Social Media

Dear fellow writers,

I know, it’s a bottomless pit and pandora’s box at the same time, but I’m curious as to whether you are using social media at all and if which of the networks and in which way.

I had a Facebook Account from 2007 until last year, but I never really enjoyed the platform and I don’t think it helped professionally. I always felt like having eaten junk food after visiting the network. I have the feeling, it’s always the same people posting the same sort of stuff, while really interesting colleagues and friends tend to post very little if at all.

I’m now writing my first Young Adult novel, one of the protagonists uses a platform that works a bit like Instagram, so I’ve set up an Instagram account for research purposes. It’s very much like I expected it to be. I don’t see how a writer could benefit from that platform, except for research purposes, but maybe (probably) I’m mistaken.

I also have a Twitter account which I use for my journalistic work, getting information from political parties, organisations etc. in real time when I need them. But I only log in when there’s a solid reason to do so (doing less and less journo work, it’s been almost a year since my last log in) and I never post anything.

I know that it’s almost expected from writers to do some sort of self promotion on social media nowadays, but writer colleagues who kept promoting their own work on Facebook gave me a feeling of desperation and had a very high cringe factor. I’m not sure if I can hop onto that boat.

Privately, I have no desire to post pictures of my food, home, children, bicycle, coffee cup, tourist destinations anywhere on the Internet.

Do you and if how do you use social media as a writer? Maybe I’m getting it all wrong. I keep looking back to the old times, when it was the writer’s job to write books and the publisher’s job to promote and sell them, but it looks like they’re not coming back anytime soon.

Sorry for the long post, it’s pure procrastination, as I just hit a cul de sac in my manuscript …


I think it comes down to how you envision your relationship with your current and future readers. Few people like social media accounts that exist only to promote the account holder’s commercial interests and which ignore the community around them.

All of the successful writers I know who are actively using social media have figured out a what their “brand” is – the persona they want to represent them and their work.

One writer I follow uses Instagram and Twitter to post pictures of themselves in more “candid” shots, but they’re usually on-point somehow – alligators, themed t-shirts, toys and props, etc. that tie back into stuff they’re published or are working on. Very rarely do they post personal stuff like spouse, kids, etc. But then on Twitter, this same author regularly (but not every day) posts insanely useful threads of writing advice that touch all around the complete writing lifecycle, not just “how to form words”. Good, meaty, helpful stuff that comes from years of experience working through the publishing industry.

Another writer I follow is mainly on Instagram and posts cute outfits that are relevant to her series (as fashion is one of the key elements in those books).

Another writer I follow is mainly on Twitter and occasionally posts book and tour related posts, but usually talks about sports and politics and whiskey (although not in-depth and not often).

There are a bunch of different ways to do it, according to your willingness to commit time and energy. The key is that whatever level of involvement you choose, you be consistent and you be genuine. You don’t have to document your whole life. You don’t have to interact with every follower you get. You are simply peeling back the curtain a little bit – to the degree you are comfortable with – to let people see what you’re about and get comfortable with you as a person, so they want to buy your books when you talk about them.

And if that sounds like too much work, well, then, no harm no foul – that’s a valid choice too!

I have a thoroughly unimpressive social media strategy, but that’s okay because I also have nothing to sell and claustranthropic tendencies.
Two main twitter / Instagram accounts: @pigfender / @pigfenderofficial for pictures from my life, @novelinaday / @novelinaday for writing and NiaD related stuff.

The websites start to mess it up further. talks about writing and (when it works) talks just about NiaD.

Facebook gets worse. covers both writing and NiaD (so is the opposite of the twitter / Instagram branding).

My other personalities have a their own twitter and Instagram profiles. Except Doug. He’s not into social media.

Thanks a lot for your input so far!

@Devinganger: I think you absolutely nailed it with your comments on being consistent and genuine. And you’re right: Basically, it all comes down to how much and what kind of contact a writer wants or needs with her or his readers. This is a tricky question: I like having a publisher as a filter between me and the reader. Mail to me (in paper or e-mail) goes to the publisher, who collects everything and sends a bunch from time to time. I try to answer most letters / mails, but this takes up a lot of time and energy. I still have unanswered letters from readers that are five years old and meanwhile, I’m almost too ashamed to still answer them. But there are less and less actual letters (in paper) that reach me, as everybody is switching to social media. I imagine if I had a social media account, I would feel obliged to answer to my readers’ comments much more directly (and quickly) but maybe I wouldn’t?

The accounts of writers you mentioned sound interesting – could you tell me the names (in a private message, if you prefer?)

@pigfender: Thanks a lot! It’s a nice idea to have separate personalities with separate social media accounts. This has the potential to mess with your mind in an interesting way. What if your separate personalities unfriend each other? Or get into a kind of digital mobbing situation? I think there’s a nucleus for an interesting short story there …

Delilah Dawson, Gail Carriger, and Guy Gavriel Kay, respectively.

We won’t mention John Scalzi because he’s definitely the outlier on the “total social enagement” end of the spectrum, given his Web presence is anchored by one of the longest-running blogs (The Whatever) on the Internet. (Although his social media strategy is definitely worth looking at, as he talks openly about it on his blog.)

There are other authors I follow that seem to have found their own social media grooves – Tobias Buckell, Myke Cole, Kevin Hearne, Chuck Wendig, N. K. Jemisin. There are others who are on social media quite a bit but they way they do it isn’t my cup of tea (but that doesn’t mean they’re wrong, just that you can’t please everyone). Sam Sykes is one of those writers, and he interacts a lot with authors I do follow. Also note that his social media presence is what I don’t like, I haven’t yet read one of his books but from everything I hear I’d probably enjoy them.

So, lots of different examples – some of them have their own websites and use social media for enhancement and interaction with peers, other have different models. One of the experiments that Tobias Buckell (one of my favorite authors) tried was to turn off the comments on his blog so that he didn’t have to moderate them – his fans could interact and comment on Twitter. Seems to have worked well for him.

Thanks again and sorry for getting back so late – I was busy writing a book.

Now that the first draft is finished I’ve decided to bite the bullet and have created an Instagram account. I’ve decided to post images and maybe some quotes that transmit the vibe of the upcoming book, but nothing personal.

My name is tobias_goldfarb. I have 7 followers already, I will certainly reach influencer status very soon and go on a free holiday in Hawaii.

Every social media platform has its own use! I use LinkedIn to connect with other professionals and writers. It has helped me a lot.