So I just realized that Veronica is sixteen years old this year. You know what the life span of a dachshund is? Twelve to sixteen years. She’s still eating and drinking and sleeping like a champ, but she’s moving slow. And I’m seeing another death in my future at which point I’m going to be a mess. This is your warning. So let’s talk about something else.
I need to learn about social media.
You guys are my social media. That’s it. Every now and then I dip my toe into Instagram or Twitter but it’s just for some particular short term thing. This blog is an everyday thing (even though I’ve been neglecting you horribly and I apologize, 2023 has not been good for me).
But I’m thinking I might have to up my short game if I’m going to start publishing again. Twitter is meltdown and TikTok makes me nervous plus who knows what the government is going to do there, but instagram is just short text and pictures. I like photography. I was actually a photography minor as an undergrad (art major, I was all about the pictures).
I could see posting a picture of whatever was going on in my life and tying it to the novel we’re working on now, Rocky Start. Plus I have to get back to Nita, and I’ll start collaging soon, plus there’s the ever-present dumpster. I like the idea of short, drive-by posts on the progress of the writing, and I might do that just for me (and any of you who wanted to discuss along), but otherwise, I don’t see me doing much with social media aside from sticking with all of you.
So what I want to know, Arghers, aka people who read everything, what do you think works on social media for talking about books? What doesn’t? Is it worth it? (Clearly, yes. I just don’t know if I’m any good at it.). Basically, if it’s not fun, I won’t do it, but I think Instagram might be fun. I’m fun, right? ARGH.
Please talk to me about books and social media.
145 thoughts on “So Let’s Talk About Social Media and Books . . .”
I love Instagram. It’s just about the only social media I use anymore because it is just pictures and small bits of information. It doesn’t have the political rants of other media imo cause I think it is more about the photos.
I follow a few authors on it… JR Ward and Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Ward uses it to promote her work and is heavily on it right before a release.
Susan seems to be more consistent in posting just everyday things so you get a glimpse of what she enjoys in life.
I would follow your Instagram in a hot minute!
I do a lot of social media. Which isn’t to say I’m good at it. I post a lot of cat pictures (which people seem to love). I try and support other authors, and share pictures of the books I’m reading (usually with a cat). I cross-post the same basic post on Twitter and then Instagram (which I have set to post to Facebook at the same time).
Honestly, Instagram still confuses me, and every time I think I have things figured out, they change it up again. I’m dipping my toes into TikTok in hopes of reaching a different audience, but right now I’m sort of lurking in the shadows and watching what other people do.
I try and keep to the 80/20 rule: 80 percent posts about my life, or shares from other people, or cute pictures, 20 percent book promotion. I’m deborahblake on Twitter and Facebook and deborahblakeauthor on Instagram if you want to see what I’m doing.
It’s scary when your babies get old. Hugs.
I should add that I also have a Patreon, which isn’t exactly social media, but for me has taken the place of my now mostly defunct blog. I put up short posts there a few times a week, and the people who follow me get a more in-depth glimpse into my life than people on the rest of social media do. Plus extras like a tarot Thursday post and spells for certain levels.
It’s a way to interact with people who want a slightly more personal connection, and also to support the creative people they like. It is a reasonably decent source of additional income, too.
As a reader I love Patreon. I get most of my books from the library but if I really enjoy a book I’ll support the author on Patreon. I know some Patreon supporters love heavy interaction but I’m quite happy if the author just lets me know when a new work is coming out, or does an occasional post-publication spoilerific Q&A or link to an interview.
Many of my patrons don’t seem to care if I post often, although I try to do at least a few times a week. And honestly, the folks that I support in turn, I don’t really care how much they post either.
I love Instagram. I post pictures of flowers, mostly wildflowers people don’t get to see unless they walk in the woods or out on prairies. Last year I bought a better camera and started posting occasional pictures of birds I see when I’m out.
I do a flurry of ads for books when I’m doing a release but I haven’t seen that it makes any difference. I refuse to allow commercial enterprise to ruin the joy I get from sharing little snippets of nature with people.
I took a class and the teacher recommended some things:
1) Choose three main areas (e.g. cats, flowers, kids, architecture, etc.) to focus on.
2) Select a visual theme or approach and work within it.
3) When people view your profile, they see rows of 3 pictures. Do something consistent within each row (i.e. the same feature color or filter).
Because you’re very visual, I suspect a lot of what she suggested will be instinctive for you. I’m not, so the tips were helpful.
Jeanne, I love your choice of main areas, especially when the pictures feature your adorable puppy 🙂
That is very helpful. Thank you!
Deb, I follow you on insta and I love your cat pictures 🙂
See? People don’t care about me. They just want more cat pictures 🙂
There can never be enough cat pictures. I work with cats (though many more dogs) all day and I want to come home to cat pictures!
#Booktok is huge and from what I understand can really drive sales with bookshops dedicating whole racks to booktok recommendations. There are TikToks about your books although your surname gets horribly mangled so there are more posts than you would originally think. Crusie, Cruise, Cruisie, etc.
Instagram was originally pictures and short text but they’re trying to follow TikTok and have more videos, which personally I find disappointing. Beautiful photos deserve their own home.
You could always have someone film/interview you or hire someone to talk about them for you. You don’t have to appear on camera yourself. Posts about the process or collages would be interesting.
You could send copies out to book influencers or hire a social media manager who can work their magic and post on your behalf.
We have an insta account for work and what baffles me is that our marketing team couldn’t see a pattern why some posts and reels had huge success and others even though video (supposedly more successful than just pictures) did less well.
It’s a mystery …
Hmm. Tiktok is great for books but getting banned. Twitter was great for books but is falling apart, FB is basically pay to play. Instagram has been really good for photo sharing but currently hard to use because they’re flooding the stream with ads and suggested content which makes it hard to follow the accounts you actually want to see. That said it might be the one you find worthwhile for your purposes, but also you could just post photos of whatever in progress here? I don’t know if you want to try Mastodon, which is where I’m spending my social media time these days. People complain about it being hard to use. I don’t find it so, but if you set up an account there use hashtags so people can find you/your posts. That’s how Masto’s search works. If you do set up an account you can choose the Romancelandia server to be instantly connected with romance people. My account is so old that didn’t exist so I’m on Social (you choose a server when you set up an account) Lots of book talk there and also people sharing garden photos or other hobbies.
This I will look into, thank you.
I’d heard of it as soon as Twitter started to implode, but since I’m not active on Twitter . . .
I tried Mastodon and my head exploded. You have been warned.
If you’re there, the readers will flock. I am sure of it. The thing to consider is: what’s your goal with it? For content creators who’re trying to sell something, they often chose a theme. Those authors post nothing but staged book graphics, teasers, and pics of them in their office or at signings. Others–like me–include family–dogs, kids, etc. The two keys to engagement: asking a question your followers are interested in answering and hashtags. You must remember to include hashtags! Make a bunch of them and put them in a file so you can copy and paste. As for TikTok, it’s not scary at all. If you only watch booktok and specifically the types of pages that match what you’re selling (like if you do page flips, then only watch page flip reels), then all you have to do is create short videos of that same exact content. Download the Canva app, make your videos there, then upload them to TT (add the text and book covers in the TT app, though, so TT thinks you made it there and will show it). If you want to show your face and talk, then watch only those accounts. You can talk about a funny scene you’re working on, a trope in the book you’re selling, etc. If you wanted a page devoted to the writing process, you’d focus on authortok. Keep in mind, if you want to just watch TikTok for fun, you have to open a separate account. That’s where you can watch whatever you want. In the book world on social media, success comes from hitting the tropes. It has nothing to do with dark or sexy romance. It’s about the universal fantasies specific to your books and your readers.
This is all excellent, thank you.
I’m not a fan of video, but I’m remembering that a long time ago I did animation–very minor animation–to teach writing concepts and now I’m intrigued by that.
This is making me rethink TikTok.
I really dislike spending much time on social media, so I’m not sure. I still enjoy reading author blogs best of all. Your blog, Illona Andrews, etc. Sometimes I follow an author’s or other creator’s column on Substack.
I also subscribe to email newsletters from many other authors, who don’t have blogs. The timing of these newsletters varies widely, from weekly to just when they have a book coming out, but they keep me up to date and let me know when to place orders.
Yes – email newsletters and author blog posts are how I follow authors, too. They’re occasional and to the point. See K. J. Charles, Alexis Hall or Loretta Chase.
I’m useless on marketing myself – I still haven’t done it for my website and the gardening ebook I published on it in 2014. I was intending to try Twitter and Instagram then, but I only got on to Instagram for Daily February, five years ago. I’ve stuck with it – accessing it via my browser so
I can block ads, and telling them to hide any they sneak through as ‘sponsored posts’, etc. I also only look at videos in my timeline, not the ones at the top.
I do love Instagram, and am hoping they don’t ruin it, as they seem intent on doing. I follow some interesting gardeners and photographers, plus a few Argh people, friends & family, and local artists. Apart from Deborah and Lian, no authors – and I’m following them as ‘friends’ rather than authors.
I think posting things that spark you would work. I’d avoid thinking too much about marketing: I avoid anyone who seems to be on there to sell me stuff. But I love following gardeners who are thrilled by wild flowers or pocket parks or going for a walk in the hills – so for a writer, a detail of a diner or a view or a piece of fantasy art: glimpses into what inspires them, and if you like their work will probably inspire you too.
I’d start by giving any social media channel you’re interested in a good go. You could do this via a private account. On Instagram, I found interesting people to follow by looking at who people I was inspired by were following (go to their profile and click the ‘Following’ button).
Oh, and to state the obvious: if you’re going to do it yourself, find something that’s fun for you to do. Otherwise, if you’re like me, you’ll never keep it up. (I thought I’d enjoy blogging, but it’s too much effort and I didn’t have an audience. Whereas playing with pictures is just fun.)
That’s what I thought, too.
I really do enjoy this blog, and as you can probably tell, it’s not here to market books, I just wanted a community I could hang out in, talk books and pets, and vent about writing. And then all of you showed up, and there I was.
But I’m trying to change things up, and I would like to get back to photography, so I just have to find something I think is fun.
Doing an instagram writing series with Bob might be fun, HWSW all over again.
Or just doing stuff I like at random.
Have to think of a theme. Things Jenny likes.
I agree you need to something on insta which is fun for you.
My insta is private but it only contains pics of nature, architecture and museum paintings. For me it is a visual record of what I have done on a special day as I always post pics on the same day I have taken them. Every time I visit my mum in Paris, on the first day, I go on the balcony outside my bedroom and take a pic of the Eiffel tower.
In the stories which are ephemeral I post pics of food or short videos.
I take a lot of pleasure from doing this and when one of my 24 followers likes one of my posts or stories, it’s great but it doesn’t really matter to me.
I’m absolutely no social media connaisseur, but I follow a couple of authors on instagram and what I love is when they post info regarding publication dates and when there’s a paperbook edition for books that had been issued as e-books only before.
Also, some do “looking bak” posts/reels whatever when a title has a “b’day” – was published x-years ago. It’s a great way to bring older titles back into focus.
I love pictures/what inspired the author – I do remember your moodboards and other authors did similar posts (mainly blog posts) and info on how authors (also sometimes readers on Goodreads) picture their characters or get their inspiration from is nice even though everyone of us creates a unique picture of beloved characters in our mind.
Some authors even have a similar question to your GBT – at the end of each week Nicky James (iirc) usually asks what are you reading this weekend. It’s sometimes nice to scroll through the replies and to reply myself.
It’s not like GBT, but it’s nice.
What I really don’t like is authors re-posting reactions of readers to their or other readers’ posts, but that’s just me. I guess it’s nice to see how many readers reacted to a post, but it’s less exciting for me as reader/follower to read this. Just my 2 ct.
Oh, I like the idea of celebrating book birthdays.
Instagram is the only social media format I can tolerate other than author or knitting blogs.
I can sort posts on “Following” so I am not bombarded by all the pseudo-TikTok videos that seem to be IG’s future.
I am the furthest thing from a social media maven. I’m on Facebook and this blog and that’s pretty much it. What I notice is that I follow a few authors on Patreon and I sign up for a lot of authors’ newsletters which that’s how I learn about upcoming books, etc.
I’d never even thought of Patreon until Deb mentioned it. Must look into that.
Email me. I’m not an expert by any means (a friend had to talk me into it when I had cats who were dying in very expensive ways) but I find it more rewarding than most other things.
I’ve found a lot of author/reader interaction happens on Facebook. I prefer NOT to visit and have had to train myself to just scroll down through ads, but it has proved to be a good space to learn about new books and find readers.
Facebook is where I get the most actual interaction (by a lot), although their algorithm has been changed so that people hardly see anything that is actually promotion (because FB wants you to pay for that).
That’s why they threw me off FaceBook. Most of my posts were pointing to my blog, because the blog gave me room to expand. They called that a violation of the terms of service.
I just rejoined so I can see my relatives’ FB pages, https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100091637657395
When they asked me for a page name…
That’s interesting – it’s exactly how I planned to use Facebook. Good job I never got round to it.
I know authors who make regular use of FB to talk up their books and con appearances and what-not. Marion G Harmon has a WordPress blog site marionharmon.com and an FB page http://www.facebook.com/wearingthecape .
He’s found more on Facebook these days, updating far more often than his original page. There are links on either site to the other site, but his posts don’t send you from one to the other.
Gary, are we related? Because this variety of smart ass-hood looks like something my brother or I could have done.
My generation of my family are all rectally intelligent and tend to attract friends of similar bend.
Love the page name, Gary!
Facebook used to be where I got most interaction, and I still get a bit. But the algorithm hates any external links, so it’s really hard to tell people about stuff that’s not somewhere else on FB. And my posts seem to be getting less and less traction.
I think Instagram would work for you really well. You can post the pictures you want to post and promote books. Also, there are several bookstsgrammers I follow who refer to yours books sometimes when talking about their faves so I think you’d be very popular there
This and Facebook, nominally, are my social media. I love this blog, and the people I’ve met here. I hope you can figure this out without having to spend a lot of time and energy on it. Social Media can be a real time-waster and morale buster, at times. I love that the people here are kind, thoughtful, have interesting jobs and hobbies, and are willing to share their innermost thoughts, at times. Good luck with your plans.
So I used to manage social media professionally (instagram, twitter, and facebook) for a few different clients, and one of the things to be aware of is that people are interested in different content based on their relationship to you. So if you’re my real life friend, you can post anything and I’ll like it. If you’re an artist I admire, I’ll like anything you post that’s interesting and unfollow you if you’re not interesting often enough. If you’re a bigger organization or corporation with more power in the industry, I’ll approach every post with a grain of salt because I assume you’re trying to sell me something, and hold you to a higher standard if you say something problematic. In short: someone might give you a recommendation based on what works for their own personal social media. It might totally work for your professional one — but it also might not. Professional social media is its own beast.
Ok! Now some general things to keep in mind when posting:
– Frequency: you don’t have to post every day, but in an ideal world you’re posting at least three times a week. If you notice your post gets more interaction at certain times of day (say, when you post around lunch time) you might want to try to keep posting at that time. But if that’s not realistic, then post whenever.
– Scheduling: Like blogging, you can schedule posts if you have a professional account. I do it through my facebook account since facebook and instagram are now linked. There may be other ways, but I don’t know about them.
– Helping people find your posts: The algorithm changes constantly, but generally videos and photos of faces do better than say, photos of nature. (That said, I stick to photos that mostly don’t have my face because I value privacy more than likes right now). Engagement can also help a post in the algorithm, so if someone leaves a comment on your post, you liking their comment and responding to it can help it have a higher chance of showing up in more people’s feeds. Using hashtags can also help people find your post (i.e. #bookstagram, #writersofinstagram, #writinglife, etc.) but you don’t want to use too many. Just add between 4 – 8 hashtags at the end of the text for whatever you’re posting. You can delete a post if you want to, but if you delete too many of them, that can also hurt you in the algorithm.
– Bookstagram: There’s thriving community of amateur book reviewers on instagram. People tend to pair a gorgeous photo of the book they’re reading (arranged artistically with a nice background, possibly some props) with a short one or two paragraph review. Since you already share posts about books you love on this blog, I could see mixing some reviews for books you love into your posting schedule.
– The grid: So most people will see your posts in their timeline, so you want to create posts that look good as standalones. At the same time, if someone clicks through to your instagram, they’ll see all your photos together (called your grid). If your grid looks nice as a whole (cohesive colors and filters, nice variation of photos, etc.) it can give the impression that this is a good account to follow
– Building followers: In addition to telling people in real life and on other platforms (us! yay!) to follow you once you have your handle, you can also help people follow you by doing partnerships with other accounts with shared interests. For example, if Bob had an instagram (somehow I doubt this…) you could both post something about the book you’re working on together and encourage your followers to follow each other. Following people you like and commenting on their posts can also be a good way of letting people know you exist on the platform.
– Post topics: Honestly, this isn’t that much different than what you do on here, just shorter + with a photo. Working Wednesdays, Good Book Thursdays, and Happiness Sundays would all work on instagram. Behind-the-scenes stuff about the books you’re writing would also work (the character collages you make; a photo of your writing materials + a line about what you’re working on today, etc.). Pet photos are great. Shows you’re watching that you love.
– Nuance/ content moderation: If your instagram gets big (since you’re a fancy bestselling author and all) it will probably be harder to have nuanced, good faith discussions in the comment section the way we can here. On instagram, it’s easier for your post to come across the timeline of someone who has no idea who you are. Pros — that’s a great way to discover new people on the app. Cons — If your post rubs them the wrong way, they may react poorly in the comment section, and now it’s a thing and you have to decide how/if you want to engage with them. I tend to stick to things that either I see as important black and white issues worth sticking my neck out for (i.e., bookbanning is wrong) or fun, interesting posts you don’t need context for (i.e., fun post about the book I’m working on).
Instagram stories: A story is a post that goes away after 24 hours. Because of that, people often use them for sillier, less artistically perfect stuff (say, a photo of a ridiculous drink you got, or a slightly unflattering picture of you and a friend that you want to share, but don’t want on the internet forever). You can also share someone else’s stories, which means that if you had something you were trying to promote, (a class you’re teaching or a book you’re selling) you could post about it in your insta stories, then message your friend and ask them to share your story promoting your thing.
Instagram reels: A short video feature introduced to help Instagram compete with TikTok. I have no wisdom to offer here, but it’s another tool you can use if videos are your thing. In general, before you make a video google what the length limit is for whatever feature you want to use to post the video, so you don’t get awkwardly cut off mid-video when you upload.
Sorry if this is stuff you know already! I never know what level to start at when people ask for social media advice.
Bob DOES have an Instagram account! Here’s the link https://www.instagram.com/sifiauthor/
Um, that is DELIGHTFUL. Followed.
Thanks Deb. I’m following him now. I also read his movie / program reviews on Medium which is like a email newsletter with various contributers.
This sounds like really thoughtful advice, Cate. I shall nick it in case I ever get round to doing any marketing.
This is fabulous. Thank you SO much!
Thanks for all that information, Cate. I’m a miserable marketing flop – but after reading this, maybe there’s something even I can make work.
Very grateful for everyone’s perspectives – thank you! Just attended a nonfiction writing conference where building a social media platform for marketing/selling your book was part of the content. These Argh community suggestions all were mentioned.👍
The conference presenters said just having 1-2 outreaches would work (this blog really counts as one already!) and focus on the social media platforms your target audience uses.
They loved video like YouTube for those readers who want to know how you do it. (Not-so-subtle pitch for Jenny teaching.) Posting a short iPhone video (steadied on a tripod) can work so it doesn’t have to be elaborate.
Booktok video is very popular with millennials and Gen Z readers.
For those who like to talk, short podcasts were suggested or conversing about the book on a friends podcast.
Facebook for more mature audiences and Instagram leans toward millennials.
Finally, if you have an agent, the agent can suggest which platforms are the places where your audience is found.
Best wishes to everyone – social media is one of the places where my personal marketing challenges reside😊.
Hope 2023 gets better and better for all of us!
I do enjoy the – usually very short – videos people post in my timeline on Instagram. I feel closer to those who do this – rather as I do to people here who use a headshot gravatar.
Thank you, Jane, great idea about using headshot gravatars to help people connect. Time for me to let go of being shy about being seen.
Rookie question ~ to make an avatar for posting on blogs, is registering with gravatar the way it is done? Thank you!
Yes: it’s pretty simple – and then it follows you round the internet, wherever gravatars are welcomed. I only post elsewhere once in a blue moon, so it’s always a surprise when I pop up in person.
Yay – it worked! Hello!
I have loosely followed a couple of authors on Facebook but it seems like these communities are aggravating to moderate. The authors have an assigned person to screen posts, they don’t do it themselves, and people post complaints that their comments are not being posted and they are leaving the group in a huff. Also posters get into squabbles amongst themselves sometimes and get their feelings hurt. I am visiting facebook less and less. I have blocked so many of the mainstream ads that I now get strange niche ads, but still a lot of them. I would not sully yourself with facebook at this declining stage in its empire.
That said, there is a lot of traffic on those sites. Instagram seems more graceful, less personal and doesn’t seem to generate the quarrels; it is now owned by facebook however. My author friend who loathes media stuff does only instagram. You could post pics of your collages; promote past books as well, since many readers would be new.
When my kids wake up (noon?), I will ask them- I think they do like tiktok and it is international and younger demographic. Personally I don’t think any ban will stick for long.
Instagram is great. Much less of the nasty sparky bullshit that FB is notorious for. Every social media platform has its trolls but IG is pretty calm. So easy to post a pic or 10, a sentence or two of caption, the correct hashtags and you’re done. I’ve been on it for prolly 10 yrs and it’s all I use. I refuse to do anything owned by goofball Elon and am wary of Tiktok. It’s easy enuf to try IG and delete it if it doesn’t suit. Many wonderful authors have IG accts, you should join them!
I’m a millennial who avoids social media like the plague, but I recently created an instagram just to post pics of my trip (after which I will promptly forget about and neglect it until the next trip) for people to follow. I can confidently say that I hate the platform — it’s given me so many headaches and is terrible at doing its basic functionality, i.e., posting photos to the internet. I’ve had the app crash on me more times than I can count or just kind of spaz out where I lose all the progress I’ve made on a post. Sometimes I’d make a folder to group photos together to post them together (because at one point instagram jumbled all the photos on my camera roll so they were out of order even though they seemed to be in order in my camera roll, so I had to pre-sort the photos into folders to even find them), and instagram makes it really hard to scroll all the way to the bottom and select the photos on the bottom row. Sometimes if I’d swipe a little too hard in a direction it didn’t like, it would change the type of post I was posting, effectively erasing all my progress. It doesn’t let me do full length portrait photos, but it does let me do full width landscape photos, but you have to set the zoom of the first one for the zoom you’ll want on all the others before selecting all the others because that sets the aspect ratio of the entire post. I’d usually upload 10 photos per post (the limit, which is maybe the problem, but if they can’t handle processing photos at the limit they themselves set, then they should lower the damn limit to a number they can handle), and if you make too many edits on the photos or try to use different filters for different photos, you run the risk of losing the post. At one point they locked me out of my account without any warning because I was posting too frequently.
I’ll stop there, but basically I have many grievances when it comes to instagram and I hate it with a fiery passion. This being said, I imagine you’d be posting quite differently from how I would (under the limit, much less frequently, etc.). I think other people have made good points, especially about demographic you’re targeting and what you want out of your social media postings, but I just wanted to let you know some of the frustrations I’ve had with the platform itself in case it might save you some aggravation.
I think you’re right, Zoe: to make using Instagram as easy as possible, I’d recommend not posting more than a handful of images at a time, and ideally sticking to their preferred square format. Horizontal images end up very small on phone screens, and IG have started cropping vertical ones unpredictably. I’m told you need to stick to 5:4 format (that of a Victorian viewfinder camera, so ever so slightly obscure . . . )
I also do all my editing of images outside Instagram – using Snapseed on my iPad if they’re phone pictures, or my usual editing program (Lightroom) if I’ve taken them with a camera.
Social media is in huge flux right now, so what works now is bound to change, and much of what CateM said will hold true in general terms. (Great info, CateM!)
The best advice I’ve ever heard and wish I remembered where: concentrate on just the social media that you actually enjoy, rather than trying to do a bit of everything.
I like Instagram, but Meta is making it too much like Facebook, making it harder to find the accounts I follow and force-feeding me an algorithm-chosen collection. (Plus, they’ve withdrawn their financial support for a lot of creators.) As a user, I can switch to “following” on the app for IG (just like I can switch to “most recent” on FB), but I can’t seem to switch it on my desktop browser, which is really annoying. And it has to be switched every single time (like on FB, the default is the algorithm-chosen feed, not the user-chosen feed).
Twitter of course is in meltdown, which is the other social media I like, mostly for non-book-related stuff, since it’s where all the science and patient advocacy happens.
Don’t get me started on FB groups. Huge, huge time sink. Lots of phishing spammers to deal with.
I’m baffled by your problem, Gin. I’ve always used Instagram via my Safari browser – mostly on my iPad, but also on my Mac. If I wander off to look at someone else’s profile, I just tap the home icon to get back to my feed. I’ve got Apple’s built-in ad blocker turned on, plus ad blocker apps that predated it on each device. I just refresh the Instagram tab I have permanently open in Safari.
I find if I choose ‘Hide’ and then ‘it’s irrelevant’ for every sponsored/suggested post, they leave me free of them for a week or two before they try again.
There are two feeds for “home” now. One is the horrible new algorithm-driven one, and it’s the default, so they don’t even tell you there’s another option. You have to know to tap on the instagram name in the upper left corner (if you’re using the app, not desktop, which ONLY gives you the crappy algorithm one), and it will give you the dropdown menu with the options of “following” or “favorites.” (Yeah, they made this change without telling anyone, and you may have noticed that what used to be “suggested posts” are now just thrown in willy-nilly.) I should choose some favorites and just use that option, but haven’t yet, so that feed is empty. Instead, I click on “following” in the dropdown menu, and then I get the accounts I actually follow in chronological order. Otherwise, they don’t all show up in the default feed, and it’s in order of popularity instead of chronological.
Oh dear. Must be something they’ve inflicted on their home market first. I daresay we’re doomed in the UK too.
I love Instagram. I visit FB less and less. I love following authors on IG. Love Deb Blakes books, cats, etc!
I have a friend who promotes his paintings on IG. He posts once a week on Saturdays. That appears to also be the time he reacts to other people’s posts.
I think IG could be a fun edition to your blog.
I would certainly follow you but then I’d also follow you down a creepy alley in the dead of night!
That’s so sweet, Judy (g).
I like instagram, and follow several authors and bookish/bookstagram accounts. Lots of pretty pictures, book recommendations and the like. I think that Alexis Hall does it well, if you are looking for examples.
I have dipped a toe recently into tiktok because I was frustrated with the return I was getting from Instagram. I get a lot more views, but I don’t really like video format. Stills are better for me. Also the potential banning. Unfortunately their algorithm seems a lot more stable. Insta gets changed all the time and what used to work doesn’t and then you have to try to figure out what they want now…
Still, it’s a mostly friendly, positive platform. I get a fair amount of spam, people trying “collaborate” with me, or free iphones that I have won. I block and report them with abandon. But I have made friends there, found good artists and gardeners and poetry. It’s pretty low key. I try to post daily, but I am also trying to drive traffic to my etsy shops.
For me, Alexis Hall’s feed is too focused on marketing; but it’s interesting to see what – perhaps – is effective for other potential readers.
It has become a lot more self-promotional. I miss his blog. But I think that he is still a good example of not being annoying about it. Plus sometimes we get to see the angry duck stuffie, which is hilarious.
I think that’s a conscious choice because he guards his privacy so intensely.
and even though he has a social media manager / assistant to do the actual pain in the ass posting part of it, content of ANY kind takes time, and since the raison d’etre is books, time allocation has to favor writing books. 🙂
I was also going to suggest looking at Alexis Hall’s Instagram. https://instagram.com/quicunquevult?igshid=YmMyMTA2M2Y=
He posts a lot of different kinds of posts: news, fan art, his reviews of books he likes, press for his books, photos of the ducks, photos from his walks, stuff related to his book covers, snippets, other bonus materials, etc. I don’t love all of it, and it has been getting more self promotional, but you could find a lot of inspiration there. If you go back to January 2022, he did an anti-Advent calendar that had a lot of different stuff, like deleted or alternative screens, giveaways, recipes, etc. You already have a lot of extras you could share, like the collages, etc. to draw from.
Check out Sassylassiedesigns on Instagram -designer of children’s book at Prince Edward Island publisher who worked with me-I think she does Instagram well. She puts up some colourful image most days, her artwork, seaside walk with her dog, promoting her new book, showing her studio- little windows into her world that people like to see. If you click on her name you get a collage of all her recent posts to get overall impression.
My son woke up, he says just do Instagram. Tiktok is difficult and specialized- he says those who succeed in getting a large following there are carefully working the algorithm and making viral- worthy eye-catching videos.
Instagram is pretty easy, an example of a painter I like who makes lavish use of hashtags is blusmithgallery. I am lisa dianne brouwer on Instagram.
Or apparently brouwer61
Lisa, I just requested to follow you, I’m angiemgcaughlin.
I’m curious how Tumblr fits into the social media promotion spectrum. It’s the only social media platform I’m on, other than Facebook, and it’s very random, but I encounter a fair number of posts or commentary by Neil Gaiman and Duane Duane.
I know nothing about social media. But I was wondering about Emily. Do you have any clue about her age? Would she be willing to move with you, or is she too attached to the neighbourhood?
Emily is a house cat now. She’s had two years of designer cat food, fresh water, heat and air conditioning, cactus-shaped cat trees, and a bay window to survey the neighborhood. She now spits on the outdoors, which since the was a stray for several years, she’s had enough of. She’ll be the first one in the car when we move.
Also I’d take her even if she didn’t want to go. She’s my cat.
I see, you are an enlightened despot to your subject pets!
Also, Instagram is great for finding more of what you like. Shoes for example.
Tammy, I am drooling over these.
I drool over those because I follow the_sewlo_artist on Insta. She makes her own Edwardian and Victorian style clothing and she’s in love with those shoes.
This blog is the only thing I follow on social media (if this is called social media — at the very least, it’s online and it’s social-ish….).
In the 1990’s, I posted to a group on AOL that was full of smart interesting people, but the more I came to hear about Steve Case and the billions he was supposedly earning from a medium that was getting more and more complicated, the less I liked it.
I don’t go to Twitter because I can’t stand Elon Musk; I avoid Facebook entirely because I can’t stand Mark Zuckerberg, and I don’t buy books or anything else from Amazon because… yes, Jeff Bezos. If it sounds like I’m not fond of multibillionaires, hey — don’t shade me because, like free speech, right to publish, it’s a free country, great wealth is earned, not inherited… um, is that right? I might need to think about that….
Seriously, I will click on Instagram links from trusted folks here, and I would undoubtedly click on yours, Jenny, if you go that direction, but I still don’t like publication-via-algorithm and I can’t stand the idea of ‘media influencers’ as a population given more weight than ordinary folks.
I’m an old fossil, though, so pay no attention to me, youngsters. You guys are the future.
You might appreciate the cozy mystery series I’m pitching (and getting bizarre rejections on; sigh) — a social media influencer comes to a small town to wreak havoc and is promptly murdered.
I’ll buy it.
Ha! Now THAT’s an incentive!!
Sometimes I wonder if blogs/personal websites will rise again, because all the platforms are unstable.
It does seem as though people are searching for something new.
The problem with blogs is that they’re long form, and the trend seems to be toward pictures and video. I told Mollie I’d only do a sentence or two on Insta and she said, “Nobody will read it. It’s all about the pictures.”
I think people use websites for information not community. My website has no interaction, but it does have a link here, and this is all interaction.
Blogs can be short, too – I’ve seen a couple artists who just post a picture with a caption.
I swear that I signed up for Twitter because Jenny said years ago that she might do a short story in twitter posts (she didn’t and who can blame her). I signed up for Instagram for Working Wednesdays and only use from my PC, so pretty useless and unused for anything else. I only FB to stay in touch with about 10 people who would otherwise disappear from my life, so I can add nothing useful except that apparently 2/3 of my social media interaction is JC driven. No, wait, 3/4 – it was a Jenny pinterest post that started me there, too!
This blog is pretty much the only thing I follow consistently.
I use Facebook–mainly to keep connected to family members–and have followed authors there in the past, but slowly dropped those whose posts just felt like “buy my books” ads. I follow Loretta Chase there because she posts so much interesting information and because she’s Loretta Chase 🙂 and a few who post pictures (waving at you Jeanne).
What exactly is it that you would want to get out of an increased social media presence? Clarifying that might help you decide where best to focus your efforts. Also, of the options out there, what sounds like it would be the most fun for you? Because if it feels like a chore for you to do it, either you won’t want to consistently do it, or that feeling might come across in your posts/tweets/whatever.
I know more about what I don’t want to know.
I don’t want to bomb people with sales talk.
I don’t want to post every damn day.
Pretty sure I don’t want to do videos or long captions.
Mostly, I think, I’d like to do pictures with short captions. This is what I’m working on, this is what Veronica and Emily are doing, this is a collage I’m working on, here’s my latest diner lunch, here’s a poem I love, a song I’m using in the WIP, a picture of an apron the main character is wearing, her recipe for lasagna, something that’s happening with the Lavender books . . .
Basically, anything appeals to me.
I’d also kind of like to look back on some of the things I did before, like the Whitewall posts I did with the animations or a captioned classic painting I posting on Twitter a couple of years ago, some old photos of the dogs in the past, that kind of thing.
So I’m soaking up everything you’re saying, all of you.
I do think you’d be a natural fit for Instagram. And one of the things I like about it is the sporadic timing of people’s posts – there may be a rash of them if they’re doing something interesting, or they may not post for weeks or months.
That all sounds perfect. Mine your past blog posts for content too e.g. soundtracks for your books, recipes, etc. The posts don’t need to be lengthy. You can schedule the posts in advance. No idea how to do this myself but CateM might.
I’d certainly follow you. That kind of thing sounds great.
That all sounds fantastic!
Have you considered doing a non- fiction book on writing? You have a lot of material on here already to draw from.
You could put a particular slant on it to suit your strengths, dialogue and character in particular think you are an expert at. And your narrative voice is very pleasant to read – you could write just about anything and it would be a smooth ride
I’ve been working on it for ten years, but it’s low priority, so maybe dropping bits of it on insta or Patreon would be a possibility. I have tons of stuff.
You can add a link in your bio (temporarily) when you want to offer people more info. (Presumably Instagram won’t let you add links in your captions – it’s not something I’ve tried to do.) I don’t often follow these up, since it involves clicking away from my timeline, but it’s always nice to know there’s more if I want – and you’ve got a lot of stuff on your website you can point to.
There’s actually a great thing you can put in your bio on Instagram that gives you the option for multiple links (to your blog, to a book that’s on sale, other places online, your website). It’s called LinkTree and it is easy enough even I figured out how to use it.
Then if you want to post a link, you just say “Link in bio” and when people go to your bio, they can click on it.
This is the way.
I agree with those who’ve said it depends on your goals.
My experience with social media is limited, but I think overall for authors each platform is an opportunity for community. If that’s your goal and you have time for it, it could be a nice complement to your blog.
As for Insta in particular, I’ve only been on it for about a year and most of what I learned about how it works (both practically and behind the scenes) I got from watching Youtube videos by a savvy women who goes by the name Modern Millie. I found her experience and guidance the fastest, easiest way to learn.
For a well-known author, I think IG provides a nice way for current readers to feel connection to you while also increasing your visibility for new readers, which may allow you to reach a new audience (but that may be a secondary by-product more than an immediate avenue to more sales if that was your goal).
Most authors I’ve observed taking off via social media do so mostly in a random way when a super popular book blogger discovers them and that person’s postings generate wide exposure. Another way is when a book with a good launch catches on and readers begin posting about the book thereby generating engagement and excitement for the book. (A good example is the Finlay Donovan series where readers starting copying the cover image and taking their own pics of themselves or even pets in the “turtleneck pose” from the book.)
Recently, I listened to a pocast with an interview with author Jane Green and she talks very frankly about her publishing experiences and how she’s currently pivoting into serialized podcasts for her stories (rather than as books). But she also mentioned how she has an Insta where she posts about her home life (which seems to be popular) because she enjoys it, but despite its popularity it’s not an avenue to big book sales for her.
So again, it’s really about goals. I have enjoyed having my Insta but only because I don’t depend on it for anything other than a place to share bits about myself with readers and only occasionally post about a book sale or something. [Case in point, yesterday I posted a book cover question for an audiobook I’m in the process of doing and my post got crickets (as in no one answered my poll question). Whereas sometimes I’ve posted nature pics that get more interest.] One observation I can share, though, is that I still find it gets different engagement than my FB page, so it would seem that some folks are only on one or the other. So if you only want to do one, it’s important to know where the majority of your audience prefers to spend their time.
Good luck with it:)
I follow my favourite authors on Twitter, but find the app is becoming cumbersome. I won’t go on Facebook. I have found a lot of new authors from listening to podcasts such as The Book Reporter, You’re Booked, Book Off, The Book Case, World Book Club, Books and Authors, The Penguins Podcast….
I use only fb. It’s a time suck and I’d get rid of it but I like being in touch with long time friends. I knew Twitter or IG would waste my day. I’ve learned to control my algorithm by only posting about books, gardening and funny memes. So I don’t get much political crap unless authors I follow load up. That’s very tiring. It lessens if you never like or reply to things. Meta/z burg owns fb, Instagram, WhatsApp and many other companies, just so you know. I suggest you partner with other authors for fun fb live videos, interviews etc. and once you are close to publishing a book, start a fb presence to encourage pre sales and backlist sales. Hire an admin if you can. Authors who seem really organized about this stuff are SEP, Jayne Krentz, Christina Dodd, Eloisa James, Kristin Higgins, Vivianne Lorret, Jill Barnett (who self publishes now, I think), Julie Anne Long, and Bob, of course, and his pups.
I don’t use Instagram, TikTok or any other social media except FB, which I use to keep up with family and friends. I’m usually about 5 years behind the times technologically; my sister got me my first cordless phone years after they became popular! I do follow a couple of podcasts and YouTube blogs. If you gave up this blog and went to instagram instead, I would be very disappointed. I know I could sign up for it, but I really don ‘t want more media to keep up with.
I’m not giving up Argh; this is home base. It will go on as long as I do.
This is just trying something else to play with. You will never have to go there.
If you go on Instagram. I’ll definitely go there!
What are you goals for using social media?
I’m one of those terminally online ADHD weirdos, who’s interested in everything and will converse with anyone, so for me, the fast text feeds work well: Twitter, and now that that’s become a shit-show, Mastodon. The wandering.shop Mastodon instance is full of writers, so that’s a nice place to start (and I’m happy to snag an invite code for that specific server, though you can follow people from any other Mastodon instance generally)
I’ve a bit of a loathing for any service that doesn’t let you post links to things. That nixes Instagram for me; and Tiktok too. Tiktok too is very asymmetric. The people who do well there are producing videos, with significant effort. It’s not a medium to meet peers; it’s a medium to have an audience.
It really does depend on goals, though. Cultivating peer relationships is different than gathering an audience is different than casually participating in groups.
And then not usually called ‘social media’ but totally are are Discord and Slack chat groups.
There’s also a matter of style: posts and feeds, or chat? Groups or individual to individual?
All excellent questions.
I haven’t had a book out for over a decade, so this is like a new author launch. I think more than anything, it’s just to say, “Yo, I’m not dead.”
But I also used to have fun here, before my life pancaked like everybody else with the pandemic and then 2023 is really kicking me, and I still have fun reading the comments but the posts are mostly put here so I can read the comments. I used to Random Sundays and writing posts like the Questionables, and dog posts, fun stuff. Instagram appeals because I’d just do pictures and one-liners.
Really, I’m thinking about it, trying to figure out if it would be (a) fun, (b) interesting for people to look at, (c) good for the career. In that order of priority.
Instagram won’t allow links? Jeez.
I’ve seen plenty of links in Instagram, but I think where and how they can be added is limited. I bet there are tutorials on how to add them on YouTube. I only follow a few people and rarely post anything myself, but if someone as uninvolved as me has seen so many links, it must not be too difficult.
See my comment above about Linktree. People just have to go to your bio to get to your links. It’s annoying, but it works.
Style is an interesting question.
Argh is short essays, comment prompts three times a week, and talking about the books I’m working on, not to sell them but to think aloud with people who are interested in writing. And getting beta reads.
I’m thinking about Instagram because I could do photos with short captions, sort of drive-by postings, that wouldn’t have a follow up. The box of chocolates kind of thing, instead of the hamburger that is Argh.
Patreon might be writing instruction. I have the old blog that I took down that had good posts on it. I could try that. I don’t think a lot of people read it.
So style: all over the place.
(My agent just told me very sweetly while adding that I’m a brilliant writer that I might want to scale back on my voice a little. Style, I got too much of.)
If you ever want to add a beta reader to your list please consider me. I would love to beta for you!
Be careful what you wish for. There are people who have been beta-ing for me for years who are probably ready to scream (and thank you Deb Blake, Sue Danic, Corrina Lawson, and Anne Stuart). Especially since the last time they got hit with three books instead of one.
I’m game! I’ve read all of your fiction, and literally every page of this blog. Ditto the original HWSW and the revivals. I’ve been combing through your structure and plot posts for the umpteenth time as I work on this silly project of mine. I’d be delighted. Please feel free to email me if you ever need another set of eyes <3
Beta-ing for you is easy. I like reading your stuff. Call on me any time.
I have to say this hurts my heart because I love your style. I have never read anything you wrote and thought – that’s too much Jenny. This seems like one of those new & improved things that are really not improved.
Smart Bitches did a recent podcast about BookTok:
Digital media wonk, here, although I ditched it 4 years into my PhD for CogNeuro. I’ve been digging into author platforms (APs) as I’m setting up to launch a book this summer/early fall, so most of this is audience focused. Feel free to skip/skim/ or cherry pick, as you wish!
-Newsletters remain the best way for authors to publicize books. This matters later on in the list.
-Goodreads is the current top performing AP for reader reach, book promotion, book review gathering, and author collaboration. It’s owned by AMZ, and when AMZ reviews reach 100, AMZ imports author’s worldwide reviews and GR reviews, skyrocketing the review numbers.
This in turn has led to increases in their AMS Ad revenue and GR Giveaway revenue. But 1k+ reviews boost sales, and GR really is the best way to get reviews. Not only can readers reach out to authors really easily, but they can follow authors, see what they’re reading, what they want to read, see all of their reviews, etc. Authors can collaborate on giveaways, in groups where they answer beginner questions, etc.
There are also private groups that some authors have created to share info, but they’re not searchable. There are semi-private groups where readers have to request access, and usually only those who are part of the Street team, etc are allowed in. So it’s kind of a status leveraging thing. But it’s a good community to have at least some presence in, if only because that’s where the readers hang out.
There are a few groups that talk writing, none on the level you do. I think you’d do very well if you wanted to start a public group and seeded it with your plot, character, and structure posts. The groups are divided up by sections, sections have folders, folders have threads, and the threads stay open until the admin closes them. So conversations happen linearly, but with time jumps. It’s a lot like kboards, if you ever spent any time over there.
-Facebook is next best for reader reach, the new(er) group function allows for groups to have pages, so topics can be organized that way, and the topics stay evergreen, unlike most blog templates where it stops being possible to add questions after a set period of time. And of course there are private and semi-private groups as well.
FB won’t allow promotion of most off-site media, so sharing blog posts from offsite only works if you also post a short video that is FB only with the verbiage. Or you can post an original blurb there, and no link, but mention that there’s more on your blog. It’s worth remembering that FB is the single largest media platform on the planet, with 2.7 billion users, so…if you want to gather in new people, it’s the place to be.
There are also TONS of author pages, so it’s easy to get lost in the crowd, but you can ask writer friends to share the existence of your page, which, for those who’s been active in conferences, etc., means building a base can be fast and easy. Those of us who are new to publishing are kinda on the struggle bus.
FB has massively monetized posts, but they are also creating partnerships with vendors that can be linked to, and you can also share content from those vendors to your FB page. FB owns IG, so you can double dip that way, and Rafflecopter is a popular means for getting around paying for post promotions when you’re trying to share updates on book releases, etc. In other words, you put your money into gift cards, instead of FB ads. But readers like winning, and will share your posts, so it works to increase visibility.
FB also has integration with at least one of the big newsletter host companies, and it can clone your NL subscriber list, allowing authors to target readers who share interests with the current reader list. It’s a slick way to find people who are like the people who love your stuff, and in terms of community building, readership building, and sales conversion, it’s brilliant. It only takes about $10 in ad spend with this type of an audience to make a difference in a book launch. BUT:
You need *at least 1k in followers* to be able to do this effectively. When it comes to ad spend, this is pretty much the gold standard (the location, not the amount). The amount can be really small. This is why I get pissed off at all the people selling ad courses who DON’T FREAKIN’ MENTION THIS TO THEIR PAYING CUSTOMERS. Scammers gonna scam, I guess.
-Instagram is next up, but it’s owned by FB, and FB pretty much borked the algos when it took over. It went from being super chill to bombarding users with irrelevant bs. My tolerance of intense visual stimuli is v low, between ASD and dyslexia. I get overstimmed on there now. Your tolerance may be higher. I did see a rec from someone (sorry, kind stranger, I’m horrible with names, and if I scroll up now, I’ll lose the train, the station, and the entire originating city) about how to return to the old feed, so it might be possible to bypass the avalanche.
Authors do like to follow other authors on there, but I’ve never seen a convo between any, unlike GR. Occasionally people who are friends off IG share each other’s promos, but that’s pretty rare. Also, while you can set profiles to private, the only way to have a group convo on IG is to set up a chat room. That’s an icky format, much like FB messenger.
On the plus side, Bookstagrammers seem to prefer that authors NOT be on IG. I’m guessing that this is because they run the risk of audience members following the author, leaving the reviewer in the dust. It’s also worth noting that TikTok and IG have tremendous overlap. In fact, all of the major Booktokers (that always looks like someone smoking a book) also have a Bookstagram.
It’s easy to get started on IG, and if you’re looking for a quiet place to share visuals, might work well. It’s a bit wrestley the first couple of times you upload, but once you figure out the quirks, it’s easy. Set your preferences, and most phones have a thing you can turn on that auto uploads your pics, if you’re into that (and not into taking nudes).
-TikTok is a little harder to get any visibility. If you enjoy videos, I think it’s probably pretty great. But the people I know who are on TT spend HOURS daily filming, filtering, editing, soundscaping, etc. to keep their output up. I don’t have the time. Again, Booktokers seem to like it when authors don’t do a lot on the platform.
*Both BookTokers and Bookstagrammers can be easily reached through a good PR company. Having just slogged through the listings, I found that many of the smaller PR companies guarantee 50-70 signups for Book Blasts with 4-6 weeks notice, and charge $40-$120 for that. The larger companies don’t do money back guarantees, but have lists that range from 3k to 6k and recommend 6-8 weeks notice for best results, for $90-150, depending on what you want shared. I should probably mention that I only reached out to RomCom indie specialists, so pricing and availability might differ for other genre/niche combos.
-Twitter is currently bottom of the dogpile, although it still features heavily in some PR companies offerings. Basically, no one has ever connected Twitter to audience or sales increases. However, people do love to share Rafflecopter giveaways on Twitter. And many racked up large audiences if they were on T early…although response levels are miniscule. It might be worth creating a profile, and sharing releases, but it’s not likely to benefit an author in a meaningful way any time soon.
-Discord/Patreon seems to be creeping up in popularity, but I can’t find any numbers or any authors who say that Discord alone works for them. I have found a lot of Patreon people who use private discords for paying customers. Personally, I’m not super thrilled with the idea of people paying monthly or per post for blog posts and the like.
I tried it, and found that it adds a stress level to the interaction that I don’t care for. I’d rather have communication with readers be free, relaxed and voluntary (on my part), and keep this book as the thing that I stress over because it’ll be paid for. I know several people who walk away from their Patreon for months on end, and leave people paying monthly fees for access with no new content, but I can’t handle that. And I don’t have weekly blocks to create something other than what I’m already working on now.
Other people will have different feelings about the dynamic, that’s just how it rubbed me. It’s an income stream that works really well for some, and not at all for others. Discord functions as the private, secure forum for these communities, and as far as I’ve been able to discover, that’s the only function of Discord.
-Mastodon is Reddit without subreddits. Again, no one’s been able to find a way to make an impact on readership on either of these- so far. On both platforms, topics that are gaining participation start losing participation very quickly, making community building difficult.
Not sure if this answered any of the questions you have, but thought I’d share what I dug up, for what it’s worth. Happy Weekending!
This is terrific. I need to spend some time to go through this in detail, but obviously I need to pay attention to Goodreads. Thank you.
Perhaps worth mentioning, there are a number of apps that you can use to post to all SM simultaneously, so pics are sent to IG, FB, & Tw, and you can have multiple pics collected into a slideshow that is then sent to IG stories, FB reels, and TT. They’re easy to set up, and several are free.
Also, there are companies that share posting schedules, e.g. Yellow Friday, who send out a monthly calendar with all major holidays marked, so that people can make “Happy Tell A Story Day 4/28” graphics in advance, and schedule them to post on the correct day.
Individual pics and slideshows are added on top of the scheduled posts as pics are taken. It seems like a lot at first, but once you’ve got your graphic templates set up, it takes very little time to create each month’s posting schedule. And once your month is scheduled, picking up a camera and grabbing some pet pics is nice for your followers, but if you don’t manage to post anything for a few weeks, it’s ok. You’re covered.
Just in case you want to try it out 🙂
As people have said above – SEP and Deborah Blake do a good job of entertaining between promoting books on IG.
2 other authors to check out:
Jonathan Edward Durham whose posts go under “thisoneOverhere”
Eloisa James under eloisajamesbooks
Skipping ahead to just comment.
I’m supposed to be packing for Paris and getting a coat (two would better) of paint on the kitchen walls. Reading comments really should wait till I’m on the plane
But when I want to know about a book I go to Goodreads.
Also when I want find out what Ms Bujold is doing I read her blog page on goodreads. Like self publishing another novella, which seems to be working fairly well for her. As far as I can tell, that’s the only social media she does herself. She has a website and maybe Facebook but other people maintain that.
If you’re in Minnesota, you can also catch up with LMcMB at Dreamhaven in South Minneapolis. She does a reading there every time she publishes something, and takes questions about writing once the reading discussion is done. Dreamhaven announces it via their newsletter, she never seems to say much about it. Quite nice, a small intimate group.
I love Lois. She also checks in at Baen’s Bar in her dedicated forum, Miles to Go. Baen’s Bar is hosted by Baen’s Books.
I also do social media for clients as part of my job, but nothing in publishing. Nonetheles, in general, I think everything CateM says!
In addition, and I know this is just the same as traditional marketing, relationships with people (well followed readers/reviewers) are very important. When they interview/review you (and let’s be honest here, when you publish something new, Romancelandia is going to fall over over themselves to review/interview, e.g. smtb), they will promote that feature on their socials and (I can’t emphasise this enough), you want them to tag you in to their posts. Then you share their post, they comment on it, you get reach and new followers. FB is uncrackable without using paid right now (and ig is moving that way) so to build audience, the best option is to work with those who already have an audience full of people you want in your social community. And then you want everyone to sign up to your newsletter: ultimate goal as it has the best conversion. Hope this helps.
PS I’m 45, I use FB sparingly and mostly for family/groups, Twitter (holding on because there’s nothing like it), Mastodon (.nz home instance, but also staff to Romancelandia), Instagram, TikTok (sparingly as it’s addictive) and LinkedIn (work).
Best option: go play. Find accounts you like, see why and what works for them. For instance, my fav Instagrammer is currently someone who hand dyes yarn to match characters and themes in books she is reading (her Witcher series was gorgeous), and videos of needlecraft. But the algorithm feeds me climbing and skydiving videos as it is affected by my kids (and it’s so watchable!). We could start a list of all our faves!
Right now, I’m thinking this blog for home base, Instagram for fun, and Patreon with Bob for teaching writing.
But researching all this stuff right now, and all of you have been VERY helpful there.
This has been fascinating. 🙂 I’m one of those with minimal social media presence so I have no useful advice, will only say what I do and why.
Facebook – because I’m 57 and most of my friends and family are on it and it’s the only way most of us keep up with each other. Like, at all. I’m there under my real name (Alexandra Caluen) and I do post about writing stuff even though many of my friends don’t read much, or don’t read fiction, or don’t read romances. Writing is what I do now instead of dancing, so they’re stuck with it. I also post pictures etc because that’s easily done from my phone (otherwise I only do FB via desktop).
Instagram – because my long-suffering sister shamed me into having at least one marginally more modern platform. 🙂 Mostly pictures from the phone because that’s easier, but occasionally I’ll post something book-related from the desktop. @the.l.a.stories is my handle, and thanks Deb for the ‘links in bio’ thing – I’ve added my blog URL there. I don’t ‘use’ Insta beyond the occasional bored-at-work scroll on my phone, or the occasional bored-at-home scroll on my desktop – meaning I never have the app open just to see/hear who’s posting something (same as FB).
Blog – thelastories.com – because I didn’t want a URL that was my name. Just like my FB and Insta avatars are not my face (they’re an amethyst hedgehog). I enjoy blogging because I’m a writer, so I’ll probably keep a blog forever, even though I think about four people a month look at it. Should the People Found Me miracle ever occur, they can learn a lot about the books on the blog (including links to free reads).
The books – goal for 2023 is to go wide with at least a dozen titles. This is a stupefying amount of work, which is why I’ve only been on AMZ up to now. If after a year I perceive that going wide has resulted in more people finding the books, I’ll probably set up some kind of presence on Goodreads.
But I expect to continue working full-time for another ten years, so that’s as far as promotion will go till I retire.
You can set your blog to populate on your Goodreads profile as a blog. It’s easy to set up, and it updates automatically. If you search GR for “RSS, blog” the instructions should pop right up. GR also has an RSS you can set up to have your book reviews auto populate on your website “RSS, reviews” to find it.
With so many readers going to GR to find their next book, it might be worth setting up, especially if you’re going wide.
This whole discussion leaves me with the question that if you devote all this time to these multiple platforms, when do you get a chance or the energy to write? I’m sure publishers are happy to be let off the hook for promotion, but it must come with a considerable cost in time and energy for authors.
As I understand it, you’re unlikely to get much promotion from a publisher nowadays, unless your book is one of their lead titles. Most firms, apparently, assign nearly all their publicity budget to their big authors. So if you don’t market yourself, you’ll be sunk.
Jane’s right: Unless you’re a huge name, you do your own promotion.
Even when my name was large, the pr department wanted me on social media.
The key is to organize it so the content is steady and valuable. There are three posts here you’ll get every week, and most of them are no more than a couple of line unless I find something I want to write more about. All three of those are to keep the community in touch. My selfish posts are about my writing, problems I’m having in the books, that kind of thing, but the content is always obvious in the post title so you can skip that if you want. And sometimes I just want to write about dogs. The key here is: It’s all free. Instagram will be shorter and free. Patreon is a subscription, so it will have to be solid, organized writing advice. Bob and I are talking about it now.
The biggest downside of only building your audience on social media is that you don’t own that audience and you can lose access to it at any time e.g. the government outlaws tiktok or you somehow earn a Facebook ban (which they then never explain). So you have to have a strategy to get people to sign up to your EMAIL LIST from your chosen social media. It means you can then contact your superfans if your social media platform disappears or they evict you or start charging to reach your audience. You usually get people to join your email list by offering an incentive like a free book/story. You’ll hear it referred to as a “lead magnet.”
MAILERLITE is used by a lot of authors to manage their email list – it has functionality to help you sign up people from your social media and deliver that lead magnet. Then, all you have to do for your list is email them a newsletter on a regular schedule – minimum monthly.
It’s much easier to sell books to people you have sold books to before. You have multiple books to launch – an email list will mean you can easily reach your superfans with each book launch. (And put a link to join your email list in the front and back of your books.) IMO, an email list is an author’s best career asset. Everyone on this blog would join yours in a heartbeat!
I’m always afraid an e-mail list will look like spam. I actually have one, but nothing has gone out for over ten years.
We had one nightmare where somebody forgot she’d signed up and reported us as spam. Not fun.
The great thing about an email list is that people volunteer for it, so it’s never spam. They want to hear from you and if they ever change their minds, it’s easy for them to unsubscribe. It’s a form of ‘permission marketing’ ie you have their permission to contact them.
BTW, you will still get people who forgot they joined your list voluntarily, reporting you as a spammer but that’s normal! Email list management services like Mailerlite just check that your spam reports are within a certain percentage range every time you send out an email and they’re happy with that. It feels a bit like rejection when someone leaves your list AND reports you as a spammer, but you harden up! (Handy mantra: “Pearls before swine, pearls before swine”)
You won’t be able to use your 10 year old list – it’s too stale and then it becomes iffy whether or not you still have their permission to contact them. But it’d be easy for you to start another list just from readers of this blog.
I do remember ages ago you mentioned having trouble with a spam report, but I guessed you were using some kind of plug-in associated with your website and that it then complicated your website’s functioning? Mailerlite is separate from your website so your website functioning is never impacted – the sign-up forms just integrate seamlessly with it.
If you want to try Mailerlite, it’s free for the first 1000 subscribers. You can check it out here: https://www.mailerlite.com/pricing
If you want to see what some authors send out to their their email lists, all of the following authors have sign-up forms on the first page of their websites, and have large, thriving lists:
I’m on several authors’ email lists, and none of them post regularly – thank goodness. They all warn upfront that they’ll only be in contact when they have real news. That’s what I want – not to miss a publication date or a freebie; but also not to be showered with pointless waffle.
Wow so much information has been shared in this thread. The argh community is so generous. I am a reader not a writer & not a user of social media & I have learned so much. A lateral question- is it the publisher that decides which companies have access to an authors books in ebook format? I have a Kobo ereader due to diminishing vision & I have not been able to access any of your more recent publications via Kobo Aust which is very disappointing. I have always enjoyed the range of topics discussed & the information you share. I purchased a very colourful chair after seeing one you reupholstered some years ago & it still makes me smile each time I see it. Thank you & all the contributors for this blog & the community it has created. I feel a bit selfish because I only very occasionally reply as by the time I catch up on the posts it is often well after they have been posted & by then it is seems redundant.
Jenny needs to answer your specific query, but in general it’ll be whoever holds the rights. That’ll usually be the publisher if you have one – they’ll publish in both print & ebook formats. I imagine nowadays your contract will specify which ebook formats are to be used (in my day we only covered hardback, paperback, book club, and the occasional large print edition).
Never redundant, just more support for that thought.
I have zero control on how the books are published, so I’m really sorry about that.
Insta is where I post most stuff these days, but I have it set up so it all copies to FB automatically, so I get engagement both places. I love it because it’s a picture or 2 (up to 10, which I use when I’m traveling to post a summary of my day – it *really* makes me focus on my best shots, instead of doing a photodump that people won’t click through) and a caption and a couple of hashtags. Barbara Samuel got me posting in the hashtag #100daysofwalking, and when I hit my 100th day, I switched up to #365daysof walking, which is a little more sporadic, but it’s fun things I see on my daily jaunts. There are also cat and food pictures, because that’s my wheelhouse. I’m @carolpres, btw.
I think you’d be a natural for this!
Re: Veronica – Chris the late beloved dachshund (she came into our family when I was 11 and died when I was 30) lived 19 years, so do remember that averages are only averages and while she may be slowing down, I hope you’ll have plenty more quality time with her. XOXO
I’m no help to you, because I’m just cranky about social media and all the burgeoning platforms and changes with it in general – I honestly don’t understand how other people can find the energy for keeping up with any of it.
I get that that makes me a ridiculous oddity that I’m such an anti social media fuddy duddy in this day and age, and that the culture has completely moved beyond me….
but I think it’s that I mostly don’t care about other people’s opinions/lives and don’t care to share my own broadly. Or not that I “don’t care” exactly but “I don’t want to have to care” about more things….I’ve got enough going on IRL without having to take in & have feelings about what’s going on in the “Metaverse” too.
Probably, that makes me a horrible, selfish person, but I think it also helps my overall mental health to just stay away from it all other than a few select places online like this where I can find content I value, but I can dip in/out when I have the time /energy/interest and no one misses me or expects anything of me.
If I comment, it’s cool. If what I say sparks a conversation, I can engage as much/little as I want without overthinking it. If I lurk or don’t show up or don’t answer immediately, no one is wondering what happened to me or assigning imagined motives to my lack of engagement, and I’m not conspicuous in my absence to anyone.
So I mainly “hear” about what’s going on in social media on a broader cultural touchpoint basis through other communication channels. Mainly friends/colleagues, the news, a few select blogs & podcasts that I enjoy and that curate for me anything that would be a “need to know” in my world given my personal interests/professional life.
And then if/as something in the zeitgeist pops through and is of interest to me personally/professionally, I’ll choose to investigate further or not, depending on my available time/energy/interest levels.
And my good friends/family just know by now that I don’t personally participate in social media and know they will never get anything from me there and that I will never see anything they put there unless they physically pull out their own phone to make me look at their posts -and I just actively keep in touch selectively with people I actually see often and/or want to make an effort with, instead of passively keeping touch more broadly via social posts.
And those important folks know how to get in touch with me directly if they need something or want to say something to me. (yes, it’s selfish to make people contact me instead of letting them post stuff for me to find….and in the rare cases when it’s urgent and they’re trying to keep lots of people informed about something quickly, I will make the effort to meet them where they are able to be without insisting on the special treatment. And I also don’t judge if/when I don’t hear from someone for a while. I just call/text them to check in if I’m wondering or worried, and that feels nicer for me)
Now that my curmudgeon credentials are established…time to go and yell at some kids to “get off my lawn” !
Ugh, I don’t like book ads on any social media platform.
What I do like is reviews. I read them at Goodreads (and usually focus on the middle-of-the-road 3-star reviews for less raving/ranting and more useful info), and I watch them on BookTube.
The only book advertisement I like is via email or part of an interesting/fun blog chat, which you already do ;).
I found you through this blog a few years ago. I don’t often comment but you post interesting content and it led me to your books. I can’t remember ever ‘finding’ an author through Instagram or TikTok, although I have through Facebook. The latter is mainly through writing and reader groups, not stray individual posts or ads. Not everybody is like me though. If you want to do social media I’d work out the why. If it’s to get more readers then consider where your readers are. If it’s to promote courses to authors, ask yourself where those authors hang out. But I’d also say pick the one you like best or else the process will drive you crazy 😊.
Yep, Bob and I talked about how it had to be something we’d both enjoy. We’re both teachers, so that’s where we’re thinking, but we’ve scheduled in a long lead time to think about it.
Publishing: Everything takes forever.
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