By Tamela Hancock Murray
It’s hard to get through a week without seeing at least one article on platform. Well, here’s yours for the week!
We agents ask authors for a platform, but I have found that unpublished authors wonder how and why they should show a professional presence on social media. That question is understandable. Without a book, what is the author promoting?
Yes, you are promoting yourself. You are using social media to establish a rapport with potential readers who will be looking for your book when it is published. Think about it – you may read a memoir written by a Christian celebrity, but a memoir written by a private person you have made no connection with? Not so much.
Are We Friends?
As you work toward publication, you are making genuine connections with people who may or may not read your book. Social media for authors shouldn’t be about pretending to be friends with people for no other reason than they’ll buy your book. It’s about making a connection with people because you have similar interests, world view, and, in the case of Christian authors, shared faith. Your social media friends will be happy to buy your book because they feel they have come to know you. You have made a hearts and minds connection. Your shared interest is real. They’ll want to read your book because they are interested in what you have to say.
What Do I Post?
The main thing is to be genuine. What do you want your potential readers to know about you? What do you find fun, entertaining, and informative? Chances are that through social media, you’ll find many people who enjoy the same things you do.
Novelists can talk about the time period they’re writing about in history, or staying up to date yet not too dated when writing a contemporary novel. Perhaps one of your characters has an interesting hobby. Asking social media pals to name characters is fun, as is posting pictures of hairstyles and fashions. Have fun!
Nonfiction authors should be writing about a topic interesting and important enough to generate a natural audience. For example, if you’re writing about parenting toddlers, let it be known that you hope to help through your writing, and then you should soon find an audience.
What about Privacy?
Some authors feel more inclined to share their lives than others, but it’s always a good idea to be cautious. One way to do this is to keep certain accounts open to family, where you might share more than you do on accounts that are meant to be seen by everyone. My rule of thumb is that I never post anything anywhere on social media that I would object to a stranger seeing.
Once your book is published, it’s okay to promote. However, don’t forget your first reason for being on social media – connection. No one wants to see a constant stream of promotion for any product, even great products. Promote sparingly, and keep being the genuine person you are.
Tamela Hancock Murray is a literary agent with The Steve Laube Agency bringing to her wonderful clients her past experience as an award-winning (RWA Inspirational Reader’s Choice), bestselling author of Christian romance novels and Bible trivia books. Learn more about Tamela on Facebook and Twitter @Tamela_Murray.