Dipping Your Toes in Social Media

Social media is here and it’s likely that using it will increase your chances of being read. You don’t have to do it. No one will hold a gun to your head. However, at the very least put your toe in the water and try it before eschewing it.

First, learn what you like in social media. When speaking with other authors we often hear: “I hate Twitter.” “Facebook is stupid.” “I don’t want to blog.” “I don’t have time for this.” Try a different approach. What can you enjoy doing in the world of social media? Who do you want to be online? Who do you want your potential readers to see? How can you craft that person? (For instance, Randy likes giving advice, researching, and being a know-it-all. Voila, her social media persona.

If you don’t offer personality, passion and opinion, you run the risk of boring people. It’s obvious when people are posting out of a resentful, “why do I have to do this?” or “let me get this g-d daily tweet over with,” or “my damn agent is making me do this.” Hint: If you’re boring yourself, you’re boring others. (Another hint: Don’t denigrate social media to people who do use it. It won’t make you look smarter, but it might make users less likely to promote you.)

Write about things other than yourself. Meme, yes. Me! Me! no. Everyone expects a new author to promote their book, but if every tweet and FB update is a notification of your next speaking engagement, your latest review, and how dreary the airport is, people will soon roll their eyes when they see your name. Offer readers something. Readers owe us nothing. Remember, a book is really a product (however artistic the product may be) that you want people to buy. Write your social media offerings as seriously as your other work. Show your voice and your integrity. This is the personality the world sees (and they usually see it before they read your book).

Be positive. Anything you post will live forever. Think about the face you want to present to the world. Complaining and whiny, or upbeat and entertaining? If you want to deprecate, be self-deprecating. If you can combine self-deprecating and funny, that’s a perfect voice. (Follow author Julie Klam on Twitter for a five-star example of this talent.) Find ways to elicit responses—people enjoy talking about themselves! (For instance, post questions: “What grammatical error irks you the most?” “What’s the worst outfit you ever wore while working at home?” “What piece of ancient clothing can you not get rid of?”)

There’s plenty of social media out there from which to choose. Facebook and Twitter might not be your sort of neighborhood. Investigate other reader and writer sites such as Goodreads, Library Thing, Red Room for Authors, She Writes, Shelfari, and Backspace. And relax. In the end, this is just a small piece of the publishing pie.


 Social Media Tips

1. Don’t be mysterious (Something wonderful is going to happen to me, but I can’t say what!) It is aggravating, annoying, and implies that you think yourself so important that others will stay awake wondering about you.

2. Use exclamation points judiciously!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ALSO CAPS LOCK.

3. Don’t post anything ugly about other people—this includes personal rants and unflattering party photos.

4. Don’t send BLASTS for events or anything else.

5. Don’t send group FB messages to your entire following, unless it’s a warning that the world is ending and you’rethe only one who knows.

6. Don’t send “thanks for following and/or friending me” with suggestions on how they can follow you even more.

7. Don’t put down other writers.

8. Don’t write negative reviews of books, or give any book less than 5 stars, unless you’re willing to receive the same.

9. Write about books you love.

10. Mention the work and success of others often, with conviction and honesty.

11. Don’t change your profile photo too frequently (like weekly) or you may appear self-obsessed.

12. Don’t write about your children, pets, or spouse unless you are certain that other people will relate to your story, or find it amusing. (And that your children and spouse will not be offended now or ever. The quickened pulse of a book launch mind can lead to regretful decisions.)

13. Debuting your book is exhilarating, but it’s also exhausting. However, like any performer selling themselves along with their art, unless you can pull self-pity off as funny or endearing, don’t let them see you sweat.

Buy “What to Do Before Your Book Launchhere.


M.J. Rose is the international best selling author of twelve novels (most recently The Book of Lost Fragrances, published in March 2012) and two nonfiction books including Buzz Your Book, co-authored with Douglas Clegg. Her novel The Reincarnationist was the basis for the Fox TV show PAST LIVES. Rose was a founding board member of ITW. She has appeared on The Today Show, CNN, Fox News, and All Things Considered, and published in the NYT, O magazine, The Wall St. Journal and more. Rose was the creative director of a top NYC ad agency and created Authorbuzz.com, the first marketing company for authors. Follow her on Twitter @M.J.Rose.


The drama of Randy Susan Meyers’ novels is informed by her years spent bartending, her work with violent offenders, and her years spent loving bad boys.  Raised in Brooklyn, Randy now lives in Boston with her husband and is the mother of two grown daughters. She teaches writing seminars at Boston’s Grub Street Writers’ Center. Her debut novel, The Murderer’s Daughters, an international bestseller, was chosen as a “Target Club Pick,” and a best book choice by Elle France, Daily Candy, Goodreads, The Boston Herald, The Winnipeg Free Press, and Book Reporter, among others. Her new novel, The Comfort of Lies, is to be published by Atria in early 2013.

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TNB Nonfiction features some of the web's best essays, excerpts of up-and-coming books, self-interviews, profiles, and humor from a wide range of authors. Past and future writers include Emily Rapp, Mira Bartók, Nick Flynn and Melissa Febos, among many others.  Our editorial team includes:  SETH FISCHER is the Nonfiction Editor. His work has appeared in Guernica, Joyland, Best Sex Writing, and elsewhere, and he was the first Sunday editor at The Rumpus. His nonfiction was selected as notable in The Best American Essays, and he has been awarded fellowships by Jentel, the Ucross Foundation, Lambda Literary, and elsewhere. He is also a developmental editor of nonfiction and fiction, and he teaches at Antioch University Los Angeles, UCLA-Extension, and Writing Workshops Los Angeles.

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