Thursday, October 16, 2014

Choosing the Right Social Media Site for You and Your Readers

By Marcy Kennedy, @MarcyKennedy

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

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goggle+ | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Apple iBooks

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!

In Twitter for Authors, you’ll learn…
·         essential Twitter terminology,
·         how to set up your account,
·         the differences between TweetDeck and Hootsuite,
·         techniques for staying safe on Twitter,
·         how to build columns and lists and use them to find readers,
·         the value of link shorteners and hashtags,
·         what to tweet about,
·         the most common mistakes writers make on Twitter,
·         how to run a successful Twitter event,
·         how to manage your social media time,
·         and much more!

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.

You can grab a copy at Amazon, Kobo, or Smashwords. Available in both ebook and print versions.


  1. i'm one of the few people who have no social media presence at all. i used to be an avid forum goer, and would post in forums like they were going out of style, but i came to the realization that it was just too time consuming and stopped a couple of years ago (same goes with blogging, i just don't write fast enough to make it a worthwhile use of my time). i find the same pitfalls with social media, so i've just not signed up.

    This will change if i ever get close to publication (self or traditional), but for now i'm fairly content being a caveman with no connection to social media... i will look at your twitter for authors book when i feel the need to make the jump into the social media pool, and Thanks for this post. It is helpful to someone who knows little and less about the subject when it comes time to take the plunge.

    1. Thanks for the comment. You make a great point. If you're not close to publication, then your time is better spent writing and learning about the writing craft. Once you think you're about six months to a year from being published, that's usually a good time to start building your platform. Platform growth takes time and it won't happen in a month.

  2. This is very timely, Marcy. I need to do more with Twitter, and your post has helped me realize that I need to be looking at the readers' hashtag groups more and not as much just interacting with other authors. I will be changing the columns in my Tweetdeck program today.

    1. You've got it. Hashtags are key because they help put your tweets in front of people who would have never seen them otherwise.

  3. Hi Marcy,

    Great information - I'm going to avail myself of your tweetland book, as I push my authors (and myself) toward social media I want to do so with intelligence.

    I've never done FB, just made me twitchy from the beginning...but Twitter makes sense. It can be a quick, effective way to stay involved, yet it's easy to control your time with it. Or at least it seems that way to me (see above reference to wanting intelligent info).

    Appreciate your input, as always - thanks!

  4. I totally agree with Facebook and Twitter, and it's interesting to see the stats about the others - who hangs out where. I know we should be where our readership is, but right now my Women's Fiction is on hold while I do Middle Grade time travel. I've started to connect with some mom/dad people/sites, but a lot of them are blogging to sell stuff or on Twitter to follow sports teams. Any suggestions?

  5. I've definitely found I meet more new people through Twitter than Facebook. I just need to get better at reaching new readers than other authors.

  6. This was a very useful post. I wanted to get your new book, The Busy Writer's Guide to Twitter, though, and couldn't find it.

  7. Oops! I meant to say, Twitter, A Busy Writer's Guide for Authors. I can't find it at Amazon, and your picture just takes a reader to an enlargement of the picture.

    1. My mistake there Elizabeth, I inadvertently left off the book blurb when I posted it (I thought it was odd there was a new book and no blurb). The links are there now, or you can grab a copy at Amazon, Kobo, or Smashwords.

      Sorry about that!

  8. Hi Marcy and Janice,
    Social media is something I struggle with. I pop into Facebook every now and then, but I also find that even though I have a few hundred followers only one or two seem to get the post. I'm not on Twitter, but should I make the leap, Marcy, I'll purchase your book. By the way, the book cover is fantastic.
    Janice, thanks for having Marcy guest post. Here posts are always so informative.

  9. I mostly use Facebook and Twitter. I also post on Pinterest. I have an account on Google+ and LinkedIn but pretty much never go there. I just do what works for me, and I engage with other folks. Not to sell, but just to connect. If a sale happens as a result, then that's great!

  10. Marcy,
    What do you think of the practice of authors linking from Facebook to Twitter? If they post to FB it automatically tweets on Twitter. From a reader's perspective this is annoying and I unfollow them. Most of those tweets are too long and a click will send you to FB. If I like them on FB then I get the info there. From an author's perspective it saves time and puts you on two social media sites with minimal work. Thanks for your informative post.