Part of the Indie Author Series
When it comes to how to spread the word about your book, you’ll hear widely divergent opinions. Don’t bother with promotion. Promote in every possible way. Do real life events—forget about social media. Don’t bother with real life events—stick to blogging and social media. Buy ads. Don’t buy ads.
The one thing everyone can agree on is that indie writers need a way to let potential readers know their books exist. We don’t have access to a publisher’s ready-made audience. My experience (backed up by discussions I’ve had with other authors who’ve used the same methods) is that social media does help build your audience.
Thanks to social media, I’ve grown my blog and newsletter, moved my books into the top ranks of their respective lists when they released, and have grown my business to the point where I work full-time as a writer, editor, and writing instructor. I wasn’t able to achieve those things by networking in real life.My reach was too small.
But social media can also be a giant waste of time. The key to social media is to choose the right site for you and then learn how to use that site in a time-effective way that builds relationships. Spam never works.
The first step to using social media effectively is to figure out what site is best for you and for meeting up with your potential readers. So today I want to give you a quick overview of some of the major social media sites, how they’re different, and who they’re best for.
LinkedIn is like a professional networking event. You go there to get references and endorsements, pass around your resume, and keep your tie straight. Personal and professional boundaries are firm. LinkedIn isn’t the best social media site for fiction writers, but if you’re writing non-fiction, this can be a great source for building your reputation and reach.
Google+ is like a convention—techies, nerds, geeks, graphic designers, photographers, gamers, college students, and writers. In the same way that conventions are about people connecting over a shared passion, so is Google+. What works on other social media sites doesn’t necessarily work here.
Google+ is predominantly male. Sixty-three percent of the users are men. So if we’re being really honest, this means that if you’re writing romance or if you’re writing YA that’s intended to appeal to teen girls, Google+ isn’t as good a social media site for you. If you’re writing military fiction, science fiction, or thrillers, you’re much more likely to find your audience here.
Pinterest is the salon. You swap recipes and fashion and beauty tips. It’s pretty and soothing and very visual. If you’re a romance writer, you should be on Pinterest. Pinterest is predominantly female in make-up (no pun intended…well, maybe a little). Check out the kind of images other successful writers in your genre are posting, but be careful of copyright infringement.
And then there are The Big Two…
If you only have time to be on one or two sites, I recommend that you go with Twitter and Facebook. Demographically they’re the most diverse because they’re the sites that the majority of people are the most comfortable with.
Facebook is like a backyard BBQ. People come for an hour or two. They sit. They chat. They swap baby and vacation photos. People expect you to be engaged when you’re there.
Facebook’s audience is slightly older than Twitter’s because some of the younger generation have left to search for a new social media site where their parents and grandparents won’t be sending them a Friend Request and liking their posts. The trick with Facebook is that the people who find you there are likely people who already knew about you through some other avenue. In other words, Facebook is great for building reader engagement, but not as good for building an audience from scratch.
Twitter is like the workplace water cooler, which is why, in my opinion, it’s one of the most valuable social media sites. You can talk work. You can talk news. You can just chat about your weekend. You don’t need to be there for large chunks of time. You stop by a couple times a day, chat with new people each time, and go back to work. The trick to Twitter is hashtags, and once you start using them, you can connect with potential future readers and build an audience from scratch quicker than on any other social media site.
Whatever you choose, don’t spread yourself too thin. You don’t need to be everywhere. You just need to be in the right somewhere.
Which social media sites are you on? Which have you found are the best for reaching out to readers, both new and old?
Marcy Kennedy is a speculative fiction writer who believes fantasy is more real than you think. Alongside her own writing, Marcy works as a freelance fiction editor and teaches classes on craft and social media through WANA International. She’s also the author of the Busy Writer’s Guides series of books. You can find her blogging about writing and about the place where real life meets science fiction, fantasy, and myth at marcykennedy.com.
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Building a thriving social media platform doesn’t have to steal all your precious writing time or cut into your time with your family.Twitter for Authors is about building a successful Twitter platform that’s sustainable for busy people.
Twitter often gets a bad reputation from people who don’t understand it or don’t know how to use it to its full potential to build an author platform. When used correctly, Twitter can be one of the best tools for increasing traffic to your blog and gaining new readers for your books. And it’s fun!
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Twitter for Authors contains helpful advice for both Twitter newbies and long-time Twitter users who want to take their platform to the next level.