Wednesday, August 1, 2012

August is Awesome Because of Sharon Bayliss

We're kicking off this awesome August with an excellent post that will answer important questions about social media that every author and aspiring author needs to know.  This post contains some candid and invaluable information.

The advice Sharon provides in this splendid post is as good as social media advice gets!

Please welcome Sharon Bayliss!

Social Media for The Anti-Social Author
by Sharon Bayliss

When I used to imagine what it would be like to have a career as an author, I imagined a life of blissful, creative solitude. I would work from home in my yoga pants with breaks to take long contemplative walks to let my creative juices flow.

Well, I do get to work in my yoga pants, but I never imagined that being an author would require so much social networking.

I’ve been dabbling with social media for a year or so, but when I was offered my publishing contract, I was still fairly new. I didn’t have a smart phone or a laptop. I didn’t have a Twitter account. I had a Facebook account that was only about a year old, which I grudgingly started way after everyone’s grandmother signed up. I’m not a very social person, and I didn’t think social media was for me.

Today, I’m not only a social media butterfly for my own purposes, I actually WORK as a social media coordinator for my publisher. So, I’ve come a long way and I’d like to share a little about what I’ve learned.

In my personal opinion, ignoring social media is a BAD idea for a new author. You may think it’s not for you. You may think your time is better spent writing. Even if those things are true, it’s no excuse. Social media marketing is one of the most effective tools for a new author.

As soon as you sign a publishing contract you realize just how many other people have too. Getting signed isn’t enough, you still have to rise above the fray. Unless you’re a bestselling author, you can’t ignore the opportunity for FREE advertising. And it’s more than just that. It’s a continuing education opportunity. The internet is an amazing place to learn about craft and publishing for free.

Even if I didn’t convince you, your publisher may ask you to sign up for several social media accounts. Mine did.

What accounts you should set up:

A Facebook author page. You want a community/business page, not a personal page. At the bottom of the sign up page you’ll see “Create a Page for a celebrity, band or business.” Yes, that’s you. Even though you probably don’t feel like a celebrity yet.

With this type of page, your fans can “like” you. Also, it’s a great way to keep your personal life and professional life separate if you also maintain a personal page.

A Twitter account. One amazing thing about Twitter is it’s easy to get followers. Honestly, I don’t know why so many people I don’t know follow me, but I’m not complaining.

Once you set up your Twitter account, you do need to be active on it almost every day for it to have impact. But it doesn’t take that long. Just press “Tweet this” buttons as you go along with your web tasks, they’re everywhere. And 140 characters doesn’t take long, especially not for a professional writer!

A blog or a website. This is a harder one, but it’s important. There are so many great blogfests and contests that require blogs to participate. It’s worth having one just for that. Just post at least once a week, and if you get involved in blogfests, that won’t be hard. Blogs show up more on search engines than static websites because search engines prioritize new content.

If you really don’t think blogging is for you, set up a static website using GoDaddy or another website creation tool. You want people to find something when they Google you!

Extra credit

You don’t need a presence on every social media outlet, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to use more than just the big guys. I recommend Google +, Goodreads, and Pinterest, as your next best choices.

How do I get people to like me?

Ah, the ultimate question. Building a following on your accounts takes time. Don’t feel bad if you don’t have a ton of likes or followers right away. It will happen organically with time if you use your accounts and interact with people.

To build a following:

Follow and like other people. This is probably the most important thing. When I first opened my accounts, I spent a good amount of time just looking for people to connect with. It may be writing connections you already have, bloggers you already follow, authors you like, critique partners/beta readers, agents, publishers, writing groups, etc. Also, don’t forget potential READERS such as book bloggers, people/groups who like your genre, etc. Many people follow and like back. But don’t ask them to, it’s comes off as desperate.

Interact with people. All you have to do is go to your feed and look for interesting things. Repost, retweet, comment, like, etc.

Post regularly. When you find something interesting on the web (related to writing/reading) get in the habit of commenting, liking, posting, tweeting it.

But what should I say?

This was my biggest problem with social media. I am not the type to share random information about my day, like “I’m eating pancakes!” and I’m certainly not the type of person who cares when other people are eating pancakes. (Although I am now guilty of some of these posts).

I thought that social media was just a stream of random, useless information that nobody cared about. Of course, in some cases it is, but it doesn’t have to be. It can be whatever you want it to be.

Here are some tips for “what to say.”

Post for your readers, not for yourself. If you’re an author, you probably have followers who are writers and readers….so, think about what information would be useful to them.

Promote others, not yourself. Obviously it’s okay to talk about your own book, in fact, that’s pretty important. But that shouldn’t be all you talk about. Pay it forward. Provide free promotion to your connections without them having to ask. I promise your good vibes will come back to you.

Comment on what others say. You don’t have anything to say today? I promise you somebody else does. You don’t always have to post. Just devote some time to reading other people’s posts and commenting/sharing/liking. That still counts.

Show your human side, but not too much. My somewhat personal posts get a lot more comments and likes than just links about writing. This doesn’t mean my readers want to hear about every little thing that goes on in my life. But they do care about some of it, especially if it’s related to writing/reading. Share a glimpse of your personal journey.

How much time should I devote and when?

Set up your social media presence before you sign with an agent or publisher. Sometimes they look for this if they’re on the fence. Try to spend a little bit of time with social media every day, 15 minutes to an hour. A little bit goes a long way. You want to check in frequently, but don’t let it suck you in so much you stop writing.

If you have more questions…

Leave them in comments! You should also check out the social media bible for authors, We Are Not Alone: TheWriter's Guide to Social Media by Kristen Lamb.

About Sharon Bayliss:

Sharon Bayliss is awesome!
I am a science fiction and fantasy author from Austin, Texas. My forthcoming debut novel, THE CHARGE, is a quirky alternate history adventure about a college student who learns he’s a member of the Texas royal family.

I have also work as a tobacco cessation counselor and manage the social media accounts for CuriosityQuills Press.

Connect with me here:


  1. Wow, lots of great tips here! I never thought much about social media, not really understanding it, but this post makes it look a lot less scary!

  2. I am anti-social as well. It's good to know I'm not the only one and the tips are excellent. I'll try them too.

  3. I joined Facebook last fall, started blogging in February, joined Twitter in April, Goodreads in June and began concentrating on Google+ last month. Thanks to Sharon I'm now setting up a Facebook author page.

    Sharon, I'll have to bring you back for a part two focusing on managing time between social media and writing. ;-)

    Needless to say I loved the post. Awesome job! Thanks!

  4. Very informative post. Thanks, Sharon and Jeff. :)

  5. Thank you all for stopping by! I'm glad it was helpful. Jeff - I'm not sure that I know the secret to managing time between social media and writing, but I could always give it a shot. :)

  6. Wow, you have a ton of information here! I'm starting to be more active online but need to set a schedule because I spend way too much time online when I should be working. Thanks Sharon and Jeff:)

  7. I think I've got most of that covered! Except no Facebook. Don't have time.
    And I had no idea what I was doing when I was forced to start socializing online.

  8. I'm not a social media butterfly either. I've had a Facebook account for a couple of years (I think), but I rarely post anything on it. I've been on Twitter for about a year, but I rarely tweet (can never think of anything worth tweeting). At least I have a blog where I write about my adventures in writing, but I haven't gotten around to adding any kind of Follow buttons to my website. Pathetic.

    The Facebook fan page intrigues me, though. Maybe I'll set one up this week.

  9. Some very good advice. I guess I need to work harder at it.

  10. Cynthia Hope Clark suggests focusing on one social media venue and really pushing that. Alex Cavanaugh has certainly found success doing that with his blog.
    Personally, I use all the social media outlets but put more weight on blogging than the others.
    I have a Facebook fanpage that doesn't get much effort or traffic. Still good to have up for the SEO, though.
    I have about 1200 Twitter followers and tweet every day, with liberal use of hashtags to rope in nonfollowers. I notice that it ups my readership for my blog posts, and I assume it helps out those I'm retweeting as well.
    Which brings me to my blog. This is the one I focus on the most. I get more than 100 hits a day and it really helps my SEO. It's also tons of fun. Many of my blog posts are scraps of interesting information that couldn't fit in one of my nonfiction books, or random historical tidbits I come across during my research.
    I'm just now getting into Goodreads and have an author page there. It seems like a promising site since it's all about books and readers.
    I probably spend about an hour a day on social media. Most of that is fun and I don't want to do too much or it will start feeling like a chore.

    1. Sean, Alex is a ninja and can do almost anything. Twitter hashtags is something I usually forget. But I'm with you on the blogging. It's definitely fun and you meet so many awesome people.

  11. Hmm...I just read this post (good one). I'm only super new to all this, so right now I need to just get a lot more writing and projects done. I do not engage in ANY sociial media (no blog, no twitter, no smart phone, no FB). Financialy I can't, and otherwise, I also have no interest or "room" for clutter in my life when there is too much going on already :)
    I assume that when I reach a point of being more secure and learned and stacked up with actal writing done, etc...then maybe I'll get a blog or whatever...but for now, gotta work within my means. I hope :)

    1. Always work within your means. A debt-free life is a happier life.

      My progression was Facebook first, then blog, then Twitter. I still don't have a smart phone. (I receive perpetual teasing from my daughter over my continued attachment to my flip phone.)

      Of all, I enjoy blogging by far the most. It's the biggest stimulus to creativity and relationships I've developed via blog interactions are generally the most fulfilling.