11 Reasons Indie Authors Need Social Media (And How to Get It Right!)

by | Mar 14, 2016

You’ve heard it a million times (or at least several hundred times): Indie authors need to use social media as part of their online marketing strategy.

I’m sure you’ve seen lists of reasons why, but let’s look at the most important reasons social media is so important for authors:

  1. It will refer traffic to your blog, website, the landing page for your books, and Amazon.
  2. There is a large community of indie authors who are willing to help you promote your book and form supportive alliances.
  3. You’ll find new readers on social media.
  4. Social media helps you to market your books.
  5. You can get to know professionals who can show you how to improve your book marketing efforts, write better blog posts, tune up your author website, and more efficiently use social media. You’ll can also meet editors, designers, book reviewers and bloggers, and publicists.
  6. Over time, social media will help you to build your community.
  7. You’ll meet readers who can become your “Super Fans” or belong to your “Street Team.”
  8. When you host giveaways and contests, you’ll need social media to spread the word.
  9. With social media, you can inform your followers and readers about new blog posts you write.
  10. Social media will allow you to build relationships with your readers.
  11. Social media allows you You can sell to a worldwide audience.

Now let’s look at the reverse scenario. This is what happens when you don’t use social media:

  1. Friends, colleagues, and family members can still purchase books from you.
  2. You might be able to sell to readers in your local community, and through local bookstores and coffee shops, but the success of your online sales is likely to be limited.
  3. There is no Number 3.

Indie Authors Who Use Social Media Successfully

The Internet abounds with examples of Indie authors who use social media to further their publishing careers. Success can be defined in two ways: Some people publish books to expand their clientele and business; others use it to have successful writing careers. In other words, they get to quit their proverbial day job and focus on their writing.

Let’s look at examples of successful Indie authors:

  • E.L. James is the author 50 Shades of Grey and the book’s sequels. She’s also a New York Times bestselling author and, has successfully used Facebook and Twitter.
  • Joanna Penn, thriller and nonfiction author. She loves to use Twitter, where she has 65,300 followers. Joanna is one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the U.K.
  • Bella Andre started with a traditional publisher and then turned to indie publishing. She’s a New York Times and USA Today bestselling romance author with 166,000 Twitter followers.
  • Anne R. Allen is the author of eight comic novels and has a wildly successful blog.
  • Charles Duhigg is the author of The Power of Habit. He began as an Indie author, joined Goodreads, started a group, was noticed by a publisher, and became a New York Times bestselling author. He’s now the author of two books.
  • Mark Dawson is a thriller author who has focused on Facebook, where he has 15,547 likes. He has successfully used Facebook advertising to market his books and teaches indie authors how to replicate his success.

Indie Authors Who Could Be Enjoying More Success on Social Media

Unfortunately, examples of unsuccessful Indie authors are commonplace. (Apologies in advance to these authors, whom I selected at random.)

  • Andrew Melvin is the author of The Mischief of Rats, which he published in 2014. He uses Twitter occasionally. How’s he doing?
    • His book isn’t ranked on Amazon
    • No one has reviewed his book even though he published it two years ago.
  • Henry Martin is the author of Mad Days of Me. He has a Twitter profile but hasn’t tweeted since 2015. How’s Henry doing?
    • He book is ranked at 5,715,025 on Amazon.
    • Has nine reviews on Amazon.

How to Get Off to the Right Start on Social Media

Where do most people make mistakes? As soon as they open their social media accounts. Whether they decide to use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or another network, it’s important to think about how you want to portray yourself online.

If you don’t upload a professional image of yourself, people may not take you seriously. For example, would you bother to follow this guy?

Robert twitter example

So, if Robert isn’t the guy in the picture, who is he? And what’s his name? If he’s written books, you can’t tell from his bio.

Using a string of numbers or letters in your username makes your “handle” appear spammy. You will also remain incognito on the Internet, especially if you only use your first name. Remember, your user name needs to match your brand and should ideally use the name that appears on your book covers.

In your bio, establish yourself as an author. Here’s a concise author bio that includes two books the author wrote, and leads readers to Amazon. Instead of a link to Amazon, you could include a link to the landing page for your books, or to a call to action to grow your email list.

Robert Lane twitter example

The next step is to add a header image on Twitter or a banner image on other networks. (Note: Pinterest and Goodreads don’t allow this option and on LinkedIn, the banner image is incredibly narrow.)

Here’s an excellent example of a banner image on Facebook made by using the online graphics tool, Canva. A replica is on the author’s Twitter account.

Robert Lane twitter banner

Another mistake that authors make is connecting their Twitter account to a Facebook account. Don’t do this. If you integrate them, your tweets on Facebook will appear spammy.

On LinkedIn, I decided to use an image for my own account that incorporated my brand colors.

Frances Caballo twitter banner example

Stephanie Chandler
, an author and founder of the Nonfiction Authors Association, created a banner publicizing an upcoming conference.

Stephanie Chandler twitter banner example

Social Media No-Nos

You’ve seen what not to do when you open an account. Now let’s look at actions that are considered to be bad behavior on social media. Avoiding these behaviors will go a long way to making your social media experience more enjoyable and more fun:

  • Don’t repeatedly ask your followers to buy your books.
  • Don’t send direct messages that ask a follower to read a post, read a book, or look at your stories.
  • Don’t post several Facebook status updates in a row.
  • It’s best not to pin several images on Pinterest in a row because you’ll flood your followers’ newsfeeds. Doing this is equivalent to sending ten tweets in a row or five Facebook posts in a row.
  • Don’t join Goodreads for the sole purpose of promoting your book. Join as a reader who is interested in connecting with other readers about the love of reading and the books you enjoy. Talk about the books you loved and why. Share real reviews.
  • Don’t randomly start following readers on Goodreads. You only get 5,000 friends on Goodreads so spread your love wisely.
  • Don’t use the default egghead image as your avatar on Twitter or leave your header image blank.
  • Don’t use a picture of your dog or cat for your avatar on any social media accounts.
  • Don’t predominantly post about yourself on social media.
  • Never fail to connect with authors in your genre and/or other Indie authors
  • Don’t buy a lot of advertising on social media and ignore engaging with readers
  • Never ever be rude.

Free Webinar: Join Me to Learn More About Getting Results on Social Media

I spend every day all day helping indie authors get great results on social media. Now I’d love to share what I’ve learned with you.

On Thursday Joel and I will present a free webinar, “Using Social Media for Indie Authors” full of best practices, tips, and strategies that will help authors achieve success using social media.

Here’s the info:

Free Webinar: “Using Social Media for Indie Authors”
When: Thursday, March 17th, 1:00 p.m. Pacific (4:00 p.m. Eastern.)
Register: Webinar registration page

I’ll see you on the webinar!

Photo: bigstockphoto.com

tbd advanced publishing starter kit

9 Comments

  1. Jessica

    This was such an insightful read. Thank you. Looking forward to catching a future webinar as well!

    Reply
    • Frances Caballo

      Jessica: Thanks! Our next webinar is in August, which isn’t too far away.

      Reply
  2. Helena

    Ive used social media for years (I was one of the first on Twitter in the days when people still laughed at this particular platform), and there were useful tips here for me. Any chance you’ll do another webinar soon?

    Reply
    • Frances Caballo

      I’m so glad you liked this post. Yes, Joel and I will do another webinar in August. Stay tuned!

      Reply
  3. Tanisha Williams

    Thanks for sharing! These will definitely provide encouragement for aspiring authors on how to make a name for themselves through social media.

    Reply
  4. Mona AlvaradoFrazier

    As a reader and user of Twitter, I say you’re right on target with bullet points #1 and 2. When a person follows me or I’m looking to follow someone I look at their Twitter feed. I have a few do/don’t which I call “If’s”:
    -If the feed is filled with hawking their book, I don’t follow.
    -If I get a DM to read their book, I am irritated.
    -If there is no link to their website so I can see how and what they write, I don’t follow.
    -If their website is one big marketplace with two and three pop-ups, I don’t follow.
    -If their Twitter feed is filled with only RT’s I don’t follow.
    -IF you have something inspiring, humorous, uplifting to say, I stay.
    -IF you share good info about a skill, a website, a topic, I stay
    -IF you have visuals, or a video, or an infographic I stick around.

    Reply
    • Frances Caballo

      Mona: I love your list of Ifs. You’re so right on. There’s no point in following someone who only talks about his or her books. Thanks for your comment.

      Reply
  5. Kim Gosselin

    Fantastic points, Frances! Thank you!

    Reply
    • Frances Caballo

      Kim: You’re welcome. I hope you’ll join us on Thursday too!

      Reply

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