You self-published your book (whew!), offered your book for presale, celebrated your launch with champagne, and sold books to everyone you know.
Perhaps you’re even blogging regularly.
Reaching out to the press, contacting book clubs, and reading at bookstores are great ways to promote your book offline. But to reach potential readers across the U.S. and around the world, you need to use social media.
Are you silently screaming, “Argh!” You’re not alone.
Like other writers, you want to get going on your next book and spending time in front of the computer posting on social media, pinning images to Pinterest, or snapping photos for Instagram may seem, well, like a bit of a waste of time.
The thought of creating a social media presence can seem overwhelming to indie authors, but it doesn’t have to be. All you need are 30 minutes a day (really!) and these tips.
10 Social Media Tips Every Author Needs to Know
- Decide who your intended audience is and use the social media networks that your readers are most likely to use. For example, if you write young adult fiction, you’ll want to have a presence on Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram. If your readers are primarily women, create accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. When you wrote your book, you had your readers in mind, right? Now think about that reader and where he or she is most likely to hang out online. Knowing where your audience likes to hang out online will save you time. Long gone are the days when social media experts touted the wisdom of being everywhere. It’s impossible to be on every social media network, too time-consuming, and quite frankly, a waste of your precious time. For more information on where to find your reader demographics online, turn to Pew Research Center.
- With more than 2 billion people now using Facebook, it’s hard to ignore this social media behemoth. Creating a profile (profiles are for people, and pages are for products, books, authors, businesses, and services) on Facebook is your first step. I always used to recommend that authors have a Facebook page as well. In the old days – say about six years ago – 36% of your fans would see what you posted on your Facebook author page. These days, that percentage is down to 1%. What’s an author to do? You can still have a Facebook author page, but you need to understand that you’ll need to learn and spending money on Facebook advertising. The other option for you is to create a Facebook Group. To learn about how to start and grow a Facebook Group, read this post I wrote for TheBookDesigner.com.
- Allocate 30 minutes a day to your social media marketing. In the mornings, spend 15 minutes curating information for your social media posts by scanning your friends and followers’ posts and using one or more of these websites and resources:
This is the top online source for the hottest trending information on the entire blogosphere. Every blog that’s worthy in its industry is here, and you’ll find posts from thought leaders in your industry.
This search engine crawls the web in search of trending topics posted on social media networks.
Use this application on your Windows PC, iPhone, iPad, or Android to aggregate news on any topic you select. This website also claims it can recommend future articles for you by analyzing your previously saved items.
This application curates information for you by scrolling through the tweets in your newsfeed and ranking them.
Be sure to create some Twitter lists of esteemed colleagues and thought leaders in your industry, niche, or genre. For example, I have curated a list of experts in writing and publishing. I use this list to curate information to tweet on Twitter and sometimes post on Facebook.
To create a Twitter list, log in to your Twitter account, click your avatar in the upper taskbar, and click on Lists.
In the left column, you’ll find a box that says Create a list. Click on Create New List.
Next, name your list, describe it, and decide whether you want your list to be public or private.
Now, whenever you find someone you want to add to your list, go to his or her profile, click the three circles, and click on Add to List.
Subscribe to blogs from experts you respect and decide whether some of their blog posts would be worth tweeting or posting on LinkedIn or other social media platforms.
- In the late afternoon or evening, spend 15 minutes being social. The very essence of social media is socializing so don’t forget to like your Facebook fans’ posts, add comments, and share information or images that your friends post. Thank people for retweeting you, answer questions posted on social media for you, and like some of your colleagues’ images on Instagram and leave comments. If you want people to read your books, read books, and if you want people to share your content, share other people’s content too. Spread social karma.
- Once you have the information you want to post, use a social media dashboard– also called a scheduling application, such as HootSuiteor Bufferto space your posts throughout the day. Note: On Facebook pages, users can schedule their posts within the status update box. Facebook will downgrade posts that are scheduled using a scheduling application.
To use Facebook’s scheduling feature, click the arrow next to Publishing. A scheduling post will pop up. Then select the date and time for your post to publish. You can schedule your post six months out.
- Twitter is tremendous (and my favorite social media network). Use hashtags (#) to target your tweets so that users searching for a new book just like yours will find it. Genre hashtags are common – #romance, #memoir, #erotica, #YA, #FamilySaga, #SciFi, #HistoricalFiction – as well as the hashtag #readers. You can even create a unique hashtag to track mentions of you and your books. Follow 50 new users daily, use an application such as Tweepior ManageFlitterto drop users who don’t follow you back, and retweet different users each day. Note:You can also use hashtags on Google+, Instagram, and Facebook. Here’s my list of 45 hashtags for authors.
- To make the most of your presence on LinkedIn, use keywords throughout your profile description and add skills that your connections can endorse. Also, join two or three groups and become an active participant. The groups are the best part of LinkedIn because you can learn from other members, share your experience and expertise, and without directly marketing your books, find new readers.
- Pinterest is a fun social media channel that excels at driving traffic to your website, blog, and wherever you sell your books online. Create a pinboard titled Favorite Books and add your book to the list. Start a pinboard with your blog’s name and pin the images you include in your posts. Add photos to a pinboard dedicated to the city where your novel takes place. The possibilities are endless. To learn more about Pinterest, check out my post 10 Pinterest Tips for Writers.
- Instagram is the fastest growing social media network in 2018. It has an estimated 700 million active users, which makes it the third largest social media network behind Facebook and then YouTube. Most people who use Instagram are under 35, but 33% of all internet users globally aged 30 to 49 are also using Instagram. It’s popularity, and its essence as an image-based network makes it the perfect social media platform for this era. Post images of your books on display, where you write, your backyard, a scenic perspective from your town, pictures of your vacation, and pictures of your pet. Poets have been incredibly successful at using Instagram. To see an example, look up Tyler Knott Gregson. He’s an indie poet who draws 150 people to readings and now sells mugs and other related items. To learn more about Instagram, read my post Everything Authors Want to Know About Instagram.
- Finally, it’s a good idea to set up your profile on Goodreads and then set up your author account. Presently, there are 65 million members on this site who have added 2 billion books and written 68 million reviews. Goodreads members are avid readers; many of them have advanced degrees. Don’t think of Goodreads as a place to hawk your books. If you try, you will be met with with wrath of people who love books and love this online space. Create bookshelves for the books you’ve read, rate books you read, review books you read, and join at least one group. To raise awareness about your books, be sure to participate in the giveaway program. Goodreads isn’t a site where you need to post daily but it is a place to demonstrate your love of books. If you’re not on Goodreads yet, this post will help you get started.
Now it’s your turn to share your social media tips with me. What’s your favorite social media tip?
Whether you’re setting up your social media for the first time or wanting to take it to the next level, get the newest edition of Social Media Just for Writers.
I would not limit this book to the audience of only writers, it’s a great resource for anyone that wants to take full advantage of the online platforms available. Janet Kinsella
Author of this blog: Frances Caballo is an author and social media strategist and manager for writers. She’s a regular speaker at the San Francisco Writers Conference and a contributing writer at TheBookDesigner.com. Frances wrote several social media books including Social Media Just for Writers and The Author’s Guide to Goodreads. Her focus is on helping authors surmount the barriers that keep them from flourishing online, building their platform, and finding new readers. Her clients have included authors of every genre and writers’ conferences. Not sure how you’re doing online? Sign up for her free email course.
Practical tips for marketing your books on the social web