Social Media Advice for Authors with Limited Time

I’ve been meeting with the same writing group for over a decade. All of us are in varying stages of our novel process, but one of our group members recently landed an agent and her book is now out on submission.

“You are going to start thinking about your social media now, right?” I asked her. “Don’t wait until the book is published!”

Her face lit up with the possibilities and the need to get her promotional house in order. Then the questions flowed. What it boiled down to is something I hear from a lot of authors: she has limited time. But she can carve out chunks of time, often on weekends. So where did I recommend she start?


First of all, by thinking about her audience. What types of people might want to buy her book? What are their interests and desires? Once she has that in mind, she can start moving forward, because everything centers around truly understanding your potential book-buying audience.

As an example, my books are about Italian chefs throughout history. I post about Italy, about food, about travel, and about historical information of the eras that I write in. I also champion other authors in my genre. I have a few other audiences I care about, but when it comes to my books, that’s the heart of it.

Once you know who your audience is, start by setting up a Feedly account and populating it with blog and news sources. Every time you have a spare moment, you can check Feedly to see if there is content you can share that will resonate with your audience.

Next, set up Buffer. Buffer gives you the ability to schedule all that great content you just found in Feedly. Better yet, Buffer integrates with Feedly and you can schedule right from inside the tool. You can schedule content days ahead of time to help fill the gap when you can’t always check your social channels. Buffer has a free option but it’s limited and once you get going I would recommend paying for their next tier up.

You’ll also want to create a Twitter list (or two). That gives you the chance to monitor groups of individuals easily and narrow down how you engage. You might have a list of book bloggers or of influencers in your genre.

Then, engage with your lists and followers (and there are more ways to do that here). Start having conversations. Talk to your audience. One of my Twitter heroes is Celeste Ng, who really gets the art of social conversation. She shares interesting information, she champions other authors and she talks with her fans and followers.

Another thing that my writing partner could do with her time is consider how to optimize her social profiles. What does her social media banner look like? Are her profile photos consistent and compelling? Is her content SEO (search engine optimization) friendly?

And if she has a bit more time and is ready to take the next step I would recommend that she start thinking about how to create better content.  This could include taking advantage of the most popular social medium out there today and developing some videos.

Finally, I am a huge proponent of taking care of your author friends. To really do that with aplomb, my friend could start Bookstagramming.

It’s a crazy publishing world out there and authors can’t just write books anymore; they also have to promote. Does she need to do all of these things? No, but I find that once you set up the systems, it becomes a bit of maintenance and periodic bouts of creativity here and there instead of something onerous every day. The main thing is that she shouldn’t wait till her book is published, and neither should you. Building an audience takes time and patience. Just remember: this is a long haul promotion strategy and a little bit here and there is better than nothing at all.


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About the Author

Crystal King is a 30-year marketing, social media and communications veteran, freelance writer and Pushcart-nominated poet. She is the author of the FEAST OF SORROW, about the ancient Roman gourmand, Apicius, and THE CHEF'S SECRET about the famous Renaissance chef Bartolomeo Scappi. Currently Crystal works as a social media professor for HubSpot, a leading provider of Inbound marketing software. Crystal has taught classes in writing, creativity, and social media at Harvard Extension School, Boston University, Mass College of Art, UMass Boston and GrubStreet writing center. A former co-editor of the online literary arts journal Plum Ruby Review, Crystal received her MA in Critical and Creative Thinking from UMass Boston, where she developed a series of exercises and writing prompts to help fiction writers in media res. Find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or at her website:

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