Dear Authors – Let’s Chat About Engagement

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Dear Authors,

I wrote something on Twitter recently that seems to have been popular with the author world, so I thought I would expand on it a bit.

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I am a reader, a librarian, and a book reviewer. I am very active on Goodreads, Instagram and Twitter. I consider myself to be at least a minor influencer in my circles, and I want to help you all reach people like ME. People who can help spread the word, especially if you have a small publicity budget. Because I have now learned just how skewed the publishing world is toward books with a huge publicity budget. I won’t rant on that now, but what I will say is that money does not always equal quality. At all. And that’s a massive shame for the rest of the books that DO deserve to be known.

I am the consumer of your work. I am the critic of your work. I am your target audience.  You may not want to hear what I have to say, but I really think you should at least listen. You don’t have to like it. You don’t have to change your behavior, but according to my January growth mindset mantra for my students ~ feedback is a gift. Accept it.

With all that being said, I love you guys. You are the dealers who feed my addiction. You keep my reading life full – THANK YOU! I’m telling you these things because I want to HELP you, not criticize you.

Here is my advice for connecting with people like me – and THANK YOU to all of the fabulous authors who are already doing all of these things! You rock!

  • Get your book on Goodreads ASAP. And while you’re there, make sure to have an author page with a picture.
  • Have a Twitter account and use it for at least 10 minutes a day. Use it to connect with reviewers, other authors, the world in general. Gently spread the word about your book, but don’t ONLY spread the word about your book. REPLY to people who @ you and RETWEET positive reviews and mentions of your work. It takes just a second and goes a LONG way toward relationships.
  • Have an Instagram account (my FAVORITE social media platform – I’m @theloudlibrarylady) and use it for at least 10 minutes a day. Try to include your full name or include “writer” or “author” in your account name. Use it to connect with reviewers, other authors, the world in general. Gently spread the word about your book, but don’t ONLY spread the word about your book. Engage in the community beyond just talking about your work. REPLY to people who @ you and REPOST positive reviews and mentions of your work (there’s an app for that). It takes just a second and goes a LONG way toward relationships.I will tell you honestly that I am a lot more inclined to post multiple times about a book on Instagram if I can tag the author. Reply to direct messages, even just with the little heart thingy. Use Instagram stories to share tidbits of your authorly life.  Figure out what hashtags to use and how. The #bookstagram world is a pretty giant one (16.5 million + posts with that tag) and publishers are finally taking notice of it. You should too. You know why? Because people buy books based on covers, and if readers see a cover enough in their Instagram feed it will get stuck in their brain! (Have you heard of the Rule of 7?) That translates to a more likely purchase or library check-out down the road, even just for the casual reader.
  • Facebook? Meh. Perhaps others care about this one a ton, but me not so much. If you already spend a ton of time there, just make sure to invest time in the others as well!
  • If you are getting totally overwhelmed by the social media stuff, hire a virtual assistant to help manage your accounts. And yes, I know people don’t like to talk about that, but it is done all. the. time.  Personally I care not at all if it’s you or your assistant liking my post – possibly others do, but seeing your name like my review of your book makes me happy. Pretty simple.
  • Reach out to influencers who may be interested in reviewing your book early. But target them carefully – look at their blogs, Instagram feed, etc to see if they read your genre. And if they say yes, recognize that they might not read your book right away – be patient. They might not like your work, and that’s their right. And if they say no, be thankful, because it wouldn’t be a good review anyway if they aren’t interested in the book! But if they DO like your work, they’ll shout about it from the rooftops and that is AMAZING. Reviewing is a LOT of work, and if someone takes the time to thoughtfully review your book and post it on the interwebs, share their review!

I’m going to end with just these things today, and will probably be back for a part 2 because my thoughts are coming out faster than I can type! (ETA: PART 2 is published now!)

Sincerely,
Kate

Please share your thoughts/feedback with me in the comments here ~ I would love to hear from you!

Also, have you read this piece on Huffington Post?

If you found this helpful, please go and read my follow-up posts on this topic!


Are we connected on Goodreads, Instagram and Twitter? If not, let’s fix that!

Goodreads ~ kateolson

Instagram ~ @theloudlibrarylady

Twitter ~ @theloud_library

If you would like to connect with authors and reviewers, please head to my Authorand Reviewer pages here! You will also find social media tips for authors and disclosure guidelines for reviewers there.

If you are an author looking for critique services, look no further! Head to my Critique Services page!

28 thoughts on “Dear Authors – Let’s Chat About Engagement

  1. Kate, This is so well written and I couldn’t agree more! Whenever I post on Instagram or Twitter I spend a LOT of time trying to locate the author/illustrator so that I can @ them. It is so helpful if their feed is their name, as well as author, etc or their bio includes their latest books. I also really appreciate a sincere thank you from the author and I’m especially grateful if they follow me! Unfortunately I have learned since I’ve joined the bookstagram world, having your book published is not the end. It’s just a step a long the way. You need to publicize your book a lot, and Instagram, Good Reads and Twitter (my favorites) is a totally free way (other than time) to accomplish this! This along with encouraging your followers to post reviews, even short ones, on commercial sites will really help promote your book. I, too, could go on and on about this, but I’ll stop for today! 😉 Finally, Kate, thanks for putting your thoughts out into the world! – Susan

    Liked by 3 people

  2. This is wonderful. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. Social media as an author is overwhelming, but I will say that I find a lot of pleasure in seeing successes of other authors and learning more about them through their posts. It’s a good place if you can find a way to be efficient about it (I’m working on this) and avoid the trolls (same).

    Liked by 3 people

  3. YES, YES, YES!!! Since I’ve started actively reviewing every book I read on IG, Goodreads and Twitter, I’ve fallen in love with connecting with authors via social media. Love tagging them in my posts and love helping promote the books that I legit love.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. This is so, so valuable. I’m a newbie author, and I published with a small, independent publisher that simply doesn’t have the staff or budget for a massive publicity push. It can be really frustrating when you can’t seem to compete with the big time publishers, but as you point out, there are plenty of low-cost ways to connect and spread the word!

    Liked by 1 person

    • So many ways, Jane! And I first connected with you through Instagram and your blog, so it worked! Lindsay Currie is an example of a middle grade author who created a FABULOUS street team and social media push all on her own – she did a great job!

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I couldn’t agree more. Book reviewing has become an unpaid part-time job for me. I make maybe $5 a month in affiliate links and spend 20-30 hours each week reading and reviewing books. I also take the time to search out the author on Twitter/Instagram in an attempt to tag them and give them free publicity. I love matching the right book with the right reader.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Pingback: Dear Authors ~ Part 2 | The Loud Library Lady

  7. Reblogged this on Kaelan Rhywiol and commented:
    Fantastic post (part one) about engagement. I admit, I’m a completely new person to Insta, because I don’t know what people want from me there! Lolz, I’m better on twitter. Always still learning.

    Like

  8. Kate!! You are so right! I’m trying my best at social media, but am often not sure what I am doing. My main goal is to connect, and I’m so glad that I met you! ❤

    I love sharing books, especially ones written by my friends, so that's been one of my focuses, as well as sightings in the wild, or re-posting stuff I've seen elsewhere. You are such a wonderful champion of books, and can't tell you enough how much I appreciate you and other librarians, teachers and bloggers who love books. I need to be better about posting reviews–that's my goal for 2018, though I try to share all kinds of books on IG (and FB–not on twitter).

    Thanks for all you do!!! 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Love this tough love! I needed to hear it, because I’ve been on the fence about Instagram for a long time. I’ll give her another go, and look into that reposting app (I already read part II and also enjoyed/appreciated it). Stay awesome!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Thank you so much for your detailed and insightful article! I’ve still not taken the Insta plunge but you’ve got me thinking about it. If it’s best to create a username that includes “author” or “writer” is it better to sign up via FB or email? And do you allow Insta access to your contacts/followers? I feel like such a newb. I mostly take pictures of sunsets and my dog. LOL

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Kate, this is a terrific post full of solid, impactful advice. I have been terrible with social media, primarily because of a lack of time. And, I admit that I’m a Twitter and Instagram doofus. I need to get the hang of them and carve the time so that I can connect with librarians and gatekeepers like you—literary superheroes! Like most authors, I work overtime researching, writing, revising, and marketing my existing and forthcoming books while juggling school visits (my favorite!), speaking engagements, and the business side of it all. Oh, how I long for a clone—with social media experience! 2018 is my year to get engaged—with all of you!

    Confetti and huzzahs for all librarians and reviewers!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thanks, Kate, for all this great info and advice. I am clumsy on social media, but I’m doing my best. Just went to my Twitter profile and added “children’s author/poet.” I agree–I hate when I can’t find an author to tag! Thanks for all you do to spread book love!

    Like

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