The days of having a book in your head and never seeing in print are long gone. Any, writer or author can now bring their book to life with self-publishing and a viral social media campaign. Many people believe the publishing industry is dying, but it’s not the game is just changing. Social media has now given a voice to so many authors who’d never stand a chance against giant publishers. While writers need a pen in their right hand, they need social media in their other hand—it’s the best free marketing tool out there and it has revolutionized the publishing industry.

Publishers doesn’t always have a winning strategy, they invest in a few books a year they hope will make it big and pay off, but they never know for sure what will become a best seller and what will flop. And now, more than ever they’re facing competition from bloggers, self-published authors and a new type of writer who has built their own audience. PubSlush is the newest crowd funding company that is helping authors raise money for their books. Authors share a summary and expert from their book and set a fundraising goal while readers back their favorite submissions in exchange for a reward like a first edition of the book. This is just another new advantage for authors that helps levels out the playing field against publishers.

The biggest asset authors are gaining from social media is a platform. They’re gaining marketing momentum before their books are released and creating buzz that they would never have had before. Not only that, with the power of blogs and e-books authors are gaining even more of a chance to produce their own content, market it and profit from it. Author John Green was able to achieve bestseller status for his book “The Fault of the Stars” before it was even published. How did he accomplish this? By marketing his book a year in advance. He promoted it to his million of Twitter followers and promised to sign all pre-order copies.

The advantage factor bloggers and writers have today is creating small tribes of loyal followers. Tim Ferris, is the master of this, he’s achieve best seller success with “The Four Hour Work Week and his following books by actively creating a die-hard group of followers. Instead of 15 minutes of fame he’s created a lifetime of it by establishing a brand that people love where they can actively interact and connect with like-minded people.

The key for authors and writers is to engage with their fans and followers on a personal level. People aren’t looking to be sold on a product; they’re looking to be sold on the product’s creator. Fans love the story. Why are they buying your book? Because they’re buying into you—the author! People love personal connection more than anything and social media has become the newest way to cultivate connections that matter and turn them into loyal relationships.

So you’ve got some facebook and Twitter fans, people are liking and commenting on your pages—but what does that lead to? How can you capitalize on this? By turning your fans into your biggest brand advocates. Here’s how to do it.

  • First identify who are your brand advocates. These are the people commenting, sharing, and regularly engaging with your brand at a higher caliber than most fans.
  • Make them feel special. Send a message or email to those individuals thanking them for participating in your online community and encourage them to continue to interact.
  • Reward them. If they’ve done a truly great job spreading the word about your company offer them a gift card, free lunch or guest blog post.
  • Build a relationship. Chances are that if a brand advocate likes your company their friends and family will too. Value their connections. Encourage them to share and continue to share content with others by forming a relationship with them. They’ll feel honored and you’ll have a strong brand supporter on your side.

Want to find out how to turn you biggest complainers into satisfied customers? Check out this article from FastCompany.