Social media marketing for indie authors, my experiences.

Social media tips for indie authors and anyone who is a writer or artist.

Petra Kidd

My personal experiences with each platform. It’s a work in progress! 

Twitter

I have been observing Twitter closely to see how writers interact and support one another there, and it is heartening to see. Twitter worked in the past for me when I was promoting The Eight of Swords, I got some great feedback and gained new readers. That was over 12 years ago. Of course, now, the writing community is massive, worldwide, and even stronger than before. 

There are two main trends at the moment. One is to ask questions about any kind of subject, ranging from what you had for breakfast to: you have been given a boat, you have to name it. What is the name of your boat? The other is: I only need 50 followers to reach 5000. Let’s all have a writer’s lift. Post your links.

The first method of interaction is one I really enjoy because there is a vast array of questions and it encourages lots of friendly conversations and interesting outcomes. I’m not so sure about the second one. Some days my timeline gets a bit too filled with such requests and I avoid them. It feels like begging as opposed to genuinely connecting with people, but there you go, each to their own.

What I always find interesting and useful is the shared experience of writing. The honesty of people when they get their work turned down by agents. The joy when their work gets taken up by agents. The encouragement from other writers to keep on going. The rightly indignant retorts when an agency, publisher, or individual criticizes the indie market. The shared experiences and the kindness of people offering reviews. All very positive. 

In all my years on Twitter, I have been lucky enough not to run into too many idiots. I know they exist: the naysayers, the ones who are controversial just for the sake of it, hoping to get attention, the abusers, and the downright nasty ones. I suggest you choose who you follow carefully. Quickly checking someone’s timeline is always a good way to find out what they post and how they interact. If you run into someone unpleasant, it’s easy enough to block them. I have only had to do this once. I am lucky, I know.

Writing is such a mixture of culture, creativity and business. I still see authors who don’t get that it’s not enough to write a book; it has to be marketed if readers are to be found and money is to be made. Writing is a business, and books need to be treated as a commodity if you wish to sell them. Even if you are writing purely as a hobby, what is a book without readers? There is nothing wrong with promotion, so long as you don’t overdo it and irritate your followers with “me, me, me.”

The best way for Twitter to work, in my experience, is to support other writers, be kind, take an interest in other people’s work, and get to know your readers as people. Let your personality shine through! 

I haven’t tried out “Spaces” where you can chat. It isn’t for me, but it may well work for you. I simply don’t have enough hours in the day to explore that too. I would be interested in hearing your experiences there, so please comment here if you have tried it.

Over the years, I have made a lot of friends through Twitter, and as it happens, it has been pretty good for my love life too. So, it is always the first place I go to when I want to promote something because, in my experience, it has always been a friendly and encouraging place. If you don’t go looking for trouble, it is unlikely to find you. If you are careful about who you follow and respectful about what you say, I don’t think you can go too far wrong.

If you are a writer who is reading this and haven’t already given it a try, go for it! Send me your Twitter @ and I will follow you. I remember when I first joined. I didn’t have a clue how to use it, but there were plenty of friendly tweeters there to greet me and help me on my way. Don’t expect thousands of followers overnight; it takes time to build. 

If you are a reader reading this, go look for some authors, read their books, and be sure to leave them feedback. Before social media, readers never had the experience of connecting with authors so easily, so it’s a great privilege.

Come say hello @PetraKidd 

Facebook

Years ago, when I wrote The Eight of Swords, I managed to gain quite a good following on Facebook. I let it lapse when I stopped writing for a while, and when I revisited my page last year upon the launch of my new short story book, The Isolation Sex Stories, I found I needed to do quite a bit of work to get it going again and regain interest.

There are new features now. I haven’t explored them all, but what is useful is that you can “go live,” and I used this to do my book launch. That was nerve-racking! However, it did create interest and useful feedback, plus some sales. 

It is a great time for authors to be seen and heard as well as read, so take advantage of it if you can. If you can’t face going live, post videos. People love to watch videos. I know I do, so it makes sense. If you don’t feel natural in front of the camera, I recommend you keep practicing. It takes me several takes to get it right. The more you do it, the more relaxed you become. If you struggle, give yourself a break, don’t try to get it all done quickly, it takes time. I will write separate post on creating videos. I am no expert, but I can give you my trial and error experiences! 

What I didn’t know when I titled my book The Isolation Sex Stories was that I would not be able to use paid advertising for it on Facebook. I can understand FB may baulk at the title and content. However, I would have thought parental controls would take care of any unsuitable viewers. Apparently not. 

Instagram

I’ve always loved Instagram as a photographer, so I decided to try how it works as a writer. It is very visual, which is good for me as I am enjoying learning to promote my books in this way. For obvious reasons, my photography account was relatively simple to set up, but my writing account required more effort. Rather than posting my usual landscape images or street photos, I had to be extra creative and personal with my writer account. I’m generally a private person, so it wasn’t easy, but I think I am finding my way now.

The eye opener is Reels. Reels are mini films where you can add music and/or text. If you can create some fun content, it works well to attract more viewers or followers and gain more interaction. While reels may seem like an unusual way to do this, I think it’s a challenge worth trying. Keep an open mind. You wrote a book to entertain or inform. This is a way to extend that to people who wouldn’t necessarily be your usual audience but may be encouraged to check out your work.

Of course, you don’t have to go on about your books all the time, and this is the fun part. Show off your interests, be interactive and encourage conversations. Enjoy yourself and be yourself. This applies to all the social media platforms. You simply need to find the one that you feel most comfortable with and work at it. It’s probably best to focus on a couple if you can, but one is fine. I am spread across three because I like to see how they all differ and develop.

Obviously, this isn’t an in-depth analysis of social media and how to market your book on the different platforms, but I hope it will help if you are a writer who wants to know how social media might help you get your work seen.

Don’t be shy, come say hello at Instagram @PetraKiddWriter

Find me on Twitter @PetraKidd

And of course on Facebook where you will find me reading excerpts from my short story book The Isolation Sex Stories.

Don’t be shy, come say hello at Instagram @PetraKiddWriter

Find me on Twitter @PetraKidd

And of course on Facebook where you will find me reading excerpts from my short story book The Isolation Sex Stories

Author: Petra Kidd

Norfolk UK is my home, I live in Norwich by the River Wensum where everyday there is something different to see and learn. I feel a big affinity with the river as I grew up in Cambridge, another great river city. My childhood and teens involved many walks along the Cam where we would watch 'The Bumps,' raft races and as we grew older we enjoyed adventures on our punting pub crawls. Growing up in a multi cultural university city definitely influenced my reading choices, I am a big fan of Japanese fiction, love French literature and enjoy Shakespeare. As a young teen I entertained myself with Jilly Cooper and Dick Francis and then became quite obsessed with Henri Charriere's Papillon. At school all I cared about was English, Art and French, in that exact order. When I finished with school I went to live and work in Greece for a wonderful year before returning to study English Literature and Sociology. At this point I read more classics like the Wyf of Bath, Wuthering Heights and Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man plus poets such as Wilfred Owen. My first UK full time job was with Heffer's Paperbacks where I devoured several books at a time, excited by the fact I could borrow what I liked. Bizarrely for me I remember reading The Zurich Axioms, I have no interest in the stock markets but it had me gripped. I can't remember why I picked it up but I have never forgotten it. Heffers introduced me to so many authors, via their books and sometimes in person. It was here I learned about all the genres, it fascinated me that science fiction and horror were so popular, I tried reading it all. Aside from writing letters, it didn't really ever occur to me to write anything myself for many years as I worked my way through a variety of interesting and varied jobs. Then on a visit to the London Aquarium I became struck by an idea so powerful I sat down and wrote my first novel. It went nowhere as really I wrote it because I wanted to. I wrote another novel and again, didn't have the persistance or determination to take it further, I simply enjoyed the process of writing and my characters. Then years later another idea struck me and during a severe bout of Pleurisy where I couldn't do anything physical for months, I wrote the Eight of Swords and The Putsi. This time I published them as ebooks and they became pretty popular. When I fully recovered, I had to concentrate on my business and looking after my mother who has various health issues and the writing went adrift again for many years until 2020 when the Coronavirus pandemic hit the world. March 2020 I moved to my apartment alongside the Wensum to live alone for the first time ever. During the first lockdown I began to write a diary and then the idea for a new set of short stories came to me and in February 2021 they will be published. The Covid-19 Pandemic is not simply a scary virus, it is a historical time and here we are trying to live through it. To many it will feel like a punishment but to me as a writer, in some ways, it came as a gift. Please stay as safe and as well as you can. I hope to entertain you with my stories as we all try to get through this together, even though we are apart. Petra

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