The life of a beginning author is difficult. Trying to get your first story published is going to be a struggle as you go from one publisher to the next. Getting people to then actually read your work is an even harder challenge to go through.
This is why the social media for authors tactics which we will learn below are so important. If you don’t understand how to use the platform, beyond how you will use it for a personal account, you will not succeed. Let’s take a look at how to pull this off and learn some useful strategies to increase readership for your tales online and offline.
Ever since its early days, social media has been widely used by various professionals for promoting their trade. Authors, of course, are no exception. Here are some of the reasons why budding authors like you should take the time to establish your presence on social media in a professional way.
With more than 1.7 billion active users, Facebook is the largest social media site at your fingertips. Other platforms, like Twitter and Youtube, offer comparable audiences. Twitter has 320 million users, while Youtube has over a billion viewers watching its videos at any given time. All those numbers mean that there are a lot of new potential readers on social media for authors like you. The global reach of these sites also means you can get readers from places you might not be aware of.
Before, connecting with your fellow authors meant you have to travel some distance to attend conventions and other writer-related gatherings. Now, those gatherings happen online. You don’t have to leave your home or office anymore. These gatherings are also not just for the newbies. Seasoned writers also regularly interact with the budding ones. This is a great opportunity for you to learn a lot of new tricks from them.
Social media for authors can be a stepping stone to get into print. It lets you connect with publishers and send your manuscripts to them. Publishers themselves also actively seek out new writers on social media. And if that doesn’t work, there is the option of self-publishing. Social media also makes this a lot easier than before, since you don’t need to worry about publishing expenses. All you need to do is to post your stories and essays on your social media accounts and readers can go through these at their own leisure.
To get the most from social media for promoting your stories, you need to know how to effectively use each one. Here are a few strategies you can use for this purpose.
Build your community of fans
Creating an initial fan base for your work on social media is as easy as posting it on your social media account. But don’t stop there. Look for other ways that you can introduce your written tales.
Joining online writer communities is one way to introduce your work. Such groups are popular on social media. These range from more general ones to those focusing on specific genres, like the Mystery Writers of America:
These groups are frequented not only by writers, but also readers wanting to see new material. What’s more, they are not only limited to online gatherings. Many of the groups, particularly local ones, hold regular meetups where fans and supporters get to mingle.
Online writing events and contests are also a great opportunity to showcase your writing skills to a larger audience. The National Novel Writing Month, for instance, has participants write a full novel within a month. While a lot of these events have been held well before social media took off, they now have incorporated it into their programs. Some events use social media to not only give updates, but also tips and advice to participants.
Interacting with readers
Once you have your own fan base, interacting with them is important. This is more so the case with social media. The ease of connecting with their favorite writers have made fans want more of that. Author Melissa McPhail warns, though, that budding authors need to prepare themselves. McPhail says that interacting with readers online can become a tedious affair. She adds that negative commentary online can be quite biting. You have to be ready to swallow these. The author also said that engaging your readers could inadvertently change the way you write your stories, whether you want it or not. Thus, she advises that you try to take in as many of the comments as you can and incorporate these while still keeping your intended story present.
A good way for you to effectively do this is to have your fans get involved in your story writing process. For instance, create polls on your social media accounts to decide on the title of your next story. Alternately, ask them to pitch story ideas you can use for inspiration later. All of this help endear you to your fans, while still giving you the creative control over your work.
Launching your book’s promotional campaign on social media
Just like any other product, your written work needs to be promoted for it to be seen and read. As novelist Delilah Dawson notes, it is sometimes easier said than done. Dawson points out that the numerous fans you have on social media do not always translate to sales of your books. She explains that many of these are following you on the socials purely for the content you post there.
To get these followers and the larger audience to make the purchase, give them something to build the anticipation with. Preview chapters posted on your social media accounts works well for this purpose. One example is the video below provided by Facebook page Calligraffiti for writer Niels Shoe Meulman.
These previews need not always be the first chapter. Choose a more interesting scene and cut the preview right before the best part to get them more intrigued and tempted to buy their own copy just read what happens next.
Since this is social media, don’t forget about the sharing aspect. Add a share button at the end of your chapter previews. Also, always include a call for your followers to share posts about your upcoming work.
While there are dozens of social media websites available, you don’t need to try and promote on all of them. Here are the ones that you want to put more effort on, as well as some specific strategies for them.
Facebook has a lot of options for you to promote your work. For example, you can use the Notes section to publish short stories for your Facebook readers. But don’t stick with the common strategies for introducing your work to the public. Come up with inventive ways to tell your tales to Facebook readers. This will help make you stand out among the multitude of other authors on the site.
Filipino writer Jenny Ruth Almocera used Facebook to put a unique spin on her story Vince and Kath. Vince and Kath was a romance novel told primarily through the various SMS messages sent by the characters to each other. Almocera executed the concept by uploading photos on Facebook that mimic screenshots of the purported phone conversations within the story. Some sample “pages” (with translations) are shown below.
“Hi Kath!. I’ll be bold with you, hehe. Hope you’d notice me. I am Vincent. I have a crush on you, hehe”
“One of these days, I know you’ll notice me.”
“Hi Vincent. Where did you get my number?”
“Friend of a friend. I am a schoolmate of yours.”
*Image was taken from the official Vince and Kath Facebook page.
Her work proved so successful that it was eventually adapted into a printed book and a movie. Other writers also soon followed her format.
For the most part, your Twitter account will primarily be used to post updates about your work. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t get creative. Let your personality show in the way you craft your account. Popular fantasy author Neil Gaiman gives us a good example with his amusing Twitter bio:
Not only is his wit as a writer clearly visible, but you can also see the likeable personality that has endeared him to a lot of fans. This trait is also present in other aspects of his account, including his tweets, such as the ones below:
— Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) November 21, 2016
I just read "How the Marquis Got His Coat Back" as an audiobook. The Elephant's Berkoffy voice finished me. Hoarsed through the final para.
— Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) November 17, 2016
Another aspect of Twitter that writers need to be more aware of are hashtags. Hashtags are not just for riding trends. Used the right way, they can help you connect with other authors, readers, and those in your industry. Some of the most useful hashtags for authors that you would want to familiarize yourself with are:
— TheUnNovelist (@TheUnNovelist) November 24, 2016
— N. Weber-Tisserand (@N_C_Weber) November 22, 2016
— J.L. Novelli (@JLNovelli) November 22, 2016
— KaylaFioravanti (@KaylaFioravanti) November 21, 2016
— Write Pack Radio (@WritePackRadio) November 15, 2016
— Xana Marketing (@XanaMarketing) November 24, 2016
— Emily Heming (@Emily_Heming) November 23, 2016
When you use these hashtags, try using our Twitter retweets service to get noticed. You will not be the only person using these hashtags. Using this service will help your tweets stand out amongst the mass of others, giving you a chance to catch the eye of anyone looking through there.
Unlike the more general purpose tools already discussed, Goodreads is a site that specifically caters to them and their readers. The site allows users to post and share information about the books that they have read to other members. Book reviews are also a large part of the site experience.
One thing author Neal Martin tells us when it comes to using Goodreads is that you are not there to sell your books directly. Instead, you have to be more involved in the community beyond just promoting your work. Join the various groups that fit the genre your book belongs to. Talk about the titles that you like and give recommendations to others. This will help you connect with potential readers of your work.
When it comes time to promote, take advantage of the various tools the site offers. Ads and giveaways are two of the methods you can use. Goodreads also has the Author Program that provides you with specialized tools for promotion. These include a dedicated author page, where you can post information about your works and related events. You can also start a blog within the site and upload media pertaining to your books.
At first glance, Youtube might seem an odd choice of social media for authors sites. The multimedia features the site offers add a new angle on how you get to market your written work.
A particularly popular Youtube marketing strategy for authors on YouTube is creating videos of excerpts from their works. Hearing you, the author, read passages from the work adds to readers’ fascination with the whole content. To make the strategy more interesting, do public readings and capture it on video. Harry Potter author, J.K. Rowling, does this a lot in her meet and greet events:
Another way to use Youtube as a promotional tool is by doing videos chronicling your writing process. Talk about the various aspects of the work, such as how you came up with the setting and the characters. Noted physicist and popular science writer, Dr. Michio Kaku, does this in his interview with Youtube channel BookTV.
Media relations firm Media Connect adds that you can take this further and do interactive videos where you get to answer a variety of question from your readers. All of these will help build anticipation for the release of your new story or book. These types of videos can be a little bit slow to start off. People are still not quite used to interacting with authors on YouTube. Using our YouTube views service to get these videos off the ground can help you succeed quicker.
For many beginning writers, trying to convince publishers that their manuscripts are worth seeing print is no easy feat. You will likely go through several rejections before getting the nod. This is where the website Wattpad comes in for them and you.
Wattpad offers dedicated social media for authors. It lets you publish your stories, poems, essays, and other written content online. The site boasts over 45 million users, making it the largest online community for writers and readers.
Since publishing on the site is free, it has also become one of the largest hubs for independent publishers. Some of these indie writers, like Emily Benet and Dianne Greenlay, were so successful on the platform that major book houses offered them deals.
Publishing on Wattpad is easy. All you have to do is put your manuscript in the text editor, make the edits you want, hit publish, and you go live. Wattpad lets you publish stories either as a whole or in parts. It also lets you add images to the manuscript if you are aiming for an illustrated story. Lastly, you can create custom “book” covers to make your tales more enticing.
Getting your story published on Wattpad is the easy part, getting people to actually read it is not. Knowing how to market yourself and your tales on the site will help a lot in reaching out to new readers. Here are some tips on how to better market your work:
Some prominent Wattpad authors offer a few words for budding writers.
“Engage with readers because that is what they are there for. Be regular with your posts.”
-Robin Spano, Clare Vengel series
“Get your book on Wattpad’s “featured” list. More followers will come in after this.”
-David Mark Brown, Blighted Aura, Extinction Force: Contamination
“Never stop writing. It isn’t enough to upload just one or two chapters.”
-Bryony Magee, The Mind of a Young Girl
Proper use of social media for authors can greatly benefit your writing career. If you ever want this to happen you’re going to have to know how to:
So, pick up that pen or keyboard and start writing. We will be waiting for your tales online!