Social Media: What Does an Author Really Need?

There are so many social media sites, but does an author really need to be on all of them? Is one or more of them indispensable to the serious author or do they just clutter and waste time? And the answer is… *draws deep breath* everyone has different views. What a surprise.

From what I’ve seen, focused work on most platforms can bring in revenue if you know what you’re doing. At least there are courses on how to grow and make money on Twitter, or using Pinterest, or with Facebook ads, from people who have used these sites themselves. That being said, an author only has so much time, so you want to spend it on what works and not just throw out information and hope it draws some people in. This involves trial and error (or buying a course), analytics, figuring out where your target audience congregates…and is beyond the scope of this article today.

However, over time, I have developed opinions on what platforms an author should have and their uses. Everyone has their own favorite sites and keep in mind that some of this is personal opinion, but hopefully it will give you some place to start if you are trying to figure out where you should devote your online time.

Website or Blog

These two terms are often used interchangeably, and they might be mingled together in reality as well, but there is a subtle difference. A website has information about you, pages leading to your books, contact information, etc. A blog is where you can post articles, pictures, stories, and updates on your life.

Every author ought to have a website of some kind. This is your central hub, the place you can send everyone to find out more about you and your work. This is where people can sign up to your newsletter and follow your life. A blog of some kind, either linked or as part of the site, is also handy. You don’t have to post every week or even regularly, just so long as you have a place your fans can find out the latest information about you and your work.

There are many free sites for both websites and blogs. I’ve tried Weebly, Blogger, and WordPress. WordPress is by far my favorite site for blogging, while I use Weebly for my main website (though some authors, including me, use two different places and domain names for their website and blog, it’s quite easy to just have your blog be part of your website under one domain name.)

Facebook

Facebook is a great place to connect with other people. You can create an author page for people to follow you, and this is useful for small updates on your life and work, but the main use I’ve found using Facebook is the ability to connect with other writers and readers. There are writing groups. There are promotional events and Facebook parties. You can message other authors and follow them easier. Though not necessary, I do think Facebook is a useful tool for authors to have.

Instagram

Instagram is a social media site where one posts pictures. If you like taking pictures of your life, then it can be quite fun. You can connect with fans to some degree as well, though not as much as if you were on a site like Facebook. Depending on what type of blog you have, you can also link your Instagram account to the sidebar of your blog so the changing pictures will keep fresh information on your web page even when you are too busy to post to your blog yourself.

Twitter

Some people love Twitter. Some are hardly on there. I’m one of the latter because I simply don’t have the time it would take to keep up with a Twitter account, but if you have the time to check it often, it can be a good place to connect with readers. If you just want to post several times a day, you can use an app called Hootsuite. You can schedule posts to a number of social media sites with Hootsuite, including Twitter, allowing one to sit down for an hour and schedule daily tweets for a whole month. Then you can forget about it (and yet still have some semblance of a presence there), only checking it once or twice a day.

Pinterest

I do make Pinterest friendly pins of my blog posts and post them to drive traffic to my blog. But, besides that, the main reason I use Pinterest is to find pictures of my characters and create storyboards. Pinterest is a very cool tool for any author to use. You’re not going to connect directly to fans through there, but marketing is a possibility if you have learned how to use it (I haven’t though I’ve seen courses on using Pinterest to sell your product) and you should be able to drive traffic to your blog or newsletter as well.

Email List

This isn’t really a site, but it is the most important marketing platform. And this isn’t my opinion…this is what every expert I listen to says. If you want to be able to sell well, build an email list. I’ll probably have an article about how to create an email list and what one can use it for next month, but there are places like Mail Chimp that let you create quite a sizable list before you have to start paying for the service.

In the end, having a website or blog is essential to providing a foundation for yourself and your work. Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are most useful when it comes to one on one contacting of fans and other writers. Most authors tend to pick and spend most of their social media times one one of these sites. An email list is your largest marketing weapon, so spend the time needed to build it up. Pinterest is fun as well as useful, especially for those who write fiction.

What social media sites do you enjoy? Do you have any tips about marketing or connecting with readers on various sites? Is there a social media site which you love that I’ve missed? I’d love to hear your comments below.

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19 Comments

  1. I get the distinct impression SOMEONE is tired of all my freaking out… XD

    Thanks though, this is really helpful. I’ll bookmark it and stash it away for when I finish school. Marketing, here I come!!!
    AAAUUUUUUUGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!
    😉

  2. Thanks for the information. I recently wrote about all the social media sites myself. There are so many of them. I feel a writer can get overwhelmed with all the options.

    • I know. And everyone has different experiences and personalities. Some people love Twitter. Some people use Pinterest for major marketing. There’s basic uses that most people agree on, but in the end everyone ends up having to make their own decision on what works for them, what they enjoy, and what they want to focus their time on.

  3. I’m not allowed to have Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram (the troubles of a underage writer!), so I’m doing the best I can to work with my blog and Goodreads. I also just got a Pinterest account, too, and that’s been fun. 🙂

  4. Reblogged this on Reveries and commented:
    I was going to do a second post for The Plotting Crash Course today … but you know what? I want to devote what I have of today (and it’s not much) to Ivy Introspective, so I’m going to direct you to another great blog post and hope my mother reads it. 😛

    By the way, I may be moving Plotting Crash Course posts to Tuesdays and Fridays only … I know it’s off the schedule, but …

  5. Hi Hope Ann!

    Per your earlier permission, this article has been scheduled to be featured as a guest post on http://www.ryanlanz.com on Oct 18th. As usual, it has your credit/bio/link. Feel free to hop in on the comments afterward. Thanks!

  6. Well, as you know, I started my blog because I wasn’t going to have anything to do with Facebook. I’m still wary of most social media. I only have a Pinterest account for looking at pictures to get ideas, not pinning anything, because of copyright concerns. Many of the other options seem like a lot of little bits of busy-work that don’t really pay off. The e-mail list doesn’t sound like a bad idea if you have people interested in your work beforehand, although since nobody’s commented on my last post in answer to the question I asked, I’m plainly not ready to try one yet.
    Of course, part of my reluctance to try social media might be the fact that I don’t like small talk, and most of them have limits on how much you can say.

    • I have found that much of social media is just that…social. Marketing is definitely possible and can work on social media, but its largest contribution is the personal aspect of contacting with writers and other readers…which is something I enjoy.

  7. This is very good! Thanks for writing it and I will have to pass it on. 😉 I use Goodreads as well just because I think a lot more under-age people use that than Facebook. (And besides, it’s way too much fun!) 😉

    • I’ve not used Goodreads much…not as a social media site, thought I do record books I’ve read. I keep thinking I need to check it out more, but I’ve not got the time yet.

  8. Pingback: Latest Discoveries – Once Upon an Ordinary

  9. thank you for the great tips

  10. Reblogged this on Jaylee Morgan Writes and commented:
    There are some very good resources in this post that I think you all would be interested in. 😀

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