Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Amy Atwell: An Introvert's Guide to Social Media

by Amy Atwell

Big thanks to Becky for inviting me to join you all today. I don’t think of myself as shy, although I tend to be very quiet in situations where I’m a newbie. I’m so fearful of offending or doing/saying something “wrong” or “dumb.” 

I’ve recently been researching the social networks for my new website Author E.M.S. (Entrepreneur. Management. Solutions.). I’m building an online library of business resources for authors so they can find answers to their questions and get back to writing. As I thought about blogging here, I recalled how awkward I felt (still feel, to be honest) on some of the social networks out there. So, here it is—
An Introvert’s Guide to Social Media

The cool thing about online social media is that it allows you to connect with other people without that live interaction some of us find overwhelming. No speeches, no cocktail parties, no worrying what to wear or whether you’ve got spinach in your teeth. And in today’s world, if you’ve published a digital version of your book, social media provides a relatively low-stress, free way to promote your book.
But where do you start? And if you’re not naturally outgoing, how do you go about broadening your connections so you really take advantage of a social network’s reach?

1. Identify which social networks will work best with your personality. There are many social networks, and each has a slightly different approach and feel. You’ve probably heard of most of them: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Goodreads, Shelfari, KindleBoards, eHarlequin. 

 2. Focus on one social network at a time as you get started. By focusing your time and attention, you’ll learn to develop efficiencies faster. You’ll also avoid that overwhelmed feeling when your email receives two dozen notifications and you can’t even figure where exactly the messages are coming from! (Been there, done that.)

3. Create a short profile bio for yourself. So many introverts hate to talk about themselves, but on a social network, people want a feel for who you are. Choose details you’re willing to share across the world wide web (hint, I avoid sharing my exact birthday, my current city, I don’t mention family members by name). Have a little fun with it. You should also get a photo, what we call a headshot is best. But you can also use your current book cover or find a public domain photo of an animal or bird or sunset or some strong visual image. Work from this same bio for each of the social networks you join. You want people to recognize you from network to network.

4. Seek out friends by being social and supportive. This is key. Don’t join a social network and start blasting promotional messages to visit your blog or buy your book. You want people to pass along your social messages, so pass along theirs. Congratulate others when you see their good news. Visit other people’s profiles to view and comment on photos, leave birthday wishes. Repeat things you find clever or funny—and always thank whoever provided it. These people will want to be your friend. Plus people who receive it from you may pass it along, and those people will want to be your friend. Hey, you’re the life of the party now!

5. Be consistent. This is another reason to start with one social network. You want to check in every day if possible. Once you get efficient and consistent with one social network, you’ll be ready to add a second one.

6. Be positive. We’ve all seen people rant on social media, but remember that thousands of people might see anything you post. It might get shared well beyond wherever you post. As a published author, everything you say becomes part of your brand. Be cool, be generous, be upbeat.

7. Join groups. Most social networks have some way of creating groups. Even Twitter allows people to group by creating a hashtag for their Twitter stream of conversation. (Check out things link #RWA2012 or #NINC or #fridayreads.) Find people in these groups that you want to connect with.

8. Introduce your promotional messages and good news with joy. People love to share in good news. Just released a book? Share how excited YOU are. The focus here is on you, the person, while the book is secondary. See? Social. Amazed by your new book cover? Share the picture. Got a terrific review? Link to it.

9. Not sure what to say? Ask questions. Others on a social network will be happy to answer your questions. In fact, you may be surprised at how many people rally around you if you ask for help or admit your newbie-ness. People join social networks because they want to make connections, and most people will remember how awkward they felt when they first joined. (Confession time here: Twitter scared the living daylights out of me when I first joined!)

10. If you try social media and you don’t like it, then stop doing it. It won’t be a career killer if you don’t Tweet five times a day or have 2,000 Likes on Facebook. Put the energy and angst you save into your next book. Find more traditional ways to promote your book that don’t require the personal connectivity and time, like buying ads or requesting book reviews. But forcing yourself to be on social media if you don’t enjoy it isn’t necessary. 

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I hope that helps take some of the mystery out of social networking and gives you some concrete ideas on how you can broaden your circle of contacts and spread the word about your books. If you’re looking for a source of regular information on topics like social media, business, promotion, website and blogging and more, check out the

Author E.M.S. site or watch our Intro Video. We have a Daily Tips blog and lots of public (free) resources. We also offer our full library of resources and a searchable database of book reviewers to our paid members.

Feel free to ask any other questions you might have. My question for you would be: Which social network is your favorite or the one that you feel you’ve conquered?

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Amy Atwell worked in professional theater for 15 years before turning from the stage to the page to write fiction. She now gives her imagination free rein in both contemporary and historical stories that combine adventure and romance.
When not writing, Amy runs the

WritingGIAM online community for goal-oriented writers and has recently launched the Author E.M.S. online resource library. An Ohio native, Amy has lived all across the country and now resides on a barrier island in Florida with her husband and two Russian Blues. Visit her online at her website, Magical Musings, Facebook, Twitter and/or GoodReads.
If you want more of Amy, visit her here today.


  1. Wonderful post, Amy. I saved it. Wish I'd started out with just one social media at first.

    Question: How is Goodreads different IYO from other social media?

    1. Nice to see you, Livia! Goodreads is different in that it is a community of READERS. Facebook has 800 million users, but how many of them are book buyers? On Goodreads, you can bet that practically everyone there buys and reads books--lots of them. While authors can create author profiles, you want to take care when joining group discussions. If readers feel you are marketing to them or trying to manipulate them, they may resent you. Also, be aware that the reviews on Goodreads can be more critical than the reader reviews of the average book buyers on Amazon and B&N. Your best bet when in Goodreads is to think and act as a reader unless you're in an author forum or purposefully promoting a giveaway.

  2. Thanks so much for this helpful post, Amy! I'm a bona fide introvert, and Twitter scares the living daylights out of me, too. I haven't ventured there yet, and I might never. But I have mastered Facebook and Goodreads, and your advice is spot-on.

    1. Alison, so glad you concur! I still don't feel I've mastered Goodreads as an author, although I'm pretty comfortable there as a reader. And Twitter only became manageable to me after I started using TweetDeck. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Hey Amy,
    Thanks so much for coming on today. Great article. I need to learn more about Goodreads. Do you have more detailed info over at E.M.S. about this?

    1. It's wonderful being here, Rebecca! Goodreads is one of those areas where I need to dig and do a lot more research. It's mentioned in a few places on the Author EMS site, but we haven't built out that section yet. I'm trying to bring Twitter online, and then I need to catch up with Facebook (I had that material half-written when Facebook announced this major change to Timeline). I would LOVE to talk to any authors out there who feel they know enough about Goodreads to write a series of lectures on it. Our library is filled with "lectures" that become a mini-class. We have a class on WordPress, Blogger, Creating a Business Plan, Formatting Your eBook and Twitter, Facebook and Copyright/Piracy are next on my list. Any Goodreads experts out there??

  4. Amy, great advice. I'm most comfortable on Facebook. It's because if I spot a topic I want to comment on I just do it. I'm not really comfortable on Twitter, but I try to go there a couple of times a week. Goodreads, I'm just a reader there. I have some of my books up there, but not all of them. I haven't seen a single review of any of my books there.

    1. Kudos to you, Sandy, for adding Twitter to your social networking. Facebook is great--especially when you join groups. But for people who are just joining it now, the whole Page vs Profile thing has grown more and more confusing. One way to get you books noticed at Goodreads is to add them to lists. People make all sorts of lists. Find a list of books in your genre and add your book to it. You never know who will discover it, read it and love it!

  5. I'm not a shy person, more a member of the "media resistance" in a world of crowded voices. Thanks for the recap. When I do take that step (translation: When I have a reason too; aka get pubbed), your guide will be helpful with first steps.

  6. Thanks for the invaluable information, Amy. Your site is a treasure trove for authors!