How to Build Your Author Platform on Social Media by Andrea Hunter
Today I would like to welcome guest writer, Andrea Hunter. Enjoy!
It's no secret that selling books is a tough business. We're writers, and writers write. For some, the idea of peddling our wares on social media is a daunting task, a time-suck, a pointless venture. But it is one hundred percent necessary, and believe it or not, it can be easy and fun to do!
Regardless of publishing status - TBP (to be published), self, big five, small press - we have to do our part in the marketing process if we want people to learn about, and read, our books. What is the best way to cast a wide net in today's light-speed world of marketing? Yep, social media.
So, whether you have a presence on social media, or if you're just getting started, read on for some simple tips to streamline your efforts and build a successful author platform.
Start with a strong foundation by embracing who you are as a brand. Now, if you're thinking, "I'm an author, not a brand." I'm going to let you in on a not so little secret. If gaining readers and selling your books is your goal, then a trusted brand you must become.
What exactly is an author brand? To understand this, we must first learn what it is not. (That’s right, we’re getting all Yoda on it.)
An author brand isn't just a name, a logo, or a tagline. It isn't a head shot, a book cover, a website, or a color palette. Nope, it is not even one of these elements on its own.
An author brand is you, your voice, who you are and why you write what you do. When you apply your brand to these elements, you have a solid foundation for your author platform.
Even if you are missing a piece, for example, if you don't have (or want) a logo, or if you are still working on your book and don't have a cover - no worries, your foundation will still work.
Next, let's take those elements and plug them into your social media profiles.
User Name. A lot can go into choosing a username on social media, but for an author, it's simple. Use your name. There are times, however, when it's not possible to do so - character limits or someone else already using the same name are common hurdles. One solution - add 'author' or 'writer' to the beginning or end of your username. And do your research - check Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest - whichever social channels you intend to use, and make sure your username is available. If it is, GRAB IT. The same name. Across the board.
Profile Photo. Your headshot, or author photo, should be used as your profile image for each social media platform you use. Yep, the same exact photo. It should be high resolution, in focus, and professional-looking while reflecting your personality. Don't have a professional headshot? No sweat. If your phone can take quality photos, use it! Just be mindful of lighting and background “noise." For example, in your kitchen with the fridge in the background or an image cropped out of a group photo!
Bio. Who are you? What and why do you write? What do you want your audience to do? How many goats do you have? Okay, that last one is flexible, maybe you collect roller derby memorabilia. Or perhaps you've trained your cat to fetch your glasses. The point is to keep it simple, relevant, engaging, and authentic to the voice you wish to project to your audience. And guess what, you'll use this same information (in varying degrees due to character limits) on every social media channel you're on.
It's also essential to include a link to your website (or other social channels) and a way for your audience to contact you - through email, direct message, or both. And don’t forget, if you want your content to be discoverable, your social media profile should be set to public.
By remaining consistent from one social media channel to the next, your author brand will be instantly recognizable to your audience. In other words, a reader who finds you on Facebook will know that it's you when they come across your profile or look you up on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or Goodreads.
Now comes the fun part - posting and interacting with your audience!
But what kind of content should you post? My good friend and business partner, Denise Mehling-Smith, has a great answer to this super common question. "Don't think of it as social media, think of it as your online book club. You and a bunch of your friends hanging out, chatting about your book and other books you love. The topic might move around a bit. A favorite new recipe, a hobby you decided to pick up again, last night's incredible sunset, or maybe you ask your friends a question. Keep it conversational."
It might seem counter-intuitive when the goal is to sell your book, but nothing kills a social media presence like the hard sell. Of course, it's important to share progress, and the exciting details of your writing and publishing journey - like when your book cover design is finalized, or when you're holding your book baby in your hands for the very first time. That's huge! But building trust with your audience is also critical, because when people care, they want you to succeed.
Give your followers a chance to get to know you through the content you post. Share that same content across your social media channels - but be sure to modify the caption and hashtags to suit each channel. Follow and interact with other authors - in and outside of your genre. Comment on their posts, and when you receive a comment on yours - respond! With a little time and effort, your author platform will speak for you, and the "sell" will take care of itself.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Andrea Hunter is a writer and small business owner currently situated in the suburbs of Chicago. Her business, Mama Media, is a boutique creative services agency that caters to small businesses and authors in need of beautiful websites, graphic design, copy writing, social media content and coaching, and more.
Andrea's short fiction and poetry have appeared in WOW! Women on Writing Magazine, Ink and Voices, Shady Grove Literary, and various print publications. (And she is determined to finish the edits to her co-authored novel, The Celestial Thread, in 2020. #staytuned!)