A unique blog dedicated to covering the worlds of book publishing and the news media, revealing creative ideas, practical strategies, interesting stories, and provocative opinions. Along the way, discover savvy but entertaining insights on book marketing, public relations, branding, and advertising from a veteran of two decades in the industry of book publishing publicity and marketing.
Sunday, June 16, 2019
How Can Authors Go Viral -- & Sell Books?
wants to be a social media sensation. On
the surface it looks deceptively simple – post some cool images or an attention-grabbing video – or tweet some witty quips – and watch your views, likes, and
connections grow by the millions. But it
usually doesn’t work that way. In fact,
most people are lucky to have over 5,000 followers on any platform. Authors believe they can sell books if they
just can just get their social media following to grow. They’re just one viral post away from being a
what makes something go viral?
it doesn’t seem like you can plan it out, there does appear to be a formula for
things that generate a lot of clicks, views, shares, likes, and downloads. So listen up authors, this is what gets
things to go viral. Can you produce such
content and share it like a well-oiled machine pumping oil?
the basics. You need to come up with a
piece of content that gets posted online.
Determine where you’ll post it (which platform) and what will it consist
of: Video? Photo? Illustration? Text?
what will be the subject matter of the content and will it be funny, sexy,
adorable, emotionally tugging, brilliant wit, or something else that is sure to
do you challenge something? Rip an
institution, person, place, ideal? Do
you inspire, enlighten, educate, entertain, or praise others? Do you make people feel, think, or act?
what moves the needle?
cats and animals doing human-like things, doing something odd, funny, dangerous
or ultra cute.
on push-button topics: politics, sex, religion, money, sports, and war.
atypical, unusual, risky, empowering, or rare.
things you don’t normally associate together like a tank on a beach or a dog at
a strip club or a child addressing Congress.
comments on news, figures, or events of the day -- both current or historical.
focus on things we’d like to stare at but feel shamed for doing, such as
looking at a car crash, witnessing a crime but not responding, staring at a beautiful person, admiring an enemy, or studying a dead body.
things we can never actually experience or permit.
images or images distorted via technology.
that fictionalize reality or give a sense of reality to non-existent things,
people, or places.
that relates to things we have a strong allegiance to – God, country, family,
city pride, favorite team, hobby, etc.
usually it’s something dumb and replicable, something any of us could do that
gets a ton of attention – and yet we didn’t think to do it. Who can’t come up
with a dress that gets voted on for its color?
Who can’t post some cute image of a drunk-looking dog or a baby dressed
in a suit and tie?
determining what to post and where – and figuring out how to make the content
as unique, timely, and interesting as possible, the two ways to get it to go
viral are: one is luck and the other is
intentionality. Let’s discuss the latter.
need to go out of your way to share your content with others. First, you need to post it on your site so
the site gets massive traffic when it goes viral.
you must send a link to this content in your posts on all of your platforms –
Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Linked In, Pinterest and Instagram.
you need to repost it and build up your followers on all platforms prior to
you may need to pay to advertise your viral content, in the hopes to jumpstart
it. The power of the content can drive
those who view it to voluntarily share it, but by pushing it out there you
expose more people to it who can potentially share it.
you need to get your viral content in the hands of influencers. Send it to those with big followings across
all social media platforms. Some may share it organically. You can determine if you want to pay one or
more influencers to reshare your content.
think of organizations and groups that have large memberships or online
followings. Is there something about
your post that might draw them to it? Could
you ask them to share it?
email your content to all that you know and beg them to share it with others,
especially on social media.
let’s say your content goes viral, so what?
Will it translate into book sales?
Will you now be able to cash in on your 15 seconds of fame? Can you commoditize clicks into a career?
people will not see many book sales or financial gain from their efforts to go
viral, while others will generate book deals, speaking gigs, bulk book sales,
and long-term growth from having something go viral. So what separates the two?
depends on what you sent out and how it relates logically to your book or area
of expertise. It also depends on whether
your content moves people to go from saying “Oh, that’s interesting or funny” to
“Oh, I have to buy her book.”
something goes viral you now have the chore of posting great follow-up content.
Not everything has to go viral, but you
want to sustain people’s interests and keep them coming back for more. You may get others to pay you to send out
their content to your followers as you then become an influencer. You may also tally up your increased follower
numbers and seek to convince publishers to take on your next book. Who knows
what may come of your fame?
ultimate viral content would be something that leads people to your book and
encourages them to buy it. Could you
make a commercial that doesn’t feel like one, where your book is worked into it
in such a way that people see the content as irrevocably linked to your book?
about the principles of going viral. Even
if you never get something to circulate to a million people. Even if you learn how to get 20,000 or even
2,000 or 200 people to click on your content, you will slowly build up a loyal
fan base who will become your go-to market to sell your future books to.
You are always marketing your brand – your persona, expertise, experiences, insights,
and content – and as you build up a following you will start to get eyeballs
turned on to your books.
not easy but it’s not complex either.
You can go viral with dedication, creativity, luck, and a mindset of thinking
big. There are stupid cat videos to prove that anything can go viral. Why not your stuff?
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