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This is Novel Marketing, the longest-running book marketing podcast in the world. This is the show for writers who want to build their platform, sell more books, and change the world with writing worth talking about.

I’m your host, Thomas Umstattd Jr., and today we are going to talk about social media. We often say if you are going to do social media (which is totally optional for a successful career by the way), pick one or perhaps two social networks maximum.

I’ve realized that the advice has never gone beyond that. We haven’t offered any specific advice on the differences between the various networks.

In this episode, I am going to talk about the social networks from a cultural perspective. From a feature perspective, they are mostly the same. You can send private messages to just one person, post photos, post videos, post text, etc. What really makes these networks different is who uses the networks and what kind of authors thrive in that environment.

What it Means to Thrive

Saying a certain kind of author thrives in a certain social network is like saying palm trees thrive on tropical islands. It is possible to get palm trees to grow all over the world, but the farther you get from that tropical environment, the more time and money it takes to get the tree to grow. The same goes for authors: the better you fit the social network, the easier it will be to thrive.

So with that said, I am about to hit you with some overgeneralizations. Are there exceptions? Yes! But that’s not the point.

The goal of this episode is to help you understand the difference between the various social networks.

Authors Who Thrive on Instagram are Beautiful Photographers

Instagram is a selfie-driven medium. The better you look in the selfie, the easier it will be to get followers. There is a reason fashion models and celebrities do so well on Instagram. Instagram is a real-time celebration of the current cultural definition of beauty and excellent photography.

Instagram started off as a place to use filters to make mediocre photos look better. Each year, people use fewer filters and rely more on excellent photographic technique. My beautiful wife has taken a photography class and is amazing at Instagram.

Authors Who Thrive on Twitter are Pithy Snarks

Each year Twitter gets snarkier. It is a social network that thrives on outrage. The Twitter mob demands a weekly celebrity sacrifice. Having clear enemies helps draw followers. Success at Twitter requires knowing how to keep the conversation on Twitter, which requires a level of brevity unique to Twitter. Being pithy and snarky can operate independently. There are authors who are able to thrive just by being pithy and others who can post successful rambling snark fests.

Authors Who Thrive on Facebook are Rich Advertisers

Facebook no longer allows you to reliably communicate with your fans without paying for it. If you pay, you can talk to other people’s fans too. If you spend effort building a following on Facebook, you are building a platform for other authors to advertise to. As an advertiser, you can target the fans of similar authors.

How to Create Powerful Ads for Authors Who Hate Math! with Chris Fox

Facebook Groups still work for organizing launch teams and they can still work for communities (like the group for listeners of this podcast!).

Authors Who Thrive on Quora are Helpful Intellectuals is all about asking smart questions that smart people want to answer. It is one of the friendliest and most helpful social networks on this list.

If you write fiction, it is mostly a source of research rather than marketing.

Quora has the lowest concentration of celebrities of any of the social networks on this list.

Authors Who Thrive on GoodReads are Amazing Writers

GoodReads readers are more honest in their reviews than Amazon reviewers. The key is good book-reader fit. The cover and description of your book need to make a promise that the book delivers on. Bad reviews can come from attracting the wrong kind of readers. The only people who need to think your book is good are the people who read it.  Bad readers also come from writing a bad book. This is why the 5 Year Plan focuses so much on craft in the early years.

Authors Who Thrive on Pinterest are Graphic Designers

While Instagram is a celebration of the selfie, Pinterest is a celebration of the photograph.

Key skills to Pinterest are the ability to:

  • create a compelling image
  • put text on that image in a tasteful way that resonates with your readers
  • curate and repurpose others’ content in a compelling way

Pinterest prefers politically neutral or progressive voices. A whistleblower at Pinterest recently revealed that they suppress a lot of content for political and religious reasons.

One of my listeners on my other podcast rolled her eyes when I talked about this there, only to have her account suspended the next week.

Authors Who Thrive on Reddit are Passionate Nerds

When I use the word passionate, I am using it in its old meaning: suffering. Redditers are so enthusiastic about their passion they suffer for it. This means they are emotionally polarized: they either love you or hate you.

The kind of authors who thrive on Reddit share that same level of suffering passion for their area of focus. If you are the nerd in a room full of nerds, you will thrive on Reddit.

Authors Who Thrive on LinkedIn are Expensive Consultants

LinkedIn is where people go when they want to talk business with business people. Consultants thrive in this environment. It is not hard for a $200/hr consultant to sell a $20 book on her area of expertise. The kind of authors who thrive on LinkedIn don’t tend to identify as authors. They are consultants who write rather than writers who consult.

Authors Who Thrive on Medium are Insightful Bloggers

You can write blog posts directly on Medium, or re-post them from your WordPress blog. Medium does this in a way that preserves the SEO of the original post. So you don’t get dinged for duplicate content. Medium readers expect full coverage of a topic. This is not where you post your 400-word pithy post.

Authors Who Thrive on YouTube are Beautiful Videographers

Most successful YouTubers are good both in front of and behind the camera. PewDiePie, the #1 individual YouTuber, does his own filming and some of his own editing. He is also the sole talent in front of the camera in most of his videos. Authors who thrive on YouTube have a good idea of videos that will resonate with their target audience and a way to communicate it visually. They also look good on camera.

Final Thoughts on Social Media

For most authors, social media is where they go to interact with the readers they already gained from elsewhere. It is not a great place to meet strangers. Social media is 100% optional. I was chatting with an author the other day who just passed $100,000 in sales on his book. He did nothing on social media to get those sales. No ads, no posts, no photos.

Many top indies go very light on social media on their total mix. You get a better bang for your buck and your minutes with other tasks.

If you are an unpublished novelist, get off of social media and work on your book!


5 Year Plan to Become a Bestselling Author

I crafted this plan with bestselling and award-winning author James L Rubart to be a step by step guide through the first five years of your writing career. Learn each quarter what to do to succeed and avoid the mistakes that hijack the success of most authors. If you think social media is the best way to build a platform, you really need this course!

Learn more at

We Too by Mary Demuth   

Advocate Mary DeMuth unpacks the church’s response to sexual violence and provides a healthy framework for the church to become a haven of healing instead of an institution of judgment.

You can become a Novel Marketing Patron here.


  • What is rapid release. A book every thirty days. Benefit from the energy of a launch and it is like waves crashing and building upon each other.
  • Rapid Release can work when you already have a good number of readers.
  • When it is less likely to work. New authors, slow authors.
  • Being exclusive to Amazon has a bigger impact on how much money you make personally.

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