A few weeks ago, I spoke at the Writing Workshop of Chicago about personal branding secrets for authors. We had a great question-and-answer period at the end, but we ran out of time before we ran out of questions.
So the organizer and fellow humor writer, Brian Klems, forwarded the questions to me and I decided to answer them in a blog post. This way, he can refer all the attendees to this page and there’s a permanent location for the questions. But more importantly, I’ll get a bump in web traffic.
Yes, they are, for a couple of reasons. One, a lot of your readers are on Facebook and it’s easy to point them to that page. Second, it gives you more privacy because you don’t have to be Facebook friends with your readers. You don’t necessarily want them to see your personal stuff, so an author’s page is a great way to do that.
However, keep in mind that Facebook limits the reach of its pages in the hopes that you’ll pay to boost your different posts. Depending on what you write, you might be better off creating a group about your books or topic. Groups updates are not throttled the way a page’s updates are, plus you can encourage more discussion among your readers.
But don’t let the Facebook page/group be your main hub of activity. Try to have a writer’s blog/website as your central hub and treat Facebook and other networks as the spokes.
Maria asked, “I’d always heard you should not post the same things on your various social media channels, so you give people an incentive to follow you in different areas. Your thoughts?”
That’s mostly true. One thing to keep in mind is that people will not see all your social messages. That is, my readers don’t see what I post on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram at the same time. People have their preferred social networks and probably won’t go to the others just to find you.
Having said that, you can take advantage of each network’s format to post your best message. You get 280 characters on Twitter, but you get 2,200 on Instagram. You may want to cram several #hashtags into a tweet, but stick them in the first comment on Instagram.
If you want to do simple things like sharing Instagram photos to Twitter and Facebook, you can automate that with Zapier or If This Then That. You can set it up so when you post a photo to Instagram, it will automatically be shared to Twitter and Facebook. That’s a real time saver. But if you want to have separate and distinct messages, you can either do it one at a time, or you can use a service like Loomly to post from a single dashboard. You can also use HootSuite, but it costs nearly $50 per month, compared to Loomly’s $26 per month. Which makes me think doing it one network at a time is ideal for most writers.
David wanted to know, “How important in LinkedIn for authors?”
That depends. It’s critical for business/non-fiction authors, not so much for fiction writers. You can find readers on LinkedIn, even if you’re a scifi/romance/mystery writer, but it’s going to be difficult to find them since most people go there looking for work-related content.
If you only have a limited amount of time and energy to focus on one or two social networks, stick with the ones that are going to do you the most good. LinkedIn won’t be that unless you’re writing business-related books.
Howard wondered, “What do you think about #BookTok on TikTok?”
Honestly, I haven’t watched it enough to have a strong opinion about it, but I will say that anyone who’s talking about books is doing important work, and they’re finding thousands of fans.
There are several channels/creators who have gotten very popular on TikTok talking about writing and books. So if you want to join their ranks, go for it. TikTok has become an important platform for a lot of people, mostly Gen Z, so you should take advantage of that.
Clare asked, “How does your intended audience shape how you brand yourself? For example, I write middle grade fantasy.”
That’s a great question, Clare, and almost worth its own blog article, if not an entire book!
Remember, a brand is an emotional response people have to our face and our name. (Or if you’re a company, the emotional response to your name and logo.) When you think about brands like McDonald’s, Nike, BP, or the Chicago Cubs, people have an emotional response to them. They love them or hate them.
So the emotional responses our readers have become our brand. We can shape and hone that brand ourselves, but ultimately, we’re not responsible for how people perceive us. We can do all sorts of great work and people’s emotional response can be “Yay!” “Ugh!” or “Meh.”
Having said all that, you should treat your personal brand almost like a persona or a character you play. That’s not to say you should lie about who you are. Rather, your personal branding efforts should match what your readers and fans expect of you.
If you’re a middle-grade fantasy writer, the kinds of things you share on social media should be about middle-grade fantasy subjects: swords, dragons, wizards, etc. It’s not really the place to write at length about the supply chain crisis or your thoughts on the January 6 hearings. You can do that elsewhere, but not on your author profiles because it doesn’t match what your readers want.
On the other hand, if you’re a political/current events writer, you don’t necessarily want to share your cosplay photos from Dragon Con.
So, in that sense, your audience shapes your personal branding efforts because you should give them what they want.
Cindi wanted to know, “Do you use some of the new social media platforms, Locals, Rumble, Spotify, and Truth Social?”
Not really. For one thing, there are thousands of social networks these days, compared to the few dozen there were when I first started doing all this in 2007. So I can’t even keep up if I wanted to.
Having said that, I’m not against using a new social network, and I’ve joined a few but I never stick with them. However, I’m always on the lookout for new alternatives to the ones I use now. Is there a new Twitter alternative? Where should I go if Facebook collapses? Is there something better than LinkedIn?
Ultimately, if I can find a network that looks like it won’t fail, doesn’t depend on rocket-like growth just to survive, and lets me quickly and easily post updates (this is one reason I haven’t gotten into TikTok yet), I’ll use it.
And finally, Mandy put a smile on my face when she said, “@erik awesome stuff (no question) :-)”
Thank you, Mandy! I appreciate it. I always have a great time speaking to the Writing Workshop classes.
If you have any other personal branding questions, just drop them in the comments and I’ll be happy to answer them. Thank you to everyone who came to the event, and I look forward to seeing you soon.
Taken from “10 Personal Branding Secrets for Authors” by Erik Deckers”