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 can authors post on social media besides links to their own books?
Below you’ll find 23 ideas, along with examples from dozens of successful authors. Many of these tactics can help promote a book, but in more creative and engaging ways than simply posting a link to a book’s retailer page. We hope this provides you with inspiration when you’re brainstorming content to publish on social media!
Publishers and agents, this post is written for authors. We encourage you to share it with your authors to help them build more engaging profiles!
1. Run a Q&A session
Give readers the opportunity to ask questions live, and give them a set amount of time in which they’ll have your undivided attention.
Here’s a great announcement of a Facebook Q&A from Philippa Gregory:
And here’s the result of that chat, with more than 450 questions asked:
2. 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 start discussion and get people talking about a book.
Diana Gabaldon shared a review which sparked a debate on her Facebook page, and asked her fans to chime in with their opinions.
3. 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.
Stephen King had a unique cover reveal, sharing an animated video of his newest book’s cover on Facebook.
Susan Dennard posted a large image of part of her new cover to Instagram, and included a link in the description where readers could see the full cover and read an excerpt from the book on Entertainment Weekly.
4. 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.
5. Share event schedules
If you’re participating in conferences, book tours, book signings, or any other event, let fans know where they can find you.
Rainbow Rowell posted her schedule for the New York Comic Con as an image on Facebook:
6. Provide a behind-the-scenes look at your writing process
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 researching 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.
7. Update fans on your writing progress
Your fans may be clamoring for your next book, so give them an update! They’ll enjoy the glimpse into your publishing process, and an update serves as a nice reminder of the upcoming release.
Marie Lu does a great job making fans feel like they’re experiencing part of her writing process live:
R.S. Grey posted a picture of a printed manuscript for an upcoming release on Instagram:
8. Show off your work space
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).
Here’s an artsy shot of Tahereh Mafi’s work space on Instagram:
Sarah M. Eden revealed the reality of many authors’ writing space: wherever they can cram in some writing time!
9. Share 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 or Designfeed to easily turn quotes into eye-catching images.
Susan Mallery posts a quote to Facebook every day, and uses a template to create a consistent style for each day’s quote. In this example, she ties the quote to an upcoming holiday:
Sophie Kinsella often asks fans questions when posting quote images to get them to engage, like she did in this post:
10. 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. For inspiration, check out BookBub’s blog, where you’ll find posts like 21 Quotes Only True Book Lovers Will Understand or 17 Secrets Only Book Lovers Are In On.
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, like Linda Lael Miller did here:
11. 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 thanking readers for their role in your accomplishments is a more humble way to share good news, recognizing readers for their involvement in that success.
Here’s a great example from David Baldacci:
Jojo Moyes similarly thanked her fans once her book made the New York Times bestseller list:
12. 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.
Andy Weir posted a clever photo a fan sent to him:
Beth Revis created a Pinterest board for the fan art people share with her:
13. Show support for other authors
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.
Karen Marie Moning helped promote her friend’s book when it went on sale:
14. Share your reading list
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 Colleen Hoover where she shares a screenshot of her Kindle:
15. 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:
16. Share 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.
Sarah J. Maas tweeted a link to a Spotify playlist for one of her books:
Jennifer Niven created a playlist for one of her characters on Pinterest:
17. Answer fans’ frequently asked questions
If fans ask questions in your Facebook posts, your answers can get buried in the comment threads. So compile your answers in their own post!
Here’s a great example from Maya Banks where she answers questions following an announcement for upcoming book releases.
18. 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.
Elizabeth Gilbert posted a series of posts to promote a great charity event, along with a few of her author friends:
This post from Debbie Macomber was shared nearly 400 times, gaining valuable exposure for a great cause:
19. Celebrate characters’ major life events
Your characters might not be real people, but you can add a fun layer of realism by celebrating their major life events — birthdays, anniversaries, or post-novel updates — on social media.
Janet Evanovich wished one of her characters a happy birthday on Twitter:
J.K. Rowling regularly wishes her characters a happy birthday… or acknowledges the anniversary of a major event from the Harry Potter series.
20. 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.
Science fiction author Neal Stephenson often shares articles on science and technology:
Here’s a fun post from Karen Robards where she engages fans with a question.
21. Show off your pets
When in doubt, post pictures of animals. It’s a sure win — everyone loves animals.
You can post a picture of a pet with your book for some promotion points, like Rainbow Rowell did on Instagram:
Or let your pet be the star, like Emily Giffin did when she posted this adorable picture of her puppy to Facebook:
22. Let fans see your personal side
Not all of your content has to be about books! Lots of authors share random photos they take, adventures from their latest trip, favorite recipes, opinions on pop culture and current events — you name it. Don’t assume fans won’t care about what you have to say. Those personal posts can be the ones that get the most engagement!
Here’s a gem from John Scalzi on Twitter that we loved:
And here’s a lovely personal post from Danielle Steel:
23. Check in when you take a break
It’s perfectly fine to take a break from social media to focus on writing. Your fans will understand — and they’ll be happy to know you’re making progress on your next book! If you take a hiatus, consider checking in once in awhile to let fans know what you’re up to.
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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Click to tweet: Wow, check out all of these great examples of authors using social media! There are some fantastic ideas here. #amwriting #writetip http://bit.ly/1ZdtkjH
Click to tweet: This gets me so excited to share content on social media! The only question is: Which of these should I try first? http://bit.ly/1ZdtkjH
This post was originally published on June 6th, 2016, and has been updated with new examples.