with fellow writers.
Camus, Sartre, and Beauvoir. Lewis and Tolkien. G. K. Chesterton and George Bernard Shaw. Authors who are friends with other authors have a unique advantage in that hearing one of their group named will automatically call the others to mind. If someone is a fan of one member of a famous collective of writers, they’re far more likely to seek the other members of that collective out.
Of course, the writers you interact with on social media, save exceptional cases, won’t really be the Sartre to your Beauvoir, but the principle remains the same. If you’re friendly with other authors on social media—authors who you’re friends with in the real world, authors whose work you admire, or simply authors whose social media presence you enjoy—their fans will notice. If those authors are friendly in return, even better. What exactly does this person write? the fans will ask. They like my favorite author, and my favorite author likes them. Maybe there’s something there worth reading. Even if you and the author you interact with don’t have more than a nodding familiarity on social media, people will see the connection and remember it.
4. Market well.
It’s an obvious statement to make, but no less true for that: good marketing results in good sales. If you integrate marketing into your social media presence in a consistent, effective way, you’ll pick up far more readers than if you never marketed at all. This is especially true when certain followers may not have seen your books advertised before.
So don’t waste the opportunity! Market well and market often. Refrain from being an incessant promoter of your own work, but make sure that plugs for your books will be noticed and will be attractive. Sometimes all it takes is one good banner to sell a book.
5. Just keep doing what you do!
If someone has followed your social media accounts without having read your work, it’s probably because there’s something about you that attracts them as a person. Your personality; your sense of humor; your advocacy for certain books, causes, etc.—things that are intrinsic to you and/or things you care deeply about.
So keep caring about them! If a follower likes you for those reasons, you’ll continue to endear yourself to them if you continue to put those reasons forward. And if someone likes you, they’re likely to pick up your books. Because we all like helping out people who we enjoy, right? Readers are no exception.