Social media platforms can be powerful tools in your author marketing arsenal. But how can you make the most of your time? What do 'buzz-words' like 'brand' and 'engagement' actually mean? And how important is that 'followers' number?
Let's get some clarity and bust some myths together.
Social media platforms are a great way for authors to grow their reader-base, connect with readers, and generate sales. But success takes more than uploading random posts and images. You need to be selective on which platforms you spend time on and you need to tailor your content to work for you.
There are a plethora of social media platforms, and in your personal life you can use as many as you choose. But as an author it is important not to spread yourself too thin. You want to have time to make quality content, regularly, not be wasting time on platforms where you get little return.
So how do you choose?
Firstly, look at your personal social media use. Are you already on Facebook, or love scrolling pinterest? Do you tweet or gram? If there is a platform you are already very familar with and enjoy using? Start there.
Secondly, look at your genre and the style of the platform.
Facebook is long form content, often that will be visible to people for many days. As a result, it tends to work better with audiences over 35. Genres that do well on Facebook include: literary fiction, historical fiction, womens fiction, self-help, biography and autobiography, memoir.
Instagram is all about the visuals. That doesn't mean that you need to have professional photography skills, but you should give some time to taking nice and engaging snaps. Instagram also inlcudes two types of content: posts and stories. It is a good rule of thumb to post at least 3-4 times a week, and to update your stories at least once a day.
Instagram has a strong #WritingCommunity and you will find it easy to connect with fellow authors. Most genres do excellently on this platform. Keep your focus on images, reels and stories to maximise engagement,
Twitter is fast! The turnover of posts is constant and it is easy for your tweet to get lost in the noise. Twitter is best for people who like to post multiple times a day. Short, sharp posts that get to the heart of your point, and match them with an image. Though Twitter began more as just a words platform, people do like images, so these help to increase your engagement. Twitter also has an incredibly strong #WritingCommunity, so even if you can't commit to posting mulitple times a day it is worth exploring for the networking opportunities.
What to post?
So you have chosen which platform to try, now what do you post?
This comes down to your brand. (See end of article for 28 days of post ideas to try.)
The essense of everything you do on social media needs to link back to your brand. But what does that mean?
Simply put it is who you are. In this context, who you are an an author.
So how do you establish this? Three things about you:
- You as an author of your chosen genre
- An interest you ahve that relates to the genre you write in
- Something unquie and personal to you.
Post updates on your writing process, your writing experiences. Talk about what interests you within your genre. And give people a glimpse into something more personal to you.
For example, I am a historical fiction author. Following the above 3 content tips, my brand consists of:
- Historical fiction - what I love about the genre, other novels and authors I admire and recommend, the process of researching and writing historical fiction
- History - my interest that relates to my genre is easy: history! So I post about interesting facts, dates and events. And where possible link these to my novels and research
- Rescue cats - this is a glimpse into me as an individual. I share all things cats and cat rescue in my life.
You can adapt the above to you. Feel free to share more than one topic that is purely personal, but keep it minimal. Your goal is to promote you the author!
So how does this generate sales?
One word: engagement. Social media at its core is about interacting with other people online who have similar interests to you. To grow your reader-base and generate more sales, you need to engage online.
What does that mean?
Engagement means people seeing your posts and then liking, sharing and / or commenting on your posts, and following you so they can continue to interact with you.
How do you capture people's interest?
Your brand. This is where having a strong vision of you as an author becomes so important. You want to share content that portrays you as a writer and also appeals to your readers.
By following the tips related to your brand above, you will automatically appeal to those who are likely to want to read your books. Then, when people do interact with your posts, be sure to interact back.
Keep your posts interesting and use images. Get your face out there too - people connect better with a human face, it's a natural part of how we interact with the world.
Also, seek out others with similar interests to you. Search for your genre and engage with the posts you find. Follow other authors in your genre and comment and like their posts. The more you build up a community of authors around you, the more your own platform will grow.
Remember: other authors are not your competition. You want people to keep reading, but you can't possibly write enough books to keep them engaged. So you want other authors to be there to read and enjoy, keeping the readers engaged in the medium and not moving off to TV series and movies.
Overtime you will grow your followers and build a community. By cross-promoting with other authors, interacting with your readers and staying on brand you will drive sales.
Pro-tip: don't over promote your own novels. Keep 'buy my book' posts to once a week, max. People don't like feeling pressured to purchase. You want to talk about the world of your writing, what your stories are about, how you approach writing etc... lead them gently to the sale.
When to post
It is good to get into a routine of posting at around the same time most days. That way your followers can start to expect your post and look forward to it.
There are some general tips on the best time to post, but I find these to be unreliable. However if you are interested, Thursday at 5pm is meant to be the best time all week to post, statistically speaking.
Ultimately the most important thing is time for you to create your novels. Social media is marketing to enhance your platform. Don't let it interfere with your time as an author.
Use a platform that works for you, and post when it suits you. Don't let suggested numbers of posts or platforms become a stress, these are only guidelines.
It can be hard to have the time everyday to create posts, and it may suit your workflow better to sit down for a solid block of time, create all your posts and then schedule them to show in the future.
Here are some well respected platforms that help you to do this. Be aware that some will cost you money, so do your research.
Some other general tips
Outside of the importance of brand, engagement and quality posts, here are a couple of further considerations:
Number of followers matter?
Do not be intimidated by having a small number of followers. Ultimately it isn't the number of followers you have but the quality of the engagements. You will come across authors with thousands of followers, and it can make you wonder what you are doing wrong. Remember, people can and regularly do, buy followers. Or they gain followers through things like 'follow loops' where everyone follows everyone. But these approaches are rarely brand specific and while the number of followers may technically go up, that doesn't mean those people will engage with you or care about your brand.
Literary agents and publishers know this. A large follower base won't necessarily impress them. Solid and regular interations will.
Here are some commonly used and effective hashtags to add to your posts. Usually it's recommended to keep to around three on Twitter (because you have a word limit), but as many as you like for other platforms. I suggest you always include: #WritingCommunity and #Authorsoffacebook, #Authorsoftwitter, #Authorsofinstagram (depending on your platform). If your post relates in anyway to you as an author or your writing, always include your genre also.
These hastags also good to search to find others to engage with yourself.
#WritingCommunity #AuthorsofInstagram #AuthorsofTwitter #AuthorsofFacebook #WritersLife #WritingSpace #Amwriting #Amediting #Amquerying #MustRead #Fiction #NonFiction #Genre (as in replace genre with the name of your genre eg: #CrimeFiction
It may sound trite, but ultimately you want to have some fun with your social media platform. Don't worry if a post doesn't perform well, that's part of the learning process. Try different ideas, see what works and refine as you go.
There are no hard and fast rules on what works, things change. So don't be afraid to put yourself out there. You might just get some sales!
28 Days of post ideas
Have a look at these suggestions. You don't have to try them all. Pick a few that speak to you and your brand and give them a go. You may also find that these ideas inspire your own - go for it - social media is about experimentation and finding what works for you.
Monday: The key elements of your genre and why you love it. #YourGenre
Tuesday: A snippet from one of your published works or your. #Wip #TeaserTuesday
Wednesday: A post on your writing process, how you approach writing. #yourgenre, #WritingCommunity #Authorsoffacebook, #Authorsoftwitter, #Authorsofinstagram #AmWriting #Authortips
Thursday: A post of a previous news article about you or novel review. #ThrowbackThursday
Friday: Post about your passions outside of writing and how they inspire and energise you. #WritingCommunity #Authorsoffacebook, #Authorsoftwitter, #Authorsofinstagram
Saturday: Author bio. #selfiesaturday
Sunday: Post about the book you are currently reading. Tag author. #CurrentRead #Genre #WritingCommunity #Authorsoffacebook, #Authorsoftwitter, #Authorsofinstagram
Monday: Run a poll related to writing eg. What is better? A happy ending, a sad ending, a bitter-sweet ending #Authorsoffacebook, #Authorsoftwitter, #Authorsofinstagram
Tuesday: Your top five tips for writing in your genre #AuthorTip #YourGenre
Wednesday: An update on your current writing project #WipWednesday #YourGenre
Thursday: Share a great review of your novel #MustRead
Friday: A post about your personal interest #FriYay
Saturday: Photo of your #WritingBuddy if you have a pet, or a snap of your #WritingSpace, where you write.
Sunday: An image and post about taking down time #ResetSunday #Relax #WritingBreak
Monday: A snap from your everyday that inspires your writing eg. garden, food, art. #YourGenre #WritingCommunity #Inspiration #Authorsoffacebook, #Authorsoftwitter, #Authorsofinstagram
Tuesday: Share something you find challenging as a writer, ask others what they find tough. #WritingCommunity #Authorsoffacebook, #Authorsoftwitter, #Authorsofinstagram
Wednesday: An outline and image of your latest novel release, promoting your novel. #WritingCommunity #Authorsoffacebook, #Authorsoftwitter, #Authorsofinstagram #YourGenre #MustRead #OutNow
Thursday: Share your latest blog post, or share a blog from another author you admire. #WritingCommunity #Authorsoffacebook, #Authorsoftwitter, #Authorsofinstagram #NewBlog
Friday: A photo and post about you doing something you love, outside of writing, eg. walking, restaurants, movie etc... #AuthorLife #Inspiration
Saturday: Post about why you took up writing. #WritingCommunity #Authorsoffacebook, #Authorsoftwitter, #Authorsofinstagram
Sunday: A post outlining your writing goals for the week ahead. #WritingCommunity #Authorsoffacebook, #Authorsoftwitter, #Authorsofinstagram #AuthorGoals
Monday: A snap of you in your writing space with your favourite mug. #MugShotMonday #WritingSpace #WritersLife
Tuesday: Share a review of a novel you loved in your genre. Tag the author. #review #MustRead
Wednesday: Ask a Yes or No style question about your genre, eg. Has crime fiction become too brutal as a genre? #YourGenre #WritingCommunity #Authorsoffacebook, #Authorsoftwitter, #Authorsofinstagram
Thursday: A post about your first novel release and the experience. #ThrowBackThursday
Friday: A post thanking authors you have connected with this week. Tag all the authors. #WritingCommunity #Authorsoffacebook, #Authorsoftwitter, #Authorsofinstagram
Saturday: A post about your personal interest. #Sunday #WritersLife
Sunday: Your top 5 reads in your genre. Ask followers to name theirs. Tag the authors. #WritingCommunity #Authorsoffacebook, #Authorsoftwitter, #Authorsofinstagram #YourGenre
Bonus Ideas for video posts
- A short video introducing yourself. #AuthorBio #WritingCommunity #YourGenre #Authorsoffacebook, #Authorsoftwitter, #Authorsofinstagram
- A live reading of a chapter from your novel. #WritingCommunity #YourGenre #Authorsoffacebook, #Authorsoftwitter, #Authorsofinstagram
- A video discussing an interesting part of your novel. #WritingCommunity #YourGenre #Authorsoffacebook, #Authorsoftwitter, #Authorsofinstagram
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