Many debut authors feel overwhelmed and confused by social media. Everyone, including your publisher, tells you that you should be doing it, but social media feels like an unnecessary distraction from the real work of writing. However, social media can be creatively adapted to suit the unique work you do as an author. Used thoughtfully, social media can be a powerful tool to strengthen your writing, readership, and career.
With modern digital marketing tools like social media, it is possible for authors with even a modest marketing budget to expand their reach and connect with enthusiastic readers effectively and in a more targeted manner than ever before. Social media can help authors connect authentically with readers and fans, organically expanding an author’s reach and increasing the visibility of their books.
How does an author use social media to market their books organically? These three ways are based on an approach to social media that book marketing expert Jane Friedman recommends:
1) Use social media as a natural extension of the work that you’re already doing
Social media doesn’t have to be an awkward thing that you do because you have to. It can be a natural outpouring of the creative writing work that you’re already doing day in and day out. For instance, you can actually use social media to share some of your writing work. Enthusiastic fans can help promote your work among their network through organic sharing, expanding your reach as an author.
Author Cassandra Clare recently ran a Twitter poll asking her followers which character “snippet,” or brief excerpt, they wanted to see from her upcoming book, Chain of Thorns. Clare regularly shares snippets of her upcoming books on social media, generating interest and enthusiasm among her fanbase so that they are more likely to purchase her upcoming releases.
Clare also shares art of the characters in her storyverse created by devoted fans. Sharing fan art is a smart way to engage your fan base as fans adore seeing beautiful art pieces of the characters they love while the sharing of fan-created art requires minimal effort on your part.
2) Use social media as a testing ground for your future books
Friedman explains that social media is a form of content and can be thought of as a micro-publishing platform. Often, these tiny pieces of work that you share publicly on social media can be the seeds for a larger work in the future. For instance, illustrators may post quick sketches on Instagram that later become a full-length print comic book.
Yung Pueblo posted brief reflections on love and relationships on Instagram as an unknown writer. Gradually, he gained a following and eventually published two books, one of which hit the NYT Best Sellers list.
You can also use social media to gauge how readers respond to your work. Paying attention to which posts garner more likes and comments will provide valuable insight into what content resonates most with your fans. This incredible intel can inform your work positively, helping to shape it into something people will be interested and excited to read.
3) Use social media as a way to connect with readers directly and authentically
One of the main premises of social media is that it is a tool to communicate with others. For authors, social media is a way to directly communicate with readers in a two-way conversation. Some ways authors can engage with followers include asking questions, expressing gratitude, sharing experiences, and even expressing frustration.
When authors respond to Twitter questions from followers or thank readers for praise of their books, they come across as more authentic to anyone who happens upon the exchange online. They appear less like a distant figure and more like a human being which leaves a more positive impression on followers.
For the author, it can be gratifying to see evidence of readers benefiting from and enjoying your book that you worked so hard on for years. Social media is a way for authors to discover small moments of joyful connection with enthusiastic readers, which can help fuel your excitement for the work that you’re doing today.