Self-Publishing Guide: Social Media for Authors

by Rachel Sawden

Having a social media presence is vital for any writer’s career, especially for self-published authors. Social Media is a great way to grow a captive audience that you can constantly market to. The best platforms for writers would be Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Out of the Social Media platforms, Facebook is the behemoth. It has the largest userbase and is the hardest to grow on organically. You’ll need a big budget for ad-spend Do not let this deter you as you need to maximize your online presence and branding as an author. Create a fan page under your name and populated it with your bio, images of you, images of your book. Invite your friends to like the book and keep posting regularly.

Find groups comprised of other writers and join them. It’s always a value add to network within the industry. There is always new information coming out, along with services for authors that you may not be aware of until you start speaking to others.


While Twitter is kind of the wild wild west in terms of content, it can be a very powerful tool if used correctly. Follow people within the industry, they’re all there. From the heavyweight brand authors to struggling indie authors, along with literary agents, you can, and should, follow them all. For smaller accounts, Twitter follows an unofficial follow for follow policy. If you follow me, then it is courtesy for me to follow you back. Search hashtags like #writingcommunity and you’ll find so many writers looking to uplift each other.

Retweeting other people’s tweets and responding to their tweets is a great way to build relationships.

As for your own tweets, tweet about your book, writing life, your general life, this is one platform that has no limits on activity. Tweet as much as you like, and as much as you can!

You can use a platform like Hootsuite to streamline your Facebook and Twitter – if you post a tweet, it will automatically post it on Facebook, so you don’t have to spend time posting your content again.


Instagram is a photo and video-based platform which is perfect for giving your readers a glimpse into your life. You can also post quotes of your book, inspiration pictures, photos of what you’re reading. Once you have a following and some confidence hop on a “live” with another author and talk shop with your fans.

Instagram is my favorite platform and the one that I have excelled at. I grew my personal page (@rachelsawden) from 1000 followers to 16,000 followers in the span of a year and a half (I am now sitting at over 25,000 followers). How did I do it? Well, I always wanted to be one of those traveling Instagram girls, posting floating breakfasts in Bali and swimming in hidden lagoons in Mexico. I was a model and have always loved photography and creating images. My novel, Runaways, is about a girl who travels the world taking photographs. I figured if I could grow a following of people who are interested in travel, they would be interested in my book. I branded myself as a travel Instagrammer and took off to Asia for 6 months.

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By posting a quality piece of content every day, along with engaging with other uses on the platform throughout the day (both those who followed me and those who didn’t) my following grew. I also engaged with other people in my niche – they would be my sales demographic and could be helpful by promoting my book to their following.

Those are the two components of growing on Instagram (and really any social media platform) – regular quality posts and engaging with others. If you’re going to focus on one part of the equation, I would say engaging with users that do not follow you is more important. If you don’t have that much time to invest, post less (at least 2-3 times per week) but engage every day.

Once I had my following, I used the story function to promote my book and post on the gallery images of me with my book that fit my aesthetic. I would say this has been the most effective form of digital marketing for me as I generally make at least one sale per post.

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I also started an Instagram profile for my book (@runawaysthebook), I alternate with one quote using a background used for my book cover for consistent branding, and photographs of the places that my characters are in the book, creating a journey for the reader. I want readers to really visualize the places that my characters explore. Some of my photographs are reposts (always credit the account you repost from), some are from my travels that inspired the trip. I’ll also post images of my book on bookshelves, or instead of quotes include reviews.

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Next step in my Self Publishing Guide: Book Promotion Sites

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