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The dreaded social bit

Promoting your book - part three: Social Media

I took part in an online discusssion around about the time I was starting to seriously seek agents about whether an aspiring author should have an online presence, or could that wait until a book had come out. The perceived wisdom was that a website and at least one strong social media platform was the least someone should set up.

Up until then, I had an aversion to all things social media. I'm a reasonably private person, I don't do lots of exciting whizzy-bang things - I had little to write about. But I held my nose, did some research and decided to dive into the whirl of Twitter. I held out on Facebook a little longer but bit that bullet a year or so ago, and I joined Goodreads when Abendau's Heir came out. I don't have a shared platform - I tweet and facebook differently and think it's more effective to do so, but many would disagree with that.

So, the pros and cons:


I find Twitter great for links and for quick shout outs. It's a fast moving platform, is easier to have a conversation on and can draw in more participants and be easy to follow. I like it for discussions, for multiple panel talks (#askagent is one such and it's always fun to watch - even when I had an agent).

Hashtags are your friends on Twitter. #bookboost, for instance, will retweet book related posts. With hashtags, retweets happen more often and, also, your post finds its right audience.

As with everything, a wall of buy-my-book tweets aren't the way to go. Over the last four days I've tweeted a link to Culture NI's* writers to follow (there I am!), my local rag's feature about me, a photo of my first best seller list, a comment about the carpark at the Top Gear show, favourited some posts, and done a few buy-my-books tweets. I think it's important to keep things fresh, to try to have something new up as often as possible. I also try to put up pictures - they draw more attention and break up the boring info-stream.

I also, and I know this will sound sad, search for myself and the book once a day. But, often, people have been kind enough to mention things and I like to be polite and say thanks (sometimes just with a favourite.) But, also, sometimes it's an opportunity for a retweet.

On retweeting - leave some time between the first tweet and the retweet and you'll hit a different thread of people. And then favourite a wee while later, and it's out again, and you don't irk your followers with a wall of same posts.

* I came across their call for debut authors because someone else on Twitter saw it and tagged me to the post. Twitter is great for that - linking events. And a follower who is kind enough to do that is a great support.


I get on well with Facebook these days. It took a while. But I have a nice mix of family and writerly types and I keep that list much smaller than on Twitter. There's probably more of the personal me on Facebook.

I also have a page for my book. It's useful because I don't have to bombard my family with book related stuff, but limited because unless I pay for it, not everyone following the page sees the posts I put up.

I like that I can put more information in the posts. I can show more humour. I like that when you type in a web link and wait a few moments a nice link to that comes up and looks nice and professional (and you can then delete the typed link.)
Of the two, however, to date I get more hits on Twitter for promo stuff than Facebook, but more visibility in general from Facebook.

As I said above, I also use Goodreads. I like the review platform it offers. I also ran a giveaway which was a great success in bringing the book to people's attention and multiplied the people planning to read the book tenfold. I plan to run another in a wee while - I'll see then if a second hit has more/less or the same impact.

So, did I need a platform? It has helped a lot, to be already established, to have followers who knew a little about me and who knew it wasn't just about the book. In general, I'd say yes to the aspiring writer thinking of starting something - and I think the advice to establish a single good platform rather than have two or three at the start is good advice. But be warned - it is time consuming. And the times when hits are good are the times when people are chilling and surfing, when you'll want to be having a mid-morning Sunday cuppa and not sticking up another tweet. But it does pay back and, if used with other platforms like communities (oh, and Facebook groups are great mini-communities) can be really effective.

Go forth and be sociable!


Claudine G. said…
Hi JoZeb,

I was reluctant in joining social media at first but have now found it very useful: getting connected with fellow writers, reviewers, and readers. I love Goodreads, Pinterest and Twitter (for blog/article links). Still very self-conscious on FB though ...
Joanne Zebedee said…
I found Facebook hard but find the groups in it quite good fun and a little less exposing, in a way. I've done a few
pinterest boards but never fully explored it as a network. And yes, twitter is great for linking and the speed it shares trending things.
Carissa Taylor said…
So funny. I'm doing a similar social media series on my blog too! I'm with you on Twitter. It's such a great place to network with other writers. I am a super-newbie to Facebook Pages. So much so that I haven't even advertised it to anyone yet. Would love any tips you have!

I only recently realized the immense value of using Buffer to schedule/space out retweets. Holy night, that's been a huge timesaver!
Joanne Zebedee said…
Buffer looks good, thank you!

The Facebook page is good - I can gather info in one place. But it doesn't send posts out to everyone who likes it so the promo value of it is a little limited. Actually, I find the groups function of facebook more useful - hitting into some that are into your kind of thing means you can have a conversation and be a person, which makes it all a lot more human.
Thanks for the info! I'm just biting the social media bullet myself, and it's useful to hear from others who've just navigated the same waters. :)
Joanne Zebedee said…
It is daunting at first, but does get easier, I think. Now, checking twitter and facebook is second nature to me. I am a bit lazy about timeline checking, though, especially on twitter and tend to look via lists and hashtag searches. Sometimes it's the only way to retain sanity!