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Social Media for Authors | Aliya Ali-Afzal Takeover

Author and Jericho Writers member Ailya Ali-Afzal hadn’t touched social media before her debut, but she quickly found it an engaging and creative way to promote her writing. If you’re new to the world of social media as an author, here’s how you can use it to have more control over what your readers know about your book - and it’s very likely that you’ll have fun along the way.

Social Media for Authors | Aliya Ali-Afzal Takeover 

In December 2020, my daughter taught me how to do my first post on Instagram. I had no idea how to post or even how to load a photo. In March 2022, just fifteen months later, my US publishers Grand Central Publishing, asked me to do a 24-hour takeover of their Instagram to talk about my debut novel Would I Lie To You, because I was ‘so great on Instagram’, according to them. My posts went out to their 44.4k followers.  

My experience of social media as a debut author has been a steep learning curve and an unexpected and enjoyable part of publication journey.  

My debut novel, ‘Would I Lie To You’, is the first book I have written and was published in 2021 and 2022, in the UK and North America. Both publishers had detailed marketing and PR strategies in place, but I soon realised that my own social media posts, added a personal element to their marketing plans, and was also a key way to connect with readers.  

I have no training in marketing or social media, so my entry into this arena has been intuitive and self-taught - and I have a lot more to learn! Here are some top tips: 

  • I have made so many wonderful friends by engaging with others: reply to tweets, have conversations. Support others by retweeting, or sharing experiences that may help fellow writers. Become part of a community and develop a support network for yourself as well. 
  • Be yourself. Whether you’re on social media to be part of a community or to publicise your book, let people discover who you are, how you write, what you enjoy. Your publishers can’t give that sort of direct connection to readers through ads or marketing campaigns alone. 
  • Don’t just shout about your book! Take care that you’re not ‘all work and no play’.    
  • Take a break if you need it. Some people limit social media use to set hours or perhaps twice a week. Don’t feel you need to be ‘on’ constantly. 

My Twitter followers grew by 3k in the months since publication and I have a great set of followers on Instagram, starting from zero around a year ago. Some practical steps to get the most out of your social media: 

  • Use social media as a resource: I followed agents, researched submission wish lists, and found out about writing competition and opportunities. Two bestselling authors saw my tweets about my debut and asked for proofs! 
  • Don’t feel shy about posting successes- everyone loves happy news! I shared reviews in newspapers and glossy magazines and, praise and quotes given to me from authors I adored. 
  • I set competitions and giveaways of my book to celebrate various milestones such as paperback publication, and this always boosted my number of followers. 
  • Repost assets designed by your publishers, such as quotes from authors, covers or reader reviews. 

At the end of the day, enjoy yourself! If you make genuine connections, are authentic, and share updates about your book and publication journey, you will make friends and make sales! It will also feel great. Good luck!  

Aliya Ali-Afzal 

Aliya Ali-Afzal is a writer living in London. She is studying for an MA in Creative Writing at Royal Holloway and has a degree in Russian and German from UCL. She is currently writing her second book. 

You can follow her on Twitter @AAAiswriting, Instagram @aliyalaiafzalauthor, and visit her website. 

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