5 reasons writers should care about social media

We all know that we can use social media to help us market our books, but something that often gets lost in the middle of all the tweeting and Facebook giveaways is why we should actually care about social media – why, as well as going through the motions to try and boost our sales, we should be properly interested in it. Here are five reasons writers should are about social media.

Build a following and get noticed

First, and most obviously, social media is a way to help you build a following and get noticed. This is useful if you’re interested in independent publishing as it gives you a good base to work from when it comes to marketing. It can also be useful if you’re interested in traditional publishing deals; having a reader base as well as a good book can be a useful selling point.

Find out other people’s opinions about you

Social media is also a place where other people can share their opinions of you and your books. This can be useful for writers looking to get feedback on their work, but bear in mind that we shouldn’t just care about this aspect of social media for the ego boost it can sometimes bring – people don’t just write nice things on the internet, and it’s useful to know how you plan to deal with negative reviews and comments.

The impact might not always be positive

In a way, this is related to the above point: the impact of social media might not always be positive. This doesn’t just mean in terms of people’s response to you and your work, but also in the impact you manage to make. There are loads of social media sites out there. It would be pretty difficult to make a big impact on them all; taking the time to work out where your resources would be best directed is well worth the effort.

Water cooler chat for the homeworker

Another reason to care about social media is in the name – it’s social. And for writers, this is often a good thing. When you’re working from home as a writer, you end up spending a lot of time on your own. This can be great for getting words on the page, but not so great for getting new ideas and generally being around people. Social media gives you a chance to engage.

Shape opinion of you and your work

Social media can also shape people’s opinion of you and your work. This is obviously important in terms of the marketing activity you undertake, but it can also have an impact in a more general sense. For example, if your Twitter account is full of spelling errors and glaring grammar mistakes, it is likely to give people a certain impression of you – and not the one you’re looking for. Social media might not be the most formal medium there is, but as with anything else, quality counts. Especially for someone looking to prove they’re good at writing.

6 reasons your Twitter account is doing your writing more harm than good

We all know that Twitter can be a useful tool for authors, particularly for those who take the independent publishing route. It’s a great way of engaging with readers and helping to build your author platform, but it’s also the case that your Twitter account could end up doing your writing more harm than good.

With this in mind, here are six reasons you might not be getting the most out of your Twitter account – they’re certainly things to watch out for.

Lack of use

One of the main reasons your Twitter account could be doing more harm than good is through lack of use. There’s no point having an account if you then don’t use it. It takes time to build success through social media sites such as Twitter, so a certain amount of commitment is needed – otherwise you could just end up looking a little bit flaky.

Too much focus on irrelevant topics

It’s also important to make your Twitter account relevant to your goals, or else it won’t help you achieve them. That’s not to say you can’t Tweet about things that are irrelevant to your writing – in fact, that can help you appeal to a broader base – but it’s also important to keep your writing aims in mind.

Too much time spent plugging a book

That said, too much time plugging your book on Twitter can put people off. If all you’re Tweeting is the same link to your book, over and over, it’ll quickly get old and people will start to unfollow you. There’s nothing wrong with promoting your work, but it needs to be sufficiently balanced with other stuff to stop it becoming tedious. In many ways, Twitter is about social engagement first, promoting your books second.

Lack of engagement with others

Linked to the above point is the fact that your Twitter account could end up doing more harm than good if you don’t engage with other people. If a reader sends you a Tweet, reply. Of course, it might not be possible to reply to every single Tweet that you get sent, but if you don’t respond to any of them, it doesn’t look that great. One of Twitter’s benefits is that it allows you to interact with other people – who might buy your books – and that’s something that writers should definitely take advantage of.

No coherent strategy

A lack of strategy can also lead to your Twitter profile drifting and note having as much impact as it could. Think about what you’re hoping to achieve through social media and how you could go about doing that. Random Tweets are fun, but you still need to be thinking about your goals.

Too much use

Finally, your Twitter account could end up harming your writing simply by taking up too much of your time. It can be very addictive and, while spending a bit of time on there every day won’t do much harm, we still need to make sure we’re leaving enough time to actually write. After all, there’s no point promoting our writing on Twitter if we’re then not getting the writing done.

How do you make sure your Twitter account is a help to your writing rather than a hindrance?

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7 Twitter tips all authors should know

Twitter can be a great tool for authors, whether they’re looking to promote a new book or simply engage in a little bit of procrastination. In order to get the most out of the social networking tool, it’s worth doing a bit of research to find out more about what it offers and how you might be able to use it. With this in mind, here are a few Twitter tips that all authors should know.

  • Choose who you follow carefully. It might be tempting just to follow back anyone who follows you, but if your aim with Twitter is to build up contacts and increase your knowledge about the publishing industry (or whatever your particular interest is), it will be harder to achieve your goals if you’re following lots of people who don’t add much in the way of value to your Twitter timeline. Be thoughtful when choosing people to follow, and create lists of different groups of people.
  • Don’t expect miracles. From many articles on social media, you get the impression that all you need is a Twitter account and a bit of regular Tweeting to hugely increase your book sales. In real life, this is unlikely to happen purely as a result of your newfound love of Twitter. It can definitely be useful, but it’s also useful not to set your sights too high. Don’t ignore all those other means of marketing.
  • People are online at different times of day. It sounds obvious, but not everyone is online at the same time, so it’s worth Tweeting at different times of day to make sure you catch as many of your followers as possible. It might be worth conducting a few time of day experiments, sending out similar Tweets at different times to see when you get the best response. You can use tools such as hootsuite.com to schedule Tweets if you can’t always manage to get online.
  • Don’t limit yourself. If all you do on Twitter is plug your book, it’s likely to make people switch off quite quickly. You need to make sure you’re Tweeting on a wide range of interesting subjects – you might have your specialist subjects that you focus on more than others, but mixing it up from time to time is definitely worth it.
  • Do some hashtag research. There are loads of Twitter hashtags that are used by authors and readers, so take a look and try out a few different ones to see which you think work best. For example, #amreading and #amwriting are popular, but you might also like to try out other options such as #selfpub or #crimefiction, depending on where your interests lie.
  • Be careful with what you say. Most Tweets disappear without much notice, but you never know when something you say will get picked up on, by followers or the press – particularly if you’re a little bit well-known for your writing. Before you hit that Tweet button, ask yourself if you’d be willing to be quoted on whatever it is you’re about to post. If not, it might be worth having a rethink.
  • An amusing photo of a cat will get you a long way on Twitter. So will comical cat YouTube videos. It’s worth having a few up your sleeve just in case.

6 Facebook tips for writers

You may remember a while back, I took a look at some Twitter tips for writers. Today, we turn our attention to that other social media giant writers can’t ignore: Facebook. As the most popular social network, Facebook is definitely something that we need to engage with – and like Twitter, it has multiple users for writers, from engaging with readers to running competitions and providing you with an opportunity to procrastinate while still feeling productive.

So here are some Facebook tips for writers…

Make a separate author page

Many – if not most – of us will already have a personal Facebook profile, but if you’re planning to use it to promote yourself as an author, it makes sense to set yourself up with a specific page to do so. This doesn’t have to be an entirely separate account, but Facebook gives you the option to set up a fan page, which people can ‘like’ and engage with.

Don’t have too many pages

The temptation might be to set up a separate page for each book you release. There might be some merit in this – it all depends how you want to go about your promotions – but make sure your Facebook platform remains coherent. It needs to be clear, if you have more than one page, which is your main one and how everything links together.

Don’t over-promote

We can’t get away from the fact that writers tend to use sites like Facebook to promote their work, but at the same time, we also need to be careful about over-promoting. If all you post on your Facebook page is information about your book and special offers you’ve got going on, it could easily turn people off. The occasional promotional post is fine, but make sure you get a mix of stuff in there too.

Engage regularly

If you have a few days away from Facebook every now and then, probably no one will notice and you’ll give yourself a welcome break. However, engaging with Facebook religiously in the beginning but then drifting away is in some ways worse than not having a Facebook presence at all. Inactive pages can be something of a turn-off and if you don’t update in ages, people might decide to ‘unlike’ your page.

Remember your privacy

The aim of using Facebook might be to help you reach out to readers and hopefully sell some more books, but remember you have a right to privacy too. For instance, think about the information you have on your page and/or profile. Are you happy with anyone who happens to pop by reading it, or do you think you could benefit from applying a privacy filter?

Remember it’s fun

When you’re promoting a lot and spending quite a bit of time on Facebook, it can start to feel like a chore – and that’s something that’s likely to come across in your updates. If it’s starting to feel too much like a pain, it might be time to re-evaluate your Facebook strategy. Social media can be a great business tool for authors, but don’t forget that it’s fun too. Let yourself enjoy it. You and your readers will appreciate it.

What are your tips for writers using Facebook?


What can go wrong with social media?

A lot has been written about how social media can help writers (including on this blog), particularly those involved in independent publishing who are trying to make a name for themselves. There is certainly no doubting that social media is a useful tool, but things can still go wrong. Your plans might not work out as you’d hoped and your marketing might not have as much impact as you’d like. Here are some of the issues writers can face with social media, to give you an idea of what to do and what not to do when using it to promote your work…

Lack of consistent effort

It’s OK to take a bit of time out from Facebook and Twitter now and then, but long periods of no social media action could well be harming your marketing activities. It takes time and effort to build up good followings on social media, and lengthy breaks between posts will only add to the time it takes to get where you want to be.

Lack of communication

One thing we should never forget about social media is that it’s a two way street. It isn’t just there for authors to plug their books or effectively fill their Twitter timelines with announcements to themselves. It’s also for talking to people, and one of the best ways to build your presence on social media is to be serious about this. Engage with people. Get involved in conversations. Reach out to people. After all, it’ll be hard to get anywhere with your book marketing if you don’t.

Lack of content

Why should people engage with you on social media? If they’re going to stick with you, you need to give them something to stick with – and that means you need good content. Whether it’s hilarious tweets, informative blog posts or content shared from people you admire, you need to make sure you social media content is interesting and relevant. A lack of interesting stuff could well harm your marketing plans.

Lack of resultant sales

You could have thousands of Twitter followers and loads of likes on your Facebook page, but there’s no guarantee that this will translate into epic sales for your book. This is a reminder that success is not (usually) an overnight phenomenon, and it takes time and a combination of other activities alongside your social media to make a difference. Plus we can’t forget that all important sales factor: luck. And that’s something that’s never certain.

We shouldn’t expect social media to be the magic bullet, magically propelling us up the bestseller lists. Rather, we should see it for what it is: something useful, that can help us increase our profile and perhaps make some sales, as well as a bit of fun that gives us a chance to get to know others. The value of social media is not always – or even often – monetary, but it can bring us other rewards that, with any luck, will help us on our way to achieving what we want out of our writing goals.