Social Media for Authors: What Works? What Doesn’t? by Suzanne Kuhn


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Suzanne Kuhn has more than 20 years of book retailing and event sales experience, including traveling as part of Karen Kingsbury’s team. In 2010 Suzanne launched SuzyQ, a full-service author promotion and retail development firm that works with authors, publishers and retailers, helping to coordinate events, train staff and authors in reader engagement, and develop promotions for increased sales and reader/customer loyalty. Suzanne’s experience and knowledge in the book retailing venue gives her an edge when consulting with retailers for niche and business plan development, facilitating book tours, and ensuring more successful and profitable events. Suzanne truly believes in the power of Christian literature to impact and change lives.


Social Media- What works. What doesn’t.

by Suzanne Kuhn of SuzyQ


I think everyone agrees that social media is a necessary tool for authors, and in fact most publishers require a strong social media presence. Though some may argue that it is a necessary evil, it doesn’t have to be. When approaching social media, there are a few things the savvy author needs to keep in mind.

A hard sell approach equals no sale. Many authors approach social media by saying “Buy my book!”, “You need to buy my book!”, “Go buy my book!” Often these same authors say social media does not work. They are right, that approach to social media doesn’t work. With  social media most followers or friends react to this type of hard sell by unfollowing, unfriending or ignoring the post.  Authors who find success with their social media are usually the ones who avoid self promotion and forced agendas. They encourage dialogue verses monologue. Let me be clear, there’s nothing wrong with talking about your book when it’s a natural result of dialog, and I encourage you to take full advantage of those opportunities.

I don’t often do this, but for this blog I’d like to give some real life examples of social media done poorly, and social media done well (the names have been changed to protect the innocent). Our main characters are Youra Reader, Ima Good at Social Media and Notso Great at Social Media.

Below is an example of a missed opportunity contrasted with natural dialogue that allows for self promotion on Twitter.

 Missed Opportunity:

Youra Reader My son loves your books!

Notso Great at Social Media Thanks so much.  


Natural Dialogue with Self Promotion:

Youra Reader My son loves your books!

Ima Good at Social Media Thanks so much, what was his favorite book?  

Youra Reader Your third book, The Best Ever Book was his favorite book!

Ima Good at Social Media That was a fun book to write. My newest book, The Bestest Ever Book is going to be even better.

Youra Reader When will it be released?

Ima Good at Social Media It comes out next month, get the details at my website or your local bookstore.

Youra Reader I can’t wait to get it for him.

Ima Good at Social Media Let me know how he likes it.

The second example represents a conversation that encourages dialogue and allows the author the opportunity to fully self-promote without forcing an agenda.

Once aware of the pitfalls of the hard sell approach, we can focus on what to do right when communicating through social media. Just like in elementary school, social media has foundational concepts on which all other interaction is based.  I call these the three “R”s of social media.

*Be relational. Reach out to your audience as people, not as prospects.

*Be relevant. Offer helpful, challenging and informative content.

*Be relatable. Share your journey, struggles and victories, be transparent while maintaining a positive, appropriate, public presence.

The following examples are two very different Facebook approaches to a bad day. Although both examples may contain the “R’s” as outlined above, one is clearly the more professional and engaging.

Notso Great at Social Media I am so angry with my spouse and my child. I can’t believe that a responsible adult and an honor student could be so stupid. I can’t wait for this nightmare of a day to be over!  

Ima Good at Social Media Have you ever wished you could press a rewind button for your day? I am so grateful God gives us a new start everyday.  I am looking forward to a new tomorrow.

There’s nothing wrong with sharing bad experiences and showing your audience your humanity. But the purpose of social media is to build your platform, not to air your laundry. The first example feels like a core dump. The second contains all three “R’s”, but encourages engagement because of its transparency.

I’d like to leave you with one final thought. Just like authors warn the rest of us that everything we say or do may end up in their book, when using social media your posts, good and bad, may become examples in one of my workshops.

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SuzyQ offers webinars on multiple topics, including social media.  For more information or to sign up, email

Do you have any examples you’d like Suzy to include in her workshops?

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  1. Great post. Thank you for this!

  2. I really enjoying helping authors reach their target audience. This is just another way I can do just that. Thanks for the opportunity to share my thoughts with your audience.

  3. As an author whose first book was published this spring, I wish I had read this article before I started floundering around social media trying to figure out how to promote my book without being pushy and self serving. I think many authors feel a bit adrift when it comes to marketing their books, Many writers I know tend to be introverts, and putting themselves out there can be painful. I try to keep an active presence on FB, not as much on Twitter as i am still learning the ins and outs of tweets. I do try to alert folks when my publisher runs a promo on the Kindle version, etc. I was very blessed in that I had a number of followers who already loved the Ozette stories I was writing online, but marketing still seems very hit or miss to me and to a lot of the authors I know. I would love to see more on marketing on Random Writing Rants. Excellent article, and I hope we will hear more from Suzanne.

    • Judy, Social media can be tricky to navigate, for sure. I’m glad you found this post helpful. Thanks for your kind words. Suzanne


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