LinkedIn can be a great social media platform for people in a range of industries, with varied skills, professions and connections. As a writer, whether you're using it to meet people in publishing, make author friends, or find new fans, LinkedIn could be a great boost for your career.
So, here's my entire LinkedIn for Authors series, in one huge blog post :) Skip to:
3 reasons authors need LinkedIn
Whether you're self-publishing or traditionally publishing, the connections you'll make on LinkedIn will greatly help in jump-starting your writing career.
LinkedIn isn't just a tool for those looking for a job. It's a social media platform with a niche user base - people who are serious about what they do, and who want to meet other passionate people. So if you're a serious writer, this is a great place to establish yourself.
How can authors benefit from LinkedIn?
1. Make friends (who can help you!)
Connecting with other writers is a great way to find people to relate to and assist with your author journey. To keep it simple, you can easily do a search to find these people, e.g. 'romance writers'.
Once you have formed relationships with people whose work you admire (and who you get along with), you can ask them to be beta readers and/or critique partners.
You can also promote and review each other's work, to boost both your sales.
2. Find professionals to work with
Whether this is sourcing the perfect cover designer for your book, or contacting literary agents who might represent you, LinkedIn is full of professionals who want to get to know you.
There are several ways to do this. You can simply search 'publishing', 'editor', etc., and LinkedIn will give you many results. This will take time to sort through, however.
Another option is to find new connections in comment sections. Did they say something you agree with? Send them a request! Who knows who might end up being the perfect person to join your team?
3. Promote your books
Just like any other social media platform, LinkedIn can be used to sell. But, as always, don't overdo it.
Non-fiction books will be easier to promote on the platform, due to the typically helpful/beneficial nature of the type of LinkedIn content that performs well. This means you have a great opportunity to post snippets that will lead to your book.
There is a possibility to promote fiction, too, though it may look different to other platforms. For example, you might connect with librarians or bookstore owners, and offer them a discount to stock your book. You might also post a press release, in the hopes that a media professional will see a story in it. Readers can be found in surprising places!
5 ways authors can master LinkedIn
Last week we talked about why to use LinkedIn, so now let's discuss how.
Whatever your LinkedIn strategies are, it's important to have a clear action plan. This will help you make the most of the platform, rather than become lost and confused.
It can take a while to get used to LinkedIn (and longer to master it), so here's a headstart:
1. Build your network
But be smart about it. One of my mistakes when I first started using LinkedIn was connecting with anyone and everyone. I quickly gained thousands of connections, but most had no benefit to me.
As soon as I started disconnecting with people and instead focused on only keeping professionals who were relevant, my engagement and requests went up. Suddenly only people who would actually be interested in my content were seeing it, so the algorithm seemed to favour it more.
So, think about who you might benefit from connecting with. Is it editors? Graphic designers? Small publishers? You can also be clever here and look at the target audience of your writing. If the people you're targeting are likely to be middle-aged female doctors looking for something to read on their lunch break, connect with them and post about your books in the middle of the day.
It can be hard to dedicate time to scrolling through LinkedIn for a few hours each week (especially when platforms like Instagram are a lot more fun!), but it's a must.
Commenting on your connections' posts is a great way to build your relationship with them, and also get your name out there. You might also go through the trending hashtags in your genre and find posts to engage with there.
If you want to establish yourself as an expert, you should aim to answer questions and add your opinion or knowledge to your connections' posts. Don't comment about your book. On LinkedIn, it's more important to sell yourself!
3. Post, post, post!
I'll talk more about what to post next week, but the biggest LinkedIn influencers will tell you much of their success comes from posting consistently and often. Most LinkedIn users, however, don't post at all.
Look at what your connections are posting and think about which posts get engagement, and which fall flat. What might your connections want to see you post? How can your posts provide more value than your competitors?
4. Use hashtags
Many people seem to forget that like most social media platforms, hashtags are very beneficial on LinkedIn. Why not make sure your post will get that extra reach?
Although you can use common sense to think of hashtags for your posts, do a Google search and see if you can find the top hashtags for your niche. You can also look at the hashtags being used by your connections that post similar content.
Make sure to check your hashtags, too. Does it seem to be trending, or dead? Are people engaging with the posts that use it? Try out similar keywords for hashtags to see if others work better.
5. Promote authors in your genre
By endorsing, sharing, or recommending similar authors to you, you'll create a good friend in that author. Just make sure you check out their work first - if you give a bad book a good review, your credibility is gone!
It's best to do this with authors at a similar level to you, since they're most likely to return the favour, but by all means target smaller and bigger authors too. If a successful author endorses you, that's going to look very impressive.
What to post on LinkedIn
So now you know the why and how of LinkedIn, where do you go from there?
Since LinkedIn is used primarily for professional benefit, rather than entertainment, it has different expectations to other social media platforms. This means your posts need to be geared differently, too.
Typically, they'll be less fun, and more informative. But most importantly, they must provide value.
Here's what authors should post on LinkedIn:
Letting your network know how your writing is going is a great way to show you're working hard, and also make friends with people in a similar place as you.
Unlike other platforms, your LinkedIn connections are less likely to be following you as a fan, and far more likely to be following because they're interested in your writing career.
Show that you're a professional and serious writer, while staying authentic. This will be a great way to start being noticed by the right people!
Requests for help
LinkedIn is mostly about meeting professionals who can help each other, so don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
Who or what are you looking for? Be specific. Is it an experienced romance book cover designer? Or the best thesaurus website?
Make sure to use hashtags to ensure the request reaches the right people.
The tips I post on LinkedIn always do better than any other type of post, because it's the most beneficial to my network. This also establishes me as a professional in my field.
So, what's your speciality? What do you want to be seen as the expert in?
If you write romance, you might post tips on creating chemistry between characters. If you write non-fiction, post snippets of your book that people may find educational or helpful. There are countless possibilities.
Blog Posts and LinkedIn Articles
Like any other platform, LinkedIn is a great place to share blogs. People are scrolling through LinkedIn for helpful content, so if your blog might benefit your network, make sure they see it!
LinkedIn also favours articles in its algorithm. Don't just copy and paste your blogs (this is seen as plagiarism in SEO), but try to repurpose them for your specific LinkedIn audience.
Maybe you've written about the time you climbed a mountain and it inspired your epic fantasy. Something like this could be rewritten to focus on how others might be able to find inspiration in similar ways. Think of a catchy headline, like: '5 ways to get inspired in your backyard'.
Of course, you have to promote yourself every now and then! Post snippets of your books, talk about your characters, and get people excited for new releases.
Like we discussed in our first LinkedIn blog, make sure your selling posts target the right people. Your readers might not be in your network, but other people who can get you readers are!
LinkedIn mistakes you could be making
We've discussed what to do on LinkedIn, so now it's time to talk about what NOT to do.
There are, of course, countless social media strategies that don't actually work, but here are some big ones!
Messaging everyone to get a sale
People who immediately send messages promoting themselves, before either getting to know who they're messaging or doing some basic research, are among the most hated in the LinkedIn community.
It's embarrassing the number of times I've had social media managers offering me their services. It would only take a quick look at my profile to see that I already do social media professionally!
So, to stay professional and not annoy the people you want to network with, only message them if you have something beneficial to say. A message introducing yourself is fine, but never try to sell immediately. This is very rude and will get you blacklisted.
Posting quantity over quality
As I mentioned in the last blog, LinkedIn users engage most in posts that offer them some kind of benefit. For me, this is posting writing and publishing tips.
Spamming might temporarily help with engagement, but ultimately you will annoy your network and begin to see them disconnecting with you. No one wants to scroll through your ten promotional posts a day (this is why we focus more on helpful content than sales content).
Always go for quality! Establish yourself as an expert, not a desperate salesperson.
Not optimising your profile
You can have a huge network, be posting constantly, interacting regularly, and doing everything right, but if your profile isn't perfect, none of that will matter.
There are too many profile optimisation strategies to go into detail here, but these are some to look into:
SEO: use keywords in your headline and bio
Relevant experience: make sure your experience looks impressive and delete any old/irrelevant jobs
Focus on the audience: rather than list what makes you great, list how you can help them (go for emotions and show your personality, too)
Get endorsements: prove that what you say about yourself is true
Will you start using LinkedIn as an author? Make sure to send me a request and leave a comment if you do!
Don't forget about my Social Media packages, and my Writing and Publishing Worksheets, now available on Etsy.