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Social Media Tips For Authors (Well, For Anyone)

There’s no denying that social media has become an unavoidable part of our culture, whatever your medium of choice. As a published author you will find that it is impossible to avoid. Not only has social media become a way for families and friends to stay connected, and for people everywhere to rant about politics, but in the business and writing world its become a way to connect with readers, authors, and others within your community. In fact, it’s one of the chief ways we connect with future clients, authors and even editors and as a published author it is or will be, one of the best ways for you to connect with readers.

Despite the proliferation of social media, I do know there are still many who find it uncomfortable and overwhelming. And despite how active I’ve been on social media for years, I get that.

To make your necessary social media experience a little more comfortable I’ve come up with a list of tips that will hopefully help.

  1. Find what works for you and skip the rest. There is no reason you need to be on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and every other form of social media in existence. For one thing, who has the time? For another, each of these platforms is different and specific for a reason. They appeal to different kinds of people. As you might have noticed, Twitter and Instagram are my platforms of choice. I love the quick in and out of interactions on Twitter and I guess I like that it’s more about business for me, without the personal nature of Facebook. Instagram appeals to my creative side. It is here I get to connect with another love of mine, photography and create fun memes (are they memes if I’m the only one who uses them?). Whatever your platform of choice, find it and have fun with it. Which brings me to my second tip…
  2. Have fun. While your publisher and even your agent will encourage (and push) you to get on social media and market your book marketing alone isn’t going to work. For social media to work both as a marketing tool, and for you to maintain longevity, you have to have fun. You need to connect with people in a way that you enjoy, respond to feedback and fans, start conversations, share pictures of the things you love most–your dog, tonight’s bottle of wine, the cookies you just baked, or the book you’re reading. In other words, practice and play until you find joy in it. I wouldn’t be doing either Twitter or Instagram if I didn’t find joy in them (which is why Facebook has fallen by the wayside for me).
  3. Be yourself. One of the biggest mistakes I see authors making is they try to hard to be that Successful Author they so admire. That successful author has gotten there because she’s herself, not because she was doing what everyone else is doing. If watching TV isn’t your thing, then live-tweeting TV shows isn’t going to work for you, but if you’re a Podcast junky then maybe you talk about the last podcast you listened to or even start your own.
  4. Embrace scheduling. For anyone who feels they don’t have enough time for social media you need to check out apps like HootSuite where you can schedule and even organize tweets, and I believe other social media, to make it easier to manage. That way you can tweet in the middle of the day when you should be, and actually are, working. For the record, this blog post was actually written June 22.
  5. Connect. Social media only really works if its social and that means connecting with the people who are connecting with you. Don’t be afraid to retweet or repost when someone says something that resonates and to publicly thank those who are supporting you. You don’t have to constantly tell people about your book to let them know it, and you, exist, just connecting is often enough.
  6. Use Hashtags If you want to connect with others you need to find them and hashtags can make all the difference in sending a post that only your followers see, versus reaching everyone who might be interested in getting to know you and your book. For BookEnds, our goal with social media is to connect with authors so you’ll regularly see us using #MSWL, #querytip, #pubtip and others. By using hashtags we’re giving more people the opportunity and ability to find us.
  7. Establish your social media presence before the book sale Knowing that social media is going to become a necessary part of your career as Author I would suggest you become comfortable with it, and establish who you are on it, well before you have a contract in hand. Knowing (by practicing) who you want to be on what platform you want to be on, will make the transition to marketing your book, and yourself, a hundred times easier.

 

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6 comments

  1. Finding out what works best was key for me. I love twitter and Facebook is okay but I use them both equally. I’m on lots of blogs and I connect with people all over the world daily.

    But I do all of this because it works for me. I enjoy it. I worry about those who hate it but need it. That would pose a huge problem for me.

  2. I’ve heard agents say that unpublished fiction authors don’t need to worry about their social media when querying, as long as there’s nothing negative in their accounts. Many also say that having no online presence is okay for an unpublished author and that the agent will give advice on developing a presence after signing the author. Does this advice still hold, or does what you’re saying apply to unpublished authors as well. More specifically, if you received a query and requested a manuscript, would a lack of social media presence make you more likely to reject the manuscript?

    1. No, a lack of social media presence wouldn’t deter an agent from signing a client, unless that client is writing non-fiction. Then, there are bigr questions about your platform. But a fiction writer can begin to develop an online presence with their agent, that is correct.

  3. All good tips, Jessica. You’ve been advocating the social connections for years and it’s finally starting to sink in. The social media presence takes time to get comfortable with and you really can’t start too early…I doubt anybody’s pages or blogs can be just right when they start, though many seem to want to learn it all and prepare everything to perfection , when jumping right in is sometimes the only way to actually start overcoming the inertia. I think having fun and being yourself are The Big Ones for me! Thanks for the post!

  4. Thanks very much for this article. I’m one of those writers who has decided to establish a social media presence now, while querying agents.
    I did have an agent represent my first book which was not picked up by a publisher and is now on Kindle. Is this something to mention in a query (obviously, I just mean the “book on Kindle” part 🙂 )? In other words, does it work (1) for or (2) against you, or (3) it doesn’t matter either way? Since the book is a political satire, I’m also planning a giveaway before elections. Is this a helpful strategy toward establishing a social media presence/catching the eye of an agent, or not?

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