Tracey S. Phillips is the author of thriller Best Kept Secrets, and the founder of Blackbird Writers. You can find out more about her here, see her book here, and read her last post here.
The crowded greenroom is bustling with activity between the heavy black velvet travelers off-stage. The lead actresses apply finishing touches to their lipstick and another shot of hairspray to their hairdos. Actors in costume tighten their belts and straighten ties. One member of the cast mumbles the lines from her monologue at the end of act one while you stand patiently waiting for lights to go down in the house.
The backstage manager gives the signal, and you hear a full house go quiet. The audience rustles and a wave of coughs goes through the crowd as people settle in for the show. Stagehands open the main drape, and the director pats you on the back. “Break a leg,” he says. You stiffen, take a breath, and stride onto the set with your lines at the tip of your tongue.
Some of my favorite memories are from participating in community theater. I’ve been in You Can’t Take It With You, Once Upon A Mattress and Annie, to name a few. It’s both exhilarating and scary to be onstage performing to an attentive audience.
These days, that stage is everywhere and anywhere you want to be seen. Recently, fellow Blackbird Writer Valerie Biel asked me the question, “What would you tell your pre-published self?” for her blog. Back then, I didn’t know what I didn’t know. That I needed a bigger platform, and a few stages to shout from.
Your kids use it. Your uncle and granddad use it. I doubt you’re new to the publishing game, but I’m talking about social media. Many—dare I say most—of your followers are on social media. This is the platform from which we announce, address, and communicate news of our upcoming events and publications. On these platforms, your new readers will find you. But with so many to choose, from which stage do you give your soliloquy? If you’re a newly debuted author, and even if you’ve been at this a while, this can be a daunting assignment.
Read to the end, I have a question for you!
You know there are a dozen platforms to choose from, but do you need have a presence on them all? No way, Jose. If you’re a photographer, pictures can speak a thousand words. Facebook and Instagram combined this year to form Meta. Posting to both the Facebook and Instagram forums—at the same time!—is easier than ever. Pinterest is another photocentric space. I’ve used it to create story boards for my characters. Some authors use it to create photo collages of their favorite mystery or thriller reads.
Tic-Toc, one of the newest, is all about very short videos. It’s a fantastic venue for attracting young readers. And if you love making videos, interviewing others, or giving live, writerly advice from your desk, YouTube could be your game.
Twitter is the word-centric social forum. Best for short blasts, it’s a great place to be heard if you can shout above the 300 million users. If you’re a Twitter user, learn all about how to gain followers. Tweet topics that fit your brand. Are you a mystery writer? Retweet mystery books. Is your next book coming soon? Let the world know. Sure it’s easy to get into that political debate, but if you’re a romantic suspense author, do you really need to bash that senator from your neighboring state? Will it promote your new release? It might be best to think before you tweet or post on any forum.
Linked-In is the business and professional site. Like Facebook, you can announce your news to followers and congratulate your fellows but without the need for photos. If you have a company, a small press or an editing business, Linked-In can be a great place to promote your services. Alignable is a newer social site for businesses who wish to –you guessed it, align. Be sure to turn off the email notifications unless you like your inbox inundated. And look at Medium if you’re a writer who likes to get paid. Opportunities abound on this site with over 100 million readers.
The next subset of social media sites are for bookish people. Readers, this means you. Goodreads is a great place to discuss books, promote books, and review books. Authors need a presence on Bookbub. Unlike Goodreads, there are no groups to join. But Bookbub is the place to learn about promotions and book sales. It’s a great venue for advertising. Articles and advice on How To advertise on Bookbub can be found here.
Many authors also have news and updates on their Amazon Author page. If you’ve ever bought a book from Amazon, and I imagine you have, you can follow the author to get the latest updates and discounted books. All Author is another great place for authors to promote. I love their GIF making feature, to create designs with your reviews. If you pay for their author program, they will send tweets with your book cover every day.
The number one reason to engage in social media is to draw readers to your website where they can sign up for your newsletter. It’s the most important platform for your work. Your website has something that no other author in the world has. Your books and your brand. This is the biggest stage for your work. It should be beautiful, fit your image, and feature your most recent works because this is where you stage your books and news.
(I don’t have enough space to give details of website design here. Helpful hint: If you aren’t good at web design, hire someone. Cousin John, or your friend who knows everything about drones, computers, and aliens might not be the best guy to build your website. Professional services abound at many price ranges. Find someone who fits your needs. )
Do you need accounts on all these social sites? Heavens no. Many professionals recommend you stick to only two and most importantly, do them well. And that’s the best advice that I can give.
My favorite stage is Facebook/Instagram. My Author Page is where you’ll find news and posts from me. Every day. Or for a little less news, sign up for my quarterly newsletter at www.traceysphillips.com
Tell me the platform or stage you use most in the comments below!
This Post Has 26 Comments
Tracey — This post is spot on!
I love it when I cross paths on social media with other Blackbird writers, readers, and authors. I cross paths with you frequently.
My favorite social media platform? Instagram!
Thanks Laurie! And I love finding you and other friends in those spaces. It’s fun to see what you’re all up to.
Nice review of avenues for new authors. I’m on Facebook and simply have no more time to tend to other platforms right now. Besides Facebook, people can find me through my website under my name and sign up for my newsletter that goes out about 3 times per year (spring/summer/fall). I also review a lot of books on Amazon and I consider that a social media activity as well and wish more readers and friends would review my books and those of Blackbird authors. Reviews matter because they can be easily shared across all platforms; sharing reviews is an excellent way for any social media newbie to get their start.
Thanks Christine! I wasn’t sure anyone need another tour of all the “stages”. You and all the Blackbirds are very good at social media and sharing news. Reviews are another great way for authors to share the stage. It always feels good when I’m tagged in a nice review.
Great analysis of the many stages available for writers. I don’t really have a favorite. Different sites meet different audiences and purposes, so they are all valuable. I’ve met a whole village of people with common interests via social media, giving new meaning to the word “friends.”
I’m so glad to call you my friend! You’re so right, Saralyn. Each site is valuable in its own right. Because of that, it’s important for authors to learn where their readers like to congregate.
Definitely important information for new authors, who, if they want their work to be known, need to enter the field with their eyes wide open about what is going to be required of them.
Thanks Sheila, I know it’s old news to most of us. Where can readers find you??
Tracey, you certainly know so much about marketing and the business of writing in today’s world. Please do tell me more about the GIF thing in Amazon. I didn’t know about it. Something I did recently was create an aesthetic or photo collage to go with my books. It’s meant to evoke emotion, the feeling you’d like to create about your book or WIP. Aesthetics can easily be made on CANVA or other design sites. Great post!
Laurie, I don’t feel like I know anything about marketing! And, things constantly change. The GIF feature is in All Author–which I believe is a segment of Amazon. Join All Author, and see what they have to offer! Weekly Tweets, a community of authors. They have some nice perks.
Hope to see you there!
Hi Tracey, always fun to see what you’re posting on FB and Instagram. I started out hating Twitter, and now it’s become my favorite for engaging with fans, so I suppose one’s stage can evolve over time!
Hi Avanti-I suppose it can and it probably should!
Great summary of the social media platforms available now, and like you said, things change. I’m still using Facebook and Twitter, the two platforms I started with about eight years ago. They keep me busy enough, and even though I’ve added Instagram, I’m not using it as much. Will look into getting started with Meta! Thanks, Tracey!
Thanks Margaret, Social media keeps us all busy-unfortunately . We need o balance with our writing time. And if you need help with meta, hit me up. I should be able to show you a few things. (wink)
Hmm. I’ve been thinking about building some book trailer videos and posting them to TicToc and/or Instagram, neither of which I have right now because Facebook is enough at the moment, between my own writing and trying to get things read, and. and, and… My main focus right now is getting my website, annelouisebannon.com, in better shape so that I have something to send people to when I get more into social media.
Book trailers can be great–although I’ve seen some really bad ones. I consider it to be more of a movie trailer. Grab the reader with the story. Don’t-like some I’ve seen-just have your book flipping around in space. Instagram is a great place for video and photos. Let me know if you need help setting it up in Meta.
Thanks for the great info, Tracey. Like others, I review BBWs’ and other authors’ books. I post them on FB, GoodReads, and BookBub based on whom I feature in my monthly newsletter. And as others have mentioned regarding their books, I wish more people would posts their reviews of my books. In addition, I wish all us BBWs would habitually share each other’s reviews all over creation. As far as my preferred social media sites, I find FB easiest to use, but I also like Twitter where I can connect with the gatekeepers of my books, namely, teachers, librarians, and families. Posting on Instagram remains challenging for me. And I think I should be on TikTok, but I’d need to learn much more about it first.
Thanks Sherrill, reviews benefit the authors and they’re a great way to showcase other books in your genre. I can’t stress that enough and I think we all could use more reviews–even bad ones. An author once told me, even bad press is publicity! If you get into TicToc, maybe you can teach me!
Thanks for the great overview and reminder that, as much time as they platforms might consume, they are a means of communicating what we offer to the world. I always remind myself that I reach a wide audience without leaving home. This is the only way I can reach that wide audience without incurring great expense. Facebook and Instagram have been my friends and that’s where I spend most of my social media time. It’s important for authors to know their audience and brand and find the SM that works best for them. I need to check out All Author and Medium. Thanks for sharing!
Hi Joy, you’re right! Social media is like free advertising. (Paid advertising is a conversation for another post!!)
Fantastic overview of Social Media wrapped in a theater metaphor (right up my alley)! I had a 20-something tell me that reading your book on Tik Tok is a great way to get followers. Then my daughter, ever the splash of cold reality to the face, said, “Of course people want to watch a beautiful 18-22 year old read.” I scratched it off my list.
Oh, Sharon, that made me laugh!!! Great point!! My daughter has been pushing me to do reels on Instagram, and I said, no. Though I loved being on stage when I was younger, it doesn’t appeal to me now.
I’m pretty lazy, so I mostly just use FB unless something special is happening. And once a year I post a Halloween video to YouTube. You’ve inspired me to look more closely at other platforms though. Tiktok? Hmmm?
Hi Tim, Let me know how that goes for you!!
Perfect description! I get the pre-performance jitters every time I hit send, especially with my newsletter. I’m FB/IG, but I would love to figure out Pinterest. 🙂
Pinterest is perfect for people who love to use photos and images. You can create a board for your main characters with images of things they like/do/eat/wear. It could be fun!