Getting a book deal isn’t easy, and the standard advice is to get followers on social media and your blog, especially if you want the book deal. Book publishers view social media followers as potential customers. Not all followers will buy a book, so how many followers do you need?

How many followers you need to get a book deal won’t matter if your followers are not willing to buy your book. To create an eager following, be active on social media, build engagement, interact, and create exciting and useful content. Use an email list to announce the publication of your book.

Although a specific number would be helpful, such a number doesn’t exist. The right kind of engagement might convince an editor that there is an audience willing to buy your book. If you want engaged followers, this article discusses where to find followers and how to keep them engaged.

How Many Followers You Need

Search the internet, and the figures will vary widely. 

According to Forbes, a poet with 2,000 Instagram followers can get a book deal because of the quality of the work. Another source claims an author needs 1,000 email followers. A third source claims you need 25,000+ people to land a traditional book deal.

But read a little further, and the same sites say the number is not as important as the quality of your followers. So a publisher will want to know:

  • The number of followers you have.
  • How active they are.
  • Are they willing to buy your book?

In other words, you could have 50,000 followers, but if they never like, share, or comment, you don’t have followers. Instead, you have people who click follow. 

Here’s what you need to know about finding and engaging followers.

Where and How To Find Followers

In a way, it might seem obvious that you’ll find followers on social media, which includes Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Reddit. Don’t forget that you want to grow an email list, which is one way to show a publisher you have active followers.

Here’s how to grow your list:

  • Use your existing resources, including your friends, family, and anyone else you know that would be interested in your literary career. 
  • Ask them to follow you and to post your new account on their social networks.
  • Create accounts on every social network and connect them. An account on one site isn’t as effective since many people prefer to use one or two. 
  • Follow accounts that are like yours will attract followers, especially if you comment on posts and respond to other people’s comments.
  • Write guest posts for other bloggers and offer to let them do the same. This is a fantastic way to interact with a new group of followers. However, don’t do that until you have informative and interesting content for your blog.
  • Don’t overlook sites that, at first glance, don’t seem useful. For example, Pinterest is used by authors who create boards for books. These boards might be about character inspirations, background knowledge of historical fiction, book clubs, recommended books, and more. 
  • If you haven’t done so, create a blog. A blog alone might not generate a large following, but a blog with interesting content can build engagement. More importantly, use the blog to build an email list that can be used when your book is published.

Use automation when you can. A blog post on a platform like WordPress can be sent to other social media sites and your email list automatically. 

How To Engage Your Followers

A publisher is interested in engagement, not numbers, so creating social media accounts and a blog is the first step. Engagement keeps your followers active, and active followers share and grow your audience.

To engage your followers, you need to first create a website that will host your blogs. Your site should contain not only a blog, but you should also add these pages:

  • About: Visitors to a website feel connected to a writer if they know something about their life story, what inspires them, and their accomplishments. Share as much as you feel comfortable with.
  • Contact: This information is essential so that the public and others in the publishing or literary world can reach you. But you don’t need to give out private information. Instead, use a contact form.
  • Samples: Give your readers a taste of your writing style. Pick a strong piece that shows your talent and is relevant to the type of writing you do.
  • Shop: You might want to save this section until you have something to sell. Or you could use this page for freebies, such as a chapter download.

Since engagement is the name of the game, you need to build a relationship with your readers. If someone comments on a post, respond promptly. The initial comment and your response can turn into an online conversation, encouraging other readers to write something.

How To Pique Interest From Your Followers

Your followers want to identify with you and see what your life is like, especially if they’ve already bought a book from you.

Here’s how you can do that:

  • Add visuals and video. Pictures or a video tour of your workspace satisfy readers’ curiosity about you as a writer. Further, satisfy a reader’s curiosity by sharing photos of your pets, bookshelves, travels, and meals. 
  • Add pictures of literary events you participate in. Have a book signing at your local bookstore? Have someone take pictures. If you attend a writer’s workshop, snap a couple of pictures and post them on Instagram or create a Pinterest board.
  • Host giveaways to generate excitement, especially since people love free things. Downloadable excerpts from your book and signed copies of a book when it is published are two examples. Just make sure the publisher is okay with an excerpt.
  • Interactive content, such as polls or Livestream events, also provides engagement. People love to share their opinions. A poll on character names, for example, gets people excited to see if the evil villain in your book will have their name. And it can also relieve you from the task of having to come up with another character name.

When the Number of Followers Doesn’t Matter

Having a lot of followers doesn’t guarantee a book deal. Some books are not a good fit for social media. And the number of active followers is an important metric. Most importantly, however, is that the manuscript must be good.

Publishers will not invest in a beginning author who submits a poorly written manuscript, no matter how many followers they have.

Bottom Line

Don’t make your goal to have 5,000, 10,000, or 25,000 followers. Instead, make your goal to have active followers. Several thousand active followers that regularly interact with your account through likes, shares, and comments show a publisher you have an audience that can be targeted to buy a book. 

After all, publishers need their books to sell if they wish to remain in business.

Categories: Funding

Ol Adams

Letter Review is currently edited by Ol Adams, who is a PhD candidate in Creative Writing, casual academic, and guest lecturer at the University of New South Wales. Ol Adams has had short stories published in leading literary journals such as Overland, Southerly, Seizure, and TEXT. Ol has had novels long listed for major awards such as the KYDUMA, has received government funding to produce plays from Create NSW and screenplays from Screen NSW, and has performed / produced professional work at major theatrical venues such as the Sydney Opera House.