Social Networking – Does it really sell books?


IMG_0952Any teacher will tell you that some children get a new concept first time. But for most children a new concept has to be presented in a number of different ways before they gain full understanding. This is referred to as ‘the spiral of learning’ (i.e presenting the same piece of information in as many visual and kinetic forms as possible. This is just as true when we are attempting to bring our novels to the attention of agents, publishers and readers.

Consciously or unconsciously we are applying a method known as The Reticular Activating System.

Pay attention (!) Here’s the science part – The Reticular Activating System acts as a filter for all of the sensory inputs we receive. It decides what is and is not important and what we need to pay attention to. Otherwise, we would suffer from information overload. The ‘filter’ sits between the subconscious and conscious minds, and is programmed by the conscious mind. It is this ability to filter information which makes the Reticular Activating System so important in achieving our goals.

Boot Camp Bride bus shelterThe short version: to make YOUR novel stand out from the ‘crowd’ you need to get your name and book title across in as many different forms as possible so that it ‘sticks’ in people’s conscious minds. I know this works because when I attend conferences, book fairs and writing events (wearing a name badge) I am often approached by other writers who ask: ‘how do I know your name!?’

How do we achieve an on-line presence?

I believe through some of the following . . .


  • updating your own blog and/or guesting on other blogs
  • following favourite blogs, ticking ‘like’, ‘sharing’ blog posts on Twitter, Facebook, Google + and Linked In
  • by sharing through these media your profile, avatar and/or your novel thumbnail will, hopefully, appear in different versions of internet ‘’ out there – for example The Famous Five Plus, thus widening your appeal
  • through activation of SEO (search engine optimisation); every well-aimed click and share will have an impact on your place on the social network rankings


  • ensure that your avatar and your profile on Twitter publicise your novels
  • don’t forget to include links to your books on amazon etc (using viewbook/bytly/tinyurl shortened links
  • ensure that your tweets are a mixture of things about yourself, your writing, use trending hashtags; don’t forget to promote other writers generously
  • promote your novel by quoting a review/ or dialogue from your novel in your tweets
  • make the potential reader want to download your work by utilising hashtags such as #Fridayreads. #amwriting, #Mondayblogs and genre specific hashtags to bring more traffic (and potential readers) to your door
  • widen your net of social contacts – don’t just befriend writers, befriend readers, too. I’ve made lots of friends on twitter and they have loyally downloaded my novels and left reviews
  • don’t forget to thank people for promoting you and ALWAYS return the favour


  • have your own page where you engage with potential readers, many of whom will go on to become your friends. I try to include a photo in my status updates as this draws friends to my page.
  • minimise your ‘writer news’ on this page otherwise people switch off and unfriend you
  • join some of the many sub groups and dip into them once a week or whenever to talk about your writing and establish a friendly Facebook presence
  • build up an author page(s) and LIKE others’ pages when asked. Don’t be shy about asking for LIKES to be reciprocated. It takes a long time to build up these kinds of relationships
  • I try to post something every day on my author page, not only about me and my writing but about other authors, too. @sharing’ other author’s posts works well in this case, too.
  • I find that Facebook friends like to read about your pets. When it was my parrot’s birthday in February he got over seventy ‘happy birthday’ messages (!)
  • join in with Facebook ‘events’ you’re invited to, even if it’s only to leave a passing comment. SEO comes into play with every click.

Consider joining Watt Pad, Instagram, Goodreads and Tumbler etc to get the message about you and your books ‘out there’. Build up your social networking presence gradually, mix it up, be creative. You’re in charge, so make it work for you – – – and remember the Reticular Activating System and utilise it. It’s a scientific fact.

I’ll leave you with the million dollar question:

Does social networking help to sell books?

The jury’s still out – but I believe that (as an indie author) having a social networking presence has helped me to bring my novels to readers’ attention. Finally, I would just say to any unpublished authors out there that, while your time is your ‘own’, get your social networking ducks in a row. When publication day arrives, you won’t have time to establish contacts, develop friendships and ask potential readers to buy your book – you’ll be too busy using social networking to get word out about the marvellous book you have just written.


About Lizzie Lamb

I write contemporary women's fiction mostly based in Scotland with hot heroes, feisty heroines and always a happy ending. Along with three other authors - Adrienne Vaughan, June Kearns and Margaret Cullingford - I formed the New Romantics Press under which all our books are published.

Posted on May 12, 2014, in Lizzie's Scribbles and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 56 Comments.

  1. A great piece I think you are right about the awareness concept.

  2. newromantics4

    Reblogged this on Lizzie Lamb and commented:

    This is what I think. What’s your take?

  3. thanks Rosie. You have certainly helped me with this aspect of my writing !!?

  4. Margaret Cullingford

    This was a topic we have just discussed at a Workshop at the Leicester Writers’ Club weekend retreat [9-11 May], Lizzie, and I have shared this blog on the Club’s Facebook page because it reinforces the message of the workshop. I was surprised that 6 out of 10 who attended didn’t see/understand the value of social networking for writers.. Personally, I think you’ve proved its value hands down.

    • newromantics4

      Thanks Mags! I don;t think I would have sold as many books if I hadn’t been prepared to put myself ‘out there.’ It takes a long time to get noticed and a writer has to work at it if they want to succeed, without sickening people with their posts. Its hard work and I think that’s why many writers say that it doesn;t work – that means they don;t have to do it !!

  5. All I can say is hell, YES, it sells books! I’d hardly sell any if it wasn’t for Twitter; so many of my regular readers come via the site, and no, I don’t just mean other writers who read my books!! You’ve made all the good points here, of course – you have to use it right. I think the main reasons that people don’t sell via Twitter/FB/whatever are thus: a) Only following other writers b) Only talking about writing c) Not writing a very good book in the first place (I’m afraid that one can’t be ignored) d) Not being generous with their time e) thinking they can take shortcuts by using apps like RoundTeam that just thump out RTs day in, day out f) not taking time to understand the site properly g) Not offering any content other than tweets about one book h) it’s okay, I’ll stop now!

    • newromantics4

      Terry, I have learned at the feet of the Masters (or, should that me mistresses. You are inspirational and I try to be a good tweep and follower. I endorse everything you’ve said.

  6. Good question. For myself I have to say no.

    • newromantics4

      Thanks for coming by, Gilli. I think in the end it all comes down to ‘genres’, and some sell more books than others.

      • Margaret Cullingford

        Agree Lizzie, crime or romance stories which slot neatly into those genres are the best in terms of volume sellers (no pun intended)

      • newromantics4

        When I run out of steam with romance I think I’ll have a go at cosy crime, with humour, a parrot and a VW camper van.

  7. Lots of great hints and tips there, Lizzie. I know they work because you’ve been drumming them into the New Rom 4 for some time!
    The more faint-hearted among us (moi!) have learned to use the ways that suit us best.

    • newromantics4

      That’s what its all about, June. Making it work for you. The main thing is to keep at it and hopefully you’ll gain more readers and spread the word about your great novels.

    • This is a really interesting post, Lizzie, I hadn’t heard of the RAS before. Good solid advice too for authors. From a reader’s point of view, I think we need quite a few nudges before checking out an author or buying their book, simply because there are so many books out there. I find new books through Twitter. When I see info about an author or book keep appearing in a tweet or is consistently retweeted, I’ll click on the links and investigate. I don’t generally find new books through Amazon. Thanks for sharing, Lizzie

      • newromantics4

        Thanks Sarah, as writers we forget our readers at our peril. You always keep us in line. LOL. Thanks for commenting, its interesting what you have to say about discovering writers via Twitter as opposed to Amazon.

    • Hi June and Lizzi! I’m butting into the middle of this because I like the points both of you make. Lizzie, you’re correct about what to do, how to do it, and why — a presence does help people recognize and remember us. It’s part of branding. And June, I couldn’t agree more with your comment that we all find the ways that suit us best. There are so many marketing strategies, and so many within social media, and we can’t do them all. If we settle into those activities with which we feel comfortable, our efforts will feel more fruitful. I’d add that patience, persistence, and consistency are key, too.

      • newromantics4

        Hi Tanya – and thanks for jumping in. As a writer, I was lucky enough to start tweeting and Face-booking even before I’d seriously thought of self publishing, so I had a bit of a head start. Everyone has to find what works for them but I agree, we have to be consistent. Its no good posting every day for a week and then nothing for three months IMHO.

  8. Great post, Lizzie, and it’s the first mention I’ve heard of the RAS since I was taught about it while teacher training 20 years ago.

  9. Apologies if this comment appears twice, Lizzie. Great post, and it’s the first mention I’ve heard of the RAS since I first learned of it while teacher training 20 years ago.

    • newromantics4

      I think I probably predate that, David. It worked with the kids so I’m guessing it must work with adults, too.

  10. A super post Lizzie. I have never heard of RAS, but if it’s taught in schools it must be a good system. Phew! How do you get time to write? I’ve spent the day reading other people’s Blogs, checking websites that may be of help to us, thanking and re-tweeting people, and checking FB. It’s 7.15pm and I haven’t written a word. Having said that, reading your Blog was very interesting and informative. Well done. x

    • newromantics4

      Maddy, some days have to be given over to big blog posts like this one. Other days its just routine tweeting, Facebook and promoting myself and other authors. I know you;re a great ‘tweep’ and support other indie authors. Thank you for stopping by.

  11. Thanks so much for putting this out – great tips

  12. jaynestanton

    Many thanks for such a comprehensive checklist to effective use of social media, Lizzie. Lots of new ways for me to use all that online time more profitably/creatively.

    • newromantics4

      I think the secret is to do a little of each every day over the course of a week. And, of course, always remember to thank your tweeps and return the favour.

  13. Excellent post Lizzie, and thanks for generously sharing your experience and expertise. Coming from a journalist/PR background, social media is just another vehicle for exposure, and you can’t sell books if no one knows your book is available. It’is basically a shop window, people can see the goods, decide whether they want to buy or not …simples. Interesting that Sarah uses Twitter as a source for new books, I also use it for research, Facebook too, so it’s a win, win for me.

    • newromantics4

      I think its horses for courses. I have made friends through Facebook and Twitter I would not otherwise have met – and they have generously bought my books. Cynics might say: ‘they’re not really your friends’. But I feel they are. I love social networking but have to remember the 20%/80% split between promoting and writing #3.

  14. Have bookmarked this, Lizzie. Really interesting post.

  15. I think if I wasn’t on Twitter..hopefully doing all thee stuff you wisely recommend, my sales would be a lot less. Another idea: if you follow a particular TV/Radio prog ( I am an Archers fan) there will be a # for it. Going on there regulalry and getting to know people is another very good way to sell books. A LOT of my sales have come from being on the Archers Tweetalong

    • newromantics4

      Thanks Carol. The likes of you and Terry have been at this game longer than me and I have learned from you both. I like the idea of the #hashtag thingumy. Wonder if there’s a Game of Thrones one. Bound to be. Can pass Jasper off as my little dragon and call myself Kaleesi.

    • newromantics4

      Carol, I’m going to try hashtagging a couple of my favourite shows. Thanks for the tips !!

  16. Another great post Lizzie – very informative and spot on. My favourite is FB – have met so many wonderful people through it since writing (including yourself), Twitter I’m still getting the hang of, but hey, one step at a time! xxx

    • newromantics4

      Shani, you’ve done really well so far !! You come across as an engaging author who people would like to hang out with and get to know better. I think that’s what potential readers are looking for. Well, I’d like to hang out with you, anyway – on Facebook or Twitter !!

  17. mnguter Eric

    I didn’t have time to read the long post. If you want your books to sell, contact guinness world records period. Best selling author j.k. Rowling used that method to great success and i’m also going to do same once i release my first novel. i am an ungraduate of mass communication so i think i know what i’m saying.

    • newromantics4

      Thnaks Eric. Now a stupid question – how do you approach GBR, what would your tack be? Im seriously interested.

      • mnguter Eric

        visit the corporate webpage of gwr and fill the sublist after you select product launch. Gwr will contact you soon afterwards. It may or maynot cost you. Gwr sells a hundred million copies annually and that type of reach is what you need. Contact me @erictoffboy for more info.

  18. Reblogged this on Barrow Blogs and commented:
    Interesting thoughts

  19. Really helpful post Lizzie. I definitely think social networking has helped me sell books plus introduced me to a very supportive and generous community. I am a new author so am building the social marketing up slowly – it’s all I can manage with the day job as well really! Also I’ve now read and have ready for me to read many, many books I otherwise maybe wouldn’t have come across!

    • newromantics4

      I have found social networking to be a great help to me. I don;t think I would have sold so many books in the USA if hadn’t have been for Twitter and the fiends I’ve made there. Good luck with your writing, I will be checking out your novels – see, that’s what social networking does!!

  20. Reblogged this on Writing, Work and Wine and commented:
    Fab post by Lizzie Lamb about the use of social media by authors. Lots to think about! Thanks Lizzie🙂

    • newromantics4

      You’re welcome Nikki it’s something I’ve been giving some serious thought to. If it helps other writers I’ll be very happy.

  21. Great advice Lizzie, and I found this via Twitter! SD

  22. I have no idea if social networking sells books for me, but it can’t possibly do any harm, can it? Apart from boring people by talking about my dogs or my love of biscuits. Plus, I think readers like to know that authors are people too, so sometimes it can reinforce relationships with readers, not just sell books.
    Great article, Lizzy! (and love the pics of Jasper…)

    • newromantics4

      Jane, you come across and funny and inclusive and appealing to readers. THAT and writing a great book of course, is what brings readers back again and again. It also helps to have things to talk about (other than writing) which people can respond to: campervans, parrots, the antics of one’s Other Half. It engages and draws people to you. If readers like that relationship I guess that they’ll buy your books?

  23. Hi Lizzie
    A well written and insightful piece!

    I come at things from the “other” perspective, i.e. as a reader.

    AS a reader (albeit one with aspirations (LOL)) I find the posts by those writers I know (particularly those I’ve actually met) both informing and interesting. Its enjoyable to see the progression from being just (??) someone you have chatted to on Twitter, to someone who you have met, whose books you have read and reviewed, and with whom you have built up a relationship just that little more than that of a reader.

    I agree totally with what you say re getting the info out there and advertising both your presence and your book.

    I would add ONE word of caution. Twitter and Facebook work best as live media – in other words, as a “chat format”. Automatic posting of the same message through the hours of darkness can really become overkill.



    • newromantics4

      Thanks for writing such an insightful response, John. I try hard to get the balance right and I hope I achieve that MOST of the time. As a writer, I am a reader, too and I love to get to know writers of my favourite novels. It can be a bit of a turn off when you feel that you are ‘just someone who buys my/their books’. I’ve made lots of friends on Facebook and Twitter and am by nature gregarious (!) so all of this suits me. I guess the problems arise when you are naturally shy and not good at ‘putting yourself out there.’ Good luck with your writing, too.

  24. Great post, Lizzie.
    Your advice comes at the right time for me, because I have just released my fourth novel and am busy trying to get the word out there. Hard work that I hope results in one or two new readers.🙂
    Thank you.

    • newromantics4

      good luck C. Social networking takes up time but it has to be done and I’d say that it sells books. All the best 😎

  1. Pingback: Social Networking – Does it really sell books? | Barrow Blogs

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: