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Social Media for AuthorsHow important is social media for authors seeking literary agents and publishers? As a former literary agent turned author coach, authors often ask me: What is an “author platform?” How important is social media to literary agents and publishers? How important is social media for my genre? How many followers do I need to impress literary agents and publishers? Should I have more than one social media account? Which social media platforms are best for authors? Which social media tools or applications are best? And, what should I post on social media? This article (revised and expanded on 03.24.18) answers those questions.

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Social Media for Authors – FAQ

Click on the questions below to see my answers!

What Is Author Platform?

Social Media for Authors

What Is Author Platform?

Before I share my best advice on social media for authors, let’s about your author platform in general. The big picture. In other words, your social media presence (or lack thereof) is simply part of your “author platform.” I’ve seen agents decide to represent certain authors, in part, because of those authors’ platforms, including their presence on social media. Nine times out of ten, part of an agent’s decision to represent you is going to be influenced by how attractive your author platform is.

It isn’t usually the deciding factor — but it is a factor.

Think about it…

You probably already know that the best agents get more than 1,500 queries a month. So, if an agent gets queries from two different authors who’ve written books in the same genre, and both projects are great, but one author has a big social media following and the other one doesn’t, who do you think the agent is going to choose?

Just remember, you DON’T need to be on social media to get a top literary agent and/or book deal. Your book matters most. As an author coach, I’ve helped authors with zero platform get literary agents and book deals, but… it’s a lot EASIER if you have some type of platform. And social media is a great place to start, since it doesn’t cost anything (unless you want to spend money on it), and you can literally do it your underwear if you want to. You don’t need to leave your house, or even your bed.

Now, let’s talk about…

Understanding Your Author Platform – Social Media for Authors

Authors are, understandably, focused mostly on their books. Thinking about them. Writing them. And, when it comes to trying to get a book agent or publisher, talking about them. That’s because most authors know that getting a literary agent or publisher isn’t possible unless you have a good book. What you might not realize, however, is that your book is only half of what you’re selling.

You’re also selling Y-O-U.

At least you SHOULD BE selling you
when you pitch your project.

In three parts…

* * *

Part 1: What Type of Author Are You? – Social Media for Authors

You don’t need to be the CEO of a big business or have a Ph.D. to be a successful author. But smart agents and publishers are looking for answers to the following questions when they read your pitch materials and/or speak with you: Are you educated about how the publishing industry works? Can you think and communicate clearly? Are you someone who’s easy to work with? What have you done, in any area of your life, that shows you understand how to perform, and achieve things, at a high level? Are you confident? Are you coachable? Do you appreciate the power that agents and publishers have to help you reach your goals? Have you educated yourself to become a better writer and master your craft?

* * *

Part 2: What Qualifies You to Write a Book Like Yours? – Social Media for Authors

At this moment, there are 7.4 billion people in the world. Literary agents want to know: Why are you the best person on the planet to write your book? Why are you the most logical choice? Why are you the most qualified? Some books require a better answer to those questions, but many authors don’t even attempt to answer them.

* * *

Part 3: What Proof Do You Have that You Can Help Sell Books? – Social Media for Authors

Every author wants to believe that selling books is the publisher’s job. But it’s up to both of you. If you have a traditional publisher, you’re partners. You invest a lot of time to write the book; your publisher invests a lot of money to publish the book. Once the book is in print, you’ll be “in bed” with your publisher and your book is a baby you both need to raise. That means, if you want to “get married” to a publisher, you need to prove you’re going to be a good parent (be able help get exposure and sell books).

The good news is there are many ways you can help “sell” books that don’t require you to be (or feel like) a salesperson. You can help sell books without being pushy, embarrassing yourself, or leaving your house. You can even help sell books if you’re introverted, don’t like people very much, and don’t have social skills. You simply need to increase your book’s visibility… and there are lots of ways to do that.

Social media for authors is simply one way.

Other ways to get exposure for your books include: getting testimonials from famous authors, celebrities, or other influential people; getting commitments from influential people to help promote your book in other ways; having a website and/or blog with decent traffic; having a large email list; having your own radio show, TV show, or syndicated column; media appearances; speaking engagements; pre-sale commitments from businesses, groups, or other organizations; hiring your own publicist; etc.

Now, don’t panic.

You don’t need to do all those things (or any of those things)
to get a top literary agent, publisher, and/or book deal.

Again…

Your book is what matters most.

But…

The more you improve your platform,
let’s just say, it can’t hurt.

Having a great (or decent) author platform
will help you stand out from the crowd.

So…

Read the next section to find out
how important social media is
to agents and publishers…

How Important Is Social Media to Literary Agents and Publishers?

Social Media for Authors

How Important Is Social Media to Literary Agents and Publishers?

If you had two agents wanting to represent you and both were passionate about your book, but one agent had tens of thousands of followers on social media, while the other one only had a couple dozen or a couple hundred followers (or wasn’t on social media at all), which one would you most want to work with?

That’s what I thought…

If you’re human, you’re going to assume (consciously or subconsciously) that the person with the bigger following is more successful and influential. You’re also going to wonder if the person with the big following is more likable and pleasant to interact with. After all, those qualities often help people become “popular.”

Admit it, we all judge other people (rightly or wrongly) by outward signs of success. It’s not a character flaw. It’s one of the ways we quickly navigate our busy lives and determine who we can trust.

That’s why I finally took the leap.

And got on social media.

I hope you will, too.

I stopped making excuses in August 2015. I started by dusting off a couple social media accounts I’d set up in 2009 but never used. I decided, first, to get followers on one of my Twitter profiles and a Facebook page. Through the remainder of 2015 and the early part of 2016, I got more than 10,000 likes on Facebook and 25,000 followers on Twitter. Then I REALLY got serious and started using Twitter Ads to speed things up. By the end of 2016, I had about 150,000 people on Twitter (three different accounts).

Yes…

It’s time-consuming,
especially at first.

And, no…

I didn’t want to do it.

Like many people, I have enough going on in my personal and professional life. Meaning, I wasn’t fishing for friends. I didn’t need to drum up more business. And, I didn’t want to deal with the learning curve. I also didn’t want to deal with the trolls and negativity that often infect social media.

But…

There were also good reasons
for me to start using social media.

One of those reasons was credibility. Once in a while, an author would say something like the following to me, “If you’re such a publishing guru, why don’t have more than 453 people following you on your Twitter account?”

I’d reply and say things like:

– “I have a big following on my email list, that’s what counts.”
– “I don’t have time for social media and no one cares what I ate for breakfast.”
– “I’m too busy creating content for my websites and my (usually) weekly newsletter.”
– “Taking care of my author coaching clients is more important than “tweeting.”
– “People say stupid things online and I don’t want to be parts of people’s snarkiness and negativity.”
– “None of us should be judged by the size of our social media following.”

But now, all that sounds lame.

Like excuses.

It’s okay…

I can admit it now, since I now
have 200,000+ people
in my network.

You might not want that many,
but how many DO
you want?

Pick a number, then,
before you spend any time
(or more time) on social media…

Read the next section to find out
how important social media
is for your genre…

How Important Is Social Media for My Genre?

Social Media for Authors

How Important Is Social Media for My Genre?

In most cases, having one or more accounts on social media (or having a big following on social media) isn’t a requirement to get a top literary agent, publisher, or book deal. However, there are instances where it is a requirement. And, in every instance, being active on social media (or having a big following) can increase your chances of getting a book agent and publisher.

The question is, how important is social media for your genre?

Nonfiction – Social Media for Authors

There are three types of nonfiction books.

1) Books (often prescriptive) devoted to sharing expertise and special knowledge about a topic (e.g.history books, science books, self-help books, cookbooks, business books, spirituality books, diet books, etc.). Author platform is most important for authors of this type of book because having influence and a large following is one indicator of expertise and credibility; and, it’s an indicator of an author’s ability to get exposure and sell books (something more expected of nonfiction authors).

2) The second type of nonfiction book is that which shares zero expertise and special knowledge about a topic (e.g. some memoirs and narrative nonfiction, joke books, some novelty books and gift books, some photo books, some creative nonfiction, etc.). Author platform is less important for authors of this type of book because such books aren’t “expert-based.” However, authors of such books can certainly make themselves more attractive to literary agents and publishers by bolstering their platform, since having influence and a large following is one indicator of an author’s ability to get exposure and sell books.

3) The this type of nonfiction book is one that fits somewhere in the middle of the two categories described above (e.g. some memoir, etc.). Depending which of the two categories your book fits into most, follow the information above for that category.

Fiction – Social Media for Authors

Literary agents and publishers certainly prefer fiction authors (of all genres, including books for younger readers) to at least be active on social media. Meaning, literary agents and publishers want you to have one or more social media accounts (even if you don’t spend much time there or have many followers). And, of course, literary agents and publishers love it when fiction authors have a lot of people in their social network. But, they don’t expect it. After all, why would an author who’s a “normal person” with a normal job (or, in some cases, no job) have a huge following on social media or anywhere else? What would that author talk about on social media that would attract the attention of thousands, hundreds of thousands, or millions of people?

Exactly.

Now…

Read the next section now to find out how many fans, friends, or followers
you need on social media to impress literary agents or publishers…

How Many Followers Do I Need to Impress Literary Agents and/or Publishers?

Social Media for Authors

How Many Followers Do I Need to Impress Literary Agents and/or Publishers?

Social Media for AuthorsLiterary agents and publishers don’t care if you
have one social media account — or 21.

It’s your total number of fans,
friends, and followers that counts.

Where do you rank?

Less than Two Thousand Followers – Social Media for Authors

Don’t despair. If you have less than two thousand followers on all your social media platforms combined (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.), you can still say in your query letter that you’re active on social media and/or you’ve just gotten started, but you know it’s important so you’ll be putting more time into it going forward.

2K-5,000 Followers – Social Media for Authors

Not bad. Now you can say that you have thousands of followers on social media. And, since you already have a little bit of a following, if you say you’ll do anything and everything to get the word out about your book(s), literary agents and publishers will believe you might be able to back it up.

5K-20,000 Followers – Social Media for Authors

Better. If you have that many followers, you should certainly mention it in your query. Just keep in mind that, even if you have a respectable following like this, it doesn’t guarantee anything. These numbers aren’t bad, but they’re not going to get agents and publishers fighting over the chance to represent you, either. Remember, social media is just one aspect of author platform. It’s great if you have it, but there are other ways to promote books. This is just one of them.

20K-100,000 Followers – Social Media for Authors

Really good. If you have this many followers on social media, you’re going to be perceived as a person of influence. If a decent percentage of your following buys a copy of your book when it comes out, that could be the difference between your book selling well or not so well. These types of numbers could easily tip things in your favor.

100K-250,000 Followers – Social Media for Authors

Great. If you have this many followers, you’ve probably worked your butt off to make other areas of your author platform strong as well. Congratulations. There’s still no guarantee you’re going to get a top agent, publisher, and/or book deal though. You’ll still need a good book. But no one is going to tell you that your platform isn’t good enough.

250,000+ Followers – Social Media for Authors

Excellent. If you have this many followers, you’re the type of person that might be approached by agents and/or publishers. That’s right, they might seek you out. In fact, they might offer to help you develop and/or write your book… and a publisher might hire a ghostwriter or freelance editor to help you get it done. Why? You’re a better investment, less of a risk. Agents and/or publishers KNOW based on your numbers that you’ll be able to help sell a lot of books.

Now…

Read the next section to find out if you should
have just one social media account,
or more than one…

Should I Have More than One Social Media Account?

Social Media for Authors

Should You Have More than One Social Media Account?

There’s a great advantage to having more than one social media account. That’s because it’s easier to increase your total number of friends, fans, and followers if you mingle your accounts.

For example, if you have 2,000 people on your Facebook page, and you invite those people to join you on one or more other social media accounts such as Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, goodreads, Instagram, or Pinterest…many of those people will join you there as well. That means you can increase your total number of friends, fans, and followers dramatically, in a short period…without actually getting any additional people to join your network.

In other words, if you invited 2,000 Facebook friends to join you at two other social media accounts that you have, and 25% of those people did that, you would instantly have 3,000 friends, fans, and followers on social media instead of just 2,000. Remember, it’s the total number of social media friends, fans, and followers combined that matters.

Now…

Read the next section to find out
which social media platforms are best…

Which Social Media Platforms Are Best for Authors?

Social Media for Authors

Which Social Media Platforms Are Best for Authors?

Like many other things in publishing, it depends.

Each author is different.

But, let’s say your primary goal is to get the maximum number of friends, fans, and followers on social media…to impress literary agent and publishers…you want to do it with the smallest investment of time and/or money…and you want to do it with the least amount of learning curve and headaches.

Most authors can agree on that.

You’ll find my recommendations to reach those goals below, informed by my personal experience and what I’ve seen with my author coaching clients. Along with my recommendations, you’ll also see I’ve included a brief overview of each platform…and some pros and cons you might find valuable.

Facebook – Social Media for Authors

Facebook (FB) is used by more authors than any other social media platform. About 40-50% of all the authors on my email list are on Facebook. That’s partly because FB was one of the first social media platforms to emerge in the market in a big way, after it’s inception in 2004. But there are other reasons. First, you can have a “personal” FB page and/or a more promotional book or “business” page(s). You can also start and/or join groups. And, FB personal pages are a great way to stay connected with real-life friends and family. In that way, FB can be more intimate and personal that what you might experience on other social media platforms. For all the reasons I just mentioned, FB appeals to both younger and older authors (unlike social media platforms like Twitter, which are more skewed toward a younger audience). Another benefit of FB is that you’re not limited to 280 characters when you post things like you are on Twitter. One downside to FB, however, is that the learning curve is steeper than with some other social media platforms. And, FB now charges money to share posts with all your friends, fans, and followers. If you don’t pay, they’ll just show your posts to a small percentage of your following. However, if you have money to invest in growing your social media platform, running ads on FB will help you get more views and “likes” for your page in less time.

Google+ – Social Media for Authors

Google+ is a lot like FB. It’s not as popular, but it’s hosted by Google and, as a result, if you use this social media platform, your postings are more likely to show in Google search results. That could be beneficial, not so much if/when you’re trying to get a literary agent, but if/when you’re trying to sell books.

LinkedIn – Social Media for Authors

LinkedIn is a lot like FB in that you can have a personal page, a “business” page, and/or groups. But it’s a more “professional” environment. Many people use LinkedIn as something of a virtual resume and/or business introduction platform, and many companies use LinkedIn to find employees and other people for business ventures and professional expertise.

Twitter – Social Media for Authors

Twitter is the second most popular social media platform for authors. About 30-40% of all the authors on my email list are on Twitter. For many reasons, Twitter is my #1 recommended social media platform for authors. Why? First, your messages on Twitter (tweets) will be sent out to all your friends, fans, and followers…and you don’t have to pay for it (unlike FB). Second, each tweet is limited to 280 characters. In other words, you don’t have to spend a lot of time writing something…to post something. Third, there are many tools or applications you can use to manage your Twitter account(s) that will save you time and allow you to grow and manage your following a lot faster than other social media platforms. I’ll tell you more about those in a moment. Twitter also lets you run ads (like FB), and you can pay for a “follower” campaign that will suggest certain types of people (like your potential readers) follow your Twitter account. By the way, this isn’t the sleazy type of thing you might have seen online that says, “Get 1,000 followers for $20” and subsequently results in Twitter shutting down your account. I’m talking about a genuine advertising campaign, through Twitter.

goodreads – Social Media for Authors

goodreads is great because you don’t have to post anything on your goodreads account. Meaning, it’s not a time suck the way other social media platforms can be. You can simply highlight and rate books you’ve read (and that you’re currently reading, if you want). You can also, of course, promote your own books.

Instagram – Social Media for Authors

Instagram is a social media platform that’s focused exclusively on images. If your’e not a fashion mogul, beauty expert, or cookbook author, you might have a hard time (at first) figuring out what to post on Instagram. But, if you run into that problem on any social media platform, all you have to do is look at what other people (in your genre) are posting for ideas. And, read the rest of this article because it reveals 42 ideas regarding different things you can post on social media.

Pinterest – Social Media for Authors

Pinterest is a social media platform that’s focused exclusively on images as well. But it’s less photo-driven than Instagram. In other words, people also share: illustrations, infographics, doodles, and anything else their creative mind can conjure up. Pinterest there are easy-to-use tools and applications that allow you to post images to your Pinterest account when you find something you like on the Internet, from your Internet browser.

Now…

Look below to see some social media tools and applications
you can use that make it easier to grow and manage
your social media accounts…

Which Social Media Tools or Applications Are Best?

Social Media for Authors

Which Social Media Tools or Applications Are Best for Authors?

Some social media platforms (Twitter, etc.) allow users to work with third-party tools or applications to grow and manage their accounts. It’s awesome. These tools and applications make it easier and more enjoyable to use social media. They make it easier to find and follow the people you want to find and follow. And, they make it easier to unfollow people who aren’t following you back.

That means you can get a greater return on your investment (ROI) when it comes to the time you spend on social media, if you use the right tools and applications. Who wouldn’t want to get something done in 10% of the time if there’s a free or inexpensive tool or application that will make it happen?

Just make sure you only use tools and applications that don’t violate any social media platform rules or terms of service. Otherwise, one or more of your accounts might get suspended or shut down.

Here are some of the best tools and
applications available today:

Facebook – Social Media for Authors

PostCron is a new application I discovered recently that’s better than any other in it’s category. That’s because it’s the only application I know of that lets you post (and schedule posts in advance) to all the following social media platforms, all at once, from one application: Facebook, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Twitter.

goodreads – Social Media for Authors

I don’t know of any useful third-party tools or applications for this social media platform.

Google+ and Pinterest – Social Media for Authors

Google+ and Pinterest are annoying because they’re the least friendly to users and third-party application developers. In other words, they make you do everything manually — the hard way. The only type of tool or application you can use on these platforms to improve your experience or make your time more efficient is one that lets you schedule your posts in advance. To do so, I recommend PostCron, the best application in its category, because it lets you post (and schedule posts in advance) to all the following social media platforms, all at once, from one application: Facebook, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Twitter.

Instagram – Social Media for Authors

Followers and Likes on Instagram is, by far, the best application to help you grow and manage your Instagram account. There are others, however. Just do a Google search. You can also, in addition, use PostCron, the best application in its category, to post (and schedule posts in advance) to all the following social media platforms, all at once, from one application: Facebook, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Twitter.

LinkedIn – Social Media for Authors

Use PostCron, the best application in its category, to post (and schedule posts in advance) to all the following social media platforms, all at once, from one application: Facebook, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Twitter.

Twitter – Social Media for Authors

As I mentioned earlier, Twitter is my favorite social media platform because there are many tools and applications you can use to save time, grow your following faster, and make your experience more pleasant. I’ve tried virtually all of them, and my current favorites are Twitter’s very own TweetDeck (free) and a third-party application called MangeFlitter. You can also, in addition, use PostCron, the best application in its category, to post (and schedule posts in advance) to all the following social media platforms, all at once, from one application: Facebook, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Twitter.

Now that you know which tools you should use to
post things on your social media accounts,
let’s talk about what you should post…

What Should You Post on Social Media?

Social Media for Authors

What Should You Post On Social Media?

The best way to create interesting posts (and prevent “social media writer’s block”) is be aware of the various types of posts you can publish. Of course, what YOU post is going to be different than what others’ post (partly based on your genre, and partly based on your personality). But the following post “types” will get you started.

Here’s my proprietary idea list
to spark your creativity:
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21 Types of Relationship-Building Posts

1. Action steps, tips, advice, etc.
2. Create a cause, challenge, or goal (business or charity)
3. Celebrate (anniversaries, birthdays, accomplishments, etc.)
4. Connect people that you think could benefit each other
5. Encouragement, inspiration, motivation (enthusiasm, faith, belief, etc.)
6. Entertainment (humor, jokes, etc.)
7. Gossip or rumors
8. Gratitude (appreciation, compliments, or praise)
9. Holidays and special occasions
10. Industry news, trends, trivia, insight, etc.
11. Live (what you’re doing now)
12. Meetup (share location and invite)
13. Opinions (original thought or reaction to industry or world events – don’t be afraid to be provocative)
14. Personal (vacation, friends, family, goals, accomplishments, struggles, fears, desires, hobbies, pets, namedrop)
15. Questions or polls (ask people what they think – about new products and services you’re thinking about developing, existing products and services, or anything else)
16. Quotations (by others or yourself)
17. Recommend or share (people, books, movies, events, videos, etc.)
18. Request support (information or emotional – people like to help)
19. Responsive (reacting to other people’s messages)
20. Share someone else’s post
21. Special Announcement (company news, reminders of limited-time offers events, announce prize winners, etc.)

.

21 Call to Action-type Posts

1. Articles or blog
2. Audio (mp3 or CD)
3. Challenge
4. Checklist or tip-sheet
5. Community (join an association or group, etc.)
6. Coaching or consulting
7. Contest
8. Coupon or promo code
9. Critique promo
10. E-class, e-course or e-training
11. Ezine or newsletter
12. Gift (other promotional item)
13. Live events (online or in-person)
14. Prizes
15. Quiz
16. Special Report or White Paper
17. Survey
18. Teleseminar
19. Video
20. Webinar
21. Direct offer
.
Now that you have more ideas about what you can post,
look at the next section (below) to see how
to join me on social media…
Join Me on Social Media!

Social Media for Authors

Join Me on Social Media!

Here are my links…

twitterTwitter
https://twitter.com/MarkMalatesta
(follow me here and I’ll follow you back)
https://twitter.com/Literary_Agents
https://twitter.com/WritingQuotes_

facebookFacebook
https://www.facebook.com/MarkMalatesta 
(follow me here and I’ll follow you back)
https://www.facebook.com/LiteraryAgentUndercover

linkedinLinkedIn
https://www.linkedin.com/in/markdmalatesta
(follow me here and I’ll follow you back)

google-plusGoogle+
https://plus.google.com/+MarkMalatestaBooks
(follow me here and I’ll follow you back)

goodreadsgoodreads
https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/61274292-mark-malatesta
(follow me here and I’ll follow you back)

instagramInstagram
https://www.instagram.com/markdmalatesta/
(follow me here and I’ll follow you back)

pinterestPinterest
https://www.pinterest.com/markmalatesta/

And…

If you haven’t already done so, read this
2-part article about Author Platform.

See you online!

* * *

Other Questions About Getting a Literary Agent?

Click here to see The 50 Questions Authors Ask Most (along with answers to the questions) and/or post your question or comment. Click here to see our Guide to Literary Agents. And, click here to see some of our best tips to help you Find a Literary Agent and/or Get a Literary Agent.

* * *

Author Coaching/Consulting

Want help to make your pitch materials for literary agents as good as they can be? Click here to learn how you can get 1-on-1 feedback to improve your pitch material and/or first fifty pages during an Introductory Coaching Call.

* * *

Related Posts – About Literary Agents

How Literary Agents Work – Personal Taste vs. Profitability

How Can a Literary Agent Reject a Book After the First Five Pages?

Why You Should (Sometimes) Ignore Literary Agent Rejection Letters and Criticism

The Most Successful Literary Agents – Famous Literary Agents

Literary Agents Roundtable – The Hollywood Reporter

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