Hey cHEwY gum gums!

Two of my author pals have decided to take a short break from social media, saying that they’ve got projects/deadlines, and will be back in a few months. I get it because social media can be distracting and exhausting to stay on top of.

Then I ventured onto the Kids Lit Club FB page where there was an opinion piece from The Guardian, about the usefulness of social media for writers.

So, do authors need to be on social media?

I can only speak for kids authors here, and the short answer is no.

In the world of children books, distribution and discoverability holds more value than social media.

Your book being sold in Aldi or K-mart, rather than getting retweets or likes, results in more potential sales. In the end of the day, we are writing for kids and they’re not really not (or supposed to be) on social media anyway.

Think about all the best-selling and well-loved authors in Australia. Aaron Blabey. Anh Do. Morris Gleitzman. None of them have a social media presence. Andy Griffiths irregularly posts on his accounts. Legends such as Jeanie Baker, Graham Base, Shaun Tan…they’re not on Twitter. Why would they be? They have achieved hashtag status. When you’re a brand, you don’t need to reach out to any followers. Their readership is already doing that on their own social media accounts.

But that’s enough about the top-tier authors and illustrators. For everybody else in the kidslit scene, there are some perks in being on social media. I’m so blessed to have many author, bookseller and bookish pals in a proactive, caring kidslit community. We promote each other’s books because that’s what friends do.

I remember listening to Alison Tait, author and co-host of So You Want To Be A Writer at a past SCBWI conference who is a pro in using social media for her author career. There are certain audiences that we can reach through Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. These range from parents, teachers, teacher-librarians and readers in general. Genuine connections with these audiences can bring sales and fans.

So, what if you never want to be on social media, would you tank as an author? No. Publishers, bookstores, libraries etc will end up posting about your book anyway, so you don’t really need to do anything. You can rely on old-school methods of book signings, wooing booksellers and librarians at conferences, and having your book in book clubs and fairs.

Besides, social media only ever works if you feel comfortable with it. It needs to be a natural fit. You can purely use social media for books and promote them, keeping it professional. You decide to how much of your personal life you want to share. But if you’re stressed about what to post or if scrolling through feeds give you anxiety, then yeah, it’s probably not for you.

Would you still be on social media if you weren’t an author? For me, I would still exist at @oliverwinfree on my Instagram and Twitter, posting my other interests such as burgers, sneakers and video games. I also tend to stay clear out of politics and things like that. I’m in a bubble of friendly kidslit people and fans, so I enjoy interacting with them.

In a battle for a shelf space and discoverability, social media plays a part in helping to bring your books in front of a wider audience.

But in the end of the day, the best way to promote yourself is to the write the next book.

What do you think about social media cHEwY gum gums? Do you take regular breaks from it? Is it essential? Would love to know :-0

O.W