It doesn’t matter who you are, where you are, or what you write- as an author you want- nay, need- a social media presence. And not because you need an outlet to spam your book-selling links once they’re available… to be honest, this is the last reason you should want a social media presence (though it will be the most beneficial).
No, as an author, you want to create a brand for yourself. You want to become part of a community. You want to surround yourself with other like-minded individuals going through the same heart-wrenching experiences you are.
And through all this, people will get to know you. They will get to like you. And in knowing and liking you, you open yourself up to a world of opportunity you never imagined possible. And when you do post those book-selling links, people won’t think you’re only there to take their money.
Well, Klaus, let me explain…
1. Pick Your Poison.
With so many social media options out there, I find it best to have one primary one you are comfortable using first and branching off from there. Some people would rather type witty anecdotes in only 240 characters, while others love to make graphics and use hashtags. Whichever it is, capitalize on it, and go from there.
Personally, I’m a writer, not a graphics designer so I keep my presences more focused on Twitter than something like Instagram. Again, this is personal choice- I know plenty of authors who are comfortable at one over the other, or on both, and there’s nothing wrong with this. The endgame is building your following, and if one works better than the other, or you can maintain both to the best of your abilities, go for it!
Whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat… you’re going to find that one place that clicks best. Use it. Build it from there and the rest will fall into place.
2. Hashtag Games
The best way to grow your brand on social media is by… wait for it… being social.
And this goes beyond striking up conversation with followers leaving comments on your posts. Don’t get me wrong- one of my favorite things about social media is talking to people. I have no qualms about engaging anyone if what they’re talking about interests me. And if someone asks me a question or leaves a comment, I’m going to respond with as much enthusiasm.
Having more of a presence on Twitter, we’re going to again focus on that platform, though I know Instagram does have some monthly hashtag games for authors.
One of my favorite things to do is participate in daily line games, where a snippet of your current work is shared based upon a word or theme. For example, say if one day the theme was ‘love’ you could either CTRL+F your manuscript and find a line that has the word within it, or share something where the theme of love is encapsulate in your work.
A few of my personal favorite daily hashtag games include:
Following Free Writing Events (@writevent) on Twitter for daily updates on the themes not only for these but plenty of other hashtag games.
Another way to grow your presence is to show your followers more of who you are and what you have to provide. For Twitter, these games allow you to answer a question, or adhere to a theme, that will discuss either yourself as a writer or show your followers more insight into your current work-in-progress. A few of my favorites are #AuthorConfession and #Chance2Connect which also allows you to network with other like-minded people, and you’ll be making more connections than you ever imagined.
3. Expand Your Horizons
As I mentioned, I personally prefer Twitter over Instagram because I find writing far easy to come by than captioning graphics. Mainly, the reason for this is because I am horrible at them, and I’ll be the first to tell you this. And yet, I still try to maintain a fanbase there because bookstagrammers are a huge resource when it comes to marketing your books. And even if you can’t make a decent looking graphic, there are plenty of people out there, whether they’re friends, fellow authors, or readers, who are amazing at graphics. And sometimes you have to swallow your pride and ask for the help you need. And this is okay- you never know kind of connections you can create by simply reaching out and asking for assistance. They say it takes a village, and in the writing community is no different. What’s the worst that could happen? They’ll say no… but hey, at least they took the time to answer you. And you might even make a new contact, or find someone else they can refer to you. And all because you looked beyond what you’re comfortable doing yourself. And that’s the win!
4. Be Yourself
Just as a brand represents an author, your social media presences represents you. Yes, you want to advertise your books, but you also want people to get to know you as well. How you act on any social media account is going to show your readers and followers who you truly are beyond just your writing. Therefore, you need to be extremely careful with what you do and say if, for some reason, you don’t want it to be connected to you professionally.
At the same time, however, you can’t maintain your social media presence by merely promoting yourself. As an active member of Twitter’s #WritingCommunity nothing is more off-putting than seeing no more than self-promoting on an author’s stream. As a reader as much as a writer, if I’m following an author I want to get to know them better. I want to read their anecdotes and personal takes on current events. This doesn’t mean they need to delve deep into their personal religious and political belief systems, but anything they want to offer beyond when their next book is going to be on sale is an added benefit to following them.
But that all being said, you want to make sure that what you do put on social media, you’ll stand behind through thick and thin. Whether you want to share your personal life, your political views, your religious preferences – you need to also be sure you acknowledge and appreciate others’ opinions on the matter because I promise you, they will let you know if they don’t agree with you.
Never feed the trolls, they say. And nothing is ever truly lost on the internet. The last thing you want is something off-handed said to an internet creep to resurface while you’re on the midst of promoting your next bestseller. Just remember the Mute option is always there, and the Block option isn’t too far behind.
5. Have Fun!
Social media can be an enjoyable experience, and you can submerge yourself into it as much or as little as you prefer. Try not to look at it as an obligation, but instead an extension of your journey. Effort begets effort, and the more you maintain a presence, the more people will come to know you as an author, a person, and quite possibly, a friend.
If you’re on Twitter, my DMs are always open at @MDalto421 so feel free to come and say hi! and if you’d like to know more about social media dos and don’ts, feel free to check out these related posts:
M. Dalto is a fiction author of adventurous romantic fantasy and her bestselling debut novel, Two Thousand Years, was a 2016 Watty Award winner on Wattpad.com. She continues to volunteer her time as both a Wattpad Ambassador and a #WriteMentor mentor, where she hopes to engage, assist, and inspire new writers. She spends her days as a full-time residential real estate paralegal, using her evenings to pursue her literary agenda. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading fantasy novels, playing video games, and drinking coffee. She currently lives in Massachusetts with her husband, their daughter, and their corgi named Loki.