filed under How To Get Published, The Publishing Industry.

Thanks Tess Woods for being my special guest today. Tess is sharing all her tips on social media for authors, having built a big social media following in a very short time. Over to you, Tess!

Tess Began With No Social Media Presence At All

Tess says: In the last few weeks, I’ve been asked by several authors (and some non-authors too) how I managed to get the following I have so quickly on social media. I started my Facebook page and my website in March this year and three months later I have a well known social media profile, with my posts reaching thousands of people and with lots and lots of interaction from my followers and my brand new website has already had close to five thousand hits.

Thank you lovely Natasha Lester, for giving me the opportunity to share my tips for things I learnt along the way that may help others get started, or, if their social media isn’t really working for them, this may give them some fresh ideas.

Let me start by saying, none of this came easily or naturally to me. Everyone who knows me knows I am quite shy in social settings and not a sales type of personality at all. When I got my publishing deal with HarperCollins I kicked my heels up and thought:

Woo-hoo, I have one of the Big Five publishers behind me. Let me sip Pina Coladas in a hammock while my publisher does all the work marketing my book.

Many Publishers Expect Authors to do the Lion’s Share of Marketing

Ahem, wrong. SO wrong! These days, publishers simply do not have the time or the budget to market new authors the way they used to, especially with digital imprints. Ninety-five per cent of all marketing has to be author driven. This was a huge shock to my system but when faced with a challenge, I am one determined Gemini who rises to it! So the first thing I did, in true courageous style, was go running in tears to my agent begging for help! My literary agent, Jacinta, put me in touch with another Perth based author, Natasha Lester, who quickly became my mentor and then my very dear friend.

Natasha gave me two vital pieces of advice:

  • Get a Facebook Author Page ASAP.
    Get a website ASAP.

So I did! Natasha also shared with me her tips for how her author page became successful. I looked to Natasha’s Facebook page and website as well as those of Perth author Steph Pegler (who also had the social media world completely sussed out) and I set to work. Apart from looking to these two great mentors of mine for guidance, I didn’t do much other research. I just went with my gut and did what I hoped would work.

Getting a decent website and an interactive popular Facebook page took hundreds of unpaid hours of work, quite literally hundreds. But here I am now, someone who was completely unknown a few months ago, with a large and loyal following. Here’s how I did it.

Social Media for Authors - How to Build a Platform

Building an Author Website – 10 Tips

  1. My fifteen-year- old son designed my website for me using Weebly which was easy (for him, not for me, let’s be very clear that I would have no idea in website design).
  2. I made sure my site had a lot of content with many pages filled with everything anybody could possibly want to know about me and my book.
  3. I made the website clean and clear and simple to navigate.
  4. I gave the site a domain name that would make it super easy to find, using my name which is what people would enter in their Google search –
  5. I linked to loads and loads of other websites to get better SEO
  6. I updated it every few days and continue to do so as this keeps it current and also gives it better SEO than a website that stays stagnant.
  7. I made sure it was an entertaining and interesting site, not just an informative site.
  8. I made it extremely easy to buy the book, subscribe to my newsletter and follow me on Facebook by having these links as one touch buttons on every single page.
  9. I (when I say I, what I mean is my husband) signed onto Mailchimp to set up a subscriber list and I started writing monthly newsletters with book reviews, fun quizzes and serious tips and tricks for writers.
  10. And now, every month when my newsletter comes out, I advertise it with a giveaway on Facebook. People LOVE giveaways!

Tips For Setting Up An Author Facebook Page

  1. I used my book cover and a photo of my face (which together are my brand) as the profile and cover photo and I wrote a detailed “About” section with the blurb, my author biography and a link to my website.
  2. My first 500 followers came from my family and friends. I was friends with about 270 people on Facebook and when I started the page I invited all of them (through Facebook) to like the page. About 230 of them did (the other 40 are no longer in my good books – thanks for nothing you lot and you know who you are!). Out of those 230 people about 10 of them then went on to invite all the people on their friends lists to like the page too (these are the friends who are getting the nicest presents from me this Christmas!).
  3. With friends who were authors, I made sure that I was following their pages before I invited them to like mine.
  4. So once I had exhausted the options for how many people I personally could invite or who my friends could invite, I advertised the page on Facebook. This was expensive. I ran a Facebook ad for a week and got another 500 followers from around the world who have since become wonderful engaged followers of the page. It was well worth doing.
  5. The way I advertised was one country at a time, editing the ad so that when the people in that country were asleep at night, I would run the ad in a country where it was day time. I made sure I had a killer opening line that would entice people to like the page. I also chose my audience based on gender and age and for the key words I chose ten popular women’s fiction authors. All of this ensured only the right demographic would view my ad.
  6. Since then the remaining followers have found the page on their own accord by seeing it promoted on other sites (I promoted it on a blog tour that took in over 50 book sites) or from seeing it through their friends liking the page. People that have read the book have also gone looking for the page which is the best kind of follower!
  7. Even more people like the page every time I do a giveaway and I do giveaways twice a month. Again, I cannot stress enough how much people LOVE giveaways.
  8. As far as posting goes, I post three times a week. On a Friday I try to make people laugh with a funny photo, on the weekend I post an update about: my book, my book tour, I do a book of the month where I promote another author and I advertise my newsletter. Then mid-week I post something interactive to engage followers. By far the most popular posts are my mid-week posts. I started a series called “Which One Wednesday” where people were asked to choose between two movies/books/celebrities for their favourite and now I have a series where I share something about myself and ask them to share something too, such as “tell me about your wedding” or “tell me what your favourite movie scene is”.
  9. I acknowledge every single comment on every single post. This is not negotiable.
  10. I’ve replied to every private message on my page as soon as I’ve seen it.
  11. I have a small posse of close friends that I have asked to click “get notifications” on my page. I did this because Facebook does not show your posts to all your followers. Who knows why but that’s just the way it is! What happens is that your posts will be shown to a few random followers, and based on how many of those selected people like and comment on it, it will then be shown to a few more people and so on. There are complicated ways that Facebook works but it has been reported through forums that for every like a post receives, it is then shown to about 10 more people. So I have my little inner circle of besties who are notified every time I post and they like the posts as soon as they see them and that handful of likes is what gets the ball rolling.
  12. I boost posts that I want seen by everyone, such as when I’m promoting my monthly newsletter. Boosting posts shows it to more people quickly and I usually spend $5 to have about 400 extra people see the post. I usually boost 3-4 posts a month.
  13. I have permanently pinned to the very top of my page the post I think would be of most value which is a post with all my reviews on it so that as soon as people go to the page they are hit with a post that encourages them to check out my book.

Building an Author Platform – What To Do

  • Have a Facebook page AND a good website and have the two connected to each other with links.
  • Make sure your website is packed with great content and make it very easy to find for anyone looking for you, use your name if possible as the domain name.
  • Update your website regularly.
  • Encourage subscribers to your website by putting out a really interesting newsletter or blog.
  • Host giveaways on both the website and Facebook page and link the two as often as you can to increase exposure of the giveaway.
  • Invite everyone you know to like your Facebook page.
  • Advertise your page one country at a time, to a specific demographic, and pause the ad or swap countries when it is night time there. Spend up, it’s worth it!
  • Post interactive, fun content that entertains people on your Facebook page and post several times a week, not several times a day or people will get annoyed quickly.
  • Put thought into your Facebook posts. Posts that are great will spread quickly as people will like and comment on them. So make sure your posts are worth posting. Boring posts won’t spread at all.

Building An Author Platform – What NOT To Do

  • Have an over cluttered homepage on your website or one with a vague domain name.
  • Put up a website and then forget about it. People will check in, see that nothing has changed and never come back.
  • Use Facebook to continually tell people how great your book is. I posted one lot of reviews and that was it. People are not going to buy your book because you tell them how great it is. They are more likely to buy it if they see you as an interesting, thoughtful and entertaining person. You can draw attention to your book by writing interesting posts about it rather than gloating.
  • Use Facebook as a soap box. People read books to be entertained and inspired and they follow authors to be entertained and inspired, not to read rants.

Best of luck to you, I hope you take social media by storm!

Tess Woods

About Tess: Tess Woods is the author of Love at First Flight. She is also a health professional who lives in Perth with one husband, two children, one dog and one cat who rules over all of them. When she isn’t working or being a personal assistant to her kids, Tess enjoys reading and all kinds of grannyish pleasures like knitting, baking, drinking tea, watching Downton Abbey and tending to the veggie patch.

I hope you enjoyed Tess’s tips! After writing books, social media and marketing is probably one of the most time consuming aspects of being an author. Luckily I enjoy it but I always think that if you’re going to be spending a lot of time on something, there’s no point reinventing the wheel. It’s great to take advantage of what others, like Tess, have learned so we can spend more time writing and we can have fun with social media and marketing, rather than resenting it as a chore.

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32 Responses to “Social Media for Authors – Tips From an Author Who Started With Nothing”

  1. Karen

    Well, Tess, you have one more follower for your website and facebook page! Thanks for sharing so generously. I am in the process of building up an author platform – without a published book – so your tips are fabulous. Thanks for the post, Natasha!

    • Natasha Lester

      So glad it was useful, Karen! Tess has done such a great job in such a short amount of time so I just had to share how she did it. Good luck with setting up your author platform too!

    • Tess Woods

      How lovely thank you Karen! Best of luck with building your profile! Sorry for the late reply, we are on holidays with very sketchy wifi and had no service the last two days x

  2. Book Birdy

    Hi Tess and Natasha. Great advice in this – thank you. Detailed, practical and in point form. Tess – regarding the paid facebook advertising, what was the ‘hook’ in your ad? The book? Or you as a writer? Thank you! Cassie

  3. Bridget at Now Novel

    Great post, Tess (and thanks for hosting this, Natasha)! From a writing-related blogging perspective, I’ve found Pinterest extremely effective for building an audience. I think part of this is the longevity of Pinterest content – so many tweets, by comparison, disappear down the feed at lightning speed. As Pinterest posts are shared, they get seen by more and more people. Just thought I’d add that in, it seems to be a great social platform for writers.

      • Natasha Lester

        Hi Bridget, I absolutely agree! Pinterest has been a great source of traffic for my blog and, as you say, keeps posts in front of people much longer than FB or Twitter is able to. It’s a really important part of my social media mix now, and it’s fun!

  4. nickywaywrites

    These are such awesome tips. thank you! I hope to put some of them into action. And congratulations tess on your success. These are simple, easy to implement tips. Natasha on another note, how do you get your pic to show up in the comments! I can’t figure it out.

      • Natasha Lester

        It’s just something that comes with a WordPress blog. Do you guys run your sites on WordPress? If you do, you should be able to set it up. I think it’s through Gravatar or something like that. It’s been ages since I did it so I can’t remember exactly, but I’m sure that was how it worked. It means if I leave a comment on somebody else’s WordPress site, it recognises me and uses my picture. Does that make sense?

  5. Brad Graber

    This post was shared by one of your followers and it has been very helpful. I am a new author with my 1st book out and trying to figure out how a FB Author page builds a following. I hate to ask friends and family to do more – and have noticed that even on my FB personal page – there are plenty of posts that I never actually see – that my spouse – sitting in the next office does – and sometimes – there from my niece! There is an algorithm I’m not fully understanding . Anyway – this advice is clear and constructive. If I could figure out Twitter – I know I can do this. And as I see from the many comments – Pinterest is the next place to go. So – thank you to all of your readers for sharing too. A novice is grateful. Did an angel just earn its wings?

  6. Sean Crawley

    I have been trying to build a social media presence/platform for months now and have not been getting much going on. I must admit to being a bit lazy about this sort of stuff and focusing on writing. But there are some great simple tips and points here. Thanks Natasha and Tess.


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