Interview: How authors can use social media

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Cliffordene Norton interviews Dave Henderson, founder of, about what social media offers authors.


Read more about social media and authors’ social media profiles in the following LitNet Akademies article:

’n Sisteemteoretiese ontleding van gebruikersinteraksies rondom Deon Meyer se Twitter-profiel: ’n resepsiestudie in die digitale era(Burgert A Senekal, 2019)

Read the English abstract here


Dave, in the LitNet article Wat elke skrywer moet weet: selfpublikasie, you briefly describe the self-publishing process as text editing, cover design, typesetting, conversion to e-book, and publishing of e-book and paperback. How does the self-publishing author go about marketing their book?

Hahahaha. Sorry, that is a question I am often asked that authors don’t really want to hear the answer to!

The list of potential marketing activities is far too long to write here.

The broad list of marketing steps can be split into two parts: organic, slower, cheaper activities where the author is expected to do the work, or paid activities that result in a much larger number of sales over a shorter period of time.

The author would typically outsource the marketing campaign to an expert. The organic marketing efforts – although slower – result in improved sales over a period of time.

A fun question to ask the author is whether their book is a once-off passion project or whether they are in the writing game for the long haul.

The answer leads the author to the best way to allocate their funds to the marketing drive.


Here are examples of lower cost, organic marketing ideas for authors:

  • Own a professional author website. (This step is essential and the most important – here is an example.) 
  • Blog on that website (must be related to the book’s content). 
  • The blog should aim to collect e-mail addresses of interested visitors. 
  • As part of the above process, start building a list of email addresses of people who might be interested in hearing about this book (and future reads). 
  • Are there any groups of people – online or otherwise – who would have a vested interest in your book? 
  • Can you reach out to other authors in your genre to combine marketing efforts or spend? (Why undertake this journey alone?)

Which opportunities does social media offer the self-publishing author, and how can they take full advantage of them?

I would honestly recommend that authors new to the self-publishing game steer clear of social media at the beginning. Only once the book is published and they have a professional author website ready, social media can be used to leverage visibility.

However, for most authors busy with their first book, social media will eat up your time with very little to show for it. (Please don’t be that author who shamelessly plugs your book all over Facebook.)

What additional impact, other than marketing, does social media have on the book industry?

Social media – used properly – can be an important tool within any author’s marketing arsenal. It only really benefits those authors with more than one book, and should also only be used as a small part of a marketing plan, instead of the only part of the plan.

Aside from directing marketing opportunities, it does give new authors the chance to rub shoulders with other authors or experts within the publishing industry. This might lead to future collaboration opportunities if an author uses the social media platform in a professional manner.

What is the one social media platform that has the greatest commercial influence on South African book sales? Why?

I usually recommend that an author leverages the social media platform that they feel most comfortable using for their day-to-day activities. Trying to get an author to promote themself over Instagram would feel unauthentic if Instagram is not a platform that they had used before. Stick with the platform that you are comfortable using.

I, for example, prefer using LinkedIn as a more professional platform to connect with my writers. (Here is a group for new authors, especially from South Africa, on LinkedIn.) 

Also read 

"Afstand tussen skrywer en leser verklein" – ’n onderhoud met Burgert A Senekal

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