Social Media for Authors: Venues

Everywhere you turn, a new social media venue is popping up. It’s tempting to believe you have to have a presence on all of them. This is a mistake. Instead, choose the venue(s) that you enjoy the most and serve you best. Invest yourself there.  Make one your home and add more if you have a specific reason for doing so.  Some venues can act as bridges between venues or as a mean of providing additional content. Here are my observations about some of the more popular venues.

Facebook is the big daddy of social media. It’s so big, many other sites, such as Goodreads, allow you to use your FB account to sign in with. Facebook offers business pages to go along with their personal accounts. While a personal account is invaluable, I would not bother creating an author page.

The business pages are not set up to encourage interaction, and with the changes in FB’s algorithms, there is no guarantee your fans will see your posts. Feeding content to an author page to keep it viable consumes time that would be better spent elsewhere. Of course, if your readers love cat and bacon memes, go ahead and set up that author page, you’ll be able to funnel plenty of content into it via shares from your feed.

You need to consider what you will and won’t make public. Just remember that anything you put online can wind up anywhere. Keep in mind that the politically incorrect meme full of F-bombs that you “like” can show up on your friends’ feeds, just like your “shares” do.

I live by a “I yam what I yam” philosophy. My page is public because I want people to find me. I don’t worry about what I will and won’t say. I figure if you get my books, you’ll get me, and vice versa. I’m happy to accept friend requests from people who identify themselves as fans.

Not everyone feels that way. Some folks set up personal accounts that are specifically for author business. Others take advantage of the different levels of privacy available on FB.

Find groups that relate to your book topics and participate. I don’t bother with the open writer groups. I hear they are mostly spam. I do belong to a private author group. This is an invitation-only net work of people who know each other and it is a spam-free and troll-free environment. We’re totally dedicated to supporting each other, and I love it. Writing is a lonely profession. Finding or creating such an environment can be a huge boost to your state of mind, your writing and even your sales.

Twitter is a “microblogging” site. Each “Tweet” is limited to 140 characters. If you know someone’s twitter handle, you can direct a tweet to them. I was so put out with the last John Sandford, that I tweeted my review to his official account. I suspect it’s managed by underlings, but there is at least a chance that someone in his entourage read it. With Twitter you can do things like that. Twitter allows you to bypass gatekeepers to important people. My friend, Desiree, tweets with Michael Moore on a regular basis.

These days, too much of Twitter is spam, and a lot of it is authors following authors who follow them back. Still, it can have an extensive reach. I set up my blog to auto tweet my blog posts, and Twitter to automatically repost to my FB account.

The folks with the best followings are those who tweet random bits, things that are meant to amuse or glimpses into their life, usually with a wry slant.

Twitter invented the Hashtag (#) If you add popular hashtags to your tweet, it is likely to be seen by people interested in those subjects and can possibly extend your reach. I often use #dog, #mystery and #woofwednesday.

If you’d like to find actual readers to follow (and hopefully follow you back), look up the authors of books similar to yours. click on their list of followers. Follow their followers and some of them will follow you back. You can click on each name to get a mini version of their profile to vet them first.

When you get hundreds of followers, the feed becomes unmanageable. You can create lists of followers, and when you click on that list, you’ll only see those posts.

Pintrest lets you set up boards where you post like items. Instead of disappearing into the void of a feed like FB posts, these remain visible. On Pintrest, you can share book research with fans, create pages devoted to books, characters, or personal interests. You can organize book research and resources. I have not done any of these things. but I might. One of these days.

YouTube allows you to post videos. Some folks love it. If you have the skills to make a video (some of us dinosaurs don’t) it’s a nifty way to create content to share other places. For younger people, Vlogs are popular. Hugh Howey frequently makes videos for fans.

One of the best opportunities for authors on YouTube is  Parapalooza   This is a project that posts videos of authors reading their favorite paragraph from one of their books and fans reading a paragraph from favorite books.

Linkedin is great for connecting with people professionally. If your book is related to your professional life, or of interest to a particular professional group, this can be an invaluable resource.

Vine is another video site that limits you to six second videos. It’s good for being random and silly and mostly appeals to a younger audience.

Instagram is a phone app and a community. It allows you to easily post videos and photos online. It also allows you to share on FB and other sites. This is a terrific tool if you are the sort to make random posts/tweets about everyday events.

Reddit is an online community of forums. They have forums for pretty much everything. While not as direct as Facebook and other venues, this is a good place to find people interested in niche subjects. I found forums for UFOs, Atheism, Dinosaurs and Astrology. As with all public forums, don’t feed the trolls.

Goodreads You can list your books on Goodreads and have a Goodreads author page. You can also embed your blog to your author page.  You can give away books in the hope of getting reviews. Just don’t talk about being an author, unless you’re clear the group is okay with it. Join a few groups that interest you and talk about your reading experiences. Post reviews. Don’t respond to reviews of your own books, lest you get tagged “author behaving badly” and open yourself up to the Goodreads trolls. Goodreads has been taking steps to address trollish behavior, but it’s best not to take the chance. GR members are demons for group etiquette. Establishing a presence on GR takes a long time and a lot of effort. For some people it’s worth it, because your average GR member is a rabid reader and many are librarians.

KDP forum If you self-publish on Amazon, the KDP forum is an invaluable source of information about the ins and outs of publishing ebooks on Amazon. The Kindle changes every year but the posted guidelines don’t keep up with the technological advances. This is the best place to find out the latest about how to produce the best ebook formatting. I dumped the boards a year ago when several of us broke off to create a private forum, but I still recommend it to newbies. Don’t trumpet successes, because this can lead to troll Amazon reviews (which is why my friends and I play elsewhere now). It may be best to not use your real name here. This isn’t a place to promote your books, anyway.

KBoards (formerly known as Kindle Boards) This is a forum where writers are encouraged to mingle with readers, and some successful authors are known to hang out here. I don’t know much about it. Again, be sure to mind your internet manners and don’t feed the trolls.

WordPress is a blogging venue that functions somewhat as social media because it allows you to follow other blogs. It’s also easier for people who don’t know you to find your content. This is why my blog is posted here instead of at an independent website. It’s got plenty of bells and whistles and you can add pages and upgrade to turn your blog into a full website with an independent URL.

Next: The Funnel

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