One Author’s View on Social Media Etiquette

I’ve been meaning to turn this into an online class for a while now, but writing and some other things keep taking precedence, but I still see the need for this every single day, so decided to blog about it.

My biggest social media presence is on Facebook, so this is where I see most of the etiquette “breaches.”

Social media is about interacting – thus the word “social.” It’s not just about shoving your book or product down everyone’s throat until they unfriend you or block you. If you do that you’re not using social media correctly.

Trust me, readers and others in the industry will remember you and your author brand – either for good or for bad. If you’re one of those over pushy, rude authors, they will remember you, but not in a good way!

I’ve had several readers tell me they enjoyed my books and now that they’ve “gotten to know me” better on Facebook, Twitter or at a convention or book signing that they are my fans for life. But that’s because I use, not abuse social media.

So let’s get to some examples of what NOT to do!!

First is friending – there’s nothing wrong with friending other authors or even readers. In fact, that’s a big part of Facebook. But when they accept your friend request and you immediately post on their wall a hello ALONG with a link to your book or newest blog post or both….that’s annoying and a bit overkill. Many will unfriend you right away – especially other authors, but some will give you another chance….maybe. If they want to find out more about your book they can and will go to your page or website. If you’re using your social media correctly, all of that information can easily be found in your profile. So when they receive your friend request and check out your page to decide to friend you or not, they will have access to all of that information up front. If they want to look, they will. So if you want to post a quick, “Thanks for accepting my friend request, I look forward to getting to know you.” That’s fine, but leave out the links or shameless self promo.

Messaging – I get these all the time and I cringe every time I see one. I get people who message me with excerpts of their newest releases or works In progress or links to their latest blogs. Put these in a status update so if people want to click on them to see more they will. DON’T start messaging everyone on your friend list with this unless they specifically ask you to. And most other authors won’t!!! The same goes for asking people to “Like” your Amazon pages, like your other FB pages (other pen names, author pages etc), click to vote for you or your books in contests etc. Those are for statuses so people who are interested can click to find more information. Don’t clog people’s In Boxes with those. These things are also great additions to your author newsletters. Make sure you’re using the right medium to the right audience for all of your updates.

Comments – DON’T put links to your books, appearances, websites etc in comments sections of other people’s posts unless they specifically ask for it or it’s actually relevant. If I put out a status that asks for anyone with a new fantasy release to let me know where to find it and you have a new fantasy release, then, yes, paste a link for me in the comments section!!! If I post in my status that I’m going to be signing at a certain venue, don’t paste your latest release in the comments section to let people know you’ll be there too! That information is for your own status! If I wanted to use MY status to promote you being there as well I would’ve mentioned you in the first place!! That’s rude and totally self serving, and you’ll be lucky if your comment is only deleted and you’re not unfriended.

Are you getting the idea yet that you should do your promotions on your own page? And don’t just do promotions…also engage with others. Talk about what’s going on in your writing life or maybe even your personal life, if you’re comfortable. Let people get to know you, don’t be the annoying sales person who does nothing but tout your product!!

Other People’s pages – We’ve touched on this, but there’s another social media “sin” that crops up quite often. Authors will go directly to other people’s pages and shamelessly post a link to their latest release, blog post or review. This is a direct attempt to advertise to that author’s fan base regardless if you meant it that way or not. If I want to promo your book, blog etc on my page, then I will. Don’t be rude and post it on my page without permission! I have and will again promote other authors on my page – usually authors I’m a fan of or have become friends with through either personal interaction at local chapter meetings or conferences, or social media interaction, or purely by reading their books.

Twitter – The same rules of politeness apply on Twitter.

Are you getting the idea that you don’t steal someone else’s thunder or limelight but you tout your own ON YOUR OWN PAGE????

Also, the publishing industry is actually quite a small community even though there are so many of us in it. It’s never a good idea to talk badly about someone on FB or Twitter. I try never to say anything bad about other authors, agents, editors, publishers etc on social media. I don’t even share the pictures that slam on hugely popular books or authors without my take that “We probably all wish our books were successful enough to be slammed on like this one….” And you know what? We do! Remember that when you slam on a wildly successful book or movie… I’m grateful for their success because it opens doors for the rest of us, and I hope one day to have that kind of recognition for my craft…and I’m sure all of you do too.

So what SHOULD I do on Social Media? You ask…

You should interact with people. Chat and be yourself, comment (thoughtfully) on other people’s posts or statuses, but don’t forget to be supportive and polite. If you wouldn’t like someone commenting that to you, then don’t comment it to someone else! If you enjoy another author’s work, then by all means, friend them on FB and follow them on Twitter and interact – without being creepy or stalking 🙂

I’m sure there is much more to say on this topic – so one of these days I’ll still probably work up an online class for this, but that’s enough for now. It’s time to get back to my WIP.

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