Social Media Superstars: How Successful Authors Are Building Their Followings On The Web

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In today’s competitive publishing environment, having a presence online is not optional—it’s vital. And we’ve brought you some of the best insider info about building your online author platform—from creating a solid, functional author website to engaging potential readers on social media.

But to a writer with very little marketing experience or social media savvy, the Internet can be overwhelming. Daunting, even.

Luckily, there are many examples of thriving online author platforms you can turn to for inspiration. Here are a few of the authors who have mastered the art of the author brand and effectively connected to thousands of fans around the world.


1. Roxane Gay — Co-editor of PANK and essays editor of The Rumpus, Roxane Gay is a rising star in the writing world with an impressive list of publication credits under her belt. She is also an active blogger and is downright hilarious on Twitter, sharing everything from favorite recipes to her latest professional goings-on to her inexplicable love of Lifetime movies. Her open attitude makes her relatable and makes us want to keep following her writing adventures.


2. John Green — Author of insanely popular titles such as Looking For Alaska and The Fault In Our Stars, John Green has a huge Web presence and is very much plugged into the meme-loving culture of his YA “Nerdfighter” demographic, especially on Tumblr. Green has aced the art of accessibility. And the best part? He uses the power of his influence to do good in the world.


3. Emma Straub — Emma Straub is the author of two novels, has been published in many literary journals, and writes for Rookie. Beyond that, she also has one of the most delightful online platforms we’ve ever seen. The consistent branding of her website and social media profiles is like a cool dip in the bright blue waters of her book cover. She’s funny, candid, and sweet—and her personality shines through every tweet and blog giveaway.

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4. Teju Cole — While most people use social media to share random observations and writing news, author Teju Cole recently raised the bar by using his Twitter account as a vehicle to write a short story—through other people. He had friends and followers tweet seemingly random snippets that, when then retweeted in a certain order, formed a cohesive story titled “Hafiz.” This interesting experiment in storytelling shows just how creative a writer can get when it comes to social media.


5. Neil Gaiman — No list of authors who are killing it on social media would be complete without Neil Gaiman, author of The Sandman comic book series and multiple best-selling novels. Not only is he incredibly prolific on Twitter, he also engages fans on Tumblr by answering questions and sharing his thoughts on the writing process. And his website hosts a message board where fans can meet to discuss his wide, genre-spanning body of work.


6. Rainbow Rowell — Considering that her popular YA novel, Fangirl, revolves around the culture of being a hardcore fan, it’s understandable that Rainbow Rowell would have an awesome presence on Tumblr. Not only does she participate in a bit of fangirling herself, she shares posts by other people fangirling over her work. By reblogging fan art and the comments of her readers, Rowell keeps the lines of communication—and mutual adoration—completely open, and fosters a sense of community invaluable to any author.

As you can see, a bit of personality and reader engagement goes a long way when building your online author platform. So be generous…be yourself…and show readers that you appreciate them just as much as you hope they appreciate your writing!

QUESTION: Do you follow any particular authors online? What is it about them that keeps you coming back for more?

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