Social Media for Authors: When—and How—to Start Building Your Presence

by Lesley-Anne Longo

Published at 2023-07-18

If you’re an author (new or more experienced!) then you probably know the importance of having an author platform. If you’re a self-publishing author, then a platform will help you get the word out about your book and help to increase your book sales. If you’re hoping to go the traditional publishing route, then having a strong author platform can be very much in your favour when agents and editors are evaluating your query letters and proposals.

However, building an author presence and platform online isn’t easy. Where do you start? What are the best practices? What should you skip, and what should you focus on? 

We have a great free resource guide, Social Media for Writers, that can answer all those questions and more (including ideas for content, one of the trickiest things to come up with when you’re feeling stuck). Check out the excerpt below to get the basics on getting started, and then check out Social Media for Writers to continue on your platform-building journey!


When to Start?

A good time to start building your social media presence and following is a year out from the estimated publishing date of your book. Building this type of community and platform does take time. There’s no real shortcut to developing an engaged following.


How to Build Followers



A great way to start building your online presence is by participating in already established communities for writers and using hashtags to contribute to their conversations. Don’t be shy about joining in. Making small contributions one at a time is all you need to do. If you post useful content, people will follow you because they want to see more of what you’ve got to say.

Try to seek out other writers who write in a similar genre, and follow them—they may follow you back! Retweet their posts and add short comments that are insightful and supportive. You never know, you might even get a response from them one day, which can help increase your exposure even more.



Hashtags are useful for connecting and participating in content discussions on social media. On Twitter, lots of groups do weekly chats, where they use a specific hashtag to track who is participating in the chat and what their responses to questions are.

A great hashtag to use (and to follow) is #amwriting, but there’s also #5amwritersclub, #writingcommunity, and #1linewed.

Other hashtags you can try are genre based, such as #nonfiction, #memoir, or#mystery. Using these may help you find like-minded writers.

Hashtags can also reflect where you are in the writing process. We already covered #amwriting, but there’s also #amrevising and #amediting. Again, these can be a tool to help you seek out other writers like yourself and find out how other writers are managing these different stages of writing.

Lastly, if you’re going to be pitching your book to publishers, a good hashtag to check out is #askagent, which allows you to posit queries and questions that real literary agents can answer for you. This hashtag also helps you see what other authors are struggling with. 

Hashtags are great to use because they offer the opportunity for exposure, to get your thoughts and content out there, and are seen by people who don’t necessarily follow you (yet). You can track certain hashtags that you’re interested in, and see who’s participating in them at any time. Other people follow these same hashtags, and that’s how they see your content too.



You can also gain followers by creating your own content in the form of blog posts.

You might look into doing guest posts on already-established outlets that attract the type of reader you’re looking for. For example, if you’ve written a book on financial management, look at successful blogs or websites that cover that topic and make a pitch! 

Content that is useful and shareable will help you connect with potential readers and the type of followers you’re looking for. This is how many authors get their start—writing great blog content on topics that they’re passionate about.


What NOT to Do

Since social media has the potential to launch a successful career, many people may be tempted to try a few shortcuts, but this is not recommended. These shortcuts can lead to bad practices as well as put your account at risk—Twitter can lock you out of your account, keep you from tweeting, hide your profile, or ban you forever. To avoid these outcomes, here are a few things you should definitely not do:


Getting an account then immediately only doing self-promotion

Although your goal may be to draw greater interest in your own work, social media is most effective when you’re adding value for your audience. You will lose the interest of your followers if they’re only seeing self-promotion.

Alternative: Write a good variety of posts! Write self-promotion, but also engage in things your audience would be interested in reading, including other books, local book events, thoughts on local events. And when you do write self-promotion, make sure to make it interesting. 

For example, if you are writing a financial guide, write a blog post that is connected to your subject matter. People will see you as a trustworthy source, and if you’re offering something useful to your readers, then everyone is getting something out of the self-promotional content. 

If you just post ads telling people to buy your book, people will quickly unsubscribe—you’re not offering them anything that would entice them to stay.


Not participating with other posts and communities

Social media can become a space where you create a lot of content, maybe great content, for your followers to enjoy—but you’re limiting yourself if you’re not being social on social media.

Alternative: Engage with the writing community. Comment on the posts of other authors. Comment on the posts of other people in the writing and author sphere, such as agents or editors. Like or share the content that you’re enjoying.


Buying followers

You can easily purchase followers from a number of semi-reputable (or disreputable) online sources. While these sites may tell you differently, the truth is that Twitter has a list of prohibited practices under its “Platform Manipulation and Spam Policy,” and “inauthentic engagements” fall under those practices. This is probably the easiest way to risk getting your account locked or deleted. 

Artificially inflating your follower count could make your account look more popular than it really is after you buy followers, but many or all of these followers could just be bots (aka automated user accounts with no real person behind them) that won’t be engaging with your account in any way that is meaningful. And when you actually try and sell your book or engage with your following built on these bought fans, your community will be disinterested in your work.

Alternative: Put the time in and build your following! Keep communicating with your followers, and keep engaging with the writing community as often as you can. Soon you will have a growing, authentic following.


Get Started!

Be sure to download Social Media for Writers to continue on your platform-building journey!

And for more social media insights, check out two of our other blogs: “Building Twitter Engagement: Tips and Tricks” and “A Beginner’s Guide to Social Media for Writers and Editors.”