2 Ways Fiction Authors Can Start Using Social Media

by Joel Friedlander on October 26, 2012 · 16 comments

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By Jason Kong

I “met” Jason on Jane Friedman’s blog, where he wrote an interesting post on book marketing. I asked him for his thoughts on how fiction authors can use social media for their own book marketing efforts, and this is his response.

When J.K. Rowling announced her latest book on Twitter, thousands of people forwarded the message on to thousands more.

That’s what you can do with a powerful platform. Marketing becomes easy once you’re connected to people who want your stories.

Becoming a bestselling author is one way to earn the attention of a massive and loyal audience, but it’s hardly a blueprint for the aspiring novelist. Since you should cultivate a following as soon as possible, why not leverage the tools you’re already using?

Like social media.

Whether you’re using Facebook, Google+ or blogs (or all of them), you have the means to attract and keep in touch with those interested in what you do. If you’re a fiction author, here are some ideas to consider.

Showcase your best writing for free

I know what you’re thinking.

You’re already putting most of your time and creative energy into your stories. What’s the return for giving away something good enough to be paid for?

Answer: earning attention and trust. If your books aren’t suffering from a quality problem, then perhaps not enough of the right people know about your work.

So write a short story in an ebook format and share the link. Weave an entertaining anecdote in a blog post. Take advantage that most social media is a text-based medium, and you’re a motivated writer.

Come up with different ways to share your perspective, style, or storytelling skills. You want people to fall in love with your writing, and share that passion with someone else. When your words are free, they can spread faster and farther.

Good writing is aligned with good marketing. So keep releasing quality stuff without charge.

Seek those interested in your work

The internet is a very big place. It’s impossible for everyone to like what you offer.

Your easiest (and most rewarding) path is to identify those likely to be passionate about your stories. Instead of creating desire, find where the desire may already exist.

Social media is a great venue for doing just that.

Some suggestions:

  • Connect with authors in the same genre as you. If you respect each other’s writing, then you’ll mutually benefit from being exposed to a new audience. It’s good for the readers too.
  • Learn how to better utilize Goodreads, the social network designed for people who love books.
  • Show appreciation to your current following. By focusing on your fans they’ll draw in others to your circle.

You don’t have to wait for people to find you. By being strategically proactive, you can really help your cause.

What action will you take?

It’s your right to treat social media as your internet hangout or a break from your book writing. Good fortune can still be in your future.

Nothing says you won’t get discovered or an opportunity falls into your lap. One of your tweets or posts may simply go viral. Maybe you’ll attract the audience you want simply by being you.

Awesome if it happens. But not something you can count on.

The alternative is to be more deliberate about developing your platform. Writing is your product, but it’s also your brand, marketing, and sales pitch. Use social media to put it on display, in front of people that will more likely care.

What strategies or tactics have you used to building your audience with social media?

profile of Jason Kong
Jason Kong is a Contributing Writer for The Book Designer. He also runs Storyrally, an email-based subscription that helps fiction writers with their online marketing.

You can learn more about Jason here.

Photo credit: Jason A Howie

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    { 12 comments… read them below or add one }

    Karon November 6, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    Very useful post. I would welcome any suggestions as to the best ways to connect with authors who write in the same genres.


    Austin Briggs October 28, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    It’s a pretty complete post, Jason, thanks a lot for it.

    Personally, I went the complete circle from obsessing over my social media channels, to posting all sort of silliness on my blog (now deleted), to neglecting it all, to, once again, coming out with a sustainable strategy. Hopefully so.

    Working hard to making the famous “platform building” part of my daily routine, right up there with cleaning my teeth and going to work.


    Jason Kong October 29, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    Austin: I think you’re absolutely right that you want a sustainable strategy.

    With few exceptions, platform building takes time. And consistent effort usually wins over desperate tactics.


    Fiona October 26, 2012 at 11:05 pm

    This is a great post. I think that connecting with other authors in your genre is crucial. Building a platform is critical for all authors, regardless of publication routes and I’d agree that utilising goodreads is highly effective. It has proven to be the single most effective channel for my devut novel release sp far. Thanks for your insights.


    Joel Friedlander October 27, 2012 at 9:19 pm

    Fiona, thanks for your comment. I would be interested in hearing how you used your connections on Goodreads in your recent promotion.


    Deb Atwood October 26, 2012 at 8:35 am

    Great idea, Tracy. Are you talking an e-release of your short story or a print pamphlet?

    Taking advice from Jane Friedman and others, I have tried to use niche marketing. My novel Moonlight Dancer offers three niche possibilities: ghosts, Korea, and dolls. I began by blogging ghost novel reviews and searching for paranormal reading sites. I was very fortunate to find http://www.stainlesssteeldroppings.com, which has helped me double my blog readership, partly through participating in group reads. Though the site discusses all things paranormal, I limit myself to topics relating to ghosts.

    So far I have been unsuccessful in connecting with a group interested in Korea (writing in English since my Korean is so poor) and have not tried to connect with doll enthusiasts.

    Enjoyed your article, Jason, and am signing up for your newsletter!


    Tracy R. Atkins October 26, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    If anything, i would do an E-Book, ala Kindle Single. Its hard to make a valuable POD print offering for something 20 pages or less IMO, just because of shipping costs.


    Jason Kong October 26, 2012 at 10:34 pm


    You have an interesting mix of subjects in your novel!

    Keep in mind that identifying a target niche sometimes has less to do with the specific subjects in your book and more about the overarching theme. So in your case, it certainly would help if I liked dolls and Korea, but if I didn’t like the paranormal it’d be difficult for me to get into your story.

    The good news is that your success doesn’t depend on speculation. Take your best guess and reach out to the groups you think will like your book. You’ll get feedback that will give you a better idea of where you stand.

    Gauging interest with free content allows you do that quicker and more effectively.

    Also, I agree with Tracy — digital media that has no incremental cost to you is a big advantage.


    Rhett Bigler June 6, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    Hey Deb, I love the idea that participating in group reads helped drive your blog readership. I keep thinking “where can I find readers who will like the book I’m writing” and the answer is reading the same books I like. Doh! Thanks for sharing.


    Tracy R. Atkins October 26, 2012 at 8:06 am

    Short stories are a great way to break the ice with readers and get your name out there. Your idea of offering a freebie is a perfect way to advertise too. Make a nice short story cover, format it well and use a page after the story to promote your other work. It’s brilliant and easy to do. Thanks!


    Jason Kong October 26, 2012 at 10:39 pm

    Tracy: Great suggestion about including a page of your other work.


    Grace Brannigan October 27, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    Yes, I certainly like that idea too, promoting some other work at the end.


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