Author Etiquette - Social Media: Whats, Whys, and Hows

by Jennifer 30. May 2017 12:11

Welcome back to another edition of Author Etiquette.

 

No one ever said being an author is easy. On the production side you need to come up with stories, edit them to the best of your abilities, cringe at what your beta readers tell you, edit again, and then try to find a publisher. If that isn’t enough, most authors have to gain the attention of readers in a way that will lead to sales and reviews.

 

While in person author-reader connections are awesome (and should never ever be discounted), a great deal of author-reader connections are online, namely social media. Social media are online platforms that people use to connect with each other. They can have a variety of features or be very simple. The most common are Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Tumblr. There’s also other platforms out there. Some are video based, some photo based, discussion based and so on and so forth.

 

The main reason for people to use these social media platforms is connection with people. Who hasn’t felt alone even in the middle of a crowd? Who would like to talk with people who share the same interests? Social media provides people with a way to connect with the gaming community, other writers and readers.

 

The Whats

As said above, social media platforms are used to connect with people, but each has it’s own way of doing things.

 

Facebook is the most used social media platform in the world. It allows people to post photos, carry on discussions, announce events and create business pages. By using professional pages, using your promotion wisely and growing a fanbase, many authors find Facebook to be a very useful tool.

 

Twitter is probably the second most used platform used by authors. Unlike FB, all posts are limited to 140 characters. This greatly limits (and challenges) the user. Ideas and discussions are possible, although it’s often broken up into several posts.

 

Instagram is a photo sharing platform. While you can manage Instagram on your computer, the program is optimized for phone and tablet use. Photos taken with smart devices can be directly posted and then sent to other platforms for sharing.

 

Pinterest is another image sharing program. Unlike Instagram, Pinterest allows you to post images (including photos and scanned or created images) to your account and place them on different walls. Authors sometimes use the pins for character or setting creation, research, or finding a great recipe for chocolate cake.

 

Lastly, Tumblr is another platform that like Facebook and Twitter, allow users to post ideas and brief discussions along with photos. Unlike the other two, Tumblr users often post short segments of what they are doing. It’s not uncommon for an artist or author to share a segment of what they are working on currently. It’s also a great place for a short serial.

 

The Whys

So now that you know a little about some of the social media platforms, next is reasons to use them. Some authors cry foul at being asked to promote their books. After all, they are too busy writing right? In this day and age, even large publishing companies require authors to do a certain amount of promotion.

 

Social media is an inexpensive, fairly easy way to promote your work. Most platforms offer free accounts. They provide a platform for your work. Many also give you the opportunity to run ads so that you can reach more people. You don’t have to go anywhere in particular to use the platforms—your only requirement is access to the internet. And, for some people this is really important, you don’t have to actually socialize.

 

Social media also allows you to find people who are interested in your work. Not everyone is able to go to conventions or able to make a trip to a bookstore across the country for a signing. Your book might not even be available in a brick and mortar store, which lessens the chance of people finding you. However, on social media, a user can run a search on space opera, or vampires or steampunk, and—if you’ve set up your pages right—find you.


That reason right there is worth the sometimes annoyance of having a social media account.

 

The Hows

Now that you know a little about some of the social media platforms and why they are useful, we now need to move to the how to use it category. Each social media platform has different rules. To learn them, either find a quick guide or look at other people’s feeds and see how they are using it. Pay attention to the professionals in your field. If they state that some behavior is inappropriate, LISTEN.

 

While you may be eager to promote your book, don’t be in a hurry. Spamming, or posting mostly “BUY ME” posts, isn’t going to help move your books—most people will simply block you. The best thing for your promotional plan is to be you. What this means is post about your pets, interesting articles you’ve found, and ideas you want to share. Post only a promo once every 5-7 posts or 2-3 times a week.

 

Why? It’s simple. People are not on social media for advertisements. They are on those platforms to connect with people. They want to like you. Your books are just a bonus.

 

If you are new to social media, find one platform that you think you’d like to try. Make an account. Find people you know and begin gathering friends. Join some groups. Participate in discussions. Be you for a while before you start promoting. If you’d like, join a few other platforms and see if they fit you. You do not have to join everything (although it’s occasionally useful) or be active on every account.

 

I hope that you’ve found some insight on social media in this post. Remember that the most important thing is to be you, have fun, and don’t hurt other people.

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