This is a guest post by Laura Melchor. Laura is an avid lover of books and a freelance writer for Mom.me, Re:Fiction, Your Dog Advisor, PickFu, and Jumper Media!
It doesn’t matter if you’re self-published or traditionally published or as-yet-unpublished. If you’re an author, you know that in order to sell your books, you need social media. It’s one of the quickest ways to get the news of your book out to tons of people at once.
And there are plenty of social media platforms to choose from. As an author, you don’t have the time or energy to do them all. That’s why one of the best things you can do for your writing and publishing career is pick one or two platforms and learn them really well.
You know which two are super convenient to use to your advantage? Facebook and Instagram.
Facebook owns Instagram, which means that sharing photos, videos, and stories from Instagram to Facebook (but not vice versa) is effortless. But make no mistake: the two platforms have different strengths when it comes to marketing your books.
People tend to scroll through Instagram looking for good photography, inspiration, and snapshots of peoples’ lives. On Facebook, they’re more focused on keeping up-to-date with current events and with what people think about those events.
In this guide, you’ll discover how to use Facebook and Instagram together to gain lots of new fans and increase book sales along the way.
The Basics: Start With Facebook if You Haven’t Already
Depending on when you were born, you might have had a Facebook account long before Instagram came on the scene. Or maybe you’re a Millennial or even Gen Z-er who doesn’t think much of Facebook.
Either way, you need to start your book marketing journey with Facebook. More people use Facebook than any other social media site, for one thing. And once you have a Facebook, you can easily share Instagram content onto it.
Here’s how it works. If you don’t already have a Facebook account, create one. It’s easier now to create an author page than it’s ever been. All you have to do is select the ‘Create’ tab on your personal account’s home page and choose the first option — “Page.”
Facebook will then ask you which type of page you want to create. Generally, if you’re an author, you’ll choose “Business or Brand” because you’re an author aiming to sell books.
The final step before uploading your profile and cover photos is to provide basic categorizing information about your page. In the image below, I used my own name to create ‘“Laura Melchor Books,” categorized under “Author.” You can also simply use your author name.
You’ll be asked to upload a profile and cover photo. It’s smart to use a photo of yourself (whichever one you’ve been using to promote your books) as your profile photo. For your cover photo, upload a photo of your book’s cover, if you have one.
Once you’re set up, you’ll see this layout before you. Facebook will give you tidbits of information about how to use the business page features. It’ll also ask you to invite friends to like your page. (For the sake of saving time, I left off the cover and profile pictures for my example author page below.)
Invite all your friends. They can accept or decline — the choice is up to them. You’ll find that many of your friends will gladly “like” your page, especially if they’re real connections.
That’s one neat thing about Facebook: the people who follow your page already are connected to you in some way. They’re already primed to want to follow along on your writing journey and read the books you publish!
If you just started on Facebook, it’ll take some time to build up your friends list, but you can invite even your newest friends to like your page.
Fill out as many of the details as you can — a page description, educational/work background, and so forth — and then head over to your smartphone to create an Instagram account.
If you don’t already have an Instagram, it’s easy to set up a business or personal page. And if you have a personal page you want to turn into a business page, that’s easy to do, too. Swipe right to find the “Settings” button at the bottom of the screen. Click it, and you’ll find these options.
Next, click the “Account” tab. At the bottom of that page you’ll find “Switch to Business Account.” Click on that and your personal page will turn into a business account that enjoys all the fantastic marketing features to help you sell your books.
Follow our step-by-step guide to Instagram business accounts to get set up.
Now it’s time to post some content. For your first photo, take a nice shot of yourself and upload it along with a quick introduction of who you are, what you do, and what you’re excited to share with your followers (and potential readers!).
Make sure to create line breaks, because no one wants to plow through a huge chunk of text to get to know you. Add as many relevant hashtags as you’d like.
New followers will want to see an active account, so post a few more shots to Instagram. I like this one by self-published author @leilanilopez.
First, a nice selfie with a coffee mug. Because everyone knows authors should pretty much have coffee IVs, they drink it so much.
Then a caption that lets her followers in on her writing process. She’s just finished drafting a novel, and because she gets questions on what comes after she completes a draft, she’s decided to answer them in a post. This personal tidbit is sure to please fans!
View this post on Instagram
So, what now? When I show I’m at “The End” a lot of people ask me what’s next. So, here’s what’s next! • Give the manuscript to my CP • Edit last time for developmental edits • Send her off to the copy editor for two rounds of edits • Get the cover done ? • Format • Get some proofs to make sure everything is in order • A final read through for any last minute errors • Tell y’all the release date!! Plus, a bunch of other minuscule things along the way. Thank you for your patience. xo
Before you start searching for followers, post one more photo. @leilanilopez makes another smart-author move with this teaser quote from her soon-to-be-released book.
I don’t even read paranormal stories, but this quote gives me chills — in a good way. I want to find out what this story is all about, and so will Leilani’s followers. Use a site like Canva to create your own compelling quote graphics using teasers from your books.
Share Your First Three Instagram Posts to Facebook
If you haven’t linked your Facebook and Instagram accounts, do that now. This makes sharing your Instagram photos to Facebook incredibly easy.
But you’ll want to tweak your IG posts before you share them to Facebook, because as we mentioned earlier, you’re speaking to two different audiences. On Instagram, using your all 30 hashtag slots is a great way to get people to find you. On Facebook, it’s a great way to get people annoyed at you.
So what do you do?
Pick ONE hashtag for Facebook and use it with every post. Unlike on Instagram, people actually engage more with posts on Facebook that only feature one hashtag. And if you consistently use the same hashtag, all your posts will be grouped together in a search result.
Here’s my example of how I modified an Instagram post to make it Facebook-ready. On my author Instagram page, I posted a photo with a short caption and several hashtags:
I wanted to share this photo to Facebook, so I adjusted it. I added more information to the post because as I noted earlier, Facebook users love to see information. I also stuck to one hashtag that describes what I do perfectly — and that I have used on previous Facebook posts about my life as a writer.
By the way, you can definitely use emojis on Facebook. One study, done by Agorapulse, showed that using one emoji at the beginning of a Facebook post increased impressions (number of screens your post appears on), engagement, and clicks. The same can be true for Instagram.
Not everyone likes to see emojis all the time, though, so alternating between emoji and non-emoji posts on both Facebook and Instagram can keep people from getting tired of seeing emojis.
Finding Instagram Followers
You didn’t have to leave Instagram to edit and post your content onto Facebook — awesome, right? Since you’re still on Insta, let’s talk about how to find people to connect with.
We’ve got a great guide on how to get organic followers, and now let’s dig into what, specifically, works for authors.
- Do a hashtag search to find the people who read what you write and write what you write (because they’re likely to be sci-fi readers, too). If you write sci-fi, search hashtags like
- #ireadscifi (100+ posts)
- #scifireader (100+ posts)
- #scifiwriter (5000+ posts)
- #sciencefictionnovel (5000+ posts)
- #amwritingscifi (14.8K posts)
- #scifinovel (17.1K posts)
- #scifiworld (30.3K posts)
- #scifibooks (68.5K posts)
- Within those tags, follow people whose content you like. Hopefully, they’ll follow you back and you’ll have earned a potential fan. Go ahead and comment on one or two of their posts, too, and do this every day.
- When people comment on your posts, take the time to respond. This will keep your connections strong and your Instagram page active, which means more people will see it and follow it.
- Post several writing- or author-related photos and captions each day, as well as several Instagram stories every day. Use a wide range of hashtags like those listed above so that all kinds of people can find you.
- Share one or two of your daily Instagram posts to Facebook — after modifying them with extra info or opinion + your ONE great hashtag.
To Find More Followers + Fans, Run a Book Giveaway
Instagram book giveaways are gold mines not only for new followers, but also for potential lifelong fans of your books. You give away a copy of your book, getting your followers (both current and new) super excited about you and your writing.
Even though there’s typically only one winner in a giveaway, everyone who entered the contest will have your book on their mind and will probably buy a copy just to make sure they haven’t missed out on anything.
If you’ve already got a book out or releasing soon, run a giveaway on your Instagram page with tags like #authorgiveaway and #newbookgiveaway. Not sure how to run a giveaway?
All you have to do is…
- Decide on what to give away: 1 signed copy of your book + a themed bookmark, for example.
- Determine the length you want your giveaway to run — i.e., how many days you want it to be possible for people to enter. 5-7 days works well for authors, allowing time for people from all over the world to find out about and enter your giveaway.
- Set the criteria for entering the giveaway. Say I was doing a giveaway through my author account, @lauraojedamelchor. I’d say something like: Hi everyone! SO excited to announce my very first giveaway of my book, BLACKBIRD SONG. Enter for a chance to win a signed copy + a custom bookmark! All you have to do is…Tell me what your favorite book is and why (in the comments section).
- Follow @lauraojedamelchor if you haven’t already!
- Tag bookworm friends in the comments if you want more entries, aka more chances to win!
- P.S. Even if you don’t win this giveaway, once you’re following my author page you’ll be the first to know about future giveaways — including the one I’m planning for my next book! (Psst: it includes a sneak peek at manuscript pages.)
- Run your giveaway. Once it ends, use a giveaway tallying software like Easypromos to fairly pick a winner.
- Now, announce when you’re going to announce your winner. Build up all the fanfare you can!
- Announce the winner, tagging them in your post. Remember to make this moment as exciting as possible for everyone who participated in your giveaway.
Keep your new followers around by announcing another giveaway a couple months after the first one and by posting (Xanax) lots of relevant, book-related content. Make your page somewhere your bookworm followers love to spend time.
Here’s a great example of a book giveaway — which at the time of this writing is ongoing, so head on over and enter to win a free book!
View this post on Instagram
Happy pub day to the one and only @nancythayerbooks! I had the pleasure of speaking with Nancy for the podcast — listen to our full-length conversation by subscribing to the RWR Salon (link in bio) or hear the abridged version via iTunes ? Aaaaand I have 2 copies to share with my IG and FB followers. To enter: ? like this post and follow this account ? follow @nancythayerbooks ? tag a beach buddy in the comments ? for extra entries tag more friends and/or share this post in your story ? US entries only and our winners will be announced on Friday . . ? x @emilyhomonoff
Finding Facebook Connections
One of the best things about Facebook for authors is all those Facebook groups. They are easily searchable, easy to join, and easy to participate in. Here’s how to use Facebook Groups to your advantage as an author.
- In the Facebook search bar, search for a term like ‘Sci-fi Book Club’ or ‘Scifi Lovers’.
Browse the groups that come up. Some have 10 members, some have 10,000+. But the number of members doesn’t matter as much as how active the groups are. If you go onto a group page and it’s mostly people pushing their books, most of the time with zero engagement, STAY AWAY! You want to join groups where people actually discuss the books in your genre, with a little bit of book-pushing on the side.
- Join two or three groups, and participate in them. Comment on other peoples’ posts. Join discussions. If you feel like you really connect with someone in the group, invite them to be your Facebook friend. Then ask them to like their page, with an offer to like their page back, if they have one.
Before long, you’ll have made lots of new connections with people who read what you write. All without annoyingly blasting your book all over a bunch of group pages (I promise you that will get you nowhere).
Should You Post Different Content on Facebook and Instagram?
Some social media marketers make the case that posting one thing to Instagram and then sharing it on Facebook is lazy marketing — and it doesn’t work.
This is sort of true…and sort of not.
First, if you’re adjusting your Instagram posts to be Facebook-ready before you cross-post them on Facebook, you’re eliminating the clumsy look of having an obvious Instagram post hanging out on Facebook (or vice versa).
Also, if you’re an author, you need to invest a good chunk of your precious time into actually writing and publishing your books. That’s why the ease with which you can post from Instagram to Facebook is so valuable to authors — it saves time.
If you want to mix things up, though, you can post something exclusively on Facebook or Instagram once or twice a week. Go ahead and let your friends or followers on either site know that there’s more content to be found elsewhere. The more traffic on your social media accounts, the better!
Remember to use both Facebook and Instagram’s business analytics tools to keep track of what type of content gets the most engagement. Shift your posts accordingly to boost your social media marketing productivity.
On Instagram, do this by clicking “View Insights” on any of your posts. You’ll see a breakdown like this:
Note how many people found this post of mine through the hashtags I used. Quite a few, for me! This means I’ll keep using similar hashtags in order to keep growing my reach.
On Facebook, analytics are more in-depth.
This is an example from my real author page’s analytics summary, where Facebook shows data for my five most recent posts plus more if I wanted it to. Pretty cool!
Now for the Case Studies!
You know how to work Facebook and Instagram. You’ve got ideas on what type of content will interest your connections on both platforms. You’re even ready to set up your first giveaway.
But are you still wondering…does doing all this work on Instagram and Facebook really work for any real authors?
The answer is…YES!
Let’s take a look at case studies from authors who used Instagram and Facebook to increase their book sales.
Case #1: A San Diego Poet Uses Instagram, Becomes a Bestseller
It’s kind of a running joke in the writing world that out of all the types of starving authors out there, authors of poetry are the hungriest. People don’t read poems, much less buy books of poetry…right?
Wrong! Especially if Instagram and Facebook are involved.
Poet Shelah Ott is a perfect example of this. A relatively unknown poet compared, say, to Rupi Kaur, Ott recently self-published a book of poetry called “Monarch.”
In the following Instagram post, she features a tasteful photo of her book cover and with a caption, lets followers in on her journey to becoming a published author. She talks about being happily overwhelmed by all the support she has received, thanks readers for their love, and uses her signature emoji — a butterfly — to close out the caption.
She also casually invites her followers to click the link in her bio to purchase the book. If you read through the comments, you see lots of people promising to buy the book as soon as they get paid, or asking how to get their copy signed.
View this post on Instagram
I have straight up been swimming in an overflow of love since the release of monarch. The genuine support and love has given me so much more than I can put into words (ironically lol). I’m so so grateful from the bottom of my heart for every single person that has encouraged me and reinforced the purpose of why I’m doing this—to help open something up, inspire something, or connect in some way. I’m still comprehending that people have been moved to tears reading my words.. which honestly don’t even feel like mine half the time. They just kinda flow into form ? I will cherish these connections forever. Hearing how this book did so much for so many of you has literally been all I desire. Making it to #1 bestseller was pretty cool too ? If you haven’t gotten yourself a copy, the link is in my bio ✨?✨
How did she do this?
First, by borrowing a smart tactic from the aforementioned poet, Rupi Kaur (who has 3.2 million followers yet follows not one person!), and posting pretty photos of her poems.
View this post on Instagram
I’ve recently gone through some big ass changes that have caused me to face fear over and over again. Losing a form of security that I had come to rely on, choosing to pursue my passions and purpose rather than a more “safe” career, learning how to self-soothe & be my own best friend which I had run from for baaaasically my whole life. ? Yet despite how broken I feel, I’m never really broken, I’m just unbecoming who I thought I was and becoming who I actually am. Each time I feel an overwhelming fear or sadness, an aspect of myself (or my ego) that I had been denying resurfaces. ? It’s these times that some may consider the “bad” where we actually become our best & highest selves and for that I am eternally grateful. For me, it’s learning all the ways that I’ve let fear control me—allowing it to become me and dictate how I act, affecting my relationships with others & myself, my self confidence, and sooo many other aspects of my life. ? It’s crazy how unaware of it I was too! Cus da ego jus be playin like dat. It really is easy to get all caught up in the constant worrying & analyzing and it took life giving me a few reality checks for me to recognize that there was some major shit I needed to heal. ? And these shadows will alwaaaaays continue to resurface until we see them & heal them, especially when we think they’re gone. No one has all their shit figured out because there are always more ways to evolve and grow into who you really are rather than who you learned to be. ? Recognition is the first step to freedom because once you observe the ways you hold yourself back from living the most amazing, joyful life that is rooted in true security—the now—you are able to stop the pattern. ? Tag a friend who likes poetry ? much more of my art to come in the future ?
Ott shared lots of these photos, and then when she had a release date for her book, she used her butterfly symbol to announce that date.
And kept sharing photos her poems…but now her pictures were of actual pages from her actual book that her followers could purchase.
In addition to posting content that gives her followers and readers a peek into her life, Ott keeps all her publishing information up-to-date on her bio. It’s easy to click the link in her bio to purchase the book, and she also teases that a Kindle version of her book will be out soon.
Her followers are at over 1,300 and counting. Her independently published book of poetry is already a bestseller. She doesn’t have an author Facebook page yet, but she should! Imagine how much further her reach would be.
Case #2: A Memoirist Uses Unique Instagram + Facebook to Create Platform for Sexual Violence Awareness
Tiffany Dionne is a sexual abuse survivor. Now she writes memoirs about her experiences, but she doesn’t stop there: she uses both Facebook and Instagram to keep providing inspiration and encouragement to people around the world who are experiencing a wide range of relationship issues.
Instead of posting photos, Dionne focuses her Instagram page on quotes. Every post of hers is either a quote she wrote or a relevant quote from someone else, and thousands of people see and take courage in her quotes every day. As mentioned earlier, people come to Instagram to find inspiration. On Dionne’s page, they get a ton.
View this post on Instagram
My biggest red flag with Jason – I was bored. Extremely bored. Boredom was a sign that I didn't really like him. ??♀️??♀️ I was just biding my time until someone I was feeling came along. ⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀ My first red flag with Grayson – he screamed at me in a mall parking lot because I wouldn't buy him basketball shorts. ⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀ My relationship with Jason ended with us dating other people. ⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀ My relationship with Grayson ended with him assaulting me while I was pregnant. ⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀ All red flags are NOT created equal. There’s a difference between you being petty and your intuition trying to protect you from a toxic relationship.⠀⠀⠀ ⠀ Pay attention to deal breakers ???⠀⠀ _______________⠀⠀ ⠀⠀ Have you ever ignored an important red flag? Drop your biggest deal breaker in the comments. ??
Because she’s a smart author, Tiffany Dionne shares these quotes to her Facebook page, also, and engages with fans when they ask relationship questions. On both her Instagram and Facebook platforms, Dionne provides links to purchase her books. She’s got over 4,000 page likes on Facebook and over 7,000 followers on Instagram.
Go to her Amazon page for her first book and you’ll see in the reviews that readers came straight from Instagram to purchase her book, read it, and leave a review.
As an author, that is exactly what you want your Instagram and Facebook followers to do!
Now You Know…
…that with a little bit of elbow grease, you can use Instagram and Facebook together to grow your fan base and make the book sales that’ll pay your bills (and more).
All without spending a penny or toiling to create content for several different platforms, which can take time away from what’s really important: writing your books.
How awesome is that?