War and Words: Why Authors Should Keep Posting About Their Books, Especially Now

Marketing your book is the gift you give the reader — the promise of emotional escape and release

My social posts. Totally off topic. On purpose.

Like everyone, I have been glued to the news this week. As Russia invaded Ukraine, I watched in horror as civilians picked up weapons, mothers walked miles to safety, Chernobyl was overtaken, and families splintered. It has been devastating to scroll and watch helplessly.

As I’ve inhaled updates from the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, New York Post, CNN, and other outlets, I’ve also turned to Twitter (#Ukraine, #Ukraineinvasian) and Instagram for the latest updates. Sometimes Twitter, with its “latest” thread, gives me video insights before well-crafted stories can be uploaded to news sites.

And I’ve noticed something else: widespread guilt about posting non-war content.

Forbes.

I follow many authors on social and have noted their concern about how to use social to promote books when the world is in chaos. At first, I felt the same way, wondering if I could or should still post about my two upcoming books. Was doing so tone-deaf? Insensitive?

Sarah Pekkanen, half of the bestselling powerhouse duo with Green Hendricks, posted a multi-slide visual about the use of social with her thriller The Golden Couple coming out.

Sarah Pekkanen’s post.

She then included multiple charities.

Bestselling author Jane Green wrote in black and white, “What the *%*% and how the *%*% are you supposed to post selfies and book stuff when you are watching the news and you cannot believe man’s continued inhumanity to man and your heart is breaking. WHAT THE *%*% ARE YOU SUPPOSED TO DO?”

I understand. I totally get it, Jane.

As writers, we pound on our keyboards to make sense of the world and to distill our thoughts, ones that we feel compelled to share widely. Immediately. And sometimes it all seems so insignificant in the big picture.

But, as authors, we are beholden to social media to spread the word about the novels, memoirs, children’s books, and projects years in the making. In fact, social media posts are the main way readers find out about our projects in the post-Covid era.

(Our Zibby Books initiative, #22in22, rewarding readers for visiting 22 bookstores in 2022, was crafted to counteract shoppers staying home and ordering online, diminishing the discoverability of new books.)

Our 22in22 campaign.

Here’s my two cents as a hardcore reader, social media scroller, and upcoming author.

When I open Instagram, I look to certain accounts for reporting and analysis of the news. I go to Katie Couric Media to see live videos and watch Katie’s interviews with leaders. I follow former Marine and bestselling author Elliot Ackerman for his insider insights. I go to CNN reporter Clarissa Ward’s stories. I read all the news sites.

New York Times.

Then, I’m done. I’m ready to switch gears and ingest non-war content. I want to see photos of who’s reading what, what books are coming out, what authors are up to. I love that stuff. Just because I’m internally gutted by the news doesn’t mean I don’t crave distractions.

When I go to authors’ posts, I read with respect what their political and global views are. But then, okay, fine. Noted. Understood. Of course, I know that the authors I follow care about the world. I operate on the assumption that everyone cares and that everyone is equally affected by the news.

But what about the author!?

When I post a silly video with funny music about the meal my husband cooked last night, it makes me laugh. I hope it’ll make other people laugh, too. We need that. I need that.

When I want war content, I know where to find it — and it isn’t from my favorite novelists. Just like I want books to help me escape reality, I also want the social feeds of my favorite authors to bring me closer to the books that take me away and get me through. I need to know that when the world is crumbling, the spines of my favorite books are still standing tall and strong, ready to support me. I want to be reminded that intellectual escape is possible as a coping mechanism.

Take Tinx. I follow her because I know her short videos about everything from dating to food to men to fashion follow a consistent thread. Even her recent post about her strong opinions regarding bananas was amusing. I don’t expect one of her “Rich Mom Starter Pack” videos to focus on current events. They are the mindless, funny, consistent distractions I crave.

Tinx on Instagram.

Authors are entertainers. Escape artists. Author feeds should continue to transmit the transcendental escape their books provide. We know it doesn’t mean the author is insensitive. It means they are providing a valuable service at a terrifying time.

I say: Authors and creators, go for it. It’s okay. Post memes about your work. Post about you — your writing process, your coffee, your manuscripts, your tours. It isn’t being disrespectful of world events. The opposite! It’s remembering the end user and what they may need right now when they aren’t processing the news. Sure, share your opinions whenever you want, but know that marketing your book isn’t selfish. It’s selfless. It’s the gift you give the reader. The promise of emotional escape and release.

Not everyone has the power to transport with a simple post. Wield it wisely, scribes. Share.

My upcoming memoir.

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