Building a Social Media Following for Aspiring Authors

You’re an author. You’ve written at least one book, and you possibly have a few more on the way. You’re looking for an agent. You’ve secured an editor. You have a publishing contract. You’re at the very beginning of a beautiful and meteoric rise in the publishing world, but then someone suggests you focus on your personal brand. Your author brand. Because as much as publishers like to think they are the main reason someone picks a book off a shelf, it’s more likely because of the author name (though the title and the cover can help too).

Where do you go first? Out of the plethora of social media options available, which is going to net you the most bang for your buck? Which is going to be the most efficient and effective use of your time?

Where To Go

Instagram and Twitter are essential for establishing and maintaining a following. Instagram should be used primarily for shelfies and aspiring-author content. Once you’ve been published, it’s a great place to showcase covers or fan art or to document the publishing process and talk about what you’re doing now (readings, speaking engagements, etc.). Creating a dedicated Facebook author page will allow you to cross-post content between Instagram and Facebook, so lean heavily into the stories features on both for unpolished fun and behind-the-scenes moments. A presence on Goodreads is good to have, but it’s not essential. Update or create a profile. Be available for author chats. Post blogs and book reviews. Being active there is as easy as cataloguing the contents of your shelf and rating what you read.

What To Do

Be consistent. Post two to three times a week when first starting out on whatever primary platforms you choose. That’s no easy task, especially if you’re using multiple social sites, writing, working a day job, working two jobs, going to school, or raising a family. Before starting your social media presence in earnest, stockpile content. When you’re at a conference, workshop, or other event, take plenty of photos. Social media is a written and visual medium. Facebook especially loves video. When all else fails, shelfies will do the trick every time.

Don’t care about how many followers you have. And don’t buy followers. Instead, find your core audience, no matter how small at first, and engage them. Ask them questions and get to know who they are. Don’t just post a question and walk away. Don’t ignore the comments. You have to be interested as much as interesting.

Pick a platform and tailor your brand. Your brand should be reflected by the platform you choose and the genre you write in. Once you’ve established a brand, don’t be afraid to experiment, especially by leaning into standard social media convention. Eighty percent of the content you post should not be about your book; instead, it should be about writing, publishing, other books, etc. Twenty percent of the content should be about your book, or books, which averages out to about once a week. If your book is newly published, then you can reverse the 80/20 rule for a few weeks before and after publication.

And Finally

Don’t read negative reviews. Don’t respond to negative reviews. And don’t ask people to buy your book. If they buy into you as an author, if they buy into your brand, and if your craft is solid, the social media presence will sell your books for you.