We asked our friend, writer Louise Mangos, to share her top tips for using social media to get our work noticed.
It doesn’t matter where you are in your writing career, whether you’re a best-selling novelist or a budding poet, a great way to get your work, ideas or publications noticed (apart from a multi-million PR budget through your publisher – dream on!) is through social media networks.
The obligation of maintaining a social media presence is often included in the clauses of today’s publishing contracts. It’s the task many authors often dread. We spend our days isolated in our writing caves, creating fictional worlds, and suddenly our publishers say they want us to increase our social media presence. The task seems daunting, and it can certainly be time-consuming.
So here are some tips to help minimise the hassle, while aiming to increase your fan-base, expand your network, and hopefully bring in some sales.
Facebook is the most intimate platform of the three mentioned in this article. Most users have Facebook accounts to share their personal experiences with family and close friends. But creating a separate Author Page allows you as a writer to keep your personal and professional life separate. Instead of “friending” contacts, people will “follow” you as an author and “like” your page. Facebook has a random timeline. Posts with “like”s might appear days after they’ve been uploaded, and will consequently reappear when a comment is added. So you don’t really need to post more than once a day. If you’re promoting, it’s important to vary each of your posts. Readers and fans love to learn about the personal life of a writer. They still want to see pictures of your dogs or cats, even if your principal intention is to draw attention to your writing, but not too often. The most innovative posts might include a combination of the two – have your dog display your novel between its paws – and you might make a reader out of a pet-lover. It’s best to use single images in each post, and don’t forget an all-important URL link to your work.
If you’re new to Twitter, create an account with a name that’s easily identifiable to other followers – your author name is the best option if it isn’t already taken. You can add “author,” “writer,” or “books” to your name if someone has already claimed your Twitter handle (for example @LouiseMangosAuthor). Follow friends or colleagues who already have accounts, then follow as many writers as possible whose books and news you’re interested in. You can also check to see who these people follow, and follow people from their lists too. People to follow might include agents, publishers, book reviewers, journalists and bloggers. You’ll eventually get people following you back.
Until recently Twitter was an instant platform. Once posts were seen in the moment, they would disappear into the ether, unless someone later commented on the thread. Now followers who check in to their accounts at any time of day get “in case you missed it” posts. If your fans have “liked” your posts in the past, they may see your threads long after you have posted them. This gets your posts seen more frequently. But it also means you need to be more innovative about what you post. If users only see the same links to your books and the cover of your book, they will quickly become bored with your content, and may end up unfollowing you or muting your account. If you have a book to sell, find an image from its setting. If you’re travelling, take a photo of the book on your journey. Readers love to identify with you as an author as well as your work. There is no harm in posting interesting photos from your everyday non-writing life. You can also link these images somehow to your writing life.
Don’t forget to share other authors’ work or news, especially if their writing is the same genre as your own. Other users are more likely to share your posts if you have done the same for them. From time to time check your own timeline to make sure you’ve been posting a variety of images with tweets.
Twitter has a more conversational thread than Facebook, but it’s important to note there are certain times of the day when it is best to post. To avoid getting sucked into the habit of forever checking your social media accounts, you should schedule a short time twice a day to go online. The best time of day in the UK is tea time – between 3 and 4pm. This is also a great time if you’re hoping to hit the US as users will be on their way to work or just waking up, and will be checking their devices. In this respect, between 7:30 and 9:00am in the UK is also popular. If you’re without inspiration and have a moment before bed, you could retweet something you’ve posted earlier in the day to catch the US market. You can only retweet your posts once. Hash-tags are useful tools. They are less influential than on Instagram, but are still useful to attract new followers to your account. I would limit your hash-tags to two or three in your Twitter posts. A list of writer-driven hash-tags appears at the end of the Instagram section.
Instagram is image based, and completely instant, as it suggests. Posts don’t reappear. But it is less interesting in terms of generating sales because you cannot post URL links on your timeline. If you’re a published author, however, you should open a business account, where you can show a URL link in your personal profile. This link should either be your personal website or your Author Page on Amazon. Instagram followers love to see photos in the manner of those mentioned in the Twitter section above, but it is also a platform highly driven by hash-tags. A popular time for users seems to be evenings. Hash tags (examples listed at the end of this section) are a way to get more followers. Instagram users often look for posts with particular hashtags. There is no limit to the amount of hash-tags you use in your posts, but be aware that on mobile devices, if you have a long list, some may not appear due to limited screen space.
Some useful hashtags for writers:
#WritingCommunity #WritersLife #Fiction #Novels #Writing #amwriting #amreading #BookRecommendation #BookShelf #BookWorm #Bookaholic #BookCommunity #BooksToRead #Bookstagram
Hashtags with your genre: #CrimeFiction #PsychologicalThrillers #Romance #Suspense #HistoricalFiction etc.
If you are an author, a useful tool is to create a universal link to your novels. When you post on social media with a link, for example, to Amazon, a universal link will connect to the Amazon account in the global region where the user lives. There are several platforms who do this. Type “Universal book links” in your search engine to create one for your novels.
#Competitions and #Giveaways also create a great deal of traffic and followers on all social media platforms. If you organise one for your novels, for example, it’s easier to manage on a single platform, and then link to the details on the other platforms to guide fans to your post.
Louise Mangos writes novels, short stories and flash fiction, which have won prizes, placed on shortlists, and have been read out on BBC radio. Her suspense novels Strangers on a Bridge and The Art of Deception are published with HQDigital (Harper Collins). You can connect with Louise on Facebook www.facebook.com/LouiseMangosBooks/, Twitter @LouiseMangos, and Instagram as louisemangos, or visit her website www.louisemangos.com where there are links to some of her short fiction. Louise lives in Switzerland with her Kiwi husband and two sons.
Link to Louise’s Amazon Author Page in the UK: