Social Media for the Socially Awkward

Greetings my awesome readers!  You make me look forward to writing this each week.  Knowing I will get to connect with you, if only briefly, gives me such happiness!  For real though, you guys are amazing!

This week I thought I’d talk a bit about social media, probably mostly because I’m trying to navigate these waters myself at the moment.  Some of you who are writers may be wondering what this has to do with writing a novel.  Some of you who aren’t writers are definitely wondering what this has to do with writing a novel.  So I shall explain before I begin to dive into the mysterious, turbulent world of social media.

When I began writing my book, I realized how difficult it would be.  If you’ve read any of my previous posts (and if you haven’t I hope you will!) you will see much of the work that I put into my series before I ever even wrote a word of my manuscript (aka my novel).  I have been working on this project consistently for a few months now (and off and on for a few months before that).  It has been a lot of time and effort and so I began thinking about what would happen when I actually finished my masterpiece (I may be biased).   I didn’t want to put all this work into something that was only read by just a handful of my family and friends.  That’s when I began to think about publishing.

The book publishing market has contracted…  And the winner for understatement of the year goes to… that last sentence!  With the invention of the eReader, book publishing will never be the same again.  This blog isn’t to discuss the pros and cons of self-publishing versus going through a publisher.  I have decided that for myself, I would like to go the traditional route and attempt to get published by an actual publisher.  I believe my book distribution will be higher that way.  I may be mistaken, but I’m not friends with Oprah or Ellen so I don’t know of any other ways I could launch my book into a wide enough audience to get as wide a distribution as I can if I can interest a publisher.

Having decided that this is the route I wanted to take, I did my research and learned that many publishers won’t even look at your manuscript without a literary agent.  Sigh.  So I added another hoop to jump through and trudged on through more research.  That’s when I found that most agents want you to have some sort of web-presence.  The more, the better.  If you can show up to an agent and show them a built in audience waiting with baited breath to read your yet to be published writings, you are going to be much more appealing than Joe Schmoe off the street who doesn’t know what a Tweet is.

That’s when I dove haphazardly into the world of making a brand for myself as an author.  I asked my brother who works with company websites for a living if he could help me get a website set up and he agreed.  Hi bubba!  We are still working on getting the rest of my site up to snuff to go live, but it is slow going because I have to work around his schedule (beggars can’t be choosers and I’m so grateful for his help).  If you can afford to have someone build your website for you I cannot recommend this enough!  I am so lost when it comes to that sort of thing that I can only imagine how many times I’ve made my bro roll his eyes.

Websites are an important part of building your brand.  Some writers create websites for their specific book.  Now this might work if you’re J.K. Rowling and you know people are already lined up down the street to buy your next book before you even have an idea for what it will be about.  But if you’re like me, an unknown writer, without any published novels to speak of, you’re going to want to paint with broader strokes.

My website will be about me as a writer, not just the book I’m writing.  I will build it with a variety of fun things to keep people (hopefully) coming back day after day.  I want to get them engaged and to invite them into my world.   Now my blog is more focused than the rest of my website will be.  It is dealing mostly with my novel series because I think it will be neat to have once I get my books published.  A way for people who read the books to go back and see the process of how they were written.  In this I am taking a risk that my books will be published at all.  This might not be the way you want to go.  Maybe you want to go another way like blogging about a variety of subjects.   But what can I say, I’m a risk taker and I always bet on myself because I know once I set my mind to something I won’t stop until I’ve accomplished it.  The key here is to give people a chance to get to know you and invest in you as a writer and you can’t do that by staying off of social media.

Next up is Twitter, I joined the Twittersphere a while ago with a personal account but I think I tweeted like 8 times.  I never really got into it cause I just didn’t think people cared enough to know that I went to go check my mailbox that day.  But now that I’m creating my web-presence, I knew I needed to start using it and doing so in a meaningful way.  So I set up a separate account for my “author” self and began Tweeting with some regularity.  I am strategic about what I tweet, I want to show my personality but do so in a way that reminds people I’m a writer.  I also started following other writers, and this is a good place to stalk literary agents.  Again, be strategic.

I heard someone say something once that has really stuck with me.  It seemed so simple but when I thought about it, it was really profound and changed my thinking dramatically.  They said authors are readers too.  This was something I hadn’t really thought about.  When targeting who I wanted for followers on my social networks I was focused solely on readers, but I realized that most writers are also avid readers and therefore part of my potential audience for my books.  So keep this in mind when you are trying to increase your followings on Twitter or Facebook or wherever.

I guess I will move to Facebook next.  I set up a page there as well for my “author” self.  I have been posting there regularly along with Twitter.  I put thought into what I want to post and don’t post a lot because I don’t want people to get annoyed with random thoughtless content.  I also try to time my posts for when most of my followers are checking their Facebook accounts.  With the new way FB shows things on other people’s feeds you have to be tactical.  If I post something in the middle of the night, there’s a very good chance that next to no one will see it.  Keep an eye on your statistics and the times you post.  You will see in the little box underneath your post how many people saw it.  If you notice a time of day that seems to be getting more views, target that time to post.

Also, get your friends and family to “like” your posts.  This too increases the visibility of the post and will often times attract new followers.  Finally, if you think you have enough content on your FB page to make it seem like you didn’t just set up your page, and you have a little extra money, consider paying to boost your posts.  A little can go a long way and if you can attract new followers well obviously that’s the point.

The last social media account I will discuss is Instagram.  Like Twitter, I had joined IG a while ago and probably only posted 5 or 6 times.  So once again, I set up a separate account.  Here I felt it was necessary so I could keep posting pictures of my kids on my personal account and not have thousands of people I didn’t know seeing them.  This is again a personal choice for me.  I personally want to keep my children out of my public life as a writer so I chose to go this route.  It is up to you whether you want to do the same thing and there is no judgment for you deciding differently.  In fact, I love seeing all the cute pictures of people’s children on Instagram along with their dogs and cats regardless of whether I know them or not, they’re all just so cute!  So you do what you think is best and I will respect your decision to do so!  Gold stars for everyone!  But I digress.

My tips for IG: be strategic here too, don’t just search out anyone who will follow you.  There are many people who set up multiple accounts (hello, guilty!) the key here is not to get a ton of followers, but to get as many individuals who might read your book as you can.  Take a moment to check out their account before asking them to follow you.  If they seem like a single person (I mean in number, not marital status) who likes to read, then they would be a real asset to your account.  But if they tell you to follow their other plethora of accounts then these aren’t the followers you want because they will in reality only buy one book (if even) not one for each IG account.  Your goal here is to find people who would legitimately be interested in reading your future book, so be purposeful in your search.

Some good hashtags to search are #book(s) #booklover #booknerd(s) #bookstagram #reading #bookshelf #writer(s) #writing #writersofinstagram #yabooks (if that’s your genre) #scifibooks #(insertyourgenrehere)books (remember writers read too) these will get you started and have really helped me build my audience.  Again note, there are lots of “fandom” accounts on IG which are a lot of fun, but these especially are where the multiple accounts by the same person come it so keep an eye on that.

Before I close, I would just like to talk briefly about managing your time with all of these accounts that you can set up on social media.  I haven’t even named them all.  There are others out there that I haven’t even gotten into because, to be honest, I had a hard enough time getting the accounts above going and maintaining them.  I know it can be a daunting thing, but having a web-presence is what will set you apart from the countless others who don’t.  It shows that you’re serious about what you do, it adds some professionalism to your work and it helps you create a brand for yourself.  The bigger and better you make your brand, the more attractive you’ll be to literary agents and to publishers which will lead to better book deals.

I know it’s a lot of work, trust me I’m trying to keep my head above water myself, but I know it will pay off in the end.  Not to mention all the amazing people I have met as a result!  As for social media managers, I do not have a program yet but I was told Hootsuite is helpful (and also free heyo!) so I might be trying that out soon, I will keep you posted.  And if any of you lovely readers/writers have any other social media tips I would love to hear them just comment below!

  • Really great stuff. Really resonates with my experiences. I had just given up on Facebook and Twitter when I published my book last year and realized I had to dive back into those channels to promote my work. The biggest thing I learned is something you mentioned. A really great way to find readers is to find other authors. Every author on twitter has a built in following and if you exchange a follow with them, you’re effectively leveraging their readership when they retweet for you. I’m so pleased at the sense of community that seems to be out there between authors.

    I also admire and respect your desire to be traditionally published. I tried for a couple of years to catch someone’s attention with query letters and about 90% of the time I got no response at all. The few times I got responses they ranged from a post-it note with ‘No thanks’ scribbled on it to hints of interest never followed up on.

    At one point you call your manuscript a masterpiece and I really strongly encourage you to retain that perspective—you have to be your own biggest fan in this marketing environment!

    Finally, you mentioned some really great tags and I thought I’d throw out a couple other ones you might find useful: #ASMSG #amwriting #amreading. There are others that some people might like: #indie #99cents (for when you put your book on sale in e-format) There are lots of people who really closely watch those tags.

    Anyway, thanks for sharing your knowledge—we should ALL do this. As you mention, marketing is the part of publishing a novel that most writers forget about until they’re confronted with it the day after publishing their book. Also, there seems to be a trend that even for traditionally published authors, the marketing resources from the publishing house do not flow—many entry level authors end up having to do the same self marketing…

    • Kara

      Thank you so much for your comment it was wonderful! And yor suggestions were extremely helpful! Come back anytime to add your thoughts!

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