In The Public Eye

Social media, and the use of it, has become an undeniably important component of our daily lives. When you’re a writer or public figure, social media can prove to be one of the biggest tools in your arsenal. But what happens when you misuse this tool, and how can you avoid doing so? Public relations expert Julie Schoerke lays out the dos and don’ts of social media to keep you from committing common faux pas.

Three Quick Ways to Become an Outcast On Social Media

By Julie Schoerke

Social media is just great, until it isn’t.

Everyone wants to be the life of the party—witty, fun, sought out. Without realizing it, some very nice people whom I know, have managed to alienate people on social media to the point of getting blocked. And, I truly believe, they just don’t understand the etiquette.

Three of the best ways to become persona non-grata on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media are to:

  1. Vomit on your audience—There’s the 9:1 rule. Post about your book only one time to every nine times that you post something to support your fellow authors, share an interesting statistic or information you just learned, or something fun and funny. Vomiting on your audience is when you boorishly self-promote. Most people wouldn’t do it at a party (well, maybe some would), don’t do it at the all day/all night cyber party we call social media.
  1. Tag aggressively. This is akin to name-dropping, but kind of even worse. When you have a post that you think will be interesting to others, have faith that they’ll see it in their newsfeed. If you want to tag others so that their friends see it on their newsfeed…well, DON’T. Tagging is reserved for highlighting others in a positive way—tag people who are featured in the photo that accompanies the post on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin, etc.
  1. Negativity can easily drive friends away in a social situation, and the same goes for virtual friends. Of course there is the political screaming that is rampant on social media—as an author/public figure, it doesn’t do your career much good to entangle in that unless that’s what your books are about.

But, even more importantly, complaining can come off as crass and ungrateful. For example, there is one New York Times bestselling author, whose books I adored—they were funny, ironic, and self-deprecating—but I came to realize that the books obviously had a great editor, because this author wrote the meanest, cruelest things about strangers that she came upon in her everyday life. She ridiculed them and sometimes even took photos and posted them of poor, unsuspecting people in grocery lines that offended her. I blocked her—it was just too mean-spirited. And I’ve never read another of her books.

There is another multi-New York Times bestselling author that I continue to follow just to use as an example for our clients. She has had great success. She is a brilliant writer—terrific wordsmith with riveting stories and fabulous titles that cause her books to fly off the shelves around the country. But, on social media she berates fans and reviewers and shares her personal frustrations as an author very publicly. For someone who has attained such great success in a field that is more competitive than making it onto a U.S. Olympic team, it feels small and ungrateful to complain that others don’t understand how challenging her life is as an author.

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There are some great examples of generous, fun, interesting authors on social media. There are thousands of great people on social media who are generous, encouraging to other writers, fun, thought-provoking and real members of the community—some you probably know, others you probably don’t. I’ll share a few of my favorites here, and please add authors that you think would be great for the rest of us to follow. Feel free to include yourself in the comments (as long as you feel pretty confident that your newsfeed follows the above advice):

  1. Clay Stafford (if you have to ask why, you’ve flunked the test)
  2. Jenny Milchman (always promoting other authors—generous)
  3. Charles Salzburg (every day has a fascinating true crime story to share and is funny)
  4. Kay Kendall (interesting tidbits of all kinds to share)
  5. Roy Burkhead (he’s like BuzzFeed for the publishing industry)
  6. Karolyn Sherwood (great combination of book reviews with heartfelt posts and personal insight)
  7. Rita Dragnotte (she’s quickly becoming a celebrated Chicago literary tastemaker)
  8. Peter Golden (fabulous photos on social media, past and present)
  9. Dinty Moore (pithy, clever, smart)
  10. Harrison Scott Key (straight David Sedaris of the South)
  11. Dawn Lerman (good example of an author of a very popular book right now who is also genuine on social media and responds to others’ posts…it’s not all about her)

Julie SchoerkeJulie Schoerke founded JKS Communications, a Literary Publicity Firm, 15 years ago, and the firm has gone on to represent more than 600 authors, as well as publishers and literary organizations. Personalizing creative campaigns for each author, having an accountability system in place throughout the authors’ campaigns and including former journalists on the publicity team are hallmarks of her vision for the firm. Julie speaks at writers’ conferences, universities, and book festivals across the United States. She also writes book- marketing and book-promotion columns for trade publications and is a featured guest frequently on radio. JKS Communications is headquartered in Nashville, TN with operations in New Orleans and New York as well. For more information please visit