Author Susan Landis-Steward has written an article for Novel Publishing Group advising fellow writers on how to improve upon their online social networking skills. It is exciting to see a writer who understands not only the importance of developing these skills, but also sees the opportunity to raise awareness and increase sales of their work- free of charge. Social media does indeed present a golden opportunity within the publishing industry, and though it is still too early to accurately understand how effective these platforms are at marketing an author and their work; the risk of missing the boat on this opportunity has far greater repercussions. It is especially important for writers and publishers who are more niche driven, or who don’t have a large marketing budget, such as Landis-Steward who writes lesbian mysteries. Landis-Steward herself has been selling books through Amazon, and has successfully sold 50 books in two weeks, not an astounding number “but not bad for a beginner and newbie to social marketing.”

Landis-Stewart’s advice is also quite good, realistic and uncomplicated. She lists various platforms that offer different services, from forums where other writers can critique and review your work, to tools such as twitter, goodreads, and blogs that make plugging your book and interacting with fans an easy and free endeavor. She presents the reasons for social marketing positively, and advocates a certain quaintness when interacting with fans and colleagues, “It’s about building relationships, not just selling your books. Make new friends. Engage in discussions. Crack a joke. Relate. Trust me. It’s fun.”

In my opinion, this is one of the most promising ways in which social media can benefit writers and help in the marketing of their books. Social media creates a platform where people from all over the world can come together, discuss and share opinions on a multitude of topics. It can help fans relate to an author, to form a relationship with them and help to foster a loyalty that lasts. I remember emailing an author a few years back, and receiving a detailed reply that absolutely solidified my love of her book. I plugged it to numerous friends and family members, and to this day I still buy and give the book as a gift. I feel a connection and a loyalty, and it didn’t cost the author or her publisher any money to get that from me. Social media is clearly a wonderful way for authors to self-promote and promote their books for no cost, and even though it can seem daunting, it can be as simple as Landis-Steward’s 12-step program.