Three challenges authors face in social media

This short article first appeared in the New South Wales Writers' Centre newsletter.

At last year's Sydney Writers' Festival, the effervescent Anna Maguire hosted a panel session called 'The Author As Everything' (at the Forest for the Trees seminar). Not only do we expect authors to pen their own books, in the day and age of self-publishing you can also be expected to source editors, direct your own cover artwork, get media publicity, arrange a speaking circuit and reviews, and manage your distribution channels. And throughout the publishing process, it pays to think about building your author platform, including engaging in social media channels, as well. 

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No wonder it can become overwhelming! Here are three challenges that authors - whether with a publisher or self-published - can face in social media, and how to overcome them.

1. Author branding

So many authors are not in touch with their own brand, often because they are too close to it. No need to be tricky! Your author name is your brand. Try to keep it close to your writing name so that you can easily be found online. Also, your author brand should be consistent across all channels. Claim it across the board (Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads etc) and build from there.

2. Find your voice

Good news: you know how to write an interesting yarn. That's a head start, because the key to social media is interesting conversation and storytelling. In addition your voice is what brings your brand to life. By using conversational language, you also keep it real. Maybe a vision board can help you find your voice - a cork board (or pinterest board) with a collation of the images, colours, places and moods that are uniquely you.

3. Social skills

You're at a cocktail party. It's humming. You're chatting away about your latest book, but somehow forget to ask how the other person is going. They lose interest, gaze wistfully towards the kitchen, before necking their martini. Is it something you said? Just with our interactions in 'real life', if you domineer the conversation in social media, people start to switch off. You want to increase your readership and build an author platform online, sure, but try and show interest in others, collaborate, support each other, and be useful to your readership.

For more social media tips and tricks, join 'author's secret weapon' Sarah Allen at her seminar Social Media for Beginners, on Tuesday 24 June, 6:30pm-9:30pm.