A Fantasy Author's Adventures in Fiction & Life

Tag: mastodon for writers

Its not easy getting started on new social media platforms, getting post interactions, finding your people etc. It takes time. Then platforms with algorithms (not Blue Sky or Mastodon) tend to punish your visibility when you don’t post or interact regularly. Twitter’s death has scattered a lot of communities, some of us onto multiple platforms. Meanwhile posting and running on any platform has its own issues, which I will unpack in Avoiding Social Media Burnout.

In your quest to seek your communities, interact personally and freely promote your books/ art/ products; are you paying enough attention to each platform’s usability, personal fit and comfort? I’ll unpack these factors to help you select platforms to ditch, to assist in avoiding social media burnout.

Because; do you actually need to be on SO MANY platforms? Can you integrate your creative and personal pursuits onto a smaller number of platforms where you engage more often, more meaningfully and are actively part of the communities you seek? I’ll offer suggestions on platforms where this can be effectively achieved as well.

I know, especially with the Twitter Writing diaspora (no this post isn’t dated, I reject the name change), its easy to get FOMO. To wonder about creatives and people you’re not connecting with or reaching on other social media platforms. So some people use an app to schedule posts on multiple social media, more than they have time or energy to interact on, which has its own problems.

I hope you don’t use an app which auto-posts: ‘I just posted on Insta’ or ‘just pinned (whatever) on Pinterest…’ because I’ve unfollowed people for that. If I follow you on Blue Sky (Bsky) or Mastodon, its because I want to see your Bsky or Mastodon content.

Then there’s the issue of audience differences. I prefer to manually post on Bsky/ Mastodon and Facebook. My FB is mostly people I’ve known personally from all walks of life, including far less people from the diverse communities I interact in on Bsky. So if I scheduled the same posts for Bsky and Facebook, they would resonate with my Bsky community, but not my FB contacts, or vice versa, OR compromise too much and not resonate with either.

And that’s not the biggest problem.

Sure, there will always be those kind people who like and comment on your post, even when you don’t reply or even like their comments (I’ve seen it happen).

The problem with posting and running is it feels like rockstar status. Like you’re saying, “I’ve got things to do (as if my followers don’t). I want engagement from you and I’ll give you nothing/ little in return.” Alternatively “I think my time is worth more than yours.”

I don’t expect any writer/ creative to be Neil Gaiman on Bsky (how much that guy posts but also interacts with other people’s posts is AMAZING! When does he even write?!) But when Neil Gaiman interacts with his followers and others don’t (I don’t just mean life gets busy so you disappear or are hardly present for a bit, I mean post and run is your modus operendi) it feels like snobbery.

If people comment on your posts and you don’t reply, it will feel to them that you’re not really there. Like you’re talking at them, but not listening to them. You’ve taken the ‘social’ out of social media. So why follow you on that platform?

Which brings me to, if you’re on more platforms than you have time to connect with others on, if all you’re doing is posting and running… does that build a following?

Sure, there are people who post frequently, have interesting things to say and gain lots of followers. I follow one on Blue Sky who posts multiple times a night on multiple topics, in such a way that many people feel a connection to him. He’s also entertaining and has an unusually large number of followers for Bsky. (And I bet its his main platform, which he gives most of his social media time and energy to).

But most of us don’t present in ways lots of people frequently feel so connected to. Its people who feel like they know me who tend to regularly interact with my social media posts. And while they may feel that from reading my posts often, they get to know me far better if we talk to each other. That’s what gets me the most engagement.

So if you’re posting and running, do people feel like they know you on that platform? Do they connect with what you’re saying? Do they interact with you? Or are you shouting into the void? And if so, would letting those accounts go dormant (or deleting them) lose anything? Or would it gain you time and energy/ spoons for other things?

As an indie author, I took the advice to be where my readers are. I tried to post there more often than once in a blue moon when it wasn’t somewhere I didn’t have the motivation, time or spoons to interact. And I learned that reciprocity is important to me not just as a writer and author, but as a social media user.

I don’t want to post and run. I don’t want to be that person who’s always taking and never gives anything back. Who wants engagement and interaction but never returns it.

Learning this about myself made it much easier to decide to let my Tik Tok and Instagram accounts become dormant, to only use my Pinterest to pin a link to my latest blog and to mainly interact on my Blue Sky and Mastodon accounts. I just have a Facebook profile for anyone who isn’t on the former two (because I hate the fan-style set up of FB pages).

But if you are comfortable interacting only with those who reply to you or posting and running…

This can get overlooked among the ‘be where your readers are’ advice and the temptation to be everywhere to ‘reach as many readers as possible’.

This is a simple way to cut down your platform presence.

At one point I had writer groups on Facebook. It was clunky and disorganised. Posts didn’t display in chronological order. The display order of posts kept changing. It wasn’t easy to organise by topic. I found myself not wanting to interact in FB groups I created, because every time I did they frustrated my impatience to interact swiftly and effectively.

So when Facebook shut down Australian community groups without warning during a 2020 lockdown and I moved my writer groups to Discord and found it had ten times better functionally, I all but stopped using Facebook to interact with writers.

When it comes to usability, is there a platform where the notifications, functionality, layout, the way posts are organised (or totally disorganised) frustrates you? That makes things more time-consuming to use?
How much frustration does it cause you or how much of your time does it take up across a day, a week, a month? Is it worth it?

(On these grounds alone, Twitter was a monumental waste of my time by mid 2023 and its dis-functionality was right up there with its antisemitism in driving me to Mastodon and Blue Sky.)

I liked the idea of Instagram. I enjoy travel and nature photography and sometimes write poems. Its also popular with the target audience of my YA Fantasy books: fifteen to forty-somethings (I don’t think YA readership stops at forty, though I know far less fifty-something+ are on Insta). In theory it was a good place to promote my writing and have a social media presence.

But Insta never worked out for me. Posts were bigger and took longer to scroll than my preferred text-based platforms. The algorithms showed me populist posts instead of people I actually knew socially, or fellow writers. The relentless plague of bots commenting on my bookish posts and spamming my inbox was ANNOYING. And I’m still convinced half my followers are men treating Instagram as a dating app…

Then Insta started imitating Twitter with blue tick offers, increased ads and populist post and follow suggestions clogging my feed. This was a feed I wasn’t going to interact on because it just didn’t fit me. It was my post and run platform. And every time the algorithms changed, my posts got seen by less people and slowly dropped from an average of 40 likes to around 15.

I thought, what’s the point? I’m not going to reach readers here anyway. I could use the time and energy I spend on Insta writing my newsletter or blog… even my books! So I let my Insta go dormant.

Avoiding Social Media Burnout (For Writers/ Creatives)

Do you have a platform you feel the same way about? What could you achieve for your books/ art/ newsletter/ blog/ business if you ditched that platform?

Sometimes, the place your readers/ viewers/ customers hang out ISN’T a good place for you. I don’t just mean you find it tricky or aren’t too sure how the platform works. I mean you’re there because you feel you ‘should’ be and are fighting that little voice in your head telling you ‘this is UN-comfortable.’

For me, this is Tik Tok. I write YA Fantasy. Book Tok sells books. I ‘should’ be on Tik Tok. But my Tik Tok feed is to my ADHD like someone running their nails down a blackboard nonstop. Its audio and visual sensory overload. Its also constant change and unpredictability because every few seconds its a different person/ place/ colours/ sounds/ music/ volume level etc. Tik Tok is sensory HELL for my neurodiverse needs.

Because of the above I have zero desire to interact on Tik Tok. I could just post book promo videos there. Maybe a few author friends would be generous and interact with me even though I never interact with them. Maybe on the right hashtags and with the right sounds my videos would sell some books.

I did make a few personal videos (because I hate just being salesy anywhere). I paid my cover artist to make one animated book cover and reviews video. Then I lost interest, motivation, spoons, time and didn’t go back.

If you’ve got that account your readers hang out on and you ‘should’ be on but you don’t feel comfortable or dislike the platform, maybe the best thing for your comfort/ energy levels/ not spreading yourself too thin is to let that account go.

If you don’t approve of hate speech, you wouldn’t want to give it the thumbs up by having an account on a social media platform that enables hate speech, would you?
So have you deleted your Twitter yet?
If not, please read ‘Delete your Twitter’ below. (Yes, its more sympathetic than what I wrote above).

You may also want to consider social media platforms where misinformation is rife, given how that can fuel social division, the climate crisis, maintain the status quo by keeping marginalised communities and people marginalised, etc.

Tik Tok may give you pause because of its Chinese ownership and China and human rights…

For more on my personal stance on Twitter, Facebook (and KU/ Amazon) ethics, see Author Ethical Dilemmas.

I assume you were on social media before you had books/ art/ products to sell. That you partly use social media to interact with friends and family, with fellow creatives and possibly with groups who share your interests or facets of your identity. So in this next section I’ll talk about social media spaces that meet your social, personal AND indie needs. Those are the ones I suggest prioritising with most of your time and energy/ spoons.

Let’s say for example you’re a SciFi nerd and you’re on Tumblr for that. Or you love bird watching and follow FB groups for that. Or like me you’re queer, neurodiverse, chronically ill or otherwise disabled. Let’s say sharing life experiences in those communities is affirming, informative and beneficial to your wellbeing.

But communities and interests can be on different platforms, which spread you thin and can wear you out. So where can you integrate your interests, social groups and personal interactions?

The Old School option was Facebook profile to interact with friends/ family, and FB groups for writers, other communities and your interests plus your author Facebook page. As I’ve mentioned, I’m not fond of Facebook functionally or ethically. Technically I’m still in FB groups for writers (I almost never look at them) and Wide for the Win as an author (I always mean to look at that more —on its own platform).

But if you are a FB user, it does integrates lots of groups and interests in one space (and likely a lot of your personal contacts if you’re Gen Y or older.) Limiting yourself to it (and few others) is an effective way to avoid social media over-stretching and burn out (and time suck).

I love Blue Sky because I can connect with writers, get and give writerly and authorly advice, help others AND do the same things as a neurodiverse, queer and chronically ill person. I can check in on the latest news, the latest archaeological discoveries, find historical articles, its all there in one place. Individual posts are even organised topically so I can browse feeds by topics that interest me. And it hosts Twitter’s writer chats (see my Bsky Newby guide for details).

Bsky can integrate your interests and communities (in my opinion with better functionality and organisation than Facebook) —and without Musk or Zuckerberg! These are some of multiple reasons its my favourite social media.

From what I understand, Reddit is another good option to engage with particular interests and topics. It also categorises posts and includes categories you can share shorts, poetry etc in to build your audience on social media.

Yes, you could browse Twitter or Instagram, or Mastodon or I don’t know what else by hashtags to explore your interests. In my experience (of Twitter) people often forgot to use relevant hashtags in their posts, or they overused them (especially on Instagram) and this is not nearly as effective in connecting with your people as Facebook groups, Blue Sky Feeds or what I’ve heard of Reddit.

But if Instagram or Mastodon are where you personally connect with people, your creative community (via Mastodon prompt hashtags or Instagram challenges), and where your other interests and communities are; by all means connect there by hashtag. And make either your main social media base that gets most of your time and energy (bonus if it fits where your readers hang out!)

In the author interviews I’ve done (all linked on this page), ‘build your writing community and do it early’ or ‘I wish I’d done it sooner’ is something writers say A LOT. So in prioritising social media platforms, the first question I suggest you ask is; where is my creative/ writing community?

If it’s always been in Facebook groups or on Instagram, this is easy to answer, and I’d stay active in your community. But if your community used to be Twitter…

The time has long passed to beat around the bush about this.

I had 16k Twitter followers. I introduced writers to each other by genre. I critiqued pitches, ran query letter and Pitch Party DM groups. Then I started an Author Platform DM group, an SFF one, a Querying Writers DM (then moved them all to Discord).

Twitter’s #WritingCommunity was my home and I knew literally hundreds of writers by name and could tell you off the top of my head what genre tens of them wrote. But everything I loved about Twitter’s #WritingCommunity was already dying when Musk started breaking Twitter.

We’re not uncertain what kind of transphobia-promoting, fascist-enabling hellhole Twitter could become. [Twitter’s safety measure cuts are now documented, as are statistics on hate speech tweets not being removed and people not being banned for tweeting them. Spoiler, the latter statistic is ZERO)]. We’re also in no doubt how many staff will be sacked and how dysfunctional and unusable the site will become.

Twitter is dead.

True, by leaving, I lost friends (who didn’t go to Blue sky/ Mastodon/ Facebook/ Discord) and that’s sad. I hope they’ll become active on Blue Sky or Discord one day. But I haven’t regretted deleting my account or departing a discrimination-enabling, rage-bating platform once.

Let it go and move on —preferably before fascists start seeing your continued presence as support of their beliefs.

By now you’ve either settled into algorithm-less Mastodon, or found it not a close enough clone of Twitter (writers, check out #WritersCoffeeClub if you’re still settling there -that’s where the #WritingCommunity is!). Or you’re feeling more comfortable on algorithm-less Blue Sky or on Threads. Or you’ve settled on Discords or into Instagram’s creative communities.

Have you noticed how hard it can be settling into one creative/ writing community? Building connections among creatives in one space? This is why I suggest sticking to ONE main creative community on ONE platform. Go there with your experiences, questions, learnings, random thoughts, memes —everything. Let fellow creatives get to know you and get to know them. Make friends and build ONE proper creative community.

Ideally, do it on the social media with your queer community, your bird watching community, your BIPOC community, your personal contacts —to minimise your platform spread, build strong connections and get the most out of the time, energy and spoons you invest in social media.

I’m active almost daily on Blue Sky AND Mastodon. Its do-able because Mastodon’s writer prompts give me a topic to talk about and other people’s responses to interact with on the same hashtag. It makes getting to know and meaningfully interact with a group of writers effortless (and when time’s short I skip Bsky that day or do two day’s Mastodon prompts the next day).

Discord or Facebook may be like this for you. You go in to the group —and on Discord go to the topically relevant channel— ask your question and get it answered. Or you look at what other people are saying (again on specific topic channels that interest you on your choice of Discord servers) and reply —when it suits you to do so.

If you get what you want from the platform quickly and easily, as rarely or as often as you want WITHOUT putting much time, effort or energy into it, you may find Mastodon/ Discord/ FB Groups sustainable —on the side of your main creative community.

Ideally you’ve got ideas on where you can interact as an author/ artist/ other creative and person and with your creative community and potential readers/ viewers/ consumers on one or across two, possibly three platforms.

I’m not saying necessarily delete everything else (exception Twitter). Consider what I did on Instagram: say you’re going elsewhere, leave links for people to find you and let the account go dormant. That way anyone who finds it can connect with you where you’re maximising and integrating your social media presence.

And if they don’t?
I wonder how many more people you’ll reach on the few platforms you make your online homes, by being present, by effectively connecting and being a part of the community. Good luck!

Blue edged, pink, orange and yellow rainbow scroll with text: Get blogs in your inbox & updates from Elise every second month. Join my Fiction Frolics. Select this image to learn more.

Related Reading/ Links Shared Above

My Writer Discords

Blue Sky Newby Guide

Social Media For Writers (general platform introduction —don’t forget this blog’s advice!)

Twitter, KU & Author Ethical Decisions

Becoming an Indie Author

Author Newsletters

Social Media For Writers

Social media is an ideal space to think about how you present and to begin interacting publicly as a writer. Twitter and Instagram have thriving Writing Communities, where you can find your tribe. A Facebook page (or Instagram) are great spaces to share your writing life and books with personal contacts. Any of these plus Pinterest, Youtube and others are potential spaces to reach readers and promote your published works. And Tik Tok? If you haven’t been living under a rock, you’ll know writers are selling books over there. So which social media is most appropriate to you as a writer, which account is best to start with and how do you get started on your writer social media?

Social Media Introductions

Twitter

Twitter used to be a great starting point, because of its #WritingCommunity. The pandemic hit it hard and Musk virtually destroyed what was left. The final tweets I saw before deleting my account were people asking if the community still existed, because algorithms and Musk’s garbage were hiding most people they knew. I don’t recommend it now, as much for moral and ethical reasons as site dysfunction and the disintegration of the writing community. On the odd chance it gets sold, gutted and refurbished, I won’t delete the Getting Started on Twitter section at the bottom of this blog.

Twitter Alternative: Mastodon

This is a different category of social media, because it isn’t algorithm based. You can go offline as long as you like, and it won’t change your visibility or content on your feed, unlike Twitter and Instagram. Unlike them and Facebook pages, you can’t even see how many impressions your toots get. Best of all, its crowdfunded, so it isn’t littered with promoted posts. Its decentralised, so you join a server and can view toots on its feed, or on the fediverse, which is every server linked to the one you joined.

It’s tricker to be seen there, as algorithms don’t boost you hours after you toot. But boosts (re-toots) share your toots on both the feeds of anyone following people who boost you, and on the fediverse. As a nonbinary, neurodiverse person, I can also report that its a friendly space to diverse people generally, especially in terms of accessibility. If you’d like to find out more about interacting on Mastodon, this post has some good advice.

I also recommend checking out the daily #WritersCoffeeClub, #WorldWeavers and #PennedPossibilities prompts, posting and interacting on them. These prompts are a great bridge, connecting writers across Mastodon instances (servers). You’ll also find many prompt hashtags, such as #Vss365, #VssPoem #Mpotd, #MicroFiction etc, with daily prompts to stimulate your short or poetry toots.

Twitter Alternative: Blue Sky (my new home)

This seems to be where the #WritingCommunity from Twitter is regrouping. Its basically Twitter, looks the same same, is gradually getting the same functions (though its still in beta so has far less functions currently). But it doesn’t have sponsored ads, or an algorithm, or transphobes or rage tweeting or… its got alt text and feeds filtered by topic (and keywords on posts.) Its a friendly, inclusive space and I’ve a written a separate blog about getting started on it.

Instagram

If you have a personal Instagram account and feel at home there, its #WritingCommunity are also welcoming. A good way to introduce yourself there is on hashtags like #MeetTheWriter and #FindMyWritingCommunity. (Include a photo of yourself for increased engagement). Instagram also has #Bookstagram and is a great place to promote your books to readers. With Twitter under new management, its writing community is also taking on Twitter refugees. For more see below, Getting Started on Social Media, Instagram.

Who can you reach there? Hootsuite’s 2022 research found Insta still more popular than Tik Tok for Gen Z, and most popular with Gen Z and millenials (18-34). If your books are likely to appeal to these age groups, but Instagram is outside your comfort zone, I’d leave it for now, but plan to set up a writer/ author account there eventually.

Facebook Page

I say ‘Facebook page’ as opposed to ‘account’ or ‘profile’, because if you want to use the word ‘author’ or ‘writer’ in your name, Facebook considers you a public figure and requires you to have a page. If you create a profile as (whoever) Author, you will have your account suspended, and probably deleted for ‘posing as someone else.’

Research on Facebook’s demographics by Hootsuite says its most popular with men and women aged 35-44 (younger than I anticipated from personal experience). If you’re active on and comfortable with Facebook, a Facebook Page (or group created by your page) is a good place to start book promotion. Alternately, you can use your personal Facebook account , if you just call yourself first name, last name. For advice on choosing between using your profile or creating a page, see Facebook for Authors by Jane Friedman.

Pinterest

Pinterest differs from the above three media in a few key ways. Pinterest’s algorithms work differently, with the pins which appear on people’s feeds being determined by the topics each Pinterest user selects, as opposed to pins created or pinned by people they follow. On Pinterest, users are also more likely to use the search function to find particular types of pins, so who sees your pins isn’t limited by how small your following is. It doesn’t even require you to be active on Pinterest, or to make algorithms happy for your pins to be seen.

Pinterest Boards You can pin (create your own copy of, collect and organise) other people’s pins by pinning them to your own boards, using them to attract followers with similar interests. You can click and drag your boards, to position them in the order you want visitors to your profile to see them. You can also select the edit icon (on the bottom right corner of any board) to select (and position) which pin it displays as its cover. I have the boards I’ve saved my blog pins to across the top, where they’re most prominent, and inspirational image boards (for my writing and drawing) underneath.

If you’d like to create pins for your blog or site pages to embed on your WordPress (so visitors can pin them from there), here’s a Pinterest tool which makes that easy. To learn about who you can reach on Pinterest and how often, here’s Hootsuite’s Pinterest statistics.

Tik Tok

I’ve seen a few posts in an author Facebook group (20Booksto50k -great for learning about marketing), noting an increase in their book sales which appears to correlate with an increase of their book promotion and impressions on Tik Tok. An advantage of Tik Tok is that hashtags are a big factor in how your posts are seen, so if you choose the right hashtags and use popular sounds, you can potentially be seen by far more people than your followers.

Another advantage is that when you start typing hashtags on TikTok, it will tell you how many people post on that hashtag, assisting your visibility by hashtag within the app.

Lastly, Tik Tok’s like of people being themselves, not the polished, scripted versions of themselves you may see on more formal youtube channels, makes it friendlier to the budding writer who isn’t a budding actor. And if you don’t like showing your face on social media, #BookTok is fond of book trailers, and related videos, so videos of you aren’t necessary. If you’re scared of Tik Tok altogether, according to Hootsuite, 70-80% of its audience also uses Facebook, Instagram or Youtube.

Hootsuite reports that 40% of Tik Tok users prefer it as a search engine over Google and Instagram, and that while still very popular with teens, in 2022, 31% of its users were aged 24-35 and its still growing in popularity with all ages and many walks of life.

Youtube

This may not be technically social media, but Youtube is competing with Facebook’s levels of active monthly users in the US and Hootsuite has lots of encouraging statistics about audiences reachable on it. A few writer friends with established channels have recommended youtube. If you have an interest in film, acting or audio narration, or if your day job involves public speaking, this may be a natural platform to establish yourself as an author.


An advantage of Youtube is that it basically functions as the Google of videos, with users regularly searching it for content, so again this is a space that doesn’t depend on a large following or interactions on the platform nudging algorithms to display your posts to more users. If it isn’t in your comfort zone, again I’d get started where you feel more comfortable.

Getting Started On Social Media

Man's hands holding tablet displaying social media icons.
Photo by NordWood Themes

Whichever social media you start with, find and follow some writers, and if you like, people who share similar interests to you. Spend some time looking at what content they post, how they interact and getting a feel for that space and which content could resonate with potential followers and readers there.

When you start your second social media account, post asking other writers if they are on it and begin your platform by connecting with and learning from writers you already know on the new platform. I see periodic tweets about this for anything you could follow authors on, and this was my entry point into Pinterest. I also met writers to share Instagram and Tik Tok content ideas with on Twitter.

Social Media Names and Profile Photos

I’ve read that your name is your brand —not your book title— so my name on all my social media profiles is @ElisesWritings. My first and last name are also the dot com name and header of my site. My social media profile photo and the most prominent head shot on my site are the same.

Consistency across all these spaces lets you build your brand —you— so when choosing a user name, think of something appropriate across every social media you plan to use (including Discord). I’ve seen some writers develop logos as profile photos, but I find logos easy to forget, while faces are memorable, so I prefer self portrait profile photos.

What Should I Post? Getting Started on Instagram, Pinterest & Facebook

(for Twitter see below)

Marketing 101 —don’t only post book adds! Your account will look like spam and you’ll put people off following you. Vary your content. A ratio a few authors like to use is 80% give, 20% ask. That could be 80% entertaining posts —quotes, photos, jokes, discussion questions related thematically or by genre to your writing. It could be personal interest or update posts and some work-in-progress posts. Then 20% ‘sign up to my newsletter’, ‘here’s my latest review,’ ‘please vote for my cover,’ or ‘my book is currently on pre-order/ discounted’ posts.

On Instagram

Yes, if you’re time-pressed and mostly write tweets, you can just share them on Insta. But Insta is a visually focused space. My favourite posts to view and read are ones with thoughtfully selected quality photos or images, which compliment a thoughtful personal update, or someone’s reflection on life or writing.

Insta is a great place to share mood boards for your works in progress, character art or sketches. Posting a good photo of yourself can signal a personal update or a reflection on your writing post. You might also like to post photos of and write about some of your other interests —especially if they tie in to your books— and make those connections clear to your followers.

Whatever content you choose, Instagram allows you to use up to 30 hashtags to boost your post’s visibility. It has multiple equivalents of #WritingCommunity hashtags and many hashtags for posting about books. Here’s a list of around 70 writer and bookish tags to get you started.

#Bookstagram is full of book covers artfully arranged with props, coloured fabric backing, glitter ect. So if you’re posting book reviews or adds on Insta —be creative. Make your cover the focus of a visually pleasing scene, or explore short animated video add options.

If you want to share quotes or questions, I suggest getting on canva and designing an Insta post image with a coloured (or photo) background and a nice font. Using the same font on all Insta posts helps them become recognisable by it, as well as looking good.

Marion Blackwood's 3 Storm book covers, candles and a sword on a wooden chopping board.
An Insta book promo post by Marion Blackwood of her Storm Series.

No, you don’t have to do the above

Yes, people will follow you if you just take photos of your cat or not-very-visually-pleasing photos of your device with your work in progress on its screen and write comments about those. But if you want to gain (and retain) followers, and to attract potential readers to your account, I suggest making full use of the space by creating visually pleasing and interesting content and taking book add inspiration from #Bookstagram.

How Often Should I Post?

Until I hit around 500 followers, I routinely got unfollowed by multiple people if I didn’t post for a week or 2. You’ll gain the most followers posting daily —and may keep them if you post popular content like motivational quotes, but you’ll attract a lot of people follow for follow-backs unfollowing you too. For me, posting every second or third day was the best balance to gain the kind of followers who stick around and not be unfollowed for not posting.

Following & Bots on Insta

There are quite a few bot accounts on Insta —particularly those of single men following women— and some bots which write generic comments on your posts. The bots’ aim seems to be the same as that of people who follow you, wait till you follow back, then unfollow you —to gain followers (or ‘dm me to promote your books -for a fee). Its annoying. The best safeguard against it is setting your account to private, so bots can’t bother you. (Yes I’ve done this, and yes I get requests from people wanting to follow me, even though they can’t see my posts —my bio alone seems to be enough).

You can get apps to track follows and unfollows, but there’s a LOT of Insta following apps, so I’d choose one carefully. (I don’t use an app, ignore bots and follow back carefully, screening my followers by taking the steps in When Following Back on Twitter and Instagram below.)

Promoting a Blog On Instagram

The provider of my social media share button (Social Warfare) doesn’t include an Instagram share button. Their research shows over 80% of Instagram users stay on Instagram and don’t want to visit other sites advertised there. However, having found great quality photos on unsplash to illustrate and promote my blog posts with, I post those on Instagram. I write a blurb relating to my personal experience of the blog topic and I include a discussion question for people to reply to. Then I paste the text of the link (which people have to copy and paste into their browser, as Instagram posts don’t do hyperlinks).

Generally my Insta posts about my blog get more likes than elsewhere. So if you have a blog to promote and you join the Writing Community on Insta, I encourage you to experiment with posting about it.

For more advice on creating an appealing look and on what to post, see:

Instagram for Authors: Building a Platform and Selling your books by Catarina Pinto.

Writer’s Guide to Instagram: Tips from Top Bookstagrammers & Authors by Francis Bogan.

For tips and Free Webinars, see Instagram Best Practices for Beginners by Mary DeMuth.

On Facebook

Because Facebook allows link sharing, your Facebook page is a good place to share interesting articles of topical or thematic relevance to your books. Most commonly, I’ve seen writers posting updates about their latest work in progress, favourite quotes (of other writers and of their own works), character art, cover reveals, reviews of their books and some book advertising, interspersed between personal posts about holidays etc.

There’s plenty of room for Facebook Page and Insta content to overlap, and I tend to post the same poetry (sometimes with different travel photos to illustrate) on My Facebook Page as on my Insta. I post occasional work in progress updates on both, but tend to go into more detail on Insta, where I have more writer followers interested in detail about writing than the personal contacts following my Facebook Page.

For a thorough introduction on setting up each part of your FB Page, what to post and interacting as your page, see Epic Facebook Author Pages: Everything You Need to Know.

On Pinterest

I recommend using canva.com to create full pin size images for Pinterest (as I did in my pins), and to add text to pins (if applicable). Hashtags are also used on Pinterest. I tend to choose 5 on my pins, and to search terms I think would be popular tags in the Pinterest search bar to help me choose them. Some popular Twitter or Instagram tags aren’t used at all on Pinterest, so its worth checking your choice of tag has a chance of boosting your pin impressions and isn’t just taking up space in your pin description.

As Pinterest is also very visual, you may like to use the same images to create pins as mentioned for posts above on Instagram. If you’re looking for photos on Pinterest to inspire your character or setting descriptions (something I plan to do), you may like to save these as public boards, as they may also draw interest to your account.

When creating pins for blog pages (if you have one), you may like to use photos from unsplash.com (as I did with the pin on the right). I’ve also made pins of my sketches of Lord of The Rings characters, because I write fantasy and some people interested in those drawings may also be interested in my books. As with Insta, thinking of photos or images from other interests which relate to your books may give you content ideas.

For more ideas on how to use Pinterest, see Pinterest for Beginners by Jane Friedman.

Also, Pinterest for Authors: the Formula for Great Pinterest Boards by Penny C Sansevieri.


Following Back on Social Media

You might feel great gaining your first followers, and be tempted to follow them all right back. Don’t. Most writers following you in #WritingCommunity’s are probably fine (but don’t assume so). I only blocked 4 jerks on Twitter in my first 2 years -so I didn’t unwittingly follow them- but its always a good idea to screen accounts before following back, in case they happen to be a troll, a jerk or to post content you dislike. So before following back, check the account:

-has a bio and has posted (writing a comment and using hashtags on Insta, not just posted a photo) -so you don’t follow a (primitive) bot account.

-look at posts and see if you want that person’s content on your feed.

-check if the account is only following a few hundred but followed by thousands -they’re an influencer who’s likely to unfollow you after you follow back.

Also be aware that while some writers will always follow back fellow writers, others may follow or follow back through interaction only (in my case when replying to people’s posts).

Further General Social Media Reading

Social Media Tips by Marc Guberti is aimed at businesses generally, but has some useful tips for writers.

Why You Should Join All Social Media Networks, yet not be active on all, by Jan Friedman.

Would you like to discuss author socials, newsletters and other aspects of author platform with fellow authors?
My Strictly Authoring Discord Server is dedicated to this. Let me know you’d like to join it by replying to my posts on Blue Sky on Mastodon, or via my contact page.

Related Reading

Prioritising Writer Social Media

Becoming an Indie Author advice part 1

Becoming an Indie Author 2: Book Launch

Author Newsletters: the Basics

Author Website Set Up Tips

Getting Started On Twitter

Computer with Twitter bird on screen.
Photo by MORAN

Twitter Bio

Some writers are partial to following writers of the same genre. The easiest way to let us know what type of writer you are is to state your genre/ text type and audience age in your bio. If you have a website, you may like to put a link in your bio to make it accessible through your @ (and by extension through your tweets) instead of just on your profile page. Beyond that, try to inject some personality into your bio, as well as telling us about your interests, so your bio gives us a sense of who we’re potentially following.

First Tweet

Introduce yourself to the #WritingCommunity. Tell us who you are, what you write, that you’re new and anything else you like. I suggest asking other writers a question to encourage people to interact with you too. My first tweet said who I was, who I’d like to meet and had a question for the #WritingCommunity (I forget exactly and it no longer exists because I deleted my account).

It got a tone of likes, tens of replies and perhaps several hundred followers. One of them is still a friend now, four years on. I can’t promise you the same response, but it’s a great way to ‘meet’ people. (I don’t recommend #MyFirstTweet -you get some weird/ random responses).

Before You Tweet

You might like to ask; why am I on Twitter? I assume many of us hope to sell our books, but do you want writer friends/ colleagues to share the journey and seek help and advice from along the way? If so -will you tweet as a companion in the writing/ revising/ querying trenches?

Will you tweet writing motivation and encouragement, or humour or tips and advice? If you want to connect with readers, will you tweet discussion questions related to themes in your writing, your interests or share links to topically relevant articles? And what and how much would you like to say about yourself, your life and your opinions on your writer/ writing focused twitter account?

Before You Retweet

You may consider, am I going to retweet everything of interest to me, or just things topically/ thematically/ genre or generally related to my writing and or topics I feel strongly about? Will I retweet things which are helpful, useful, encouraging or entertaining to my followers? Will I retweet to help the writer whose tweet I’m retweeting?

It’s also worth considering how often you retweet. Retweeting anything which interests you many times a day may make your account look like a bot, and put people off following you.

What Should I Tweet?

Tweets with images tend to get more impressions, but writing or reader related quotes, jokes and clever or just well-timed comment tweets about writing, reading or life can get lots of interaction. Asking a few questions to get to know your followers and encourage people to interact with you is also a good way to start.

Don’t forget, social media isn’t just about producing organic content. On Twitter or Instagram -reply to and interact with others- especially if you’re looking to find your #WritingCommunity on either. Even if you’re not -reply to people who reply to your content, to connect with your audience.

Promoting a Blog or Book On Twitter

Include a blurb. Don’t just tweet a link. No-one will click it if you don’t give us reason to. And don’t just write, “My book is out on Amazon now!” Sell it to us, with a pitch.

Example: “George thought he had problems. He’d lost his job and the house might be next. Then his city vanished, taking everyone he knew with it. If he can’t work with out-of-towners to find his city and bring it back: he’ll truly lose everything. #BookBoost #SpecFic #BookPromo.” (Yes, these are actual Twitter promo hashtags.)

How Do I Get Tweets Seen or Interacted With?

Short answer -use hashtags. By algorithms no-one I’ve spoken to can fully explain, hashtags help your tweets get onto people’s feeds, but they can do more. Specific, relevant hashtags can act as subheadings and incline people to read and interact with your tweets. Savy Twitter users may also find and interact with your tweets by searching hashtags. For a list of hashtags to connect with writers and find tips, help and prompts on, see this post.

Tips for Getting Tweet Impressions & Interactions

1. Be Concise

My two line tweets often get the most impressions, whereas 3-4 lines often get the least.

2. Tweet Some Questions

Few of us have the gift of being able to write statement tweets which go viral, so ask some questions most writers/ readers can answer (unless you’re seeking specific information). This encourages people to interact and is a good way to get to know your followers. The odd poll can help too, especially if your question is thoughtful or a research question.

3. Use 1-3 RELEVANT Hashtags

Lots of hashtags hurts eyes and puts people off reading tweets. No hashtags means we don’t know what the tweet is about. Using vaguely relevant hashtags clutters that hashtag’s feed with tweets writers searching that tag for information or tweets to interact with may find irrelevant and or annoying. So stick to 1-3 relevant tags. Here’s a list of popular, categorised tags to choose from. Using a popular, umbrella hashtag like #WritersOfTwitter/ #AuthorsOfTwitter will also boost impressions.

4. Interact

Don’t just ❤️ others tweets -some of us only look in ‘Mentions’ and only notice replies -so reply. Help when you can. Answer questions. Play tag games or respond to prompts (these are listed in my Hashtag Guide.) Reply to familiar faces on your feed and log in at a regular(ish) time of day. Doing this increases your chances of seeing and being able to interact with the same writers, and their chances to interact with you, making it easier to get to know people.

What do the Community Acronyms Mean?

WIP= work in progress

CP= critique partner

POV= point of view

Antag= antagonist villain/opposing force

Protag= protagonist

MC =main character

MS= manuscript

PB= Picture book or paperback

MG =Middle Grade

NA used to mean New Adult -which no longer a marketing category (aside from Romance/ indie books), but some people use it because they don’t know about YA Crossover (the new traditional publishing thing).

YA = Young Adult

SFF =Science Fiction, Fantasy and Speculative Fiction

LI =love interest (courtesy of @Davina06496120).

What do these Query Related Terms Mean?

QT =Query Tracker, for keeping track of literary agents you’ve queried (courtesy of @KLSmall_Author).

Synopsis: means ‘book summary’ -including the ending- generally 500 words for literary agencies. But some agency websites call a query letter pitch (which is ideally around 300 words, ending with an impossible choice the MC must make or point of tension after main conflict and stakes are revealed -but not the ending) as… a synopsis.

‘Short synopsis’ tends to mean ‘query letter pitch.’ ‘Long synopsis’ tends to mean book summary. Unfortunately, ‘synopsis’ can mean either. (Unsure? I’d ask others how they interpret that agency’s guidelines, or email the agency to clarify).

A Blurb is NOT a pitch

Blurb =back of the cover description, which can say anything to entice a reader to read the pages.

A Pitch must include: MC intro, MC role in conflict, MC personal stakes, (MC impossible choice) and anything unique about those. It can include other interesting things, eg lists of crazy situations MC must overcome to resolve conflict, but omitting or not making any of the 3 clear is likely to see your query letter rejected, or your tweet pitch ignored (rejection/ no industry likes having many other causes too).

Staying Connected On Twitter

Managing Notifications: Untagging, Muting & Seeing Replies

Replying to @____ and 48 others
Tweet your reply

Once you’ve met people, don’t be that person who notifies 50 people when talking to the one person who tagged them. When you hit ‘reply’, check if above it says ‘replying to @___ and 48 others’. (Like it does on the right).

Select the ‘and’ before ’48 others’ then untick the ‘others in this conversation’ option from the menu, to reply to the one person who tagged you.

Or re-tick/ re-tag the 3/50 people below you’re speaking to (below ‘others in this conversation). If the blue box is ticked -like above- you’re about to notify (in this case) 48 people of your reply. It’s much easier to stay connected if our notifications aren’t bursting with replies of people not speaking to us.
If others don’t do this for you, hit the top right 3 dots on any tweet in the thread clogging your notifications, then select ‘
mute conversation‘ from the menu.

This means you won’t get notified when someone replies to your tweet in that thread. To see those replies, go to your profile, select ‘Tweets and Replies’. Then scroll down the ‘tweet and reply’ feed to your reply in the tag thread. Selecting your reply will display replies to you.

Staying In Touch: Twitter Lists

The easiest way to remember who you’ve met and something about them (eg. genre, where they live in the world, etc) is to add them to a twitter list by a category of your choosing (using the left menu in your profile page). This will store people’s twitter handles for you and create a list feed which only displays list members tweets (which is how I find my friends tweets out of tweets by the 4k writers I follow.)

Staying in Touch: DM Groups

If you want to talk regularly, or easily ask questions in a private group, or find out what friends are saying without sifting through public Twitter feeds, you can make or be added to a group DM. That’s when someone starts a new Direct Message, but after pasting one person’s twitter handle into ‘search people’, and selecting that account from the drop down menu, you paste another twitter handle in, and continue adding up to 75 people (soon to be 100 under new management). Then select ‘Next’ -top right- then type your message. See below for DM etiquette.

NB: twitter etiquette is to speak via public tweet and agree to DM people, not to jump straight into people’s DMs. So if you’re creating a DM group, I’d tweet publicly asking who’d like to be added.

Shortcut: scan your feed for writers offering to add you to their DM groups (which is what many of my friends did with mine ?).

I hope this helps you get started.
To navigate Twitter’s #WritingCommunity and find out which hashtags to use in your tweets, see my Hashtag Guide. If you’d like a more detailed Twitter introduction (including Twitter etiquette), see Emma Lombard’s comprehensive Twitter Tips for Newbies.

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