Writers in the Storm

A blog about writing

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August 31, 2020

Content to Vitalize Your Author Social Media

by Kris Maze

The work of an author is rewarding, but time consuming; how do we accomplish the tasks while maintaining a sane life?

We revise our writing, review other writers’ work, build an author presence, and all while continuing to write new material. How can we do all this and keep it meaningful? When talking with others here at Writers in the Storm, I discovered that the struggle is universal. You can find comfort in knowing this is a problem for most of us!

It makes sense that writers would rather work on their manuscripts and not focus on the digital world. Social media can be a crippling distraction if not handled well, but it also is paramount to creating a vibrant fan base for your work. Building a presence online means taking the additional time we might not have to create content and to interact with our audience.

This can be overwhelming. But it makes a difference if you show up where your readers 'hang out' and build these relationships. The best strategy I can recommend is to get the most out of the writer tasks you are already doing.

Tips to create authentic content for social media platforms using your current work as a writer.

Author platforms are important, and social media is a proven way to connect with readers, but how do we find the time to write unique and engaging content?

The first step is to take inventory of the tasks you currently do.

As a part of this process I categorized my work into 4 areas that can also be a springboard for Social Media Content:

  1. Planning, Dreaming
  2. Research, Read in your genre
  3. Writing, Revising
  4. Writing Community - synergy of helping (giving back) and receiving (beta reading, critiquing, cross promoting)

Since writers do these things anyway, these are easy areas to pull from to create content that resonates with readers and keeps them invested in your work. All four of these areas can inspire your social media content.

1. Planning and Dreaming Stage

The Planning and Dreaming Stage is about sharing an intent with your Author Audience. What ways to already connect with your readers? How can you capitalize on what you already do? Consider these actions you can take on most Social Media Platforms:

Make a poll on what your next project should be. Do they want to hear about your character's backstory or an unlikely romance between your jilted protagonist and his ex? Find out what your fans want and share the results with them.

Ask about audience preferences: where should the story be set? Albuquerque or the Alamo? Maybe they won’t care, but you will be surprised at the opinions your readers have. Writing to your audience with an informed perspective gives you an opportunity to write what they most want to read.

Share a favorite quote that inspired your book. Or share from your own work and see the response. Ask for favorite quotes or resources from your readers.

Play a trivia game from research for your project. Find out what your audience already knows, or what is new to them. Use that research for more than one purpose!

Interacting with your audience keeps them engaged and interesting in what you do a s a writer. This can translate into more readers and more book sales.

2. Research and Reading

Research and Reading is the necessary body-building equivalent to beefing up our work in progress. Finding the right information and studying can bring new life and authenticity to a writer's work. Why not give your audience snipets of your research along the way to build interest?

Write a review. Are you reading a book on cooking because your MC is a start-up chef? Have your read many books on a historical figure? Share what you liked about it. Consider writing a review of it and adding the links to it on your social media.

Curate a list books you used for research on a particular topic. If a reader likes the resource you are using, chances are they are people with similar interests and will also want to read your book by association.

Share an opinion. Is there an issue you feel strongly about? Perhaps share a little with your audience and poll their thoughts. See how it resonates and write to the conflict. The caveat here is to be sensitive to highly politicized issues, since these can also alienate readers and damage your author platform.

Tell your most random discovery. Have you ever started searching the Internet for research only to find that you wasted an afternoon searching the top 20 cat memes of the 2000’s? (Guilty!) Give yourself credit for falling down the digital rabbit hole: sometime must have peaked your interest and perhaps it is interesting to your readers as well. Share the fun bits with your readers. Let them know what your find interesting and your readers will become curious about your work.

3. Writing and Revising

Writing and Revising is the time to buckle down and give your book baby some undivided attention. This may be where you shut down the Social media factory for a while and put your head down over your manuscript.

Put up your virtual “Do Not Disturb’ sign. Although it is important to keep your focus, it's a good idea to let your readers know what you're planning . Set up regular posts for fun using a scheduling feature of your Social Media. Try something funny or informative topics to remind your audience about you as an author. Give them a time frame and use your return as a time to build a fun interactive response. Consider using options for scheduling in advance such as Hootsuite or Buffer, or perhaps hire out the work with a service.

Don't Disappear. The idea is to free you up for a designated time, but don’t disappear entirely. It may be your personal preference to have a low profile, but you should be easy to find regardless. Stay on the readers' radar - your hard work will pay off and afford you time to take a break. Readers will understand, they just don’t want to be ghosted and completely ignored. See this article by Angela Ackerman, of Writers Helping Writers for more guidance on how to make Authentic connections through social media using her FAR Method of Marketing for more ideas.

4. Writing community and Giving Back

Share the good news. Giving Back to your writing community brings your good juju to your work, but it also can provide you more posts on Social Media. Sharing your gifts of time and insight are essential to quality writing that readers love to read. Do you have a writer friend who could use cross-promotion or has a new give-away on their website? Share press releases and forward social media from your author friends, as they most likely will do the same.

Get Involved in Community Service. Giving back can mean actual volunteer time too. For example, try helping at a Habitat for Humanity or a pet shelter, especially if those locations or occupations are a part of your novel. Get into the difficulties and joys of working as a carpenter or a vet tech and find better ways to make your stories realistic. Find other places to help out, too. Make someone’s day and make yourself feel better by showing you care with your time, energy and resources.

Giving your time and energy can benefit your writing in many ways. Inspiration from your work and the people you interact with can make it to your own pages. Getting a clear picture of what someone’s work and life is truly like helps us to write with integrity.

Put on your writer hat and pull up your sleeves to learn a new task. It will vitalize your manuscripts and even bring smiles to your face.

All these wactivities can be adapted to social media. Pictures, quotes, promoting a cause, can all come from these activities. Share what you are doing and let your audience know. They love a sneak peek behind the scenes. And who knows? It might inspire and inform your work in progress as well.

What ways do you use your writing process to interact with your audience? Do you use social media for more than the promotion of books? Share down in the down in the comments some of the ways you've found to connect, and feel free to toot your own horn!

* * * * * *

About Kris

Kris Maze author pic

Kris Maze writes empowering, twisty stories and also teaches Spanish. After years of reading classic literature, mysteries, and legal thrillers, she sought to publish her own books. Her first Science Fiction novella, IMPACT, (Aurelia Leo, 2020) is now available!

Kris Maze is fascinated with strong characters like her protagonist Nala, a teen journalist who reluctantly works with a crazed scientist Edison to survive an incoming asteroid implosion. For more information on her book, look here.

Check out her newly revised website and say hi!  While you are there sign up for her newsletter to get updates on blog tours and media takeovers during the next couple months. For Subscribers during September there will be a free Writer Wellness Tips and Tools download, so now is  a fantastic time to visit her website.

For more information on her Dystopian Sci-fi Romance check here.

14 comments on “Content to Vitalize Your Author Social Media”

  1. […] This month at Writers in the Storm, I collected ideas on how authors can save time and build their social media platforms at the same time. In today’s post, I describe my process for identifying the writing tasks authors normally do and broke them down into 4 categories. Each task is an opportunity for easy Social Media Content that engages your audience and keeps them involved. See more here! […]

  2. I love the fresh ideas you offer, Kris, to take us beyond: "I won an award! My book is on sale for 99 cents today! I just did an interview with a local paper!" These are all variants of: "Buy my book!" It's great to have these ways to open up what one posts about. The big questions persist for me, however. As you say, the question of time looms large. For me, it's not simply hours but "brains" because I can't toggle the immersion I need for writing new fiction and the quickness I need for zipping through social media posts. Maybe others can, but I can't. The other question is the audience that you imply. I can't say that I have a following that's eager for updates and contests and polls and trivia games that center on my newest project (ideas I love, by the way). There are some authors on Facebook who do have a following like that, and bless them! But that takes years and several books and a very big investment of energy, especially amidst all the "virtual noise" (i.e., competition for reader attention) that has really ramped up during the quarantine. It's such a huge subject, and each of us has to find our own way. I find that I need to "go quiet" while working on a new book, knowing that I will have to work harder to re-establish a small piece of reader attention on social media later, when I need it. I can't imagine how people who are also trying to raise children and work at "day jobs " are able to do it all!

    1. Barbara, when I first started building an online platform about a decade ago, I had a job and a new baby - basically all the challenges you refer to - and I learned a helpful secret. Use the in-between time.

      I would carve out all my blogs and social media in a few hours on the weekend and schedule all of it. Doing it all in one swoop kept my energy and my voice consistent, and scheduling it allowed me to do nothing but monitor it during the week.

      Answering comments that way became a joy and a reward. Baby crying for hours...someone loving my blog. Working at mundane tasks...dropping into a Twitter party. By separating the creation time from the interaction time, I was able to enjoy the interaction time more fully. I did social media almost fully from my phone for at least three years, and used the in-between times.

      It worked well for me.

      1. Aw, Jenny, you bring it right to the heart. Yes, when the stress of posting is taken care of by scheduling in advance, you can find joy in focusing on interacting with your readers during stolen moments of quiet.

        I am not fully able to respond on the go, using my phone, but I can do a lot more than before following some of your sage tips. 🙂

    2. Thanks, Barb, the points you make are valid (as I scroll through work emails and wonder what the source of screaming in the background is - no one has produced blood so far, so I'll keep on typing!). The toggle switch can lead to more noise as you put it. It is good to pull back and use other resources to do the work for us (like scheduling posts you want your readers to see and static information you don't need to respond to immediately). Unplugging is important too, and I have a large project to tackle soon and plan to slow down my interaction some as well.

      I appreciate your recognition that the media beast is hard to tackle, but it is an important way to cultivate your presence. It isn't an overnight process, but hopefully this post can help writers have comfort that we all struggle with this!

  3. How timely! I can use these ideas.

    When in need of a Social Media break I send out a message letting people know. I have found that to be helpful. Disapearing tends to worry folks.

    Sometimes I've shared research, especially old photos I've used to help set a scene.

    I like your suggestion for a trivia game. Anything to keep people positively engaged is a good thing!

    1. Ellen,
      I love your posts and social media findings! You have a knack for providing interesting research and the quirkiest fun posts. I often get a needed laugh and smile from them. Glad you could get a couple new ideas today, too!

    1. Thanks, Rick! As I have fallen down the digital rabbit hole many times, I decided to use that 'research' to discover connections with readers too. I once posted on the qualities of slug - goo for creating better adhesives... then looked up the study of slugs...
      ...it's limacology: the study of shell-less gastropod mollusks.

      And now we all know!

  4. Love these ideas! Thank you so much. Just like we expect every word to do double duty in a ms, we need to squeeze double purpose out of our work!

    1. It's nice to find efficiency in our work and then we can enjoy the other important parts of our lives with less stress! I'm glad you could find some useful tips here.

  5. I really need to do more of the things you talk about here. I'm not as active on social media as I should be. I could have had a whole series of posts connected with the book that just released. I did tons of research on investigative techniques, current technology, and even the Navajo Code Talkers. I could just about write a book on them alone with what I've learned.

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