5 Huge Mistakes Made By Authors On Social Media

Everything you’re about to read in the next five minutes or so is something that you’re already aware of — on a subconscious level.

However, many authors are consciously making online mistakes especially in a digital age that has now placed the ball firmly in their court.

Unfortunately on social media, you will find authors disrupting the user experience of their audience by overly promoting the crap out of their books with no intention of being ‘social’.

And by the time the social media dust clears — they end up with zero interaction, engagement and unfollowers by the dozens.

But here’s the crazy part. After using social media as a self promoting tool and not building any trust or adding value, some authors have the cheek to say “social media doesn’t work.”

So let me share with you the things that don’t work.  Here are the 5 HUGE mistakes authors make on social media.

1. Incomplete or Crappy Bio Profile

This mistake had to be number one. Not because it was necessarily the most important but because your profile bio is the first thing you really should complete. Did you know that some authors are still using the default egg image on twitter? Did you also know that authors are on LinkedIn without a professional image of themselves? Some with no images at all. I kid you not.

mistakes authors make

Your social media bio is your shop window.

Your social media bio is one of the main reasons many people decide to follow, interact or connect with you — or not. It doesn’t have to be perfect but as an author, you want to use your bio strategically to sell yourself as well as promote your book. I said ‘strategically’ not ‘hopefully’. This means ensuring that there’s a link which would drive people directly to your book on Amazon.

mistakes authors make

This is a huge mistake many authors make on their social media platforms.

Just remember one thing. If you’re using Twitter, you have very limited characters to describe yourself or promote your book. Using keywords in your bio such as ‘author’ or your book title will increase searchability on the platform which will then increase followers.

2. Distributional Promotion

Imagine this — after a long day at work, you’re at home unwinding. You’re watching your favourite show, eating a lovely meal with a glass of wine or two (it was a long day). Then you hear a loud knock at the door. You open the door and there’s a guy standing at your steps trying to sell you vacuum cleaners.

In today’s digital age, if ALL you want to do is use Facebook, twitter or Instagram to sell your book, YOU are the vacuum cleaner salesman.

And instead of rightfully slamming the door in your face, you will be unfollowed or blocked.

Social media is all about being social and adding value. Never use social media to distribute your books without adding any value.


I can guarantee that your audience does not go on twitter to purchase books. They go there for value, whether it’s entertainment value, educational value or information on a specific topic, they are not going there to buy your book.

Now — with that being said. This doesn’t mean that people will not buy your book. It’s all about connecting and engaging with your target audience and adding value.

Let’s use Twitter as an example.

I have written a book titled ‘Tweet People The Way You’d Like To Be Tweeted – How To Build And Grow A Loyal Community On Twitter

Instead of using distributional marketing tactics by continually tweeting my book (which generates no value), I search for people using ‘twitter search’, to locate people who need help using twitter.

Once I locate them, I don’t try to sell them my book. I look for a common interest, speak to them and answer their query.

Then something magical happens. They follow me and buy my book.

3. Using Spamming methods to sell books

If there’s one thing that really winds me up and make you look bad at the same time. It’s spamming.

Spamming will get your social media accounts blocked, suspended and banned from social media accounts. And I agree with that.

Social media platforms are very anti-spam. You can now click a button anonymously on each platform to complain that someone is spamming. Even if they’re not. But they probably are.

mistakes authors make

I have visited specific pages on Facebook where the discussion is all about, let’s say, ‘Improving your public speaking techniques’. Then out of nowhere comes a post with a link to a book nobody asked for.

What made it worse is that the book had nothing to do with public speaking. It was a fantasy novel. This post promptly got the author blocked and banished into oblivion.

I have received countless direct messages from authors on twitter requesting to buy their book. That’s it. Not even a hello, how are you. I may have had an accident that day. It seems like they couldn’t care less. Just a plain and simple ‘go to this website and buy my book’. At least tell me what your book is about. How can it help me?

This is usually automation at its worse — aka laziness.

I don’t really agree with automation

on social media. I defeats the purpose of being ‘social’. But if you have to use it. Do not use automation to sell anything on social media. Instead use automation as a tool to generate a response which will enable you to start a conversation.

4. Bringing negativity to social media.

There may be times when you will have to go up against a troll or a bunch of trolls on social media. Whatever you do, do not resort to their level. There’s a huge difference between constructive criticism and trolling. Trolling must be ignored at all times. The moment you make the mistake of responding to a troll, you give them ammunition to come back for more. If this happens, block them and don’t look back. Remember, trolls have nothing to lose. You do.

Trolls may attack your book. Trolls may complain about your book cover. Trolls may… you get the message.

Although it is very rare for trolls to attack, I have sat back with a bag of popcorn and witnessed a troll going back and forth with an author over a simple spelling mistake made by the author. Can you believe that? The troll said “How can you write a book when you can’t even spell?” Now instead of the author walking away from the bait, she decided to protect her honour and get on the defensive. She lost the battle.


LinkedIn used to be one of my favourite social media platforms but it’s now becoming a platform where people are spewing their hate now that Donald Trump has secured the White House. I just bite my tongue and skip past posts like a child playing hopscotch. If I say something negative I may get instant gratification BUT in the long run, it will have a lasting affect on my brand.

Another thing to remember is that everything that happens on social media — stays on social media. Don’t bring politics, religion or topics which may cause offence to another group on social media. I know you may be upset about Brexit or some new policy on healthcare but you must not show any anger. There’s nothing wrong with having a discussion on the topic but if you feel perturbed by a conversation, you need to get off before you say something you won’t be able to take back later.

5. No Strategy and using the wrong platforms.

Many authors make the mistake of assuming that all they have to do is pop over to Facebook and twitter and people will start buying their books.

You’re going to burn out really quick if you don’t have a social media strategy or a marketing plan. If you’ve been using social media for more than six months and haven’t seen any significant improvements, I’m guessing that you don’t have an effective strategy or worse.

You don’t have a strategy at all.

I have a client who had been using the wrong social media platforms for a year and not achieving any ROI before I found the right platforms for her to use.

let’s assume you’re a nonfiction writer.

The first question you need to answer is ‘who are my ideal audience?’ For example, have you written a book which is targeted to baby boomers? Young people? Once you know who you’re targeting, you can now ask ‘which platforms are they using?’ Once you answer that you then need to ask ‘what content are they consuming on that platform?’ For example, are videos more effective than images? Are they using specific hashtags to communicate?

These are only the basic questions you need to ask before creating an effective strategy. You want to connect with your audience, build a loyal community and add value. If you can do this, you will sell your book. People like to buy, they don’t like to be sold to.

If you haven’t written your book yet, don’t wait until you’ve written it before creating a social media marketing plan of action. A social media platform can take between six and nine months to build. Ideally you should have your platforms ready before writing a single word of your next book. Then once you start writing, you’re growing each platforms at the same time whilst completing your book.

This is just a tip of the iceberg. There are tons more mistakes I would never be able to fit into this short blog. However, you now have the keys to get your social media platforms off to a great start and avoid some of the most common mistakes by authors on social media.

Artell K Cowell
I have more than ten years experience as a digital strategist/marketer and have helped X-Factor finalists improve their online brand as well as working with some of the largest businesses and organisations in the country including Tesco, DWP, Serco and the BBC. I spend most of my time creating and implementing strategies and marketing campaigns for my clients (including authors) to help them improve their offline and online brand equity. Unlike other courses, I understand that not every author is at the same level on their marketing journey which is why I provide specialised one-to-one online training and coaching. If you'd like more info or if you'd like to just stop by and say Hi, you can reach anytime on LinkedIn or Twitter.