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Samuel Park on Social Media

I’m on vacation for a couple of weeks, but I’m looking forward to catching up on everyone’s blogs and tweets when I return. Meanwhile, here’s a guest post from Samuel Park, author of This Burns My Heart. If you haven’t bought his book yet, do! Samuel is an exceedingly intelligent and talented writer. I loved his reading so much, I bought three copies. And now, Samuel Park will share what he has learned about social media.

Originally born in Sao Paulo, Brazil to Korean parents, Samuel Park moved to the United States at age fourteen. He went to high school in Southern California, in the South Bay Area, and then studied at Stanford University, where he graduated with B.A. (with honors) and M.A. degrees in English. He has a Ph.D. in Literature from the University of Southern California, and his scholarly writing has appeared in journals such as Black Camera, Theatre Journal, and Shakespeare Bulletin. He is currently an Assistant Professor of English at Columbia College Chicago. His debut novel THIS BURNS MY HEART has been called “mesmerizing” and “stunning,” and has been selected by booksellers as a Great Read Indie Next List Pick for July and an Amazon Best Book of the Month.

How Social Media Has (and Hasn’t) Helped My Writing Career

Social media, like much affecting publishing these days, is a relatively uncharted landscape—no one knows yet if it helps, or how it helps, though everyone feels it’s important. I’ve been told by more people than I can count that I should blog, tweet, and have a website, though it’s impossible to quantify how that translates into book sales. Here’s the rundown on what it’s been like for me, and my advice for other writers:

1. Twitter:

I think twitter is the best place for writers—published, aspiring, retired—to be. It’s fun, it’s quick, it’s casual. If there’s only one thing that you have time for, I’d say tweet. Twitter can lead to links to excellent articles and blog posts, and serve as a quick education into the business. Also, following other writers give you a very clear sense of who the players are. I’d recommend following @eleanorwrites and @alexanderchee, both very active and full of wisdom (and me, of course! @SamuelPark_). Of all social media, I waited the most to join twitter, but it turned out to be the most useful. It’s a fantastic way to connect to potential readers. Make friends with other writers, who are going to be your support system through this. On my release date, most of my congratulatory tweets came from other authors. I’ve made quite a few real life friends through twitter, first meeting them online and then translating that into real life lunch or dinner. Use your tweets to promote other writers and advance the conversation. Don’t worry—by promoting others, you’ll get back too. Twitter is like karma on speed dial.

2. Website:

It is absolutely key that you have a website. Your prospective agent will check it out, and so will potential editors. Once your book comes out, everyone uses your website as a ground zero, from journalists looking for information, to readers considering coming to your readings. Make sure it is constantly updated, and full of information, including listings for your events, contact email, even Q & As and Reading Guides, which will make it easier for journalists and bloggers to write about you. I recommend Word Press, and then linking it to a custom domain, so that it’s, instead of the less aesthetically appealing yourname.wordpress or yourname.blogspot. Thesis can be an easy and cheap way to make it attractive. I haven’t tried Thesis personally yet, but a lot of writers use it, and create fantastic-looking sites on their own.

3. Blogging:

I recommend blogging, even though it is not as popular as it was a while back. Books are really hand-sold, either by booksellers or by you. Blogging allows you to reach potential readers and supporters one by one. If you’re able to maintain hundreds of followers—who really like you and value you—that’s an incredible platform to have. Name your blog after yourself—your name is your brand. Blog at least three times a week. I don’t recommend posting your own work—blog about writing, or about the biz. The downside of blogging is that it’s incredibly time-consuming; Twitter definitely has an advantage over blogging in that sense.

4. Facebook:

Facebook is most useful for writers who already have a fan base. Authors can translate those “likes” into sales for their next book when it comes out. It used to be that you had to wait for a review or an ad to hear about your favorite writer’s new book, but with Facebook, you learn months ahead from your news feed. This means established writers can get an early jump on pre-orders for their books.

5. Tumblr:

This is the social platform I’m least familiar with, though some people seem to be crazy about it. Tumblr appears to combine some of the best aspects of blogging and Facebook, and makes it very easy to share photos. I don’t see a whole lot of writers on Tumblr, though, so I think that makes it, along with Google+ at this point, entirely optional.

6. Flickr:

Useful for making high resolution photos of yourself available to media. You can download your photos, and then put the link up on your website.

An Overall Thought:

Bookselling is about handselling person by person. The more friends an author has on Facebook and followers on Twitter, the easier it is for her to do that. So how does social media help? It helps if you have lots of friends. They will buy your books and want to support you. They will become advocates and evangelists for your book. They will spread word of mouth and create buzz. In other words, social media helps insofar as it helps you to make and maintain friends. Nowadays, people want to buy books from writers they know!

What about you? What have you learned about the benefits of blogging/Twitter/Facebook since you began building your author platform? Do you use Tumblr, Flickr or Google+? What are your thoughts on those platforms?

17 comments to Samuel Park on Social Media

  • mainecharacter

    Thanks for these tips, especially 'cause I'm new to it all and debating what to do.

    A quick question – you mention how prospective agents will check out our websites, but how important is it to have a website before an agent?

    • mainecharacter – My feeling is that yes, you do need a website even before an agent – but that can be a blog if you'd rather wait until your book is published to create a website for your book. My site, for example ( will have to be redesigned once my book is published to prominently feature the book. is a good example of an author website, and Samuel may have advice about this, too.

  • Kristan

    This is a great overview of social media and its pros/cons. A writer friend recently asked me about this, so I'm going to point her this way.

  • Very nice overview. I love this: "Twitter is like karma on speed dial."

    But I want to echo Meghan in saying an unpubbed author is much better off with a blog than a formal website. Unpubbed author websites can look pretentious and embarrassing. And if you can't update it yourself, it will only get more embarrassing. A blog is completely interactive–so you can talk with your friends/fans–not just sit there and say "look at me."

    Plus you DON'T have to update more than once a week. I've had huge success with "slow blogging" which Meghan has written about, too. Also, blogging is the best way to make all those friends who will handsell your book.

    Blogging is only "out" as a moneymaking enterprise unto itself (writing a blog in order to sell advertising) but it's very much alive and well in the publishing business. It's how most writers network with each other. (And it's how I met Samuel and Meghan.)

    You can read more of Samuel's marvelous words of wisdom on my blog in Sunday. He's going to talk about self editing and why maybe you SHOULDN'T kill those darlings.

  • Thank you for this post. Very helpful first-hand perspective from Samuel.

    • Thanks, Kathy, for stopping by. I love hearing from published authors about how much social media did and did not help their plight both to get published and to sell their book once they did get published.

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  • I am very happy to see Samuel Park on social media and now social media is the very easy medium to keep in touch with your fans. In today life we can't forget the social media importance and I personally like the Facebook for this purpose.

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