It is the best time to be an author. Traditionally, marketing your self-published work would have been a lengthy and expensive process. Now you can harness the power of social media to catapult your marketing efforts to the next level.
However, social media is a double-edged sword. So many writers end up spending more time on social media than they do getting words down on the page. So, here we’ll give you the basics on how to get started on some popular social media platforms.
In this article, you’ll learn:
- What the best social media platforms are for authors
- How to get started on popular social media platforms
- How many social media platforms you should operate on
If you were to play the word-association game, Facebook would be the first social media platform most people would think of. Over 70% of people in North America and about a quarter of the entire planet are active Facebook users. Facebook’s audience is also incredibly diverse, with users from a range of countries with a range of interests. No matter who your audience is, you can be certain they’re on Facebook.
While you can use your personal Facebook page to help with your author business, I like to keep my work and private lives separate. Sure, you’ll likely join Facebook groups and collaborate with other authors with your personal profile, but to see the benefits of the platform, you’ll need a Facebook author page.
An author page should be the home of your business on Facebook. You can use it to post about your work or upcoming books or share anecdotes and memes with your readers. Additionally, you’ll need a Facebook page to run any paid Facebook ads, which can be a great way to use the platform.
With Facebook ads, you can:
- Sell books
- Grow your email list
- Re-target people with ads–in short, that means to advertise to people who are already familiar with a part of your work
To create a Facebook author page follow these steps:
- Go to facebook.com/pages/create.
- When you’re there, you’ll see two options, either create a ‘Business or Brand’ page, or a ‘Community or Public Figure” page. Make sure you click on the ‘Business or Brand’ page option.
- Follow the instructions and fill in your information. It’s super easy. Your page name should be the name you write under. For some of you, it’ll be your own name. For others, it’ll be your pen name. Under the category section, you can choose ‘Author’ from the dropdown menu.
- Click ‘Continue’ and follow the on-screen instructions.
If you want to learn more about how to create your Facebook page, or how to use it, you’ll find out more in this article.
Twitter is a fast-paced social media channel that relies on regular usage to fully reap the benefits–you have to tweet if you want to connect with other people.
However, if you get a following on Twitter, you can boost your author business to the next level and become an authority in your genre. There aren’t many platforms out there that are watched more than Twitter.
On Twitter, you don’t necessarily have to plan posts like you would with Instagram or Facebook. You can just get your phone out and tweet your thoughts on a topic, or share an article you’re reading. Still, a lot of authors use marketing material to promote their books on the platform. Mark Dawson, for example, uses a lot of short videos to promote his books. A simple video is incredibly eye-catching on a feed that’s largely text-based.
I would suggest you only use straight promotional material like Mark’s video occasionally, as you want to contribute to conversations on the platform, as well. If all you’re offering are “buy my book” tweets, people will stop reading your posts.
Take part in conversations with your readers and with the readers of authors in your genre. My friend Chris Ducker is amazing at keeping conversations going on Twitter. I don’t think I’ve seen many of his tweets that don’t have a response. Often, he’ll post links to his content on other platforms like a blog post or a YouTube video with the hope of starting a conversation.
Communicating with your readers is important on Twitter, as it’s one of the platforms that gives you and your reader direct access to each other. With that in mind, you can share your journey and your successes with your fans. A particular tweet I love is this one from children’s author, Natasha Ngan.
But you don’t have to share major milestones and new pieces of content. You can share your reading lists or just your thoughts for the day. Remember, with Twitter, consistency is key. A Twitter feed is fast-moving–after all, there are about 6,000 tweets sent every second–so you’ll probably want to post more than once or twice a week.
If you want more information about using Twitter as an author, here are some resources you can turn to:
- Twitter 101 for Authors: Hashtags Do’s and Don’ts
- How to Get Noticed on Twitter- 15 Tips for Writers
- No Excuses! Why and How Writers Should Embrace Twitter
- 8 Twitter Resources for Authors
Here’s a quick breakdown of how to create your Twitter account:
- Head to Twitter and hit ‘Sign up.’
- Enter your details: your name and phone number or email address then hit ‘Next.’
- Click ‘Sign up,’ then head on over to your email or phone and search for your verification code. Enter it.
- Create your password.
- After this, you’ll be guided through a simple step-by-step process of filling out your profile with a profile picture and populating your feed with tweets and people to follow. Go for other authors in your genre at first!
Like the other platforms, growing an Instagram page can connect readers with your work. Instagram is a more personal platform, where you can give your followers an insight into your life behind the scenes.
Over time, the relationship between you and your readers will deepen and that’ll make you top of mind whenever you release new books. Instagram is also one of the best social media platforms to get book reviews from thanks to Bookstagrammers (#bookstagram).
Don’t think it’ll be easy though. Growing an Instagram following is hard work, especially if you’re just starting out. Melyssa Griffin gives some great advice on growing Instagram accounts from scratch, care of Susan Petersen (CEO of Freshly Picked).
The basic plan is:
- Find potential target readers. You can do that by looking at who follows other authors, or by genre-specific hashtags (If you want to know more about hashtags, click here).
- Go through each target reader and ‘like’ five to ten of their photos, leaving a genuine comment.
- If you like, you can also follow their account too.
This process is long but can be well worth it later on once your account is big enough to grow organically. The goal here is to get your name out to as many people as you can in your target audience. By liking a range of their photos and connecting with them, they’ll likely want to follow you back.
If you’re interested in starting an author’s Instagram page, you can check out this article for more information.
When you think about social media platforms, YouTube may not be one that comes to mind. There’s a bit of debate on if the site is a social media or content platform.
However, at its core, YouTube is a social platform that encourages engagement. In doing so, it offers a lot of the same benefits that other social media platforms have. And with YouTube’s search function, it is actually seen by some as the world’s second-biggest search engine.
Due to YouTube’s search engine qualities, many nonfiction authors will find easy ways to create content for YouTube.
Robin Sharma’s YouTube channel is a great example of strategies for nonfiction authors. Robin has written bestsellers like The 5 am Club and The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari that focus on leadership, productivity and generally living a better life. His YouTube channel mirrors that theme well, with videos covering the same topics as his books and others in that wheelhouse. It wouldn’t surprise me if a lot of Robin Sharma’s readers first discovered him on YouTube.
For nonfiction authors who like creating video content, but don’t really want to use that content to create a full-blown online course, YouTube can be a really natural fit. However, for fiction writers, the path to YouTube success may not be as straightforward.
If you’re a genre fiction author, you probably won’t be able to make book-focused videos and capitalize on search traffic–that’s far easier for nonfiction authors. However, you can still create a thriving YouTube channel to promote your books. To do so, you’ll have to show a bit of your personality and build a solid platform over time.
Jenna Moreci is a fiction writer who has an incredibly popular YouTube channel. She creates a lot of ‘being a writer’ style content. This includes tips about writing novels and videos about living a productive author lifestyle. However, what Jenna does well is incorporate videos and discussions about her upcoming releases, and has a playlist for each of her books.
Quick Note: I mention Jenna because I think she uses YouTube really effectively. But if you are checking out her YouTube channel, make sure you have the headphones in; there are a few NSFW words being thrown around.
If you’re interested in learning more about using YouTube to sell books, check out the following resources:
- What Authors Can Learn From YouTube Stars
- 5 Ways to Sell Books with YouTube Marketing
- How to Sell Books Using YouTube
How Important is Social Media?
I know what you’re thinking. Yep, keeping track of all four of these platforms (plus any others) is extremely overwhelming.
That’s why I don’t suggest you do it.
Sure, utilizing social media to build your brand is important and platforms like a Facebook page are non-negotiable if you’re planning on advertising. However, don’t forget the most important thing–you’re a writer first and foremost.
In the early days, you’ll get a far better return on time by spending an evening writing as opposed to creating a YouTube channel or sending tweets.
If you’re just starting out, here’s what I’d recommend:
- Create a Facebook page for advertising purposes.
- Choose one platform (doesn’t have to be Facebook) and stick with that until you have a decent-sized audience and start seeing a return on your time.
It’s tempting to feel like you’ve got to start an account on every social media platform to get your work out there.
But, it is far more beneficial to have one social media platform you’re a master at than it is to spread yourself too thin. So, choose the social media platform that resonates with you and your target audience the most and stick with it!
Thanks to social media, it has never been easier to market your books. So put yourself out there and take advantage of this great asset for indie authors!