Social media can be a useful part of an author’s platform, helping them connect with readers, fellow writers, and the publishing community. But deciding what content to post next can be a struggle. So how do successful authors use social media to engage with their fans? And what works on social media for writers besides posting links to their own books?
Below you’ll find 29 ideas, along with examples from dozens of successful authors. Many of these tactics can help promote a book in more creative and engaging ways than simply posting a link to a book’s retailer page. We hope this inspires you when you’re brainstorming content to publish on social media. (Publishers and agents, we encourage you to share it with your authors to help them build more engaging profiles!)
1. Post cover reveals
Social media is a great place to show fans what your next book will look like. They’ll be excited to see the visual depiction of your next story, and it will build recognition when the book is available for sale.
Shari Lapena posted a dramatic video revealing the UK cover of her upcoming release.
View this post on Instagram
@natashaskitchen Natasha’s Kitchen COOKBOOK COVER REVEAL! Get Your Copy Here: https://natashaskitchen.com/natashas-kitchen-cookbook-cover-reveal/. #tiktok #tiktokfood #natashaskitchen #cookbook #coverreveal #preorder ♬ original sound – natashaskitchen
2. Share unboxing videos
When getting your advance reader copies (ARCs) or finalized print books in the mail, post an unboxing video!
@hannahsawyerr (A very chaotic) arc unboxing for ALL THE FIGHTING PARTS! 🥳📚 I truly wasn’t expecting them so soon but she’s so pretty!!! 😭 PHYSICAL ARCS ARE OFFICIALLY IN THE WORLD, BABYYYYYYYY! #arcunboxing #ALLTHEFIGHTINGPARTS #2023debut #Bookish #Booktok #Authortok #Writertok #debutnovel #Authorsoftiktok #MeToo #MeTooNovel #YAnovel ♬ original sound – Hannah V. Sawyerr
Anita Jari Kharbanda posted a video of her unboxing the ARCs of her debut novel, Lioness of Punjab.
3. Show off a fun talent or hobby
Not all of your content has to be about books! In fact, many authors have hobbies and side projects that have nothing to do with writing, and social media is the place to connect with readers who share your passion.
Celeste Ng uses Instagram both for promoting her books and for showcasing photos of her handcrafted miniatures, to the amazement of her fans!
Emily Skrutskie posts frequent videos of her bouldering accomplishments.
And on Marie Lu’s Instagram page, you’ll find lots of photos of her sketches and doodles.
4. Provide a peek into your author life
Posting videos of moments from your life as an author is another way to help readers get to know you better while inspiring other writers.
Alex Aster posted a TikTok detailing a day in her life as a touring author.
On Twitter, J.D. Barker revealed the lengths he goes to in order to ensure the accuracy of his suspense content.
5. Let fans see your personal side
Don’t assume fans won’t care about your personal life, too! A lot of authors share jokes, random photos they take, adventures from their latest trip, favorite recipes, opinions on pop culture, you name it — and those posts can be the ones that get the most engagement!
John Scalzi always has gems to share on Twitter.
And here’s a lovely personal message from Danielle Steel.
6. Post photos with fans
Sharing event pictures with fans is a nice way to show appreciation for their support.
7. Publicize a preorder promotion
Running a preorder promotion can be a great way to build buzz for a book launch and interact with fans!
Jane Harper alerted her Instagram followers that they could receive a bonus backlist title by pre-ordering her new release.
Ruth Ware shared a creative preorder promotion where participants could get a custom mini flashlight.
8. Invite fans to events
If you’re participating in conferences, book tours, book signings, or any other event, let fans know where they can find you online.
James Patterson creates a Facebook Event for each event so readers can easily find an up-to-date list. Each event includes information on where readers can get tickets, if necessary.
Brit Bennett announced her virtual tour stops on Facebook, and posted a graphic to promote each event.
9. Update fans on your writing progress
Your fans may be clamoring for your next book, so give them an update! They’ll enjoy a glimpse into your publishing process and the struggles and successes that come along with it.
Emily Blackwood’s fans were excited to hear about the book she was close to finishing and her plans for the rest of the series.
On Instagram, Sabaa Tahir offered encouragement to other writers who may be struggling with self-doubt.
10. Show your workspace
If you’d rather not give specific updates on your work in progress, show your fans where you work. Writing can be an isolated task, so social media provides a great way to invite readers into your workspace (without the risk of in-person distraction).
Torunn Grønbekk took her followers on a tour of her art studio and writing space.
@groenbekk Reply to @dumbphucker666 Sure thing! This is my studio, located in the ancient barn on our property. This is where I paint and write and read! #artstudio #desksetup #writingspace #oilpainting #homeoffice #studio #comicbook #writertok #writer #barnconversion #interiordesign #maximalism ♬ Choking on Flowers – Fox Academy
Julie C. Dao posted a picture of her writing setup when she started her new manuscript.
11. Share your writing tips and tools
Let fellow writers and curious readers in on your secrets to writing success!
Dante Medema revealed the creative Post-It Note techniques she uses in her writing process.
Mea Monique recommended a few tools she can’t write without.
Kristin Cashore shared a clever hack she developed for easy note-taking.
12. Take a quote from one of your books
To drive exposure for a book, create an image of a notable, inspiring, or funny quote from the book. You can use tools like Canva to easily turn quotes into eye-catching images.
Karina Halle stirred up excitement for her upcoming release by sharing teaser quotes and tropes in the book.
David Baldacci publicized his upcoming release with a single intriguing quote.
13. Lift up other authors’ books
Use your social media presence to promote other authors you admire. You can coordinate efforts — cross-promoting each other’s work gets you exposure to new fans — or share the love unprompted! Maybe they’ll return the favor later. Either way, fans love to see recommendations from their favorite authors. A book or author you like is likely one they’ll enjoy, too.
By expressing his interest in world history, Vaseem Khan showed readers he was well-positioned to recommend this book.
14. Share good news by thanking others
Accomplishing a literary feat like topping a bestseller list, winning an award, or landing a new book deal is something authors want to shout from the rooftops. But recognizing readers and others for their role in your accomplishments can be a more humble way to share good news.
TikTok is the best platform for unfiltered, spontaneous content — making it a great place to capture the moment you got the news, if you can! Nisha Sharma posted this heartfelt reaction when her book earned out.
Claire Alexander expressed gratitude to her new publisher of Meredith, Alone.
15. Let fans know what you’re reading
If you don’t want to post detailed reviews, simply share what you’re reading now or your to-be-read (TBR) list.
Here’s a great example from Ijeoma Oluo where she posted a picture of a book she was reading while waiting at the orthodontist’s office.
Megan Angelo posted mini-reviews of the last three books she read.
16. Post audiobook excerpts
Demand for audiobooks is rapidly rising, and posting snippets can be a great way to get your audience excited for your audiobooks.
Molly Doyle posted an excerpt on TikTok, giving her fans a taste of her new audiobook.
17. Run a Q&A session
Allow readers to ask questions live, and give them a set amount of time in which they’ll have your undivided attention.
Sandhya Menon took to Instagram Live to chat with fans about everything from her decor to her writing inspiration. She also fielded some questions from readers.
18. Ask fans for their opinions
Fans are often eager to voice their opinions online, so prompting them with a specific topic can be a great way to get to know your fans and spark discussion.
Here’s a great example from Roseanne A. Brown where she asked for people’s opinions of their favorite indie bookstore on Instagram. She placed the question near the top of the caption and prefaced it with “QOTD,” which stands for “question of the day.”
Sarah Nicolas polled their followers on how many genres they read. Polls can be an excellent method to connect with your readers and understand their preferences.
19. Show props from a scene in a book
Bring your books to life by showing fans how you envisioned objects from specific scenes.
Cheryl Bradshaw created a Pinterest board where she compiled images of props and scenery from her book series with detailed descriptions so readers could see how she envisioned these elements.
20. Provide details from behind the scenes of your work
Show fans what inspires you during your writing process. This can be anything from the research you gathered, photos from location scouting trips, diagrams or sketches you drew, or even excerpts from early drafts.
Brad Thor shared photos from a research trip on Facebook, which fans were excited to see.
Leigh Bardugo created a Pinterest board for each of her main characters showing her inspiration for how they looked and dressed (this probably came in handy for the Shadow and Bone TV adaptation, too!).
21. Discuss your love of books
Readers who follow authors on social media obviously love books. Relating to them and sharing in that love of books can foster engagement.
Jude Deveraux posted this simple quote that got nearly 1,000 likes in less than 24 hours.
You can also share full articles that book lovers would relate to, as Linda Lael Miller did here.
22. Share fans’ photos or art
You can also show fan appreciation by sharing art they’ve created based on your books or reposting photos they’ve shared with you.
Posting fan photos can be a great way to engage with readers while promoting a book. Alisson Wood posted a clever photo a fan sent to her posing with her book.
Beth Revis created a Pinterest board for the fan art people share with her.
23. Create little games for fans
Encourage interaction by creating fun games: quote fill-in-the-blanks, trivia, scavenger hunts, Mad Libs, guessing games — the possibilities are endless.
Here’s a great fill-in-the-blank quote Sylvia Day posted to Instagram.
James Rollins used part of an image from one of his book covers to play a guessing game with fans on Facebook.
Erin Bowman posted a creative game to her Instagram Story, demonstrating an excellent strategy to help fans get to know your book in a fun way.
24. Make playlists for a book or character
Music can be inspirational, and fans often want to know what authors listen to while crafting specific scenes, or what songs influenced the creation of their characters.
Elizabeth May tweeted a link to a Spotify playlist for one of her books.
Jennifer Niven created a playlist for one of her characters on Pinterest.
25. Answer fans’ frequently asked questions
If fans ask questions in the comments of posts, your answers can get buried in different threads. So compile your answers in a new post!
Lots of engagement on one post provides a great opportunity to make another follow-up post, like this one from Chloe C. Peñaranda.
Replying to @Megan Knapton some frequently asked questions!🥰 #booktok #anheircomestorise #fantasybooks #bookrecommendations #fantasybookrecommendations #romanticfantasy #newadultfantasty #bookishquestions #bookshelf #author #ccpenaranda
To celebrate her unboxing going live, Janella Angeles answered fan questions on her Instagram Story and left the session as a highlight so readers can find it anytime.
26. Promote charities and other good causes
As someone with a platform, you have the opportunity to advocate for charities and other good causes you feel strongly about — and actually be heard. Share how you participate and gently encourage fans to play a role.
Glennon Doyle used her platform to bring attention to the devastating earthquake in Turkey and Syria.
Susan Dennard posted this hopeful message to support an issue she cares about.
27. Share interesting links and media
Your fans are clearly interested in the topics you write about in your books, so chances are you share other interests as well. If you find a photo, article, or video particularly interesting, share it with your fans. They might enjoy the content, too! Bonus points if you ask for their opinions to foster a conversation.
Neal Stephenson shared this article on an interesting piece of science he knew his readers would find interesting.
Margaret Atwood’s Twitter feed is full of eye-catching content on a variety of topics.
28. Show off your pets
When in doubt, post pictures of your animals. It’s a sure win — everyone loves animals.
You can post a picture of a pet with your book for extra promotion points, as Claribel A. Ortega did on Instagram.
Or let your pet be the star, like Hanna C. Howard did when she posted this adorable Instagram picture of her cat perched on her writing space.
29. Check in when you take a break
It’s perfectly fine to take a break from social media or writing. Your fans will understand — and they’ll be happy to hear how you’re doing! If you take a hiatus, consider checking in once in a while to let fans know what you’re up to.
R.S. Grey took a personal approach to her writing announcement, sharing that she’s had difficulty finding time to work, but is back at it.
Sarah Dessen checked in with her fans on Facebook to 1.3K likes and nearly 100 comments of encouragement. Not a bad way to get some inspiration to keep on writing!
What other types of content do your fans engage with on social media? Let us know in the comments below!
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This post was originally published on June 6th, 2016, and has been updated with new examples.