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What to Post on Social media as Authors by Jessica Thompson

It is my great pleasure to welcome American author, of Shoot, Shovel and Shutup, and my great friend, Jessica Thompson to the blog today to share her wisdom about how authors can best use social media. Thanks you for your time today, Jess. Over to you.


My writing group got together to talk about “what to post on social media as authors” and I realized I had many collected insights on the subject. So I’ve compiled information from other authors and their classes and from my own experience, if it helps one of you out there, please let me know! Drop a comment or email me at jessicaisanauthor@gmail.com

Ok, so knowing what to post. First, the general rules, then we’ll get into ideas for specific posts.


General rules


As a writer, don't only post about writing, but do post about writing. You can talk about your journey, your book, your characters, etc., but also pick one other thing to post about. It should be a thing that's related to your writing. Like your kids if you are a children's author (but be careful about what you share) or your knitting if you write knitting cozy mysteries. Your past as a cop, your dog, your city, anything!


I know a lady that lives in Europe and writes about historical fiction in palaces, so she visits a lot of castles. She posts about her weekend trips, the castles, her research, and her books. So she gets the history buffs, people who like castles, people who stumble upon her account because they loved this one castle they visited this one time, people intrigued by poisons, readers of historical fiction, AND other writers. If all you post about is writing, you might only get other writers to follow you. Plus, like, your mom. But that’s it. Writers are great, but the aim should be to cast a wider net.


Since I write culinary cozy mysteries, I post about writing and cooking/food. Food works great because it's related to my books, everyone likes it, it connects me to a bunch of accounts that are not only other writers, and it's very visual for Instagram.


Whatever you choose to post about, just jump in! Once you start, then you start seeing even more opportunities. Then they start coming to you! A friend gave me Oaxacan chocolate from her trip because she knew I'd appreciate it, or the other day I found myself sitting in an empty restaurant because I told a lady that I like cooking and it turned into an adventure!


I guess it's different for everyone depending on genre, personal situation, time of life, location, etc. The important thing is that you post about your writing and one other thing. Not just about your writing and not too many different things.


Some people will come to your social media accounts to hear about your writing, so don’t be too mysterious about that, but that will only be super fans and other writers, so pick another thing to post about to cast that wider net.


Don’t ask too much. Brandon Sanderson told us in a class to post about our books and ask followers to buy our stuff even less than the generally accepted guideline of posting about 3 non-asks for every 1 ask. He said more like 1 in 10 or even less!


"Asks" are requests like "Go buy my book" or "preorder now" or "sign up for my newsletter." You are supposed to keep these to a minimum. Social media is not free ad space. You are supposed to be letting people know who you are, forming connections, organizing a community, not just shouting about your book.


I find that I publish rarely enough that it's okay to have times and seasons where I do more and less asking. Especially because most people are not going to see every post of yours. And if they do, they probably saw 100 others between yours. Right now I'm doing a 30 day countdown. So I'm posting everyday about my upcoming release, but I'm still trying to break it up with other posts too. I also make sure that every day of the countdown is a little different. I got an app called "AI Arta" to generate pictures of my characters for free in exchange for my watching ads. There's also a site called "Pixabay" with tons of free photos you can download. Those are more like stock photos. Then you take those into "Canva" or maybe “Gimp” (which is like a free, harder-to-use Photoshop) and make a ton of graphics. Then I can post about that one book forever because the only people seeing every one of those posts is my husband, my mom, and maybe a few fans. And if they’re fans, they don’t mind hearing from me a bit.


So right now I'm posting twice a day, but that's only because I have a book coming soon. If you don't have a book that's about to come out, you really don't have to post everyday.

Your visibility can ebb and flow. Most of the time, you can just glide along and post maybe three or four times a week, and slowly gain followers, then ramp up when a book is coming.

That’s important because more posts will be seen more because there are more of them, yes, but also the platform will push your posts to more people if you are posting more, so your visibility goes way up. It’s something about the black magic of the algorithm. I don’t know.


Decide now if you’re going to get political or controversial. On my accounts I stay away from politics because it's always going to piss off someone. My opinion especially pisses off EV-ER-Y-ONE, so I just don’t talk about it. HOWEVER! Lots of successful accounts get very controversial and it works for them. It depends on if you are very politically inclined, if you enjoy getting yelled at by strangers, if that’s part of your brand, who your readers are, etc. I usually tend not to have strong political feelings anyway because I see both sides of the argument, so just staying out of it works for me. *Cue some aggressive activists yelling at me now for not being verbal enough.* Well, I can either not care at all or care 100-and-crazy percent, so I am picking my battles. And I am keeping it off social media so it stays separate from my work. Even though I decided this early, I have been tempted to jump into the fray a couple times. Decide this early, then stick to your decision.

Back to happier topics!


Add value. Try to add some kind of value to your content. What do I mean by that? Give those followers a reason to watch/look at/respond to your content. You can use humor or entertainment, offer education on a certain subject, create personal connections, give ‘em a little eye candy, something! Delectable pictures of food, being vulnerable or likable, doing something funny, teaching them about the stuff you have been researching, anything!


Pick one or two platforms instead of spreading yourself too thin. It’s good to jump in and work hard, but the general consensus seems to be that you should funnel your effort into one or two platforms instead of doing all of them. If you try to be active on Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Clubhouse, Goodreads, BookBub, Amazon Author Central, Chair, Laterspam, and everything … then you won’t make an impact on any of them. Okay, I made up the last couple of those. But the point is, you can give everything a little bit of effort and get nowhere, or you can concentrate on finding your readers on a few of those. It helps if you look into where your readers are. Find out about who is reading what genres and who is on which platforms. How do you do that? I’m not sure. That’s the rabbit hole I’m in right now. As for me, my reads are clean and most of them are cozy, so Facebook and Instagram seem to be where my people are. It also helps to choose ones that you like. I’m not sure I LIKE any social media, but my favorites are FB and IG, so that works for me.


You also want to have the same handle everywhere if possible. And then even make it your email address. I have @jessicathauthor almost everywhere, but I have yet to use that as my email.


And a lot of platforms, if they’re owned by the same bossypants mega company, can talk to each other and cross-post. I post from Instagram because you can link it to a Facebook page and it can post both places at once. Sometimes I will post from IG, have it automatically post to my Facebook author page too, then I'll go over to FB to change the post a little. Like changing "link in bio" to “this link - blah.com" since FB posts can have links and IG posts can't. I only post separately when I'm scheduling posts. IG and FB pages can both schedule posts, but when you schedule ahead you can't automatically post between the platforms. So I go on IG, write the post, copy the text, then schedule it to post later. Then I go to FB and paste the text, use the same picture, and schedule it there. It’s easier than it sounds.


Start early. When figuring out what to post, it helps a lot to already have a book to post about, but you should be starting before that book deal is signed or your ebook hits Amazon. If you are querying agents, sometimes they look to see if you already have a following or an audience to sell your book to. On the flipside, if you are self publishing, you also want to have a community of people who will be interested in buying your book. It might be annoying, but you should be on social media and doing all of this BEFORE your book comes out.


But don’t let it stop you from writing! Quick reminder: My publisher, Darkstroke Books, said “The best marketing you can do is writing the next book.” Sorry, but you need to be doing all this AND writing your next book so that you can get the next book out before your readers forget about you.


Specific Posts


So you’ve picked a platform and topics to cover, maybe with some trial and error (that’s okay,) so now what do you post? We’ve talked about big picture and general rules, so let’s cover ideas for specific posts.


Post Ideas for any author out there-

-Make a reel about your process, or what you’re working on right now

-Tell about a funny thing that happened to you

-Share a milestone

-Posts about your current word count always get a lot of support

-Trade posts with other authors

-Get excited about a promo or giveaway

-Read or post an excerpt

-Post about putting your book in bookstores and libraries, or Little Free Libraries

-Always post about any author appearances or events. Before and after.

-Reposting stuff from other people with the app "Repost for IG"

-Ask a question. (Do you like beets? Have you seen this movie? Do you read at the beach? Anything!


Questions seem to increase your engagement a lot. In my experience it seems like humor gets likes, but questions get comments. If you want responses to your posts to feel like someone is watching and you're not just screaming into the void, ask a question.


The most engagement I get is on those posts where I have people finish a phrase or sentence through using their predictive text (or the suggestions that appear above your phone's keyboard.) I especially love it when it's related to my book. For my last book I had people finish the phrase "A Caterer's Guide to…" because that ties into the titles of the books in my culinary cozy mystery series, “A Caterer’s Guide to Holidays and Homicide” and “A Caterer’s Guide to Love and Murder.”


Ridiculously Specific Post Ideas for you to adapt (because they worked for me)-

-I post about the recipe I just developed

-Predictive text prompt of the first half of my book title

-A post that prompts people to "replace one word with Turkey and ruin a book title"

-I did a campaign of #showmeyourbooks where I showed friends holding my book and asked people to post pictures of them holding my book

-The predictive text thing for different holidays, like "The Easter Bunny brought me ..." And "With my four-leaf clover I wished for…"

-Multi-post campaigns like "sign up for my newsletter and I'll choose one person to name a character in my next book"

-Poll on the book title between two options you have it narrowed down to

-Poll on what flavor of macarons I should make for an event

-Watch some reels or tiktoks, find a funny audio, save it, and use it for a video about writing or about your book


Hashtags


As for hashtags, I've heard from Wintour Krueger, a fellow author, to pick ones that have under 1 million posts, but more than like 1 thousand. You can mix it up though. Give a post some popular hashtags and some less popular hashtags. And do variations on the same phrase like - #mysteryreader #mysteryreaders #mysteryread #mysteryreads #mysterybook

I also do different hashtags on different posts. So one day I'll do all those variations on mystery, then another day I'll do variations on #cleanbooks #cleanreads, Then another day


It's also okay to start your own hashtag, like I'm using #shootshovelandshutupbook, for my next book, “Shoot Shovel and Shut Up,” but no one is going to find my posts because of that tag. They might be following #newbook or #mysteryreader, but not one that's so specific to my book. And once you have a following, then you can also do your name or your handle as a hashtag.

Monthly IG Challenges and Tours


These are those things where there is a list of prompts for the month in a graphic. They're easier than they look. You can follow one and it helps you know what to post about because everyday has a different hashtag or question, like #meetmymc or “Beach or Mountains?” or whatever. The challenges don’t have rigid rules. They’re just there to help you and form a little community. You just take that prompt and look for something interesting to say about it, like “I like the beach better than mountains because this one time something really funny happened to me blah blah blah.”


Can’t find an Instagram challenge you are interested in? You can create one! Especially if you grab a friend or even distant acquaintance to host it with you. That’s how J.R. Lancaster and I became friends! It sounds crazy, but yes, we met over Instagram. You just grab a friend, pick a hashtag that's not too crowded yet, pick a theme, make a graphic in “Canva,” and tell people about it before the month starts. J.R. and I did one in April 2023 and we used the hashtag #afreshmystery if you want to look up an example. It was springy and targeted at mystery writers. The days had hashtags as the prompts, like #freshgoals at the beginning of the month and #myauthorstory for you to share your author journey. When you do one of these and publicize it well, It's amazing how many people jump on board!


Or… Hire it out. Still don’t know what to post? Just want to throw money at it so you can use your time and energy for writing your next book? There are ways to load off your social media posts onto someone else. The options I know of are hiring a PA (Personal Assistant) or a VA (Virtual Assistant, pretty much the same thing in this case) who can be given some direction and then let loose on your accounts to varying degrees, paying for a virtual book tour, or having a service do it.


I’m in the middle of a few months of a service right now and it’s going much better than I imagined. Since I have many books coming out in the next few months and I keep feeling really overwhelmed, I’m using an AI post generator from Lisa Kempton and cleanauthors.com. She got details from me about my published books and upcoming releases and now I have a “trigger form” from her. I gave her blurbs, URLs, cover art, and some things that my ARC readers said, and now I just have to go in, choose a book from a dropdown list, select a type of post, and the whole post gets emailed to me. It generates the post’s copywriting, the graphic, even the hashtags! Then I just have to copy and paste it. Lisa even has the option of having her post the content that her AI generates, but I haven’t sprung for that … yet.


And as for book tours, I actually arrange those for clients. A virtual book tour is also known as a blog tour and it’s really just arranging for other people to talk about your book on lots of different platforms. You can reach out to countless people and arrange one yourself, or hire a “book tour” company like me, Bittersweet Book Tours, or someone else like Damp Pebbles or Kate Rock, for very reasonable prices. These book tour companies arrange for Booktokers, Bookstagrammers, bloggers, podcasters, YouTubers, etc. to feature, highlight, or review your book, or to interview you, or have a guest post written by you. That’s actually what this very article is. This is me hitting the book tour trail to promote my mystery book that’s about to come out, Shoot Shovel and Shut Up. (See what I did there? You write a guest post and talk about your book. That’s the schtick.)


Instead of reaching your own audience that you have grown on social media or with a blog, you appear to someone else’s. Ideally, you should do both, have an audience and tap into other people’s fans and followers, but I suppose you could use it as an alternative to having your own social media presence.


I hope this helped you figure out what kind of posts you want, where you want to post them, a little bit of how to make them, and a lot of ideas for individual posts. And if not, now you know how to hire someone else to do it. If I forgot anything, please comment below or reach out to me. You can also contact me if you have questions at jessicaisanauthor@gmail.com. You can also find me on Instagram as @jessicathauthor2 and Facebook as @jessicathauthor.


Good Luck and Happy Socializing!

The Blurb


“Suspenseful, shocking, and sweet!

A riveting mystery set in

the heart of Texas.”

-J.R. Lancaster, author of Someone’s Always Watching


After a fight over the family ranch,

Dad's young fiancée is found dead.

Bria risks her family's disapproval

to sneak around and investigate

as the tragedies pile up.

Luckily, she has help from her

childhood crush and from the

handsome new deputy.


When new love blooms in

two directions and her suspect dies,

she must face her grief and

discover the family's secrets before

she loses everyone she loves.

The Author


Jessica Thompson is the author of the Amazon best-selling mystery novels “A Caterer’s Guide to Love and Murder” and “A Caterer’s Guide to Holidays and Homicide.” Her second book was a Whitney Award nominee in the mystery category and her first book was a finalist in the Wishing Shelf Awards. She also curated an anthology called “Beyond the Woods: A Supernatural Anthology.” She is active in her local writing community and volunteers as the Assistant Communications Chair for the Storymakers Guild.


Jessica lives in the suburbs of Austin, Texas with her husband and two children. When not writing, she’s getting her boots dirty at her parents' nearby longhorn cattle ranch. Whether she’s revving up chainsaws or wrangling charging bulls, she sees it all as plot-inspiring material for her next mystery.

My Links-


Book Link

Website

Instagram

Facebook

Goodreads

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/20521070.Jessica_Thompson

Bookbub

Amazon Author Profile


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