Monday, January 11, 2021

Dena's thoughts, opinions, and experiences with social media

At the end of 2020, we asked what YOU, our blog readers, wanted us to cover in 2021.  Several of you provided suggestions and, for certain of those topics, we thought it would be fun for the OA team members to provide our own thoughts, opinions, and experiences.  This week, we're tackling SOCIAL MEDIA.  The specific sub-topics you suggested are:

1. connecting with readers and librarians
2. choosing which to use - Twitter, Instagram, others
3. use social media effectively w/o spending hours

Here's my thoughts, opinions, and experiences.

I've read that agents recommend authors participate on those social media platforms where their readers are most likely to be. Interact with your followers and have fun!  Do NOT simply market/advertise/sell your book with every post/tweet.  It's no fun to follow an account if all it does is try to take your money.

I write MG, and if you read the terms of service for most social media platforms, they require users to be at least 13 years old.  If a user is less than 13yo, the account must be private, or monitored by a parent, or the user simply cannot participate.

My research indicates that most 13yo [the upper limit for most MG readers, but we'll use that one for now] are on Instagram and SnapChat, both of which are primarily for photos and images but do allow text also.  I don't take a lot of photos, so those sites don't appeal much to me, although posting photos/images of how I envision the settings and characters of my current WiP sounds like it might be fun.  Something for me to consider a little further in the process.

Agents also recommend finding the social media platform that you enjoy, because unless you really enjoy it, it's a major time suck without benefit.  I like Twitter right now, so that's where I'm currently active.  @denapawling  Come visit me and I'll follow you back!

I'm on Twitter for several reasons, one of which is to follow industry accounts [publishers, editors, agents, etc] so I can be knowledgeable on what's currently happening in publishing.

I haven't even considered how to connect with librarians, so I'll be learning about that here on OA right along with all of you.

Finally, you asked how to use social media effectively without the associated time suck.  Well, honestly, I DON'T KNOW.  Yes, it can be a major time suck.  But here's what I'm doing.  Hopefully something here will be helpful to you, no matter which platform/s you use.

Rule #1:  Stay out of politics.

I have a blog and I post every Monday. More than once per week was a major time suck without associated benefit, so this is a good compromise position for me.

I don't use social media except for Twitter, and on "high news days" [which seems like every day right now], it can be hard to get off.  One benefit I have, is that my day job consumes all my time, which means I have no opportunity to check Twitter M-F 8-5.  I've allocated 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening for Twitter, which I realize takes that time away from writing.  For 2021, I have a goal of reducing Twitter to 20 minutes 2x per day.

I will follow back most folks who follow me, but my daily feed is limited to a specific list which includes only certain accounts.  The mute feature also works well for me.  So even though I'm technically following quite a few accounts, my daily feed has fewer than 100.  This way I have time to interact with people and read articles of interest.  Once each month I "clean up" by considering the accounts in my daily feed and determining if I'm receiving (1) too many posts/tweets from that account, and (2) benefiting [or having fun] from them.  If there are too many posts/tweets, or if I'm not really benefiting or having fun, I remove that account from my daily list.  I'm still following the account but I no longer see it every day.

Hopefully something here was useful for you.  Here are a few links of other ideas to consider:

Book Bub
How successful authors use social media

Book Bub
Social media tips from literary agents

Self-Publishing School
Social media for authors

Do you use social media?  Which one/s do you find most fun/interesting/useful?  Why?  Let us know in the comments!


  1. I don't post about politics or interact with those who do on Twitter. The news is depressing enough right now.

  2. Thanks for the tips. I think I need to use my lists like you to limit who I interact with on Twitter just to keep it manageable.


Add your awesome here: