The Five Golden Rules of Social Media for Authors

Posted by December 11th, 2013

I am so pleased to welcome my friend Andrea Dunlop to the blog today! Andrea and I used to work in publicity together at Doubleday. Andrea is a writer of wonderful fiction (check out her novel THE SUMMER OF SMALL ACCIDENTS) and nonfiction, published on blogs around the web.

Now Andrea works as the Publicity and Social Media Coordinator for Girl Friday Productions, where she helps independent and traditionally published authors create marketing and publicity plans for their books. Andrea is also a brand-new member of the Book Country community!

Check out these awesome tips Andrea has put together for us about social media for authors. These are ways that authors can broaden their writing network, their audience of readers, and the public’s knowledge about their books, all via social media.


Andrea Dunlop portraitSocial media outlets like Twitter, Goodreads, and all of the myriad blogs devoted to books are a boon for authors (independent and otherwise) who want to promote their books. A robust social media presence has gone from being a bonus to a must-have, and it’s the ideal way to capitalize on that ever-elusive word-of-mouth marketing.

Whatever tools you use to build up your following, here are five golden rules for becoming a social media all-star.

Be realistic and be consistent

If you manage to do the hard work of getting readers to stumble across your blog or Twitter account, the last thing you want them to find is a space that has digital tumbleweeds rolling through it. Be realistic with yourself about how much time you have to spend on social media per day and design a strategy around it. Much like starting a new workout regimen, you need to give yourself realistic benchmarks and go from there or risk getting discouraged. Ever been to a gym in January? How many of the people in there promising themselves they’re going to work out every day are still there come February 1st? Give yourself something you can realistically work in each day—whether that’s a couple of tweets a day or two blog posts a week—and stick to it. Once you’ve been doing it for three weeks and it’s officially a habit, add on.

Be a creator and a curator

No one, not even the Dorothy Parkers amongst us, can be clever all the time (but oh that Twitter had been around in Algonquin days!). Fortunately you don’t have to generate all of the content that you share with your followers. Though some of what you produce should be your own—after all your voice is what you want people to pay attention to—you can also function as a curator. There is so much content on the great wide web for readers to sort through, being the person who points them to the good stuff: helpful tips, interesting articles, or great books can be a great way to build trust and authority (not to mention goodwill from the creator of whatever content you’re sharing). Think about the audience for your books and what else they might be interested in and help them find it.

Be a good citizen

Being a good citizen online is much like being a good citizen in the real world. Keep in mind that these are social spaces and interact accordingly. This isn’t ad space that you’ve purchased, it’s not a one-way venue for to talk at people but one for you to listen and interact with them as well. If people comment on your blog, reply to them. If they tweet at you or ask you a question, respond. Look for conversations online where you can be helpful: hashtags on Twitter that speak to your area of interest or expertise or the comments sections of blogs that you read and jump in. Promote other people’s work by re-tweeting, sharing links, and rating their books on Goodreads. And always remember to be respectful and keep it clean, the internet is forever.

Add value

Do not, I repeat, do not go on social media for the sole purpose of telling people to buy your book. The fact that you wrote a book may be very big news to your mom, your best friend, and that one English teacher who always thought your essays showed promise, but it is not going to be interesting to the world at large. Sorry. Your job is to get people interested in your work by offering them something of value. So be funny, be informative, be thought-provoking, give people a reason to tune in and listen to what you have to say.

Have fun!

If you treat social media like a chore, it’s unlikely that you will do it effectively. Remember that these sites are something that most people spend their free time on, voluntarily, for fun. Maybe you hate Twitter, fine, don’t Tweet! But go invest some time on Goodreads or Facebook. There are an endless number of ways to interact with people and build a following online: from blogs to fan-fiction discussion boards to Pinterest: find something that speaks to you and do it regularly and cheerfully.


Girl Friday Productions Girl Friday Productions is a team of word-loving professionals that helps bring ideas, books, and brands to life. Established in 2006, this boutique editorial and writing company has expanded to perform full book production as well as marketing and social media work with authors. Bringing with them in-house knowledge and expertise, the hardworking Girls do it all, including ghostwriting, developmental and line editing, production, design, publicity, and social media. Check out the Girl Friday blog and Twitter for fantastic tips for authors.

Andrea Dunlop began her career at Random House in New York where she worked as a publicist for Doubleday. As Girl Friday’s Publicity and Social Media Coordinator, Andrea works with books and authors across a broad swath of subjects including literary and commercial fiction, memoir, and non-fiction, helping her clients to establish clear brands and build platforms through social media. Connect with Andrea on Book Country and follow her on Twitter.


More from the Book Country BlogYou might also like: The Back Cover Synopsis: Writing Your “About the Book” with copywriter Carly Hoogendyk.

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One thought on “The Five Golden Rules of Social Media for Authors

  1. Laura Barber

    Lucy and Andrea,
    I was at your session at the PNWA conference last week, and I loved it! Thank you for your incredible generosity and helpfulness. I started the conference feeling overwhelmed by the idea of building an author platform, but your session completely turned me around. These five tips sum up the big ideas, so thank you for sharing them online. I feel so empowered to take on the intenet in a very positive, meaningful, efficient way. A big thank you to you both!


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