A lot of new authors ask me if they have to be on social media. The answer is YES. And for most of us, it takes a LONG time to build a following, so the sooner you start, the better.
But which social media platforms are most important for a writer?
For most writers, the answer would be Twitter. The publishing world is very present on Twitter – it’s the social media platform that agents and publishers most often emphasize for new writers.
However, for you picture book authors/illustrators out there, I would (gasp!) disagree with the general Twitter consensus.
For us, Instagram is the way to go.
But why? You ask. Let me count the ways.
First, that’s where your audience is. As a picture book writer/illustrator, your primary audience is parents or teachers of babies and preschoolers, most of whom are people in their late twenties to early forties. According to the article, “Social Media Demographics to Inform a Better Segmentation Strategy,” 59% of 18-29 year olds and 33% of 30-49 year olds use Instagram. In comparison, only 36% of 18-29 year olds and 23% of 30-49 year olds use Twitter. A higher percentage of your audience is checking their Instagram feeds than scrolling through the latest tweets.
Second, picture books are very visual, and Instagram is all about images. Give people images of your book, and they will remember it that much more easily!
Finally, one of the best marketing tools for picture book writers/illustrators is the plethora of Instagram moms who love books. There are loads of Instagram accounts dedicated purely to picture books. Bookstagram is a thing. And this is the kind of community you want to be part of. You need all those picture-book-loving moms (and dads, though they are admittedly fewer and farther between on social media) talking and posting about your book. Find them. Follow them. Make comments on their posts. Then, message them and ask them if they’d like a free copy of your book. If they love it, would they be willing to post about it? Some will say no. But most will say yes! And mailing a free copy of your book from home? That’s about the cheapest marketing out there. And when someone else posts about your book, boom. All of their followers see it, and the word spreads.
So yes, jump on Twitter and Facebook, but consider turning your focus to Instagram. Even if you aren’t published, you can start growing a community of book-loving people. In fact, it’s actually best to get started before you’re published.
Which leads to the inevitable question: What to post? Looks like you better come back for next month’s blog post!