You’ve heard that you must create your Facebook author page and post there often. That you have to engage on Twitter or you’ll lose sales. That without an Instagram account full of larger-than-life pics your readers will forget about you and the stories you tell.

In short, you’ve been told that to support your author career you need many social media channels—or you will fail.

You’ve been told wrong.

Not worth the suffering

If you try to maintain all those social channels, especially when doing so grates against your personality and feels like a monumental distraction, then your well-being will suffer. Your calendar will suffer.

Your writing will suffer.

You’ve been told you have to repeatedly tweet and boost and post and insta…space…chat to sell your books. That’s also wrong. Social media channels aren’t where you sell at all. You sell at the hub of your author platform: at your website, where the store is always open.

But on your social channels, selling is the last thing you should be doing. On your social channels you should be participating with like-minded readers. You should be connecting.

Pick your playground

And not everywhere. You should be connecting only at the rare intersection of where you are comfortable and where readers who like the types of books you write hang out online.

But as part of your book marketing plan you do need to connect at one place online—a place of your choosing.

It might be Facebook. (But more and more lately that’s not true.) It could be Twitter, if the chaos of a frenzied cocktail party with thousands of strangers is your thing. Maybe it’s Pinterest. Or Goodreads. Or YouTube. Could be any number of customized venues: Quora or Reddit or LinkedIn or Tumblr or WattPad or Instagram or…

You don’t need many social channels, each sapping your energy as you resent your participation. You don’t need that headache and your readers don’t want that lack of authenticity.

But you need one. So find where your people are, then go there and be a fan.

Don’t use it as a sales channel.

Use it to be playful and creative and experimental.

That’s the place where you connect your readers to each other and grow the love of your books.

Be uncool

Find the social channel where you can be the person you are when you are uncool, the person you are around your closest friends, when you don’t have to impress anyone.

Share your work in progress when the time is right. Ask advice on covers and character names. Celebrate others’ successes. Collaborate. Chill.

And if it’s Facebook don’t create an author page if you don’t have one already. That’s just one more thing to maintain, and one more way to distance yourself from your audience. Use your personal page instead. Be you, not “you, author.”

But wherever you go—don’t hard sell. Whichever social channel you choose, “Buy. My. Book!” Does. not. work.

You want to tweet or post about buying books? Recommend someone else’s.

For your part, you are there to hang out with your friends and, when you have a story for sale, give them the opportunity to pay you money for it.

Make it be play, not marketing and promotion.

If you can’t do that, don’t do social media; do commercial media. Just pay for ads instead.


Need personal forgiveness for your lack of wide social media commitment? I’m dispensing absolution on our Career Authors Facebook page.