Developing a Social Media Plan For Authors and Writers

Guest Post by Sharon Woodhouse

As social media options kaleidoscope beyond most of our comprehension and control, we need a smart, dynamic social media plan that works for us, our lifestyle, our goals, and our schedules. Authors need to get started and savvy before they even have a book contract so that they can have something developed and impressive to show potential publishers. Writers also need to get started and savvy to accelerate the path to reaching their goals. 

Having frequently reviewed and tested my own social media plan as well as having observed dozens of the authors I either publish or advise leads me to suggest the following simple order of operations to get your own plan going: 

  • Realize that you need a plan and clarify for yourself why that is.
  • Decide what it is you want to accomplish as a writer or author.
  • Decide what image you want to project.
  • Decide if there is a mission or if there are values you’d like keep in mind (yours and/or your readers) in your communications.
  • Decide how much time you have for social media on a daily or weekly basis. If you have no idea, here’s one: 1 hour a day.
  • Add social media to your schedule. If you don’t have the time, decide what you’ll have to give up to make room for it.
  • Decide that you will enjoy the process and make the time spent on it worthwhile for you.
  • Make a list of all the social media options you are aware of and poll friends, family members, and colleagues on others they can think of.
  • Spend time exploring the sites and tools on your list and learning the scope of their features and relevance for you and your plan.
  • Rank the options you’re considering in order of importance for your book/writing career and/or your particular goals and participate in as many as your allotted time allows.
  • Begin at the top of the list.

That’s it. When you need help or more top tips, Google it: “Best ways to ‘x’”, “Top ideas for ‘y’”, “How do I ‘z’ on Facebook?” Decide how and how often you will you measure your progress and adjust if you’re not getting the results (fun included) that you intend.

What sort of goals can social media help an author or writer attain? Consider some of these or articulate your own:


  • Getting a book contract.
  • Promoting a book.
  • Selling more books.
  • Finding more readers.
  • Finding more followers.
  • Spreading your message, promoting a cause.
  • Getting freelance jobs.
  • Making a living.
  • Making a side income.
  • Improving your writing.
  • Exploring a hobby in greater depth.
  • Documenting your life or a subject of interest to you.
  • Being part of a community of writers, thinkers, hobbyists.
  • Meeting more people, amplifying your social network.
  • Having fun.
  • Expressing yourself, being creative.
  • Embarking on an inner journey.
  • Overcoming personal obstacles.
  • Experiencing achievement, fame, prestige, personal satisfaction.
  • Learning, practicing, mastering different skills.
  • Extending the reach of one’s knowledge, abilities, clout.
  • Defining yourself professionally.
  • Bolstering your professional image.
  • Gaining exposure for your career.
  • Solidifying your reputation.
  • Becoming influential, being a thought leader in your field, swaying opinion.
  • Establishing/exhibiting authority, expertise, leadership in a field.
  • Enhancing an unrelated, tangential, or parallel career or business.
  • Leveraging your writing for something else.

As you roll out your social media plan, remember two things: 1) The top social media ethic is being part of the conversation first, self-promoting second. 2) However, when it comes to the inevitable self-promotion, social media should be at the top of your list.

If you’re overwhelmed, don’t know where to begin, and just want someone to tell you what to do, here’s my recommended default approach:

  • Complete and polish your LinkedIn profile and create a plan to work that.
  • Compile a mailing list/database of all your contacts, fans, readers, supporters to date.
  • Decide what you’ll use this list for, how often you’ll contact people on it, by what means you’ll contact them, and your plan for always adding new folks to the list.
  • Employ all options on Amazon to promote your book.
  • Post your events on Yelp and Facebook.
  • Get a website/polish your website. A blog site may suffice. Work the blog!
  • Get a Twitter account for professional purposes and create a plan to work that.
  • Get a Facebook author/writer page and create a plan to work that. Get involved in book cataloging sites (LibraryThing, GoodReads, Shelfari) and all social opportunities they offer.
  • When reading about things that interest you and are relevant to your writing/career, comment on articles, share links, and take those opportunities for engagement.

Finally, here are my best tips for leveraging the time you’re time and commitment to social media:

  • Design matters, so get help in this area if you need it.
  • Regularity and frequency matter, so create a schedule you can live with.
  • Numbers matter, so have a plan to continuously increase them. Think ripple effect.
  • Connection matters, so increase your linkability and your network and forge new connections.
  • Influence matters, so connect with influences and be one yourself.
  • Alignment with image matters, so know what image you want to project.
  • Alignment with goals matters, so know your goals.
  • Shareable content matters, so create blog/Twitter/Facebook posts, newsletters/emails, and website articles that are substantive, worth reading, eye-catching, interesting, unusual.
  • Strategy matters, so make and continually tweak a plan to meet your objectives.
  • Authenticity matters, so relax, have fun, and be yourself.
  • Targeting your audience matters, so know what’s important to them.
  • Conversation matters, so employ a variety of good conversation habits.
  • Quality matters, so commit to excellence.
  • Quality, targeted, aligned conversation matters, so pay attention to all of the above!
  • Generosity, giving, and good relationship behavior matters, so share other’s content, participate in their conversations, think of their needs, help them out.
  • Convenience matters, so make it easy for others to spread the word about you: Ask for the help, the referrals, the follow, etc., and include buttons, links, and other easy ways to share.
  • Freshness matters, so stay current and original in thinking, attitude, approach, subject areas.

Publisher and publishing consultant Sharon Woodhouse, owner of Everything Goes Media and Lake Claremont Press, has counseled hundreds of authors, publishers, entrepreneurs, and job-changers in various aspects of publishing, book promotion, and business, emphasizing publishing options, strategic planning for new economic realities, inexpensive and creative marketing, social media, win-win partnerships, and developing an entrepreneurial mindset. Lake Claremont Press has released almost 60 nonfiction titles on Chicago and Chicago history since its founding in 1994. Everything Goes Media will release its first book in 2013. Email her at for a coupon for pay-by-the-minute, ask-a-publisher help.


Posted on September 11, 2012, in Publicity & Writing. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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