Social Media for the Introverted Self-Publisher
by MF Wahl Views: 1736
You’ve poured your blood, sweat, and tears into your writing and you’re finally ready to unleash it onto the world. It’s a nerve-wracking experience, offering up your work to the volatile public masses. You never know how someone is going to like what you’ve done, or how mean they’ll be if they give it the thumbs down. On the flip side, receiving those gushing e-mails professing love for everything you set pen to is a true writer’s high.
Of course if you have no fan base the likelihood of anyone but your mother gushing over your writing is impressively thin. This is why it’s highly recommended to integrate social media into your author branding. Yeah, you’ve got a website (please, please say you do!), and a personal Facebook page to share pictures of your cat or dog wearing funny hats, but I’m talking about public accounts. Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Ello… just to name a few. If they’re out there you need them, don’t you?
I’m not going into how to create and brand your accounts here. There are oceans of blog posts on that kind of stuff. What I’m going to delve into is how to have a public persona if you’re innately shy or value your privacy.
Publicly posting your thoughts on last night’s dinner can be intimidating enough if you’re an introvert like me, but tooting your own horn and asking strangers to buy your book? Ha! Talk about an anxiety attack. But don’t worry; I’m here to help. I popped my social media cherry almost two years ago now, and I’m willing to share my experiences with you so that you to can forge ahead and blaze your own trail. Put down your paper bag and get ready to learn how to rock social media without feeling like you’ve been caught with your pants down.
We all know that staring at that blank social media ‘status update’ box, wondering what to write, can drive you nuts! How many times can you possibly tweet “buy my book” until your mother stops retweeting it? In fact, it may even be hard for you to post “buy my book” if you’re not used to tooting your own horn. I was in that very same position just before I released my first novel. I knew I had to market it, and needed an audience to market it to, but it just seemed a little much to constantly be posting about myself.
To help with the intimidation factor I suggest creating a feed that is writing- and genre-centric. For example, I’m an indie horror/sci-fi writer. When I started out on social media I opened a Facebook page and Twitter profile called “Monster Haüs”. In the beginning, 100% of what I posted was horror-centric and had nothing to do with me. I would find gory pictures, horror news articles, cool Halloween crafts, really anything I thought was cool, or thought horror fans might like. I never posted goofy pics of my dog, or comments about how my son used the potty for the first time. Those kinds of posts were reserved for family and friends only, on my personal accounts. Monster Haüs was purely business.
Slowly but surely I was able to garner an audience. It took months of work, with a minimum of 5-6 posts a day, but my likes and followers steadily rose. To be honest, though, dealing with the posts was tedious, and although people enjoyed my content there wasn’t a lot of interest in me personally—mainly because there was no “me”, only Monster Haüs.
Above all else you’re a writer, and despite the fact that it’s uncomfortable you need to put yourself out there.
After nearly a year of running Monster Haüs with the occasional reference to my book in the third person, I decided I had to change things up and insert M.F. Wahl into Monster Haüs. If I had read a fancy article like this one I probably would have started there to begin with.
I essentially had to rebrand. I shut down Monster Haüs the Facebook page (this had everything to do with Facebook’s shitty algorithms) as well as all my other accounts, Google+, Ello, etc… and opened a Facebook author page. I also kept my Twitter account.
The litany of accounts I held was bogging me down. I realized they were too time consuming to deal with, even when using HootSuite, a social media managing program. But that’s not to say having multiple accounts isn’t beneficial. They open you up to a wider audience, so if you can juggle all those balls then you should. For me, maybe in the future I’ll branch out once again.
Twitter is now where I run my true feed. The Facebook author page is just to have a Facebook landing, but it’s a mirror of what I post on Twitter.
If you’re unsure of where to start, Twitter is great place to get your feet on the ground.
Creating a feed is where the minefield lies for the introverted self-publisher. Running something where it’s necessary to throw in lots of personal stuff is a major pain. The thing is, though, that potential and current readers need to feel a connection with you. What I learned through running Monster Haüs is that if you’re just a faceless content feed you may as well be a bot. Nobody cares about you, and although they may enjoy your posts it doesn’t mean they’ll buy your book.
I continue to post lots of horror-centric content, but now it’s only what I think is cool, not what I think the “fans” want. Why? Because I’m now running a personal feed, not a content feed. Posts are handpicked and if I put it out there it’s because I genuinely feel it’s worth sharing. This is a far cry from Monster Haüs, where I needed constant content and I was dissociated from what I posted.
These days I’ll comment on an episode of a genre-centric show I enjoyed, or maybe recommend a book I’ve read. I never share TMI or talk about what I’m doing on a particular day (e.g. having chicken curry for dinner) unless I find it relevant to my author brand. What I do do is share things like a dream that inspired me to write, or my thoughts on the latest episode of The Walking Dead. I comment on articles about self-publishing or writing that I’ve read, and I’ve even been known to wax poetic about the weather—when it seems genre-appropriate—but that’s it. Personal, but not too personal. The rest of my feed consists of cool genre- and writing-specific art, recipes, articles, etc.
Most of my posts contain very little in the way of personal thoughts. I usually just say something along the lines of “I found this, and think it’s neat. You should check it out.”
Posting a creepy necklace I found on Pinterest is miles away from asking people to buy my novel. In the beginning it felt super awkward to throw out posts about a blog tour I was doing, or mention that I got another 5-star review.
I’ve found that practice makes perfect. The more you throw those personal but not too personal posts out there, the more comfortable you become with them. Start small and eventually you won’t spend all day agonizing over what to write in the update box.
You don’t have to do it every day, and the majority of your posts shouldn’t be about you and the wares you’re peddling, but you’ll need to share your own stuff once in a while. Use your social media accounts to promote sales, releases, share artwork, blog posts, excerpts, flash fiction that you wrote for Mash Stories (wink, wink, nudge, nudge), etc. You don’t have to talk about how awesome you are (even if you’re the most awesome person in the world)—just be sure to share what you’ve got going on. Remember, no one else is going to do it for you.
One other thing that’s great to do, especially if you’re introverted and don’t want to talk about yourself, is to regularly promote other authors. For instance, I run a monthly Women in Horror author interview series. It gives me the chance to interact with and learn from others in the community. It also gives my feed a break from the same old content and gives me someone else to talk about other than myself. It can’t hurt that sometimes-sorely-lacking karma bank, either.
There you have it. Embrace the fact that you’ll have to be the one to toot your horn and that you’ll have to share some personal stuff. Just remember that you don’t have to fill up your feed with your thoughts on everything under the sun. Give yourself a break by posting mostly genre-specific content that you personally think is cool. I like to use the 80/20 rule: 80% genre-specific content, and 20% “personal” posts, including mentions of your writing. On any given day the percentage may sway, but I find those are good numbers to shoot for.
Good luck with your endeavour into social media and feel free to look me up on Twitter: @RealMonsterHaus