Do Authors HAVE to Be on Social Media?

Here we are at the fourth post from my Book Marketing series. Today we’re talking about social media. Here are the links to the other posts if you need to catch up:

Okay, let’s get into this social media thing:

Social media can sound scary right off the bat because it has the word social in it, and most of us writers are shy little introverts. We don’t want to stand under spotlights or “shout” anything to the world, or — *gasp* — interact with others.

And you don’t have to. But that will simply mean that no one will know you (or your books) exist. So, if you’re set on being a writer who writes books that other people will read, then read on, my dear bookworm: YOU NEED AN ACCOUNT ON SOCIAL MEDIA.

Sorry, but…YES. Okay, there are the few flukes like Suzanne Collins (The Hunger Games) and Bill Watterson (Calvin & Hobbes) who can be famous and also invisible. Don’t ask me how they do it. But in this current culture, the only way to get your book noticed is if you have an audience. I know it’s intimidating, but I promise that humans are not going to swarm you the moment you start a social media. (If they did, then every author would have an instant platform now, wouldn’t they?) You can ease yourself into social media.

Start small.

If you don’t have a social media, then get one. Just start with one and work on learning the ropes.

If you do have a social media, then you may move to header #2. 😛

Well, let’s talk about them.

Start with the social media that you like. If you like it, you’ll be more engaged and you’ll post more efficiently and consistently. But it’s also important for you to ask where your intended audience is hangin’ out.

 

Facebook is usually where the adults are. No matter what age group you’re writing for, it’s still important to have a Facebook page, even if you don’t spend much time on it. It tends to be a “staple” in the marketing world. Even if someone isn’t on Facebook much, they’ll still search for the author page on FB. Even if you choose not to do your marketing on Facebook, claim a page, set it up so it looks nice, and let it sit there until you do choose to use it.

I think it’s important to have an author page (likes) — this is different from your personal page (friends). Some people use their personal page as their “main one” but I think readers hesitate clicking the “add as friend” button more than the “like” button.

Facebook Pros:

  • It’s the “staple” in social media
  • Easy to navigate
  • Not too demanding — you can post small short things once a day or every other day.

Cons:

  • It doesn’t really reach teens (so if that’s your audience, that’s a problem for you.)
  • The funky Facebook algorithm. This is like the magical formula that makes it really hard for us to get our posts in front of others. No one ever fully understands it and it can change every few months.

What should you post?

  • I try to post a daily question. This keeps people engaged, lets me know my readers, and lets them know me.
  • Writing updates. (“Wrote 5 words today! 125,000 to go!”)
  • Blog links I like (or links to my own blog post)
  • Pictures
  • Bookish things or posts that pertain to your genre.

 

Twitter is a lot more relaxed than FB. It reaches both adults and teens. I get a lot more goofy on Twitter and post little updates from the every day life like getting stuck in traffic, or weird writing brain thoughts, or fangirling over the new Marvel movie (SPIDERMAAAAAN!)

Pros:

  • It reaches most age groups – both adults and teens (and some kids) seem to be on Twitter, so it’s a good place to find everyone.
  • Easy to share and reach a lot of people
  • Less structure — basically you can post a 140 character statement or…well, that’s all you can do. 😉 It’s simple.
  • Great place to network

Cons:

  • Very advertisement and spam heavy
  • 140 character limit — depending on your point-of-view, this could also be seen as a pro. 😉

Some ideas on what to post

  • Whatever you want! Post about your day, your week, you current writing attempts, your pet…
  • Share other tweets or posts you like
  • Link to Goodreads and share reading updates.

 

There are mainly females on Pinterest. This is a really fun platform because it’s heavily visual and everyone loves visuals.

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • You can make private boards — so you can save photos and make inspiration boards for your work-in-progress that are seen only by you.
  • Visuals! Visuals! Visuals! — everyone loves visuals and Pinterest is all visuals. It can hook your reader and keep them there.

Cons:

  • Slow-growing. Unless you’re on Pinterest all the time, it will grow very slowly. That’s okay and that’s normal, it’s just important to be aware of.
  • It can suck out your soul. 😛 What I mean is it can very easily distract you. But it can also easily inspire you.
  • Reaches mainly adult females. This can be a pro if you’re writing for a mainly female audience, but if you’re hoping to reach both then you might want to add another social media on top of Pinterest to even it out.

What to post:

  • Create a board about your favorite books – every bookworm loves to connect over books. 🙂
  • Character boards – clothing, looks, places they might hang out, etc.
  • Writing help or tips
  • Storyworld visuals (especially if you’re writing something historical or spec-fic!)

 

 

 

Instagram is my personal favorite and I actually use it as an alternative to Pinterest. They’re both visual, but Instagram reaches more of a young adult audience.

Pros:

  • Pure social media — This is one of the few social medias that limits the spam and links that you can post. Yes, it makes it harder to send readers back to your website or newsletter, but it keeps it “clean” so users consider it more of a free and real space. You have to have valuable content and real interaction, not just self-promotion! You’re allowed one link, so make it count.
  • Not time consuming
  • Visual — books are great visuals

Cons:

  • It takes a good eye for photos. A prettier and eye-catching Instagram draws more followers. You don’t have to have perfect photos, but they need to be something catchy that people enjoy to look at. There’s no one way to do it, but don’t just do the snap-and-post.  Look at other instagram accounts and see what they do. See what you like. Try to replicate that. It took me years to figure out how to take better pictures, and that is okay!
  • It’s app-only. You can’t do this on the computer. This is for smart phones, tablets, and other hand-held devices. You can look at photos on the computer and comment, but can’t post them.

What should I post?

  • Photos of your writing space
  • Bookshelves #shelfie
  • Cosplay (if you do that sort of thing)
  • Quotes
  • Anything bookish
  • Moments from your life or writing process

 

 

I enjoy Youtube because you really get to connect with the authors

 Pros:

  • Very personal — your readers love to see your face and get to know you! It can feel very personal for them.
  • Quick to watch and engage — keep your videos short and your readers will keep coming back!
  • Reaches a broad audience and is easy for people to share.

 Cons:

  • Very time consuming — videos take time to edit and prepare for posting, but if this is your main social media platform then that can be worth it.
  • Need a decent camera or mic
  • Camera-shyness — Try to film a view videos of yourself before posting them to get over camera-shyness or camera-stiffness. I love that Sara Ella started a lot of her videos with dance parties and they instantly made her seem confident, comfortable, and fun!

What to post:

  • You really need to have a vision going into YouTube. A lot of people do what’s called “BookTube” and that’s a Youtube channel mainly about books. So you could post book reviews, or talk about new releases. Or you can talk about your writing process.
  • Figure out your vision/theme/purpose

 

 

Some good social media etiquette:

  • Don’t complain and air out your dirty laundry. You can talk about a hard day or things you’re struggling with, but don’t get nasty. Don’t vent. Proverbs 29:11 says, A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back.
  • Don’t engage hurtful comments
  • Don’t always post about you.— Try to get to know your friends and readers. Ask them questions like, “What are you reading?” or “What things make you nervous?” or “Are you an introvert or extrovert?” People enjoy sharing themselves. And as much as they want to know you. They want to feel like you want to know
  • Do unto others…
  • Post sparingly— I post once a day on Facebook, a couple times a day on Twitter (if I think about it) and 2-ish times a day on Instagram. This is after a few years of getting into a rhythm. When I first started, it was once a day on FB. Then I eventually added a Twitter, then Instagram…which started with once every other day. Find what works for you. But don’t go over 2-3 posts a day on any social media.
  • Don’t just copy paste. Don’t just copy what you post on FB to Twitter. That’s annoying and everyone can tell that you weren’t actually present. You can do this sometimes. Just not all the time.

 


I know this social media thing can feel a bit overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to take up a lot of time. You don’t want this to take away from your writing. You are investing in social media and marketing to find the readers. It’s part of being a writer, as long as you can keep a good control over it.

Getting on social media may go against the grain for some of you. But remember that it’s about connecting with your readers–showing them you care and are available to them. After all, isn’t that one of the reasons we write?

Your homework:

  • Figure out which social media(s) you are going to focus on–I direct most of my focus to three. But I started with one and built myself up.
  • Figure out your social media schedule. I get on social media in the morning for a half hour and do my posts. Then I stay away from it until late afternoon, when I’ll hop back on for 20 minutes to respond to any comments and make sure to interact with my readers and commenters. Because it’s about friendships. Not numbers.

 

How do you feel about social media? Likes? Dislikes?

Share a link to your favorite social media page below! Connect with each other!

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About Nadine Brandes

Nadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She never received her Hogwarts letter, but rest assured she’s no Muggle (and would have been in Ravenclaw House, thank you very much.) This Harry Potter super-nerd has been known to eat an entire package of Oreos (family size) by herself, and watches Fiddler on the Roof at least once a year. She writes about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. Her dystopian trilogy (The Out of Time Series) challenged her to pursue shalom, which is now her favorite word (followed closely by bumbershoot.) When Nadine’s not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she and her knight-in-shining armor (nickname: “hubby”) are out pursuing adventures.
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14 Comments

  1. I’m on Pinterest, and I enjoy it very much. Good place for finding writing inspiration. However, I’ve tried to join Facebook, and have had a bit of an odd problem with it. According to them, I can’t “verify my account” because I don’t have a cell phone. 🙂 What a peculiar culture we live in!

  2. Polaris Northstar

    Love this post! I am looking in to social medias and trying to find what I like (not on any yet).

    May I ask what camera or mic you use for your YouTube videos Nadine (they always look and sound SO clear)?

    And I know you said before (but I can’t find where anymore… lost the bookmark)… but what camera do you use for Instagram (I LOVE all your pics there!)?

    Thanks again for this Awesome post! I really enjoy these!!! =D

    • Sometimes I just use my computer camera and whatever built-in mic it has, but there have been times I recorded a video with my Nikon D3200 and just used the camera mic. So it depends which video you are watching. 🙂

      I use that same camera for my IG photos — Nikon D3200 and I’ve been using a 35mm lens. 🙂 I’m so glad you like my pictures!

      Thanks for stopping by! I hope you find a social media you like!

  3. Rebekah Gyger

    So far I have facebook, twitter, pinterest, and instagram. The instagram account is the newest one and got it specifically to start building a platform. So far I like it and am posting to it more often than the others. It is pretty easy and I like the app, where as I can’t stand twitter’s.

  4. My favorite social media is Instagram, too. ^~^

    I don’t really count Pinterest as social media. It’s media, but it’s not very social. 😉

    • This is true, but depending on what genre you write or what audience you write for, it can be used as a major social media. I think it’s been very successful for reaching and interacting with the middle-aged female readers.

  5. SPIDERMAN! Just watched it yesterday, and it was pretty awesome. 🙂

    I like using Facebook and Pinterest (and my blog as well). Hoping to start a YouTube channel sometime soon, which is pretty nerve-wracking, to be honest. For some reason, I can’t get excited about Twitter…

    I love that you have a dedicated amount of time, instead of just doing it “whenever you feel like it!” I feel that would help me not get carried away on some of these sites.

    https://teensliveforjesus.blogspot.com

  6. I just started a personal account on Instagram trying to figure it out before I would eventually want to do an author page. Do you have any tips for taking good pictures? That’s something I love about your Instagram, but really struggle with my own!

    • The nice thing is that you can always change it to public and change the name if you wanted, so you wouldn’t necessarily have to create a new IG page.

      My only tip for taking pictures is to keep taking them and try new things–that’s how I’ve grown in my photos. I also observe a lot of other people on Instagram and take note of the pictures that catch my eye.

  7. Awesome post, Nadine! The only social media I have is a blog (and as it isn’t listed on your ‘social media’ list, I’m not entirely sure if it counts! xD), but I’m hoping to get a twitter or instagram account sometime soon. Problem is, I’m a WRETCHED photographer … I suppose I’d have to get my camera-savvy sister to help me with that! 😀

    • A blog is part of marketing, but not usually counted as social media. Still, it’s effective!!
      I was a wretched photographer, too, but you can only get better by practicing! 😉

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