Friday, August 30, 2013

How to Use Hashtags to Sell Books by Jennifer Hudson Taylor

#hashtags #socialmedia 

If you are in the business of trying to sell or promote books, you need to be using hashtags with every promotional tweet and post on FB, G+, Pinterest and blog. 

What is a Hashtag?

Even if you are not on Twitter, you may have seen the little hashtag symbol with the pound sign (#) in front of a word or a combination of letters and numbers such as #ff, #news, #jobs, #icarly, #glee, etc. These hashtags are used to identify and keep up with conversations and news about specific topics. Think of hashtags in the same ways as you use tags to identify articles, blog posts and Amazon products for topics or items in a search. Also, be aware that Twitter is not the only place where hashtags are being used. They are essential to most other social media sites as well. 

It is hard enough build a platform and be heard among all the noise out there on social media sites and be recognized over competition. These days it seems as if there are more authors than there are readers. Lets face it, readers only have so much time to read between working, raising a family, and living. I don't know a reader who has time to read all the books he/she would like to read. These readers have to pick and choose due to finances and time. That means some books and authors won't be read as often as others. You can increase your chances of appealing to readers searching for books like the ones you write by using hashtags and beat out some of your competition who may not be using hashtags. 

How to Use Hashtags
1) Whenever posting a blog, put the hashtags above the first line of text or somewhere in the first sentence. You should do this because whenever that blog post is shared on a social media site, it pulls the title of the blog post and the first line of text. Notice how I have done this with #hashtags and #socialmedia at the beginning of this blog post. It may look weird at first, but it works. 

2) Be sure to register your personal hashtags. While you cannot buy or own a hashtag like you can a domain name, you can register it with or so you have better control and management of your personal hashtag related to your books or you. Personally, I prefer Twubs since it is free and easy to use. You can register a hashtag to represent your author name and/or each individual book you write or even a series. This will help you keep up with the flow of responses and discussions around your books during new book launches. Here is an example of a hashtag I created for my #HighlandSanctuary book launch. 

3) Be aware of common author related hashtags and use them. While it is a great idea to create and register your own hashtags, be aware of some common hashtags that will bring readers to your blogs and social media sites. For instance, each time I post about a book on the CFBA Blog Tour, I include the hashtags #christianfiction and #christianromance. Here are a few examples. This way I am able to promote other authors' books, but at the same time, they may come to my website and discover my books as well. For a list of hashtags related to authors, writing and books, click here. 

4) Use the #SampleSunday or #TeaserTuseday hashtags to post short excerpts to introduce your work to new readers. The Sample Sunday idea originally came from David Wisehart, but it has taken off with other authors and since then Sharon Rose created a Sample Sunday Facebook page. You can read more about the idea here. Some authors post first chapters to promote their books. Why not take it a step further and post sentences or paragraphs each Sunday or Tuesday, leading up to and through a book launch for the first chapter? 

Are you using hashtags? Have you ever registered a hashtag? What are your thoughts about these ideas?


Oscar said...

Thanks for the info and links. I've never used a hashtag but may start right away.

Bonnie Rose said...

I must confess hashtags have always somewhat mystified me, but I know it's something I need to learn more about. Thank you, this is extremely helpful!

Jennifer Hudson Taylor said...

Oscar and Bonnie, You are both welcome and I hope it was helpful. I confess, I often forget to use hashtags or the right ones for some topics, but I'm trying to retrain my brain so it will be 2nd nature.

Heather Day Gilbert said...

Thanks for the heads-up on that #SampleSunday hashtag! I love hashtags and I feel that's the best way to get your tweets noticed. Otherwise, only the people who are online at that moment see them. If you regularly post using one tag, people who follow it get to know you.

Jennifer Hudson Taylor said...

Excellent point, Heather.

Elaine Miller said...

Thanks! I just registered #WeAllMarriedIdiots. Want to join my Twub?

Jennifer Hudson Taylor said...

Heading over Elaine!

Kristofer Mcginty said...

Hashtags = Grossly underrated; severely overlooked. A main reason is that they've become more of a language for online conversation, such as the emoticon or the abbreviated words like 'lol.' It's easy to overlook their marketing potential in that way. So this is good reminder and insight for retailers everywhere. Stepping right into online conversations and being the hype.