Making Meaningful Connections As An Indie Author

Something a little different today!

As an indie author, my time is often divided between writing, editing and marketing. But there are many, many tasks in between and days can quickly become just me and my laptop for the entire day.

I’ve spent countless hours researching different aspects of indie/self publishing, and I know I will continue researching forever. There is always something new to learn about every aspect of being a writer – whether it’s craft based, marketing related, cover art related and so on.

In fact, there is SO much advice online for indie authors that often the most important pieces of information seem to get drowned out.

So what is important? I’m doing this because I love books. I love a good story. I want to talk to others who love books and have favourite stories and favourite characters and favourite worlds.

But I see so many indie authors struggle with reaching out to readers – to bloggers, to other human beings who love books as much as they do. There seems to be such an air of mystery around how to connect with readers in a meaningful way.

I’m on a little mission to find out how to make these meaningful connections and so I’ve asked Beth from BooksNest a few questions on just that.

Beth | BooksNest

As a Content and Social Media Executive, Beth spends her daily life working on social media, creating content and reading books. In 2019 she won the UKYA Award for Most Inspirational Blog and it only takes a second to scroll through her website and social media to see why!

As Beth has such a wealth of knowledge to share, I’ve asked questions related to making connections and growing social media.

1. Tell me about your audience – who follows your blog?

I think I have quite a variety of people following my blog, I know there’s a mix of bloggers, authors and then just readers. My analytics tell me though that my audience are mainly women aged between 25-35. 

2. How do you connect with your audience?

I try to write personal content that is genuine and has my voice to it. I don’t ever write anything or take on any projects that I think wouldn’t suit my writing and my audience. By putting through my personality I think I manage to engage well with my audience and connect with them. Of course being involved in the book community on social media also helps a lot to connect with my audience and is probably where I see the most benefits. 

3. What social media platform is most successful for you and why?

It depends what you mean by success, for blog views, I get the most from Twitter. But I consider Instagram to be my most successful platform in terms of growth and results. I post regularly to both platforms, but I find it easier to grow my Instagram account and have a more visual presence there. 

4. What’s your top tip for great social media engagement?

Try to set aside 30 minutes each day to just spend commenting and liking other people’s content. Leave genuine interactions for them and you will see the same done for you. 

5. What hashtags would you recommend for reaching out to readers?

For Twitter I’m really not a fan of hashtags, unless it’s a #BloggersWanted type of tag. But to be honest, these tags don’t often attract people that have a genuine passion about your book. The #Bookstagram tag on Instagram is obviously very popular, but that means there are a lot of users posting every minute to it. I think the best way to find readers or bloggers is to search Book Blogger on Twitter and find users that have these key words in their bio. 

6. What advice would you give to an indie author who wants to improve their social media presence but has no idea where to start?

Start small, don’t set too many goals yet. But the main thing is be consistent, it will grow, but you have to give it time. Try to be as genuine as possible, social media isn’t an open door to a cheesy sales pitch. Another big thing is to accept that it might not be great to start with, but with time also comes experience and an understanding of what performs well on social media. I have quite a few tips for content creation on my blog here and here for Instagram specific.

7. What’s something you’d like to try but haven’t, or would like to dedicate more time to (e.g. a particular platform)

To be honest I seem to have at some point dipped my toe into most social media platforms. I’d like to get more into IGTV, but with the amount of time I put into my blog and social channels, it can be a bit much to add more onto it. I love creating videos though, so maybe one day! I’m currently in the middle of dedicating more time to growing my Pinterest which I’m enjoying, that’s still a fairly new one for me. 

8. What advice would you give to indie authors trying to reach out to bloggers?

The thing bloggers appreciate the most is a personal email, something that is genuine and honest and shows they have read our blogs. I appreciate it when they mention another book they can see I loved or have taken the time to look at the genres I enjoy reviewing. 

9. What advice would you give to indies looking for ARC readers?

I suppose similar to the above – but also when you find a blogger looking to work with you, ask them if they can send anyone else your way too. For example, I run a huge UKYA group chat where we have over 80 bloggers, so I have a big space to share details on ARCs if an author needs more readers. You can get far by just asking. 

I would also say from personal preference, that I prefer an email to a social media message if I’m receiving an ARC request. 

10. How long should authors give for ARCs to be read/reviewed?

I personally say I will review a book within a max of 3 months, but usually try and get to it within 1 month. I think this allows for any other books on my list to be read plus any plans that life throws in my way. 

11. Finally, is there anything you’d like to see from indie authors to build on the relationship between authors and bloggers?

The indie authors I remember the most are the ones that get involved in the community and chat as a human, not an author. I’ve seen authors who randomly interrupt Twitter threads to market their book and it seems so false. So for me, it’s all about actually enjoying being part of our community and just getting involved with general conversation, someone who does this really well is Natali Simmonds.

***

Thank you, Beth, for such detailed answers.

The biggest takeaways here for me are: be genuine, be patient, and put the time in to grow those relationships. And I think that’s all any of us would expect for any in-person relationships, so it absolutely makes sense that we should carry that over to online connections, too.

Check out BooksNest and follow Beth on social media:

Twitter

Instagram

Pinterest

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