At what point should I get social media accounts for being an author?

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starrystorm

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I signed up for a workshop-sh thing with someone I sort of know and it's through Facebook messenger. I do have a Facebook account from when I was twelve and it doesn't have my real name on it. 12 year old me was stupid and just posted how much of a pain my little sisters were and about my cats and whatnot.

That was almost a decade ago and I think I still remember the password. I'm wondering if I should instead make a new Facebook account but an author's one.

I do think it's kind of redundant since I haven't publishing anything (except a small work in my school's annual anthology) and it takes years for a book to be published. Also, my demographic is teens and I don't think teens use Facebook much. On the other hand, I've heard it's great to already have people following you.

I don't have any other social media accounts and honestly know nothing about how to work them.

My question is if I should get an author's account for Facebook just for this workshop?
 

Introversion

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When you want one. When you feel like talking about stuff.

Not because you feel you must have one. Not because it’ll sell books (many authors say it won’t sell enough to be worth doing it — you need to want to do it).

I don’t read many author blogs or Facebook posts. Those I do, I do it because they’re entertaining, not because of their fiction. (There’s a well-known author whose books I don’t even like, but his blog is hilarious so I read it.)

But if you want a social media presence, I would definitely not use your personal accounts — make a new, author account.
 

Chris P

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I don't see the harm in setting up a fresh account for this workshop, especially if there is nothing in the old account relevant to your writing. I use Messenger with my FB account hidden from everyone (not on since 2016 and don't miss it!) so unless having a public-facing account is necessary for the workshop it seems you could use the old one and hide it if you didn't want the stuff findable.

For the broader question of when to set up a social media account, it depends on what you hope to do with it.

Lots of places say you have to build a platform before you submit, but that doesn't make much sense to me. I don't see how someone can build a platform until they have a product to provide. However, there are people who make it work for them, but to me it seems like a whole lot of work that could be spent actually writing the book. I also don't see why people would stay invested in my social media hyping of a book they cannot read. I wouldn't keep checking if I was reading someone else's. Unless I'm providing some other product to keep people coming back (such as the blog or account itself) or am somehow a master of viral marketing, without product I'm not building a platform. I had a blog that had about 6 followers, but once I stopped providing new published stories (that's a different matter) I was getting fewer and fewer views and comments. They lost interest and stopped coming. I had to keep producing product to keep the platform.
 

lizmonster

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However, there are people who make it work for them, but to me it seems like a whole lot of work that could be spent actually writing the book.

To repurpose something quoted to me from an entirely different context: 99% of social media presence is useless. 1% might help at some point. The trouble is, nobody can tell you which 1% that is.

The general rule of thumb is what Intro suggests: do what you like, keep up in a way that makes you comfortable, and don't sweat it too much.

The only thing I'd suggest is getting a web site. It doesn't have to be anything other than your author name and a list of your work - you don't need a blog or a storefront or anything super clever (but feel free if you're inspired). When folks google your name, you want them to hit a site YOU control, that's got all the up-to-date information you want to expose.

Once you've got a web site, you can (if you want) set up social media accounts that point to it. It's pretty easy to set up a Facebook author page, but I'll say I've never found Facebook to be a particularly good marketing tool. I've had more traction on Twitter - nothing that moved the sales needle, but enough to make me feel like I ought to stick around there.

Your best promotional tool is always going to be the next book. Always.
 

kittymowmow

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To make a platform, you can start your social media at any time. Facebook is only good advertisement if that's where your audience is. You noted that it's not. But if you want to do the workshop thing, go ahead and make a new profile. You should have an author page where you will share info when your book comes out. For now, gaining followers is what you want. Post whatever you want, or don't, if you don't have anything yet. Lizmonster is right, everybody in publishing is on Twitter. You can join the writing community and share ideas. But remember, what you want are readers as followers, that way when your book comes out, they are potential buyers. Also make sure you use the same name on all your social media like @starrystormwriter or something like that. Use your real name. Since your audience are teens, you need to go where they are. Places like tiktok and snapchat. Use sites like Headliner to make free ads and post them. if you don't have a book yet, make a mock cover that says, "coming soon." Show yourself, your dog, your writing space, your favorite pen, your coffee and the book you're reading, memes, quotes, jokes, etc... The whole idea of a platform is to have followers who are potential readers that will buy your book when it comes out. But Lizmonster is also right that the next book is your best promo, so schedule your social media time and don't forget to write that next book!
 

ChaseJxyz

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There are two types of "accounts" on Facebook: personal and business. Personal is the profile of Joe Everyman, who can have friends, private message people etc. A "page" is a business, which you can allow other people to manage in the background, but any posts/comments would be under the name of Joe's Book Barn, not Joe Everyman. You need a personal profile to manage a business page, and the name attached to your personal profile needs to be "your true name," which sucks if you're transgender or have a "fake sounding" name like some Native Americans do (think Crazy Horse and the like). Facebook's rules have always been confusing and dumb and it's gotten even worse since the 2016 election as they try to "prevent" political meddling. Meanwhile on Twitter/Instagram (owned by FB)/Tumblr/Snapchat/whatever you can make a Joe's Book Barn account and it's no big deal. You can do whatever you want on your personal profile if the privacy settings are locked up tight enough, but it's what goes on your page that matters to your "brand" and what the world at large sees.

As someone who's managed social media for companies/brands of various sizes (from fresh accounts to 1.2M+) I highly recommend that you grab account names as soon as possible. So facebook.com/starrystorm, @starrystorm on Twitter, starrystorm.tumblr.com etc. The more common your name is, the harder it's going to be to get @JoeSmith, but @JoeWrites or @AuthorJoeS can still be available. Ideally everything will be the same name so it's easy for people to find you on other sites/networks, but it's not the end of the world if they're not exactly the same. You should also buy a domain name for a website of the same or similar name (authorjoes.com). You can do a unique top-level domain to make the full URL a word or phrase, like IWriteDai.ly. You don't have to PUT anything on that website just yet. But by having it, you won't have to worry about needing to get it later (anyone remember the @Qwikster debacle? Lol) Having social media accounts that are older looks more legit than one that was created just yesterday.

Before I legally changed my name, I had one "personal brand" that I had for all of my handles/professional website, so it was easy to connect my website/twitter/linkedin/email etc. But as I "rebranded" myself legally I also started fresh with a new brand, which is ChaseJxyz. Just stick chasej.xyz into your browser! It's unique, I don't expect anyone else to be using that handle on various sites. If/when I need to get to the point to promo myself on social media I'll have what I need and can hit the ground running.

If you need help with social media I'd be glad to help you out. It's confusing sometimes! And can be a huge time (and money!!!) sink, but it can also be very rewarding. You just need to get yourself in front of the right people, which will be different networks for different target audiences. Someone who writes trade books on how to secure start up funding will have different needs and strategies than someone who writes YA romance.
 

Elizabeth George's book Write Away