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Just how important is Social Media for an author?

12th June 2021

Just how important is Social Media for an author?Just how important is Social Media for an author?

I recently saw a thread posted on Twitter by Little Toller Books (you can follow the thread here), who run a bookshop in Beaminster and who also have a publishing house, focussing, in their own words, on “books close to our publishing ethos, books on nature, landscape, memoir and place but the lines are blurry, we now curate fiction, poetry and lots of children’s titles”.  They are a The Spectator Top Ten Small Publisher. The Tweet thread goes on to explain how they source the titles for their bookshop – apart from regularly looking through the roundups in The Bookseller, they look to small publishers and debut authors, offering both a small but valuable platform.

They tend not to use the catalogues from publishers, because they haven’t got time to peruse them, they rarely stock books from TV shows but do listen to podcasts and are fans of the book programmes on BBC Radio 4.

Just how important is Social Media for an author?

It was no.5 on the thread that particularly caught our eye and it was this:

It got us thinking. We often have debates internally about the incredible synergy we can foster with authors on Social Media, thus promoting their work. Authors are part of a bigger family which can include publishers, publicists, bloggers and bookshops. If every party really gets stuck into promoting a book, then it goes without saying that the level of engagement with potential readers is tangibly higher. This is also reflected in sales.

What, though, of the author who dithers about Social Media, who baulks at getting stuck in, who cites not having the time to engage? I think we can categorically say that Social Media reticence puts that author at a real disadvantage.

We often chat in-house about the authors who have no tangible Social Media presence. We are happy to promote an author’s book or perhaps an article the author has written for our site (linking back to their book), we are delighted to offer exposure, but compared with the double or triple combined effort of author and publisher/publicist and us, it is, at times, hardly worth our bother. There, I said it straight, harsh, but true. Yes, a writer is a creative being but there is no getting away from the fact that marketing these days is half the story. Following through the Little Toller thread, one contributor understands that Penguin alone can often publish 500 titles per month and from one publisher that is a huge and incredible number. How does an author get singled out for exposure given those numbers?

Being active on Social Media puts you and your work in front of a ready made audience of book lovers. It really doesn’t need to be a chore and it can be a lot of fun, you have to commit to being in it for the long haul and there are no quick fixes. And yes you will make mistakes when you first start out, we did and we took learning from those mistakes.

Therefore in answer to the question we posed at the beginning: Just how important is Social Media for an author? The answer is simple. It’s VERY important!

Here are some simple and basic starter tips:

The underlying precept across Social Media is that it’s SOCIAL. Engage, engage engage and share a bit about YOU. Don’t be scared, the book community is hugely supportive!

Twitter:

  • Join conversations about books or anything you fancy that is even marginally book related (with Dorothée Lefering over on Twitter we run a #bookchat every Monday at 1pm BST / 2pm CET – come and join in and meet new people that way! Follow #verbatimjourney!)
  • Bag yourself a copy of Rayne Hall’s “Twitter for Writers”.
  • Pose questions that invite other Twitter uses to engage with you.
  • Follow people like Julie Wassmer Orenda Books  Joanna Harris Bev Jones and your local bookshops (start of course with Little Toller). As you use the site more, you will find your tribe with whom you feel comfortable. These are just the accounts off the top of my head!
  • If an account follows you, follow back. If they engage with you, follow!

Instagram:

  • Insta has largely moved on from simply being about photographic merit and it is another way of promulgating your message. But it has to be more than message spewing, it has be creative to pull readers in.
  • Work out which hashtags are going to work for you and use them consistently
  • Look at other similar accounts to work out was is working and which accounts you find appealing. Follow their lead but don’t copy
  • Follow the big hitters – publishers, celebrities – but they will rarely follow back. You are following them for information and what you can learn

Facebook:

  • Create your own author page from your personal account. People want to engage with their chosen author but you don’t want people on your personal page.
  • Choose creative posts that have – even a small – link to the theme of your page. You can find plenty of content on Twitter which you can then post to your page
  • Respond to anyone who is motivated to leave a comment.

Tina for the TripFiction Team

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