Book Marketing

The Complete Guide to Social Media for Self-Published Authors in 2022

social media guide for self-published authors

Social media has become a part of our daily lives. When we wish to keep in touch with people or brands that interest us, we naturally follow them on social media. It’s like a reflex.

But these platforms are also a great source for discovering new and exciting people, authors, or anything else that makes us engaged and entertained.

This means using social media as a writer it’s an excellent tactic to add to your overall book promotion strategy

With 4.6 billion active social media users (as of June 2022), you surely want to be present on at least one platform, as it could benefit you and your work. 

But with so many platforms and opportunities for each, things may get a bit too complicated. 

Don’t give up just yet. Let’s filter the most important information for each and see how you can use social media platforms as a writer.

A. Which Social Media Platform is Best for Writers?

Realistically speaking, no one has enough time to publish on every single platform. You need an entire social media team to do it well. That includes authors too. 

And you probably don’t even need to.

If you’re wondering which social media platform is best for writers, you should know there isn’t a general rule or a single platform that does wonders for every author.

Ultimately, it all comes down to the platform you feel most comfortable with because only there can you be authentic and creative.   

So, before starting a social media strategy as an author, you need to ask yourself which platform you are naturally drawn to. Then, you can start putting together a few actions and your creative writing for social media.

Once you choose this career, you have many ways to connect with your audience. You can have a website or blog, use social media as a self-published author, or join communities of like-minded people.

Therefore, if you have a platform in mind or still need to decide, I’ve put together the most relevant social media platforms for writers and a few ways to use each—organic and paid. Keep in mind that you can easily use just organic posts and still be successful. The paid advertising part is when you wish to get there faster, but it's not a must.

1. Instagram for Authors

Instagram is a visual-based platform, so naturally, you will share all things visual here. And although you may be wondering how to turn this to your advantage, given that your work is text-based, this is one of the best social media platforms for writers because you can turn anything into an eye-catching post.

Did something inspire you when you wrote your book? Turn it into a post.

Do you have an all-time favorite quote from an author that convinced you to start your writing career? Turn it into a post.

You get the idea. 

Not every post should require complex design and hours' worth of work to be ready. You can simply take a piece of your creative writing and share it on social media. Just as Rupi Kaur does:

rupi kaur author instagram page

A great feature that Instagram offers is the Explore section, where people can find new accounts to follow. Instagram curates the content on this page according to each user's interests. So, if someone follows author pages, there's a chance they will discover you too there.

Here are some other book promotion ideas for using Instagram as an author.

1.1. Organic content

Instagram has a wide range of possibilities for creators and is perfect for everyone, regardless of their jobs or goals. As an author, you can implement a social media strategy based only on organic tactics:

  • Add a short description of yourself and the link to your website or blog.
  • Start live broadcasts to present something to your audience, such as a book release, book reading, or simply asking them for feedback. You will see their comments in real-time.
  • Share your life as a writer in photos: where do you usually write? Where did you go last summer? What inspired you to write that new story?
  • Create posts with quotes from your released books.
  • Create buzz around an upcoming book release by sharing images of your book cover or snippets from the story framed in a simple yet eye-catching design. 
  • Create story highlights and organize your Instagram stories into different categories, which users can find later after the story is not available anymore. A plus to this feature is that your profile looks even more attractive and colorful.
  • Create book giveaways.
  • Join the #bookstagram movement by using the hashtag.

Mark Manson is an example of a famous author on social media who takes advantage of everything Instagram has to offer.

mark manson author instagram page

1.2. Paid content

If you want a mix of organic and paid content through Instagram advertising, you can always create ads and promote your book, or you can turn your existing posts into promoted content and finish everything faster.

Types of Instagram ads:

Image ads: This is an ad created with a simple image and a copy, and it's probably the most popular one, as it is easy to make.

Video ads: This format allows you to get creative in a video that can be up to 60 seconds long.

Story ads: With these ads, your book will pop up among users' stories, blending in naturally.

Carousel ads: This series of up-to-ten photos help you advertise more than one book or share details about a single one throughout more than one visual.

2. Facebook for Authors

Facebook is still the most popular social media platform (as of July 2022), and compared to Instagram, which is more appealing to a younger audience, all demographics use Facebook.

As an author, you can use Facebook in more than one way: 

As a more seasoned writer, and not only, a Facebook author page is the better option, as it gives you complete control over what you post and who else can post on your official page.

On an author page, you can share everything related to your writing career: news and information about your books, upcoming titles, and all kinds of events (book releases, giveaways, etc.)

As George R.R Martin does. He announces with excitement the upcoming events he’ll be part of and other things he likes, such as The Sandman. 

george r.r. martin facebook author page

On the other hand, joining a Facebook Group for authors is perfect when you’re at the beginning of your career, and you need to find people that could share writing tips and their experiences with you. Creating one may be a little more time-consuming because you’ll have to act as a community manager and keep everything organized.

Here are some other ways in which you can use Facebook as an author.

2.1. Organic content

Facebook for authors is a great place to start a social media strategy based on this platform's features. You can:

  • Create events and invite people to them. You can promote virtual or in-person events and track attendance through the built-in RSVP feature.
  • Answer your readers when they post on your wall or leave you a book review.
  • Create posts with the reviews you find worthy of sharing with everyone.
  • Create posts with writing tips or things you find exciting as an author.
  • Create book giveaways.
  • Start live broadcasts to present something relevant to your target audience.

2.2. Paid content

This social media platform for writers is extremely popular. But precisely because of that, it can sometimes create difficulties for a newcomer to get noticed. You can improve your chances by using paid content together with your usual organic content. 

Photo ads: A simple format with an image and copy.

Video ads: Help you create a more dynamic presentation of your offer. 

Story ads: These will unpretentiously appear among people's stories while watching them.

Messenger ads: Will show among users' conversations.

Carousel ads: Help you display up to ten images or videos in a single ad, each with its link. 

Slideshow ads: They are video-like ads made of photos.

3. Twitter for Authors

Twitter may be the obvious choice for authors as it's mostly text-based. But not only for that. It's also a popular social media platform for writers that could help you shine.

This platform for writers can help you stay in touch with the writing world in a rapid way: write a few words (Twitter has a limited number of characters) and deliver the information to your readers. This method can surely teach anyone how to filter the necessary from the cute to have but not really a must.

Take Irvine Welsh’s Twitter profile as an example.

irvine welsh author twitter page

You can also start following other authors on Twitter, who will start following you back. This way, you can create a powerful follower base that will help and inspire you.

This means you can use Twitter to:

  • Keep in touch with the writing world.
  • Use it as a tool to promote your books on social media.

Let’s talk a bit about the second option.

3.1. Organic content

Keeping your readers updated while maintaining and growing a follower base could be an easy job if you do the following: 

  • Post your thoughts, experiences, and feelings to get closer to your readers.
  • Use hashtags in your tweets related to writing to increase your discoverability. 
  • Retweet other authors' content.
  • Get involved in writing-related events.
  • Make sure to reply to what your followers say about you and your books.

3.2. Paid content

Twitter also allows you to promote your books through ads. And there are quite a few ways to promote your books on this social media platform:

  • Image ads to promote your books in a single photo.
  • Video ads to create a trailer or a short presentation in a lively way.
  • Carousel ads showcase multiple books or emphasize a single one through six horizontally-swipeable images or videos.
  • Moment ads are a collection of Tweets through which you can tell a story in more than 280 characters.
  • Text ads are simple and short texts that feel like native content.
  • Follower ads promote an account to a target audience.
  • Amplify ads pair your video ads with other videos from top publishers to put you in the spotlight.
  • Twitter takeover option places your ad in visible places: as the first ad of the day or together with what’s trending.

4. Pinterest for Authors

Pinterest is a visual discovery platform for people who are looking to take action

What’s incredibly useful and amazing about this platform is the steady traffic it brings in. Think about Facebook or Instagram, which are great platforms, but your traffic increases when you post something interesting. And you need to keep on posting and engaging with your readers because people tend to forget about older posts.

Pinterest, on the other hand, doesn’t work like that. Your Pins will still bring traffic long after publishing them because it all depends on what users are searching for.

This is not your typical social media for writers platform. Yes, readers can leave comments on your Pins, and you can answer them, but your success on Pinterest doesn’t rely on that. Pinterest users discover content by searching for keywords, using hashtags, or looking at the saved Pins of someone they follow.

If you go to Beth Revis' Pinterest, you'll find her created Pins and the ones she saved, showing you her interests and likes.

beth revis pinterest for authors

So, let’s see how you can use this platform as a writer.

4.1. Organic content

Pinterest is literally the ultimate source of inspiration for anyone, regardless of the topic they search for. The platform can be of huge benefit to you as an author if you do these simple things:

  • You can create boards for different topics, books, or events you participated in. Each board can have its Pins.
  • You can save the Pins you find interesting to your profile, and others can get inspired by what caught your attention. 
  • You can create Pins and share writing tips with your audience.
  • You can make Pins with quotes or extracts from your books.
  • You can add hashtags and keywords to your Pins to make them more discoverable.
  • You can link any image from your website to your Pinterest account.

4.2. Paid content

If you want to promote your books on this social media platform, you can use paid advertising together with your organic content and increase your chances of getting noticed.

Here are the ad types you can create:

Standard Pin ads: they look like regular Pins, only with the word Promoted on them.

Carousel ads: They allow you to add five cards, which is a great way to showcase more than one book in a single ad.

Video ads: With them, you can promote a book trailer.

5. YouTube for Authors

This is another great platform for writers. YouTube is a search engine in itself. Whenever you wish to get recommendations on something, and you don’t want to read, what do you do instead? Go to YouTube.

This means your presence here is a great social media strategy for you as an author.

Joanna Penn is an author who writes bestselling thrillers and dark fantasy novels. She also has a YouTube channel with tips for other authors.


the creative penn youtube account

Here’s what you can do to promote your book on YouTube:

5.1. Organic content

It's not particularly easy to create videos, especially when you don't feel comfortable filming yourself. Still, you can make videos based on the things you master as an author and create an entire social media strategy around it without the need for you to appear in those videos (if you don't want to). You can:

  • Create trailers for your new books
  • Vlog the literary events you participate in.
  • Share writing tips.
  • Tell people what inspired you to write your books.

5.2. Paid content

There are a few options when it comes to creating YouTube ads:

Skippable in-stream ads: These are the classic ads that start at the beginning of a video. Users can skip them after a few seconds.

Non-skippable in-stream ads: These are shorter ads, up to 15 seconds, and they cannot be skipped.

Video discovery ads: They will show as a suggestion in the search results or as related videos in the right-hand sidebar.

Bumper ads: These are unskippable 6-second or shorter videos, so they have to be catchy.

Outstream ads: These are usually seen on websites and apps that have a partnership with Google, and they start playing automatically with the sound off, and viewers can tap the video to unmute it.

Masthead ads: Can only be used through a reservation with a Google sales representative. They're found at the top of the YouTube feed, and they autoplay with sound off for 30 seconds or more.

6. TikTok for Authors

TikTok seems to grow in popularity, and more and more people consume short-form videos to relax and even discover new things. This means it can be a great social media platform for self-published authors to get on.

Authors can definitely take advantage of this and create videos that help them keep in touch with their audience. For example, among the famous writers on social media is John Green, who shares all kinds of videos: family recipes, his opinions on different subjects, and most importantly, videos related to his books.

john green author on tiktok

So, let’s see how to market your book on this social media platform.

6.1. Organic content

It’s TikTok, so everything centers around short-form videos. But there are options for those who feel comfortable staying in front of the camera and for those who don’t: 

  • Post reactions to certain videos.
  • Create short trailers for your books.
  • Create short videos with snippets from your books.
  • Create a series of writing tips.
  • Create a series of what motivates you as an author.
  • Join the #booktok challenge.

6.2. Paid content

There are a few ad formats on TikTok, but probably the most suitable ones are the In-Feed Video Ads, which appear in between users’ videos as they scroll through the main page.

B. Communities for Book Lovers and Writers

For many authors, joining a community that is centered around books is a no-brainer. While most of the previously mentioned social media platforms will bring them benefits, their users are not there strictly for book recommendations or as regular book readers.

That’s why the following platforms are an excellent way to help your books shine. There, all users are readers, and they seek new titles for their physical or digital shelves. 

1. Goodreads 

Goodreads is probably the go-to place for authors in need of promoting their work. When you register to this platform, you can do it as a reader, which allows you to review and rate books.

As an author, however, you have more perks using this platform. 

To join the Goodreads Author Program, you need to have a published book (or a soon-to-be-published book) that’s found in their database. Then, you can claim your profile, and once verified, your page will display an official Goodreads Author badge. 

So, here’s what you can do after.

1.1. Organic content

You can do a few things to improve your chances of getting discovered:

  • Update and keep the information about yourself up-to-date.
  • Be present and answer reader questions using Ask The Author. This will open up the opportunity for discussions and creating connections with your readers. 
  • Write reviews, and let people know what you love in terms of literature. Readers appreciate recommendations from other authors.

2.2. Paid content

Goodreads has a few marketing tools to promote your book:

  • Ads
  • The possibility of connecting your blog to the platform.
  • Run giveaways: Kindle Book Giveaway, which is available to publishers and self-published authors who use Kindle Direct Publishing, and Print Book Giveaway, which is available to all publishers and authors.

Goodreads is owned by Amazon, so the platform is a good indicator of how well your book will perform on Amazon.

Note: Make sure to keep your Goodreads and Amazon reviews separately. Mixing them could get you banned from Amazon. 

2. Scribophile

This is a platform perfect for writers because once you finish writing your book, you can ask for feedback from other writers.

Here’s how it works:

  • You give feedback to other writers to win points.
  • Spend the points to post your writing and ask for feedback from other writers.
  • Get your beta readers fast and easy.

So, this is a social media platform in a totally different way. It is social, but for writers that wish to improve their writing and make sure their future books will have success.

There are other communities that are not just for writers, but you can join groups of author or literature-related discussions, such as Quora or Reddit. Answering people there will help you establish yourself as a professional in your industry.

C. Apps to Keep You Organized 

So this is how you market a book on social media. There are many ways, and each platform has its own particularities that can turn them into perfect platforms for writers.

Whichever one you choose for your book promotion ideas, you need to stay devoted to your plan in order to build a solid following.

But this means you have to be organized and keep posting on a regular basis, which could affect your writing schedule and even your creativity.

So, what you can do is use a few apps for creating and scheduling your social media posts. This way, a social media strategy for authors won’t seem so dreadful.

Canva: It's a great tool for creating social media visuals. It's easy to use, and you have a lot of elements to design visuals even with the free plan.

Hootsuite: Helps you schedule your posts in advance for all the platforms you need. So, you can actually spend only a few hours preparing them and be ready with social media posts for the entire week.

Conclusion

Knowing how to market a book on social media can bring you many benefits. But social media for self-published authors, or for anyone for that matter, can be a bit of a struggle. 

The good thing is that it only feels like this in the beginning because once you start creating and implementing your social media strategy as a self-published author with a few platforms and tactics in mind, everything will feel like smooth sailing.

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