Social Media 101 for Authors Who’d Rather Be Writing

Like many writers I go up and down the social media spectrum. I am not, like some of my fellow Girlfriends Book Club authors, a social media whiz. I don’t love whipping the world into a frenzy over my latest release. I do all the usual blog tours and hoopla because that’s how books live and die but I’m that girl going out on a date with social Social-Media-Quotemedia not because it’s charming or good looking but because it’s rich. Yes I am a gold digger but I have something to offer. Me. My writing. My wit and brand.

Socializing the media (or at office parties) does not come naturally to me. I’ve had to work long and hard to suss all this out. I’ve queried many authors far more experienced than I and read many articles and blogs. Not because I’m terribly interested. But it’s part of the job. I am that pathetic author who longs not, perhaps, for the days of Jane Austen because I do like modern indoor plumbing, microwaved coffee and importing tea from England by Amazon but perhaps the days when authors could concentrate on writing.

Except those days never existed. Mark Twain got run out of town for his liberal ways, his tendency to embellish and his considerable debt. Charles Dickens spent a lot of time chasing down publishers trying to get paid and also, asking them what exactly would pay well. (Spoiler alert: he figured it out.) I have 3 different checks from publishers plopped into my bank account each month. True, they’re not the kind of checks that allow me to laugh in the face of Mercedes dealers as I bring my slobbery old dog into the show room to see if the leather seats match his fur but neither am I hanging out in bankrupty court.

On my best days I do a fun post on Instagram featuring either a book I loved in a somewhat creative manner (meaning my teens won’t ridicule me. Oh wait, they’ll do it no matter what) or an inspirational or funny quote about life or writing. I didn’t stumble upon this formula — I learned what worked. I made mistakes.  I then post these to Twitter unless I have a book or sale to promote by myself or for one of my many author friends. I love sharing fun new books, first and foremost. Other people’s books mostly. I’m not that prolific.

My author facebook page is already, from a marketing perspective, my real estate, which is a horrible way of commercializing the people who support, love and cheer me on. Who enjoy what I do and make my career worthwhile. Whose likes, feedback, comments and reviews get me through some pretty nasty writing days when I want to lie in the bathtub eating chocolate because I’m a worthless writer. Yes, my husband loves coming home on those days. So glamourous, living with an author.


Newsletter prize: summer reading kits. Super popular.

Newsletter prize: summer reading kits. Super popular.

That leaves us with the holy grail of writing social media. Wait for it — it’s a boring sounding thing — the newsletter. This is my chance to shine. I can only manage it quarterly but if I ever have so dang much happening that it needs to be bi-monthly, that will happen. I try to make it as super fun, informative and in one page a tiny snapshot of my brand — funny, twisty comedic writing that is smart. I have a seasonal recipe, a giveaway that is awesome (during the holidays I give a reader a knit hat. I’m a better writer than knitter but I give myself an A for effort.) I do a tiny little update on where I am in my creative life and what is new. Right now it’s an audiobook and I have some free copies also I am going to add the first 3 chapters of my work in progress Chasing Nirvana.

I write from 10-2 every day. I’d like to say that I don’t let anything interfere but lately life has bumped it’s head into that sacred time. I’m trying to go with the flow and not beat myself up over it. After that I try to whip out all social media in half an hour. Sometimes it’s zero. Sometimes I hang out on my author page when I should be writing. All this lazy stuff happens during re-writing. When I am writing a first draft I am on fire.

I hope this helps any writers or wanna be writers. Keep reading. Keep writing. (Grocery lists don’t count.) Keep in touch. (Yes, I think I am Garrison Keiller.)

small_author_photoEllyn Oaksmith is the bestselling author of 50 Acts of Kindness and other books. She’s an eternal optimist, dog lover and always plotting something.  Visit her at and join her newsletter for free books, new releases and great reading suggestions.

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  • Laura Spinella

    Great post, Ellyn! It sounds like you’ve got a handle on the beast that is an author’s social media platform. Write on!!

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