Sep 6, 2013

Using Social Media? Be Subtle!

by Marsha Ward

Life for a writer is not a bowl of roses. We work hard to do what we do, whether it is writing poems to share; journaling; writing for magazines, newspapers, newsletters, or other non-fiction short-form endeavors; or writing short stories, novellas, or novels.

If we seek commercial publication of long-form works, whether non-fiction or fiction, traditionally published or done independently, we all have to let folks know we have a product to offer. We used to send out postcards, flyers, and letters to a list of readers, libraries, or bookstores. The Internet has made contacting people both easier and harder.

Social media is wonderful for making friends and attracting new readers. That's the easy part. The hard part is not bashing our "Friends" over the head with our products.

I have several acquaintances among my contacts in the wide world of writers and authors who do a stunningly successful job of walking the tightrope between letting folks know about their works and overkill. Unfortunately, I'm noticing some of my acquaintances who are not doing so well at being subtle.

Ask yourself when you use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media venues: Is every post, every tweet about your book/novel/novella/review/etc?

Oooo, I hope not.

The etiquette of social media asks that you give four things that are not connected to you and your work to every one thing that promotes you. Do you retweet interesting tweets from others? Do you Share at that same ratio on Facebook? I'm not as involved on LinkedIn, but the same thing applies.

I'm not saying you have to keep a spreadsheet and be rigorously counting your social exchanges. I'm saying, don't make your interactions all about you. Because, you know, those aren't interactions at all. They are head-thumping promotions that are very likely to turn off your audience instead of build sales.

The way to use social media to gain an audience is to be a person, a genuine, real, living, breathing human being who is interesting and maybe does something besides write and sell books. Don't be the person who makes others cringe or hide your posts, or even worse, unfriend or unfollow you because you are using a baseball bat on them all the time. Be a friend on social media. Be approachable. Be a person.


  1. Thanks for this post. It's one we all need to remember.

  2. Great advice, Marsha! Thank you for posting this. It is very helpful (and important) information. You turned on a light bulb for me, for sure! hugs~

  3. This is good advice. People who are constantly promoting make me feel exhausted.
    Luckily, most of my friends don't seem to do this, so I'm OK. They're just trying to build a platform, as recommended. I support them as much as I can, but not to exhaustion. Hopefully, one day, they will support me, too.

  4. I like how encouraging your advice is and provides positive ways for us to learn how to use social media. Thank you!


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