Unpublished and on Social Media as an Author? Why?

It’s hard to get through a week without seeing at least one article on platform. Well, here’s yours for the week!

We agents ask authors for a platform, but I have found that unpublished authors wonder how or why they should show a professional presence on social media. That question is understandable. Without a book, what is the author promoting?

Promoting Yourself?

Yes, you are promoting yourself. You are using social media to establish a rapport with potential readers who will be looking for your book when it is published. Think about it – you may read a memoir written by a Christian celebrity, but a memoir written by a private person you have made no connection with? Not so much.

Are We Friends?

As you work toward publication, you are making genuine connections with people who may or may not read your book. Social media for authors shouldn’t be about pretending to be friends with people for no other reason than they’ll buy your book. It’s about making a connection with people because you have similar interests, world view, and, in the case of Christian authors, shared faith. Your social media friends will be happy to buy your book because they feel they have come to know you. You have made a hearts and minds connection. Your shared interest is real. They’ll want to read your book because they are interested in what you have to say.

What Do I Post?

The main thing is to be genuine. What do you want your potential readers to know about you? What do you find fun, entertaining, and informative? Chances are that through social media, you’ll find many people who enjoy the same things you do.

Fiction?

Novelists can talk about the time period they’re writing about in history, or staying up to date yet not too dated when writing a contemporary novel. Perhaps one of your characters has an interesting hobby. Asking social media pals to name characters is fun, as is posting pictures of hairstyles and fashions. Have fun!

Nonfiction?

Nonfiction authors should be writing about a topic interesting and important enough to generate a natural audience. For example, if you’re writing about parenting toddlers, let it be known that your book hopes to help and you should find an audience.

What about Privacy?

Some authors feel more inclined to share their lives than others, but it’s always a good idea to be cautious. One way to do this is to keep certain accounts open to family, where you might share more than you do on accounts that are meant to be seen by everyone. My rule of thumb is that I never post anything anywhere on social media that I would object to a stranger seeing.

Promotion?

Once your book is published, it’s okay to promote. However, don’t forget your first reason for being on social media – connection. No one wants to see a constant stream of promotion for any product, even great products. Promote sparingly, and keep being the genuine person you are.

 

Your turn

What tips can you offer authors on social media?

What author do you believe does an exceptional job on social media?

What do you enjoy most about social media?

 

67 Responses to Unpublished and on Social Media as an Author? Why?

  1. Jackie Layton February 18, 2016 at 4:37 am #

    Actually I love learning about other people and their lives. It’s so interesting to see how a grandmother takes care of her grandchildren and writes. This week another author shared about getting up in the middle of the night to help her husband with a new-born calf in danger. Seeing how people live in other parts of the country stimulates my imagination. My day job is all about taking care of other people, and I think it’s natural for me to enjoy social media and learn about others.

    Thanks for encouraging us to plug into social media.

  2. Edie Melson February 18, 2016 at 5:16 am #

    Tamela, this is such an important post! I get this question everywhere I speak. I’m so glad to have this post from you to be able to reference. Thank you!

    • Tamela Hancock Murray February 18, 2016 at 9:18 am #

      Thanks, Edie! I hope our readers will go to your fabulous blog to learn even more! I’m not able to share the link, however, because the security settings will think I’m a bot and my comment won’t go through. That’s what happened the last time I tried to recommend you!

      Readers — Edie is easy to find. Please do check out her blog.

    • Jackie Layton February 18, 2016 at 9:27 am #

      If you’re a member of ACFW, Edie is teaching a course this month on blogging.

  3. Judith Robl February 18, 2016 at 5:58 am #

    Great post, Tamela! Thank you for this well-rounded perspective.

  4. Sally Shupe February 18, 2016 at 6:07 am #

    I love this post! I am an unpublished wanna-be author and I have heard you should have a twitter following, a blog post, a facebook author page, etc. I have those things and enjoy seeing other authors and what they’re doing. It’s fun feeling connected, seeing their families, what their lives are like. Not too many years ago, you had to write a letter and wait for a response before you knew what was going on. Now it’s instantaneous and people you don’t even know can peek into your lives and feel like they know you. Hopefully that translates into readers and supporters as an author. Thanks for this great post!

  5. Deanna Fugett February 18, 2016 at 6:24 am #

    AMEN! I wish some more authors would understand how the connection part with people is so important. Isn’t that what we’re called to as Christians anyway? Aren’t Christians supposed to forge connections with one another? Social media is a great place to do it, and a great avenue for those of us who can’t get out and socialize as much as we’d like. We can lift up and learn about one another. Encourage each other, pray for each other.

    I don’t’ know why people think social media is such a bad thing. If used the right way it can be a huge blessing to others, and in turn, it can bless ourselves. And if a writer gets some book sales because of friendship’s made, then all the more power to them.

    I think it’s sad when writers ONLY promote their books and forget the key element in selling them IS connections made. No one is going to buy your book if they don’t know WHO you are. The Bible says those who have nothing to hide, hide nothing. Why are we hiding who we are on social media? Be who you are and you will be greatly blessed with new friends who care about you. And you will find your heart overflows with love for them as well.

    • Tamela Hancock Murray February 18, 2016 at 9:22 am #

      Deanna, I think some people are afraid of social media, hence their reluctance. Others won’t even be your Facebook friend until they’ve known you for years, apparently. And still others have had a bad experience or feel down after seeing a lot of negative remarks. I can understand that, and why their perspective is different.

      Business people must overcome these fears, however. We really must utilize this as a “keeping in touch” and a “getting to know you” platform.

      • Carol Ashby February 18, 2016 at 10:23 am #

        Maybe some nonparticipants have had security clearances where they had to report every non-US-citizen friend to their counterintelligence group and where people might want to become their “friend” for nefarious reasons. Just saying maybe…

        • Tamela Hancock Murray February 18, 2016 at 10:45 am #

          Carol, I can imagine being high up in the Government could introduce a whole new problem. Writers with security clearances should mention this to their agents and work through how to handle this. Thanks for making a good point.

          • Carol Ashby February 18, 2016 at 11:05 am #

            That’s one of the nice things about being retired. It’s quite liberating.

  6. Emilie Hendryx February 18, 2016 at 7:13 am #

    I’ve thought through this a lot recently, especially after going to a marketing seminar here in DC. I was reminded (again) how important it is for people to see YOU as the writer/author on your platform. Yes, readers want to pick up books that are well written and in their preferred genre, but they will be more willing to pick up your book if they know you. I shared a little bit about marketing for writers (published and unpublished) on my blog last year: http://eahendryx.blogspot.com/2015/03/a-look-at-marketing-for-writers.html The post may may add some insights 🙂

    • Tamela Hancock Murray February 18, 2016 at 9:23 am #

      Emilie, wow, I see now that you were able to post a link. I hope people will go to your blog, too!

  7. Pamela Gossiaux February 18, 2016 at 7:25 am #

    Great post! I teach and speak on writing and one of the first things I tell potential authors is to get on social media. It doesn’t have to be something big and costly. A blog or free website with just their photo and bio is a start. I also tell them to be intentional in their direction – as an author, THEY are their brand. Create social media to reflect that brand and be consistent on each site with visual branding (colors, theme, etc.)

  8. Cynthia Herron February 18, 2016 at 8:12 am #

    Tamela,

    Oh, how I love this subject! Loved all your points.

    Social media is something I feel strongly about. While I believe there must be a happy medium (and social media should never overshadow the actual writing of our books), I think every writer/author should have a social media presence of some kind.

    I can’t be on every network–simply can’t do it. BUT I do what I’m comfortable with and love those. I’m a huge (HUGE) proponent of blogging. No–blogging isn’t the be all, end all, however, our blog is OURS. We’re in the driver’s seat. We have control. While other social media limits who sees our posts, how we post, etc., a blog is one creative way we get to choose because WE own it. I have a W/F posting schedule, and after 650+ blog posts, I believe readers know what they can expect from me. (And I rarely blog about “writing.”)

    I also do a monthly newsletter. Again–I have control. It coincides with my brand and my gift–to encourage through a creative medium that allows folks to know me a little better. (Love it!)

    And… my two cents. There’s nothing worse than a non-stop stream of “Buy me,” “Like me,” or “Kiss my great Aunt Daisy and my dog Ingrid.” I adore books, people, grandmas, and doggies, but it’s distasteful when non-stop promotion is our initial (and sometimes, only) impression of someone.

    Social media can be our bane, but when it’s kept in proper perspective, it doesn’t have to be drudgery. We can establish ourselves, our brand, and make lifelong connections well before our books are published.

    Amen, and please pass the coffee! 🙂

    • Tamela Hancock Murray February 18, 2016 at 9:26 am #

      Cynthia, you are so right about a blog. As an agent, I’m impressed when I see a strong blog. Love your other points, too! Sharing shouldn’t be self-centered, but outward-centered. I’ll take sugar and cream in my coffee.

  9. Sharon Hoover February 18, 2016 at 8:12 am #

    I like connecting with new people on social media. Twitter and Instagram offer me the best opportunities. I need to do better in limiting my time in cyberspace! I find myself going from article to post to recipe to cool travel photo to another article. :-/

    • Tamela Hancock Murray February 18, 2016 at 10:46 am #

      Sharon, maybe set a timer, or use Twitter and Instagram time as a reward for hitting a certain word count, or goal.

  10. Susan Mary Malone February 18, 2016 at 8:35 am #

    Love this, Tamela. It’s funny, decades ago I hung out with the 2 Bestselling Western authors of the time, and they imparted SO much wisdom to me. One of the most important tidbits was exactly what you’re saying: “You’re not selling your book, you’re selling yourself.” This was of course long before social media! But the same wisdom stands.

  11. Amanda February 18, 2016 at 8:48 am #

    Tamela, this was so encouraging! Thank you! I’m currently working on my first novel and just this week launched my website and facebook page. It was hard to put myself out there as a writer without having anything to show for it…yet 🙂 Before making my website I looked at those of my favorite authors and noted why I enjoyed following them on social media. One thing they all had in common was that their posts showed glimpses of their everyday life and they weren’t heavy on self-promotion. I’m planning to follow their lead!

    • Tamela Hancock Murray February 18, 2016 at 9:27 am #

      Amanda, you bring up a great point — look at what other authors are doing and emulate what’s appealing about their social media presence. Then, take their tips and make them your own!

    • Brennan S. McPherson February 18, 2016 at 10:05 am #

      I’m about where you are in the writing journey. My first novel will be released May 1st by BroadStreet Publishing, and I haven’t quite set up socials/website–I know, I’m behind, and I’m working on it. The last thing I want to do is sign up on 15 social media platforms and lose my already very limited time to the “cyber black hole.” I hate social media (I know, strong word for a guy in his twenties), and believe it’s caused massive psychological and sociological degradation to my generation, and others. Just look up “digital addiction” and you’ll see what I mean. Similar impact on the part of the brain that handles self-control as a heroine addiction. BUT social media can be an amazing tool if used wisely. Facebook is not as useful as it used to be in turning fans into customers because of the change in logarithms. But Cynthia made a great point about blogs and newsletters–despite what some people claim, they’re still very useful because they’re under our control. I had a phone conversation recently with a New York Times bestselling author who feels similarly to me about social media, and he shared what I thought was great insight. He primarily focuses on blogging and reaching his email subscribers, because he’s experienced much greater response from those–primarily because the people who subscribe there are eager for the content he puts out. He sees the benefit of social media because it enlarges the impact his writing ministry can have. But he has found the few most useful tools and focuses on them almost solely. In this way he’s found a balance between writing, platform, and time with his family. He hardly uses Facebook and Twitter, etc., and mainly just uses them to repost the blogs he writes. Note–he’s a New York Times bestselling author, and he’s not crazy active on socials. But he does engage with people. What he said to me was, “Find who you want to be–what kind of writer you want to be and what kind of content you want to offer–and figure out what helps fulfill those goals. Then do it. Don’t be afraid of social media, use it as a way to minister to people and broaden your audience.” I think urging every author to get on every social media platform is a mistake, because we’re all different and the type of content we naturally develop will lend itself specifically to certain social platforms. But similarly (and this is coming from someone who wishes social media would just go away), not engaging on social media means missing a huge opportunity to minister to more people, and to be ministered to ourselves. It also means throwing away an opportunity to make our book projects more financially successful. If we expect a publisher to sink $30,000 dollars into our project, we have a responsibility to do what we can to make it financially successful. For some this will mean a lot of activity on social media. For others, less. But we can’t ignore it. Well, technically we CAN, but we shouldn’t.

      Tamela–I appreciate this post. It gives some tangible ways of engaging on social media, and points out the truth–that people are interested in people, not just entertainment.

      • Cynthia Herron February 18, 2016 at 10:28 am #

        Brennan,

        I absolutely agree that the key is finding what works for you and then focusing on that. It’ll seem more natural and less stressful that way.

        And your blog doesn’t have to be some long, drawn-out missive. Some of my posts are relatively short, but prayerfully, always uplifting with a heartfelt, homespun “feel.”

        I bet you’ll do great! Congratulations on your book release!

  12. Linda Riggs Mayfield February 18, 2016 at 10:31 am #

    Writers feel like we have accomplished something significant when we finish writing, editing, getting critiques from 79 experts, completing 17 rewrites, and finally saying of our book, “It’s done.” (A little hyperbole, there. ;-D). We picture agents competing to represent it and publishers trying to outbid each other to publish it. Today–not so much. An agent recently responded to my invited query with a virtual rave review about my book, but she won’t even discuss representing it until my platform is MUCH bigger than it is now. She invited me to contact her again when I’ve accomplished that. I may print your post today, Tamela,and fasten it above my desk to remind myself that all the social media visibility I must develop is to make connections, not to sell books. It doesn’t always feel that way.

    • Carol Ashby February 18, 2016 at 11:13 am #

      Linda, I’m assuming you’re talking about a work of fiction. Did she say just how big your fiction platform has to be and how it should distribute across website, blog, social media like Facebook and Twitter, etc.?

      • Linda Riggs Mayfield February 18, 2016 at 11:33 am #

        Yes, Carol, historical fiction. She mentioned all those outlets, but not specific numbers for them. She asked me to let her know details about my platform components, then she would offer suggestions for developing them. I did that two weeks ago, and haven’t had a reply. I’ll follow up. I’ve done my homework, and I think I already know a lot more about building a platform than I’m doing; but the whole promotion/putting myself out there thing has been a very high hurdle, and as we all know, running the hurdles event involves one hurdle after another. Another hurdle is that to this point, I have not been able or willing to make the time investment it appears to require to be “successful” on several media outlets simultaneously. I have a home, family, job, and responsibilities in my church and community. And I sleep sometimes. ;-D Sigh. I’d rather be a distance runner.

        • Brennan S. McPherson February 18, 2016 at 11:43 am #

          Hmm, maybe Tamela could offer some better insight, but this seems strange. The publishing process takes a while, and if you’ve begun building your platform and have steps in place to continue building it, and if the fiction is strong enough… I guess I don’t see why the agent would decline representation if that’s the only reason. I know every agent is different and some have higher expectations, but it sounds unreasonable if everything else is spectacular. It seems to me that part of an agent’s job is to help you grow your platform.

          • Linda Riggs Mayfield February 18, 2016 at 12:26 pm #

            Brennan, Have you been to any writers’ conferences? I’ve only been to one, but the message presented over and over AND OVER was that platform is now at least as important, and possibly even more important, than the quality of the writing, when seeking publication. The agent who liked my book very specifically said the same thing, with regrets. Your take on it is how it used to be, even within the past 5-10 years, but that is no longer the value system or practice in commercial publishing. One speaker even gave us a little history lesson on how that has come about. If this woman becomes my agent, I syppose it WILL be part of her job to help me grow my platform, but she has no stake in my work yet, and according to all I’ve heard and read, promotion before and after publication is the author’s responsibility now at a level never seen before.

            • Brennan S. McPherson February 18, 2016 at 1:05 pm #

              Not been to any writers’ conferences but have had conversations with two publishers (one of them quite sizable), an agent, and a few #1 bestselling authors, one of whom had no platform prior to publication only a couple years ago. Platform is obviously very important, and is the author’s responsibility, but it seems strange to me for an agent to say, “Your platform has to be much bigger,” and then not specify what that might look like. Platform is made up of much more than just your social media presence, and social media following can be artificially inflated, and end up giving little benefit to published projects. Obviously, agents have the right to not consider whatever they don’t want to consider, and every project is unique. I just wonder how some other well-respected agents would react to the project?

          • Tamela Hancock Murray February 18, 2016 at 1:05 pm #

            Turning down a novelist based on platform? I won’t try to speak for another agent but if a letter like that left my office, it would be because I have an idea as to what will impress the editors I have in mind and I have decided that, even with the author’s best efforts, the right time is too far out to start shopping the novel now.

            The good news is that your work is good enough to earn a specific reason for the rejection and you know where to improve.

            Your options? Either work to gain that agent’s attention, or try other agents.

        • Carol Ashby February 18, 2016 at 12:12 pm #

          I was a track mom for years. One nice thing about hurdles is if you trip on one, you are still in the race as long as you don’t go out of your lane. One of our guys tripped on the last hurdle, went down into a somersault, stayed in his lane, and stumbled across the line to still finish second. Not graceful, but good enough for a ribbon.

          The moral: stay in the lane and just keep moving forward.

  13. Tammy Fish February 18, 2016 at 11:44 am #

    I started a separate Facebook page for my readers. When you manage a business account on Facebook, you get different statistics that make it easier to monitor your readers. I would love to hear others’ tips, but I have definitely found that my readers engage with pictures, but even more so if I link my update posts to videos.

    I would love to hear how each of you develop Twitter Followers. I find Twitter seems inundated with authors promoting their novels. I wonder if the resource is really worth the time. Any thoughts?

    • Linda Riggs Mayfield February 18, 2016 at 12:45 pm #

      Tammy, I do that, too, but all my followers are also my Friends from my personal FB account. Have you tried any of the ways to pay to get more people to see it?

      • Tammy Fish February 18, 2016 at 3:30 pm #

        Linda, I did pay to boost my post and gained many more “likes”, but very few followers. My son-in-law who worked in journalism warned me that there is speculation that people get paid to “like” your ads. This seemed a plausible explanation for many of those who liked my post never seemed to follow me or even fit the profile of someone who would like my novel. Hard to tell, but has made me skeptical of further paid ads.

    • Tamela Hancock Murray February 18, 2016 at 1:10 pm #

      Tammy, over time, I have gained 34,000 Twitter followers, and few of them relentlessly promote books. Most share interesting tidbits about themselves and enjoyable articles. By doing the same, you’ll gain followers, too.

      Go for a variety of followers by looking for your interests aside from writing. You’ll quickly see that Twitter helps you find more followers who are similar to the ones you have. It does take time and effort to develop a fascinating Twitter stream, but I enjoy Twitter so I think it’s worth the effort. Follow me: @Tamela_Murray. See how easy that was? 🙂

      • Tammy Fish February 18, 2016 at 3:31 pm #

        Thanks, Tamela. I will keep persevering. I do follow you! 🙂 I find I enjoy Instagram more, but maybe I just need to get used to Twitter.

  14. Katie Powner February 18, 2016 at 12:11 pm #

    I’m with Brennan in that I hate social media, although I can appreciate its usefulness. I was just pondering this very issue last night (when I was supposed to be sleeping). I’m kind of stuck on this whole idea of connection. I’ve never, ever, ever bought a book because I had a connection with the author. It’s never even crossed my mind until recently as I’ve read posts such as this one. I buy books because they sound interesting or they’ve been recommended. I might become loyal to an author because I like their books, but never because I feel a connection to them personally. (disclaimer: I’m an introvert)

    Do you think the idea of connection is related to genre? As in, some genres tend to attract people more interested in connection, while the connection is less important in other genres?

    Also, Tamela wisely points out that authors shouldn’t post/blog/etc. simply to self-promote…instead they should be authentic and post about what interests them (not just their own books). So, since I agree with her whole-heartedly, how do you go about creating a social media presence based on your interests when your interests include avoiding social media as much as possible? Yes, I’m being a little tongue-in-cheek here, but I am curious what others who do not like social media think.

    I didn’t mean to write such a long comment but one last thing: To Linda, I’m sorry about the whole “need a bigger platform” thing, I’m sure that was discouraging for you. I understand what you mean about time…there’s only so much to go around! Congrats on getting good reviews from that agent, though. Best of luck.

    • Carol Ashby February 18, 2016 at 12:40 pm #

      Katie, I’m as extroverted an extrovert as you can probably find, but I’m like you in not buying a book because I feel connected with an author personally unless I have actually connected with them PERSONALLY. This site feels like an intimate blog community where we carry on conversations, but a multi-thousand readership site of a successful author can’t have that level of personal interaction. For electronic friendships, I prefer the one-on-one of e-mail, which is really just a personal conversation in letters instead of sound. I’m much more likely to email a friend through Facebook than post something.

      Some of us are odd ducks in our interests. Mine range from sewing stuffed animals and doll clothes to nature photography to Bible study to archeology, molecular biology, and clever engineering. How do you make that into a cohesive social media presence that is your author “brand?” My friends who love fabric crafts don’t overlap much with the ones fascinated by the details of the latest breakthroughs in science. How do you build a community with the real you when the real you seems like multiple people?

      • Linda Riggs Mayfield February 18, 2016 at 12:43 pm #

        Oh, Carol, we should start a two-woman club! 😀

        • Carol February 18, 2016 at 1:01 pm #

          Let’s. Check your website email list.

    • Linda Riggs Mayfield February 18, 2016 at 12:41 pm #

      Thanks, Katie. I’m trying to become even more intentional about my use of time. The job I mentioned involves a range of academic activities, including editing, writing, publishing, travel, and speaking, and that is growing; so those endeavors must be weighed against what is required to reach the goal of publishing fiction. I believe so strongly in the message of my novel, however, that I’m prayerfully considering cutting back on community activity for a year (I serve as an officer on the board of a local organization) to build an authentic platform–not to sell my books, but to connect with people who are challenged and/or blessed by what I write. If that posting connects with people, those connections have value, even if the numbers are small, whether I ever publish fiction or not. You’re welcome to connect at lindariggsmayfield.com. Thanks again.

    • Brennan S. McPherson February 18, 2016 at 12:44 pm #

      Perceived connection is a plus regardless of genre, but yes, I definitely believe genre influences how important that connection really is. For example: non-fiction authors who write about how to form positive relationships would probably see a greater benefit from establishing a connection with their audience than a writer of children’s picture books might. I too have never bought a book as a result of feeling personally connected to an author. I pick a book off the shelf if it looks interesting, read the blurb, and if that catches my attention, I glance at the endorsements and make sure they have a few from people I respect, and who are raving about the writing. That’s how I fell in love with Billy Coffey (who you all should check out, btw). But a lot of people buy because of a perceived connection. Actually, an enormous amount of people do. Case in point: all the YouTubers who “write” books and get on the New York Times bestseller list. All people care about is, “I watch this person’s life every day, and I care about them, and I’m excited to get the book.” Some of them write good books. Others definitely don’t. Either way, they sell a lot because of the connection they forge with their viewers. My wife watches one YouTuber who shall go unnamed, and when that YouTuber came out with a book, my wife said, “Honey…I have to buy the book, just because I’m curious what the heck it will be like.” I had to admit–I was curious too.

      Also, don’t forget that your website and any blogs you’d post there are considered “social media” because they’re sharable and invite interaction. You can grow a following without daily tending what you or I might perceive as tedious conversations on FB. If you have short stories, or maybe a longer short story that you could make into “serial fiction,” you could post those, and I’m sure you’d be happy to interact with anyone commenting on those “blogs.” You can still maintain privacy and a semblance of disconnection while reaching out and interacting with like-minded individuals. And there’s nothing like making some business cards with your website/blog on it, and going to book-signings/writers conventions/etc. and then having people you actually know be your first followers. It could start as more of a private affair and grow from there as you feel comfortable with it. Again, I guess it comes down to connection, and seeing that you can potentially benefit from the connection just as much, if not more (spiritually/emotionally, I mean), than those following or interacting with you. I’ve had a hard time seeing this, but over time I’ve come to realize that it can be a very human thing. Come to think about it, isn’t that what we’re doing here? I still feel pretty polarized by social media, and hope that someday my feelings will change, because my brain knows it can be really good. It can just also be really weird.

      Anywho, now that I’ve posted a book’s worth of a comment…

      • Katie Powner February 18, 2016 at 1:36 pm #

        This whole concept is very interesting to me! I do have a blog and I’m wondering, how many followers constitute a following? And if the new normal is that platform is as important or MORE than the quality of the writing, do agents/publishers really want authors to spend more valuable writing time working on social media than on their books?

        A lot of good thoughts have been posted, thank you everyone.

    • Tamela Hancock Murray February 18, 2016 at 1:22 pm #

      Katie, yes, I do think some books attract more of a community than others. For example, in nonfiction, if you write a book for widowed Christians, you’ve got a natural audience. Some types of fiction also have a natural audience. For instance, Regency readers tend to be devoted.

      I suggest assessing your book and seeing where your natural audience can be found, and then make your social media interesting to that audience.

      • Katie Powner February 18, 2016 at 1:41 pm #

        That is really good advice, Tamela! Tricky though, considering one book may be completely different in focus than another. I’m thinking finding the common denominator as far as “interest” would be key to finding the natural audience. Thank you.

  15. Tamela Hancock Murray February 18, 2016 at 1:25 pm #

    Carol, as far as having varied interests, I offer you the same advice I offered Katie. Assess your book, determine your natural audience, and cultivate them on your professional social media.

  16. Tamela Hancock Murray February 18, 2016 at 1:31 pm #

    Linda, when I married my husband a week after graduating from college, I had just left an academic career where I was Press Secretary for several clubs and my sorority, school newspaper editor, on staff at the literary magazine, etc. I then tried to carry that energy into church work while holding down a job. My husband, a pastor’s son, gave me wise advice. “Let someone else have a turn.”

    You want to be in obedience to the Lord, of course, so I am praying He will give you a sense of direction and peace.

    • Linda Riggs Mayfield February 19, 2016 at 12:16 am #

      Tamela, I can always count on you for wise and encouraging– and in this case, confirming, words. It surprised me that you chose the phrase “direction and peace.” That’s exactly what I’ve been praying for. I’ve already begun to back away from some of my long-held responsibilities, but old habits die hard, and because I’ve been a “fixture” for so long, some “walls” (pillars? ;-D) of the places respond as if I’m literally tearing out the plumbing when I mention phasing out. I’ve been church pianist for evening services for 20+ years, but now three of us take turns. I don’t sing in the worship team anymore, and am no longer the high school substitute Sunday School teacher. Tonight I told the president that I don’t plan to serve on the board of the city/county historical society next term.

      I think my primary gifting and calling at this stage of my life are in teaching and writing, I would like to continue to do those in both academia and Christian publishing, but I need to accept it with peace if God closes a door. Our 9 grandchildren in 3 states need wisdom and experiences only I can share, and providing them involves both writing and teaching, too.

      Giving things up to have time to write hasn’t been easy: at church I’m still involved in the coffee house ministry, the library, a Bible study, and a prayer group, so I’m not “forsaking the assembling of yourselves together,” as has been hinted, but one co-worker in several ministries told me to my face that she did not agree with my new priorities. Ouch! I would sincerely appreciate your prayers–thanks again. God certainly used you to minister to me tonight!

      • Tamela Hancock Murray February 19, 2016 at 10:16 am #

        Linda, thank you for your post. I credit the Holy Spirit with any wisdom I impart. I am always awed and humbled when the Lord uses me.

  17. Tamela Hancock Murray February 18, 2016 at 1:32 pm #

    Brennan, thank you for your comments! Much appreciated.

    • Brennan S. McPherson February 18, 2016 at 2:42 pm #

      Of course! I just hope my comments added. I’ve followed this blog for a couple years and have really appreciated all the posts and everyone’s insight/comments. Been a great help and encouragement to me.

  18. John February 18, 2016 at 1:53 pm #

    I’m a 64 year old grandfather to a granddaughter that lived with grandma and me. I have written a MG novel about a twelve year old girl, the daughter of a single mom, that loves being the favorite sidekick of her grandfather. The book will be released in a few months. My granddaughter had some disadvantages and I was always her favorite “need to talk about it” sounding board. That has given me a real heart for the uncertainties and pressures upon young girls, especially the daughters of single moms. I believe I could offer a positive perspective to young girls from a “pa paw’s” perspective. Unfortunately, I’m country dumb about social media. Besides, I understand that MG girls are too young to legally have an account on social media. Further, my granddaughter says they use snap chat or things most of us don’t frequent……. Can you offer me some advise.

    • Katie Powner February 18, 2016 at 2:32 pm #

      John, you’re right that MG girls are too young to have social media accounts, although I’m sure many of them do anyway. But they are also too young to drive themselves to the bookstore and buy books, so I would say your target audience may actually be the parents and grandparents of the girls. My husband and I work with troubled youth and I’m immediately drawn to the premise of your book not because I’m the tween daughter of a single mom but because I know daughters of single moms who need help and encouragement.

      I have no experience in these matters whatsoever, so take my advice with a grain of salt, but you’re a grandfather so if I were you I’d focus on connecting with other grandfathers. Being involved in the foster care scene, I know a LOT of people in your generation are raising their grandkids, sometimes with the mom in your home too and sometimes not. That’s the reality. So if you’re looking for your “natural audience” (as Tamela recommends), I would say that’s it.

      • John February 18, 2016 at 3:04 pm #

        I would have never guessed to try the avenue of parents and grandparents in a million years, but it sounds like fantastic advice. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that someone will now offer advice on how to connect with them.

        • Tamela Hancock Murray February 19, 2016 at 10:25 am #

          Katie, thank you for your excellent suggestion! I agree this would be a wise choice for John.

          Please note that platform rarely comes into play in evaluating middle grade titles. It is the concept and the quality of the book. If the author is already established (such as Melody Carlson, Miralee Ferrell, Coleen Coble, etc.) that helps. Or as is starting to happen, a well-known nonfiction author is asked to author a middle grade project and a writer is hired to assist.

          As far as any writer of this category is concerned, an online presence is a must because otherwise, it suggests a reluctance to interact with readers, or the parents of readers. So definitely work to build up your platform.

  19. Laurie Lucking February 18, 2016 at 2:29 pm #

    Thanks for a great post, Tamela! I think so far my favorite aspect of using social media as an aspiring writer is connecting with other writers. It’s fun and inspiring to be able to share advice and encouragement and celebrate victories. Hopefully I’ll find a few potential readers along the way, too 🙂

  20. Jean Wise February 18, 2016 at 4:27 pm #

    I know I have had to create a whole social media strategy – planning and decided which platforms to concentrate on. From my readers survey I know Facebook, twitter and Pinterest are still where they like to hang out so am first focusing on those platforms. Knowing your audience is key.

    Hope to see you next week at the FCWC. Will be fun to connect again.

  21. Erendira Ramirez-Ortega February 18, 2016 at 9:08 pm #

    What tips can you offer authors on social media?
    I think authors who are too popular and celebratory run the risk of turning off their audience when they don’t engage, or put strict parameters on where to respond to their posts (i.e.: they post on LinkedIn but excuse themselves from conversation there).

    What author do you believe does an exceptional job on social media?
    Hands down, Jane Friedman. She is exceptional in engaging her readers and responding in such a short amount of time. I’ve reached out to her on numerous occasions and she’ll return an answer in less than two days. Two days! Now that my family is starting a home based business, we follow that rule. When an email arrives, a query or concern from anyone, we respond immediately. We don’t let anything pass away.

    What do you enjoy most about social media?
    I enjoy seeing the trends and the engagement. I look forward to taking note on how people I admire, follow, or want to connect with behave. When there is no engagement, there is no purpose to even stay.

  22. Christine Henderson February 18, 2016 at 11:38 pm #

    Every week I do interviews with other authors and ask about their use of social media. Most, like myself, wonder how to take the time to post relevant content or haven’t a clue about creating a blog or a a tweet. Right now I link my blog and my Facebook account which I preschedule and add new posts on the fly. And I need a refresher course on tweets!

    My Linkedin account is pretty stagnant. After you requested to be added to my list this week, I polled my local RWA group about their use of Linkedin and could not find a single positive response for using it. The closest “positive” feedback was from one person who thought it might be helpful for non-fiction authors.

    I’m curious to know which social media sites you rank highest in building a platform.

    • Tamela Hancock Murray February 19, 2016 at 10:19 am #

      Christine, my personal preferences are Twitter and Facebook, but some authors make excellent use of Pinterest and Instagram. I would rather see an author really engage on one or two of the major platforms than to try to force it on all of them. What do you find the most enjoyable and fulfilling? Social media should have an element of fun, even if it is a part of your workday.

  23. Tammy Fish February 19, 2016 at 9:17 am #

    So appreciate everyone’s thoughts and ideas, but the myriad of opportunities have yet again pointed me to my knees reminding me that He directs our paths. Marketing, writing, blogging will look different for each one of us because our heavenly Father leads us in unique ways for His glory. Linda Riggs Mayfield, it saddened me to think that a sister in Christ could be so pointed as to reprimand your decision, but humbled me as well. How many times have I offered my unsolicited advice? Ouch. Too many. I love the verses in I Cor. 12:14-27, “…the body is not made up of one part but of many…” May we each serve Him with our gifts.

  24. Rita Stella Galieh February 23, 2016 at 10:50 pm #

    Tamela I am an Australian indie publisher who has just finished a historical romance trilogy. I am tickled pink that people are connecting with my Facebook page and because I blog weekly about interesting tidbits, and post them on F/book, I have found new readers. This has generated a platform for me.

    And I also have a live Victorian Etiquette presentation where I dress as a governess of that era with a ‘plummy’ English accent. This has generated in really nice sales of my books. Now I am receiving many bookings via word of mouth.

    BTW I received an invitation from Linked In from you and I apologize because I had to decline. I was spreading myself too thinly.

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