Last month I wrote about how you need to be a real person on social media, and form relationships with potential readers so that when you release a book, these people care enough to buy it.

FacebookToday, I’d like to discuss some ways you can actually connect with your readers.

  1. Be Visual. In marketing, experts say people buy with their eyes, and the same holds true for book marketing. Why else do authors, publishers and illustrators spend so much time making sure a book’s cover is perfect? The same can be said on social media. Someone is much more likely to re-tweet you, share a status update or click on your blog if there’s an interesting picture. But you can’t just share your book’s cover, or a quote from your book every day. While these things are great once in a while, readers want to know who you are outside of being an author. So, why not share a screencap from your favourite TV show/movie, or the cover of the last great book your read. Perhaps share the view from your desk. Generally, anything that offers a little insight into the type of person you are makes for an interesting post on social media.
  2. Don’t Over Share. Yes, readers want to know you as a real person, but sometimes you can give away a little too much information. Readers probably won’t want to know you’ve just had your wisdom teeth removed and that you’re being sick because of the antithetic. And unless your readers are foodies, you probably don’t need to Instagram every meal you have. Keep it light, keep it interesting, but don’t go overboard.
  3. Be Passionate. Everyone has a TV show/movie/book/band they love, and chances are, someone else online loves it as much as you do. If the latest episode of your favourite TV show blew you away, or your favourite band is releasing a new album for the first time in ten years, or your favourite author has just announced the release date of their much awaited sequel book, post about it. Use hashtags (though try not to use more than three, as it could overwhelm readers) and talk about the things you love. Hopefully, someone who also loves them will see your post, and you can start a discussion about it. Then not only have you made a new friend to talk about your passion with, but you’ve also gained a potential reader.
  4. Participate in Chats/Discussion. Following on from point three, another way to connect with people online is via Tweetchats, Facebook Groups or Google Hangouts. If you love sci-fi books, try searching the hashtag #SciFi on social media, and see what other fans are saying. You might find some recommendations, and new fans of the genre to connect with.
  5. Try Out Trends/Popular Hashtags. Most social media platforms utilize hashtags to create theme days. Just a few of these include: #ShelfieSunday [a form of the popular Instagram hashtag #SelfieSunday], where you share a picture of your bookshelf (physical or digital). #TeaserTuesday, where you share a snippet from your work-in-progress. #FridayReads, where you talk about what book you’ve read recently. There are many more too, and Googling ‘hash tag days’ will bring you lists of the most popular ones. Check them out, and connect with others. Who knows, you might find someone who also loves the book you just started reading, and you can chat about it. Be careful not to overdo it though, and become a #hashtagmonster!Twitter
  6. Care About Others. Of course, while you’re on social media, it’s a good idea not to just post about yourself/your own interests. Take time to check out your friends’ newsfeeds, and comment on their lives. Just as we maintain real life relationships by making sure there’s a balance between ourselves and the other person, you need to do that online, too. See what you’re friends have been up to, comment on what’s important to them, discuss their passions. Not only will you learn more about your friends, but you might discover a new interest from it!
  7. Don’t be Negative. We all have that one TV show/book/movie/musical artist we can’t stand, and sometimes it’s healthy to discuss with others why you don’t like it. But be careful not to overdo it. If you’re the first (or only) person to declare your dislike of something every time it’s mentioned, your readers will start thinking you’re a negative person, and may even start to see you as bitter and resentful.
  8. Be Careful What You Say About Others. Following on from point seven, it’s also worth keeping in mind that online (even if you’re profile is set to friends only) nothing you say is ever 100 % private. Sure, you may have hated someone’s last novel, or think this summer’s blockbuster movie sucked, but be careful not to attack anyone or make your negative assessment too personal, just in case someone directly connected to them reads it and reports back. This is especially important if you’re talking about other independent and small-press published authors. Remember, all authors are in a similar position and have gone through the same struggles you did trying to publish their novel, so don’t blast them just because their methods are slightly different to your own.
  9. Don’t be a Debby Downer. Sometimes we need to vent, and talking about something that’s annoyed us is a great way to release negative feelings and not bottle them up. But if all your Tweets/status updates are of a negative nature, it’s going to become wearing for your readers. We all have our problems, and sometimes a problem shared is indeed a problem halved, but if all you do is moan 24/7 you’re going to be seen as that person, and that’s something you need to avoid.
  10. Be Direct With People. If you’ve loved someone’s latest book, shout it from the rooftops. As I mentioned above, discussing something you’re passionate about is a great way to connect with others. But, if you’re talking about the negatives, the public forum isn’t always the most appropriate place to air your views. Say for example you found an author’s new novel has a few typos in it, don’t take to social media to point this out. Even though you might think you’re helping, you’re declaring to the work this book has faults and that can be quite shaming to the author. If you can, speak to them directly, via email or private message where possible. If it’s someone you’re friends with, they’re going to appreciate you talking to them privately about the issue much more than they would if you proclaimed it on social media.

This list is by no means a definitive list of ways authors can connect with potential readers on social media. As with anything connected to book marketing, some things will work better than others, and some methods don’t work for everyone. But they’re points to keep in the back of your mind whenever you’re engaging with people, and trying to connect with others online. :)