Dear Authors ~
Wow, who knew so many of you wanted/needed advice on engagement? The response to yesterday’s post has been surprising to me, so I’m sacrificing my 5 am reading time to pound out Part 2 right away.
Before I head into tips, though, I just want to say that I was absolutely serious about having a virtual assistant (or your teenage children, spouse, brother, sister, mom) help with your social media. It can be a total time suck and can definitely take away from writing. However, you are a BRAND. I hate to break that to you, but you are. And yes, my undergrad is in business ~ I didn’t come into this world as a school librarian and book reviewer. Anyway, you are a brand, and your product is your work. With that, your brand needs to be marketed, and even if you are with a big fancy publisher with a lot of money, YOU are the brand. Unless the publisher is going to run your social media accounts, it’s on you to figure it out. I run multiple accounts and I know how HARD it can be to keep up with everything – that’s why I have so many people helping with the accounts for Kid Lit Exchange! This is why the profession of social media manager exists, right? Okay, moving on.
The biggest feedback yesterday was about not knowing WHAT to post. The other was agreeing with me about Twitter being……..a black hole. More on that later.
Let’s talk about WHAT to post on social media as an author:
- Whatever the heck you want to. No, really. Here’s the thing that is so tricky for so many people to understand: even though your work is your product, YOU are the brand. So typically, your account can not and should not be ALL about your work. If you want to do that, create ANOTHER account for that and title it after your book/characters. That is highly successful for some people! But we want to connect with YOU as the creator. So if you are a dog person (like me), then go nuts and post pictures of your dogs. Once in awhile your dog can be reading one of your books, because……dogs reading books. Your flowers, your kids, the cute bookstore/yarn shop in your cute seaside village because of course you live in a cute seaside village because writing is the dream life and we all want to live the author’s dream life and…… A middle grade author I know (hey, I really DID meet her!) posts pictures of her house, her husband, dinner out, Little Free Libraries, her dog, AND her speaking engagements, her books, her writing life. Mix it up. If you need a number, how about we go with a bare minimum of 1 pic of your book to 3 of other/related.
- You do not need to post every day! A few times per week is totally fine!
- If you have a book releasing SOON or you are on tour, more pics of your book of course, but throw in a pic of your cat/rabbit/duck/cow/fish too. Or a vintage typewriter – we all go nuts over those.
- BOOKS!!! And reading. No, not just your books. Show your readers that YOU are a reader and a consumer of books. That’s what the #bookstagram community is all about! There is nothing more gratifying than knowing that a favorite author loves another book that you love too – we can bond over that! Or, in the strange world of social media, I can sit at my house in WI thinking that my new BFF (you) and I both like the same book and someday we’ll meet IRL and have coffee together and chat about the book and cue nerd SWOON. If you get ARCs from other authors, show us you reading them! Post some book reviews.
- Coffee. Or tea if you must. No, really. All anyone seems to want on Instagram is pictures of mugs (preferably witty, but pretty or take out will do) filled with caffeine.
- Stuff related to your genre. A fabulous author I have connected with writes historical fiction. Her feed is FILLED with things related to the time periods she writes about and feeds my geeky history needs. You write about fairies? Find cute fairies. Dragons? Sure. Crime thrillers? Maybe no crime scene photos. But CONNECT your feed with your books and writing in an authentic way.
- REPOST reviews and pictures from readers and bookstores!!! This is what my favorite authors do. It shows you care about your consumer. I mentioned the Repost app for Instagram in yesterday’s post – it seems to work for many people. The main thing on Ig is that you MUST give clear credit at the TOP of the post for the picture and content. Here’s why. Reviewers and bookstagrammers spend insane amounts of time on their work. You reposting it gives us more exposure and gives us credibility in your eyes. When I post a gushing review of a book and tag the author and NOTHING…….it’s kind of like a slap in the face. Like you don’t need my praise – you’re above that. OUCH. Fine-tip Sharpie right to my heart. Twitter’s easy – the very least you can do is retweet, and go ahead and throw a little blurb in too!
- Shots of your book in the wild! I love when authors gush over seeing their book in a library or bookstore – makes them seem humble and real.
- You with your FANS! There are no fans like book geeks and sharing pics of you and the people who leave the house (there are no introverts like book introverts) to come and meet you is a HUGE thing. Do it. And if you can when you meet people get their social handles. Tag them. Yes, that’s crazy work. But don’t you have that teenage child/mom/husband/wife/cousin to help you???
- GIVEAWAYS! Not all the time, but once in a while run a giveaway of one of your books or a friend’s book or a favorite book of yours! On Twitter, you can do the RT/Follow requirement. On Instagram, it’s a little trickier – email me if you have questions! If enough people ask I can do a post.
- Don’t forget to reply to comments on your posts! SO important.
Okay, now for HOW to use Instagram and Twitter. I’m ignoring Twitter right now because honestly I feel like it’s a complete black hole sometimes that I throw words into and……NOTHING. Zero response. Ugh. I know how that feels, I can relate to your pain! Let’s talk about Instagram, my happy place.
I won’t do a tutorial for you because that’s not my thing. BUT, I will tell you that my learning has been from the newsletters I get from Later – check out their blog. Also, I resorted to Googling “how do i use instagram stories” last year when my friend texted me to tell me that I had a video of my steering wheel in my stories for HOURS. Huh. Live and learn! You can learn pretty much anything you want from the Goog – dedicate a few hours to it over the course of a few weeks.
Know that the Instagram algorithm is the devil and your number of likes, etc has NOTHING to do with your number of followers. No one can truly explain it, but I will tell you that the absolute best way to get engagement on Instagram is to engage yourself. And the best way to get followers IS TO FOLLOW OTHER PEOPLE. Search the #bookstagram hashtag or whatever your niche is and start following! NEVER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES BUY FOLLOWERS OR USE FOLLOW BOTS. Engage with other accounts by commenting and liking. Yes, it takes time. I have already established my acknowledgement of this – please do NOT complain to me since I have already offered a solution. Remember, I was in business. Solution-based. Move on.
- Ratio of approximately 1:3 (I completely made this up, but it seems right based on my favorite author accounts) pics/posts of your books and other stuff
- Don’t complain about the time. Work takes time. Social media needs to be a part of your work. If you have the money, pay someone to help. If you don’t, work more. I do it, so can you. If you don’t want to do it, don’t complain about not having marketing.
Right. So, like I said, I just gave up my reading time to share this with you – I hope it helped! I’m only on page 311 of The Heart’s Invisible Furies and still have a LONG way to go……..have you read it? LOVING it so far!
(your annoying friend who always give you advice you didn’t ask for)
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.
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