The writing community today trends towards representation. Every person has a story to tell, and every reader hopes to find characters that look and think and feel like them.
You can ride this wave by showing your readers who you really are. Yes, I mean your actual appearance, but also where you write, and other elements of your writing journey. Readers often care more about their favorite books and scripts when they know who’s behind that content. Writers are looking for a community
Here in this chapter, we’ll learn a bit more about community building and how you can be ahead of the game by being present in your content.
Actually Be in Your Photos
This principle might be scary to some of you, but trust me: there is power in literally showing up in your Instagram feed. After noticing some trends in my own feed, I realized that I was getting way more likes and comments on pictures with my face in them than any other type of picture. The same trend plays out in many feeds with similar interests. I got even more if my husband was in the photo, but I’ve promised him I wouldn’t exploit his face for online praise.
This approach means that instead of just sharing flatlays, word counts, or ads I made with stock photos, I included myself more often in my feed. This gives my future fans the chance to get to know me more personally, and who I am as a writer.
What should you do if you’re not a fan of selfies? First, if your concern is technical, I would review the advice I gave in chapter 3 about lighting and basic photography skills. Any selfie is going to turn out better if you’re in good lighting. Second, make your own deliberate choices on how you want to present yourself on Instagram. For example, I have a friend who purposefully shares selfies of herself from the nose up because she’s usually considerably shorter than the rest of her friends. This became a sort of signature pose; we rarely see the rest of her charming face online. You can take my friend’s lead and share yourself on your own terms or in your own creative way.
Share Part of Yourself in the Captions
As natural storytellers, we can use our hard-earned talents to craft some amazing captions. We can actually tell stories in our captions—not about fictional characters, but about ourselves.
As you’ve read the past chapters, I hope you’ve taken some time to think of what makes you a unique writer or storyteller. We all have something real that gives us a reason to write or be creative. It could be that you’re not white and you’ve always wanted to see a character just like you in a book or on the screen. It could be that you have a disability, chronic pain, a unique hobby, a bigger body, unique family circumstances, or anything in between. Do your future fans know these things about you? How can you tell them about these things in your captions?
Try talking to your followers about the why behind your writing. When in doubt you can easily say “I’ve had XYZ experience. Has anyone else felt the same?” This kind of real talk (sometimes having nothing to do with writing) can help you push past the frustrations that social media connection can bring.
I’ve learned over the years that when I’m frustrated by weak engagement, I could choose to be upset and feel like no one cares about my work, OR I could reach out and relate to my future fans. In my captions, I’ve recounted stories from my author experience. I’ve used that text space to share a part of me that no one else can share. I’ve talked about everything from anxiety to body positivity—things that have an indirect effect on my abilities to write and sell books.
If you’re feeling that disconnect from others and you’re not seeing the success you’re hoping for, it unfortunately takes a bit of long-term effort to earn the trust and friendship of those who follow you. But in the end, I highly recommend using your caption to bridge the gaps.
Be Involved in the Comment Section
This part will likely be short and sweet. However, the effects of this tip can dramatically enhance your Instagram feed and overall experience.
If someone takes the time and energy to comment on your stuff, I want you to comment back! It’s your way of saying thanks for their time. You can make the comment extra meaningful by striking up a legitimate conversation with this person. You could ask them a question, compliment them—basically anything besides “Thanks!”
The Instagram algorithm usually favors posts with legitimate interactions, so you’ll essentially serve the folks in your comments but also make your post more available on additional Instagram feeds. In essence, being in the comment section (and commenting on someone else’s posts) is like watering your garden. It’s a daily gesture that creates long-term friendships and success.
Set Firm Boundaries
Raise your hand if I’ve already suggested to do things that you’ve never wanted to consider. That’s normal and okay! My advice is still very feasible and productive if you set up firm boundaries. Your boundaries will help you navigate when to share deep personal truths and when to protect them.
Here are some examples of my boundaries:
- I’m present in my feeds, but I have “social media curfews” to avoid spending too much time online.
- I ask permission if I want to share a picture that includes other people.
- I talk about my own experiences, but I don’t share personal information that is meant to be between me and my spouse or friends.
- I share relevant parts of a story or experience but not every painful or private detail.
- I do my best to talk positively about my own work, even if my mood’s not positive.
- I don’t interact with bots, spam accounts, trolls, or other disagreeable folks. I block when necessary.
- I generally don’t post anything over the weekend to give myself a break from “work.”
There’s always room for boundaries. Now that everything lives forever on the internet, it’s up to you to determine which photos you’ll share. Remember, as long as something fits your core brand or author identity, you’re more than welcome to share it. However, you’re still the boss of your feed and you can reserve what you feel is necessary.
Basically, I want you to feel empowered to share what is meaningful to you without feeling like you’ve shared everything and nothing is private anymore. This might not be a huge deal when you’re starting out but eventually, people will get real used to asking of your time, opinion, energy, and talents. Set your boundaries now to know your own terms and conditions when it comes to interacting with others. Also, remember that everyone’s boundaries will look different. That’s okay!
Hopefully, this chapter gives you some insight or principles to guide you. Once you discover what makes you a writer, it’s appropriate to include that in your feed. It’s not just about presenting your book and hoping others will read it; it’s about presenting your author journey. The book community is becoming more transparent and real with each and every social media post. We’re ready to meet the real you and support you in your quest to becoming a published author.
- There are many ways to be present in your feed: in the images, the caption, and in the comment section.
- Set firm boundaries to ensure you share what’s necessary to your brand.
- Being present in your feed helps your future fans get to know you better and hype up their interest in your books.
Read the Other Chapters
- Chapter One: Understand Your Target Audience
- Chapter Two: Be Authentic & Unique
- Chapter Three: Shed Some Light on the Subject
There you go! I hope you enjoyed this chapter. Please give me your suggestions for what you’d like to see in future chapters. Or, tell me what I missed in this chapter; did you have more questions? Contact me or comment below. Thanks, friends!