I never felt so old as when I realized how behind I was in this technically savvy world. With the plethora of social media sites and their cute little icons to represent them—ghosts, cameras, birds—I didn’t know where to begin when choosing the right sites to sell my books. It can be overwhelming for us elders who grew up in the era where televisions had bunny ears and computers filled entire rooms. However, after I had published my first book, Father of Contention, I knew it was time to get with the program and investigate which social media sites were best for building an author platform and creating a healthy following on the World Wide Web.
Thankfully, my marketing consultants helped me wade through the options. I quickly learned that my online presence—comprising my website, blog, and accounts on Twitter and Pinterest—was lacking the ideal exposure for an author. What was I missing? Facebook, Instagram, and Goodreads (and later, TikTok). Keeping my other accounts active, I followed my marketing team’s suggestions, and watched my author platform grow, respectively. Never ignore sound advice!
Do YOU Need social media as an Author?
Absolutely, yes! For marketing yourself as an author, the web makes it possible to reach across the globe and find potential readers for your masterpiece. It links you with people interested in your genre, writing style, and personality, just with the click of a few buttons. Connect with people of all cultures and backgrounds, have conversations with them, allow them to get to know you better as an author, and get to know them better as your readers. And as your audience expands, so do your sales.
No longer are you restricted to doing book signings and book tours, selling your wares in person. With print-on-demand, it has never been easier for people to order your books from virtually anywhere in the world. This saves the need to keep stock on hand and ship out product.
If you are still writing your first book, you don’t have to wait to build your online audience. Creating a following even before being published is a tremendous bonus, setting you up for major sales even before your book launches.
It would be impossible, or at least ridiculously time consuming, to be on every social media site. Don’t forget, people will want to engage with you, and if you consistently ignore their questions or conversations, you will lose followers. So, find a few choice sites to focus on and devote your time to creating quality content to post.
Which Sites Should an Author Focus On?
Despite its recent negative publicity, Facebook is still one of the most popular social media sites. Aim to get upwards of five hundred followers to build your platform effectively. You’ll easily get interest from friends and random followers, but you can further grow your following by joining different communities or engagement groups, interacting with your readers, posting regularly, and getting a lot of “likes” and “shares”. It’s not as easy as it sounds, since you’re competing with hordes of other writers out there trying to do the same thing.
Try to stand out from the crowd.
A few ways to grab people’s interest are to run contests, offer free giveaways for people willing to review your book, or start your own Facebook group based on your novel or a bookish theme. And like, share, and comment on other people’s posts as well, which will translate into more of the same on your site.
Goodreads is a social media site that will allow you to create a readership and has several resources available to help with your marketing strategy. Once your book or books appear on Goodreads, you can claim your author profile, and then YOU control the content that appears under your name. You can have a Q&A section with your readers, write about books you are reading, have giveaways, and even advertise.
Instagram is another popular site for authors, albeit more visually focused. Hopefully, you are handy with a camera if you plan to post on this site. Lately, with the onset of Reels, it also helps if you can make simple videos. It’s not too bad once you get the hang of it. Practice, practice, practice! Post pics and videos of yourself, of your book signings, doing book readings, even throw in some footage of your pets, or beautiful imagery you captured in nature.
Besides visually stunning pics, you can draw potential readers to your site by using the right hashtags. Some popular hashtags to include are: #bookworm, #writersofinstagram, #bookstagram, #booklover, #booklove and #bibliophile, to name a few. Try to include hashtags that are appropriate to your post.
Instagram has become my favourite social media site because the author/reader/bookish community is extremely friendly and supportive. Plus, I find posting on it is easy peasy compared to other sites.
- Website/ Blog
Having your own website creates a hub for your online author profile. It’s a place where you can list all your social media tags, and where readers will find purchase links for your books. You can attach a blog, which will draw people back to your website repeatedly. And provide an author bio so your readers can get to know you better.
Of course, the main idea is to promote your books, so be sure to include synopses and snippets from your novel, upcoming events you’re in, book reviews, and book trailers.
A website and blog section are huge ways to develop a following, but again you need to draw people to your site. One method of developing a following is by hosting a blog tour (you can do this yourself or have a blog-hosting site do it for you). Another option is to have a monthly newsletter that your followers subscribe to, bringing them back to your site regularly.
TikTok has been popular for a while, but lately it has become a fantastic place for authors to expand their audience and market their books. Making videos has never been easier! TikTok provides cute templates where you simply plug in your photos or videos. Combine it with your favourite tunes, and viola, you’re a filmmaker! There are even fun filters, effects, and stickers to make your movie top notch! If you feel out of your element, there are several online tutorials to help you along the way. Since videos are where it’s at these days, it really is worth your time and effort to post them often.
You have set up all the essential social media accounts, but how do you get the attention of potential readers? You don’t just want followers, you want sales!
Post regularly about your books, keep engaged with your followers, and share great reviews people have left for your novels on Amazon and other book retail sites. Keep track of your most popular posts to give you more ideas for future posts. Once you discover what works for you, do more of the same.
With all these social media accounts running, and the need to stay regularly engaged, you may wonder, “When will I have time to write my novels?” Budgeting your time is key, allowing writing time and time for social media upkeep. You should still spend the main percentage of your time writing your book, but every day, check in with your social media accounts as well. Create a schedule for yourself and stick to it.
Have fun setting up, nurturing, and promoting your own social media accounts. I know I will… now that my aged mind has figured out how to use them, that is! Apparently, an old dog CAN learn new tricks!
I love to hear from you. What social media sites do you use for your writer’s platform?
Oh yeah, and don’t forget to keep reading!
💋 Lanie Mores