Writer's Toolkit

Ellie Pilcher: Establishing your author brand on social media

All writers know how important the writing and editing phase of a novel is. But how do you find your readers? How does an author establish her unique brand? Enter the marketing experts! Read on for top tips from marketing whizz Ellie Pilcher.

Ellie Pilcher:

As a fiction marketer I work with new authors all the time, and the question I’m asked most is how to establish an author brand on social media. My advice to authors is to do what you’re comfortable with and have time to dedicate to.

Having a platform across every social media platform is only great if you have time to dedicate to posting and engaging on all of them, all year round. The mistake most authors make is setting up an author-specific Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and Twitter and then only updating them when their book is about to be released and then going quiet again shortly after.

Establishing a brand takes time and effort and an author’s social channels are entirely the responsibility of the author, not the publisher. A publisher can provide information and creatives to share, but it is the author’s voice that readers should want to hear.

So firstly, even if you don’t yet have a book deal, focus on the platform(s) you actively engage with and enjoy using. I recommend, if you’re unsure, sticking to a maximum of two platforms initially. If you only set up or utilise one or two platforms then you won’t spread yourself thin by posting the same messages across multiple sites, you’ll have more energy to experiment and engage with readers, and you’ll find your following will grow far quicker.

Secondly, post all year round not just when a book is available to pre-order or out now. A bit like writing, instead of telling the reader to buy your book, show the reader why they should buy your book, if or when it becomes available. Make your voice and opinion trustworthy and enjoyable. Give them a behind-the-scenes look at your writing life or your day-to-day, if you’re comfortable. From sharing writing updates on Twitter, to giving book recommendations on TikTok, to creating day-in-the-life reels on Instagram or sharing pet pictures on Facebook. If a reader enjoys your content and trusts that it will be shared regularly, they will follow and engage with your brand, and when it comes time to shout about your book, they will likely be your strongest supporters.

And finally, reach out to readers and fellow writers online on your chosen platforms. Comment on their content, offer recommendations when requested, and celebrate their successes. You’ll meet some lovely people, constantly learn how to develop your own channels through observation and have a lot more fun. After all, social media and developing your author brand should be fun!

Ellie Pilcher is the Head of Fiction Martketing at Bonnie Books UK. She is also a published women’s fiction author, with her debut What Planet Can I Blame This On?  published by Hachette in 2021. She founded #MarketYourMarketing, a series of videos about publishing and marketing books.  

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