As a literary agent, I’m lucky enough to go to a lot of writing workshops, where I usually dish advice about one of two things: query letters or social media. When it comes to social media and publishing, digital platforms have a special place in my heart.
After all, Twitter played a big role in how I got discovered for my first publishing job, when the lovely team at Quirk Books reached out after noticing the brand I’d cultivated for myself. I also found author Samira Ahmed via a Twitter pitch event, and after signing her as a client and selling her debut, Love, Hate & Other Filters, it went on to become a New York Times bestseller.
So yeah, I’m a bit biased. But I’ve seen the good social media can do for a career firsthand.
So, let’s spend a little time together talking about how you can use social media as an author. Because the work starts long before the book sale — and it’s not all about selling books, despite what you may have heard.
1. Community over sales
This is the social media hill I will die on. Using Twitter is great for getting the word out about your book. But if all you’re doing is tweeting or posting your Amazon link again and again… nothing is going to happen. That’s not how you get sales and that’s not how you should be using social media to engage with the book world.
Instead, use social media as a means to:
Get involved in the writing community.
Get to know other writers. Talk to industry people. Meet booksellers and librarians. Even if you don’t have a book out yet or a deal in place, laying the groundwork here is so important — not just for future sales and support, but for the emotional benefit of finding your people in this quirky publishing landscape.
Use as a tool of endearment to connect with readers.
Okay, I realize saying something like “tool of endearment” makes me sound like some kind of heartless start-up bro, but here’s what I mean.
As an avid reader myself, when I look at my bookshelves at home, there are certain books I refuse to give away or let people borrow. These books are by authors I’ve become close with on social media. They’re the authors I’m most vocal about, whose books I push when I write the occasional freelance post or appear on a podcast.
Through interactions on social media, these authors have become endeared to me. And that level of personal connection is something no publisher or advertisement can buy you. It’s an emotional connection.
So use social media to communicate with your readers — your community. Respond to their tweets and their emails. Ask for their opinions, and run the occasional Ask Me Anything (AMA). That close tie will make them your fiercest advocates.
2. Share, don’t make it all about you
But how do you start to engage with the community? How do you get book people interested in what you’re saying and what you’re all about? By sharing.
Look, no one wants to hang out with that person at a party who is only talking about themselves. You know that person. They make every office party about them. We’ve heard the story of your vacation like a dozen times, Chet. Let someone else talk.
Share blog posts. Advice. Dish about what you’re reading. Make recommendations. Tweet articles that are interesting. Boost up other people.
If it’s all you, all the time, it is going to be hard to build a following.
Link to the rest at BookBub