Although this may not be true for every author, a large quantity of us aren’t naturally drawn to social media platforms. We were made to traverse galaxies, to begin and end ancient wars, and to craft the greatest loves as they come together and fall apart. We weren’t built to take snapshots of our food. We may not naturally have the instinct for likes and hashtags, but social media has become both an important part of building your readership and a fun way to express yourself and your love of all things ‘bookish’.
1) Why it’s important
This may be fairly obvious, but social media has become one of the best forms of self-promotion. As we’ve said before, even traditional publishing companies have become less willing to invest a big advertising budget into every single book they work with. Therefore, an author who already has a large following is a really big draw for a publisher or literary agent. This way, they already have the assurance that you’ll likely sell a decent number of book copies if they take you on as a client.
2) What platforms should I use?
If you have the time to do so, using as many different social media platforms as possible is best. They each have their own merits and will help draw in specific crowds of varying age groups. If you only have time to keep up with one type of account, however, likely the best way to connect and bond with potential fans and readers is through Instagram. Instagram users who enjoy reading (authors, readers, reviewers, literary agents, etc.) all work within a community called ‘bookstagram’ (#bookstagram). The participants in the movement are quick to help one another, give out tips, make friends with one another, and lift each other up. If you participate properly in this community, you’ll likely gain a decent following. For a breakdown of the social media platforms and their benefits for authors, check out the video below:
3) Share content and news from other authors
Once you’ve decided what social media platforms to focus on, you’ll need to come up with content ideas. One form of content common across the board for authors on social media is sharing news and content from other authors (or even bookstagram users). Share a cover reveal that excited you or a book box from a startup company that could use the support. Not only will this draw in followers who want to keep up with book-related news, but if you share content from people who are also building a following they’ll likely reciprocate.
4) Like, comment, interact, and make friends
Possibly the most important aspect of building a social media following (regardless of the platform) is interaction. You should try to post as frequently as possible (try for once a day) and update your stories with what you’re doing. When people comment on your photos or posts, try to comment back quickly and attempt to get a conversation going. This will push you up higher in other people’s feeds. In addition, spend some time each day following book-related accounts and commenting on their posts. You likely want to reach the same audience so you might pick up a few followers from the comments alone and commenting frequently and supporting other authors is how you’ll end up forming relationships/partnerships that you could use later to do a giveaway or host a Q&A together.
5) Share the books you’re reading & what you think of them
Another form of content that readers will be interested in is your current read. Keep your followers up-to-date on what you’re reading and what you think. You likely read similar content to what your book consists of, so by posting this content, you’ll attract readers who will be specifically interested in your book. Plus it’s a great way to get some good interactions going in the comments–there’s nothing readers love more than gushing about their favorite books.
6) Share sources of inspiration from your book & writing tips
Since you’re an author specifically and not your average bookstagrammer or book lover, you can provide some unique insight into the writing process as part of the content you produce. Show your readers your writing space, things that inspired certain parts of your book, and tips on writing like what you do when you have writer’s block. This sort of content will more directly relate to your book and it will both intrigue readers about your material as well as provide helpful tips that they’ll appreciate.
7) Take pretty photos of books using props
This one is more specifically geared toward bookstagram users, but could be content used across several platforms (because who doesn’t like pretty pictures of books, right?). The majority of the content across the board on bookstagram is book photography where users will set up a favorite book with a few props or book-related merchandise and take a photo. As an author, this may seem outside of your comfort zone, but luckily with advanced phone camera technology, you won’t even have to go out and buy a nice camera to make this work. Other bookstagrammers are kind enough to share tips and tricks of how they edit their photos and looking at theirs for examples will help you start to figure out what style you’d like to do on your own page(s).