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Social Media for Authors: How to Harness the Power

your book writing coach

These past few weeks I’ve been preparing for my presentation for Harvard Medical School’s CME publishing course, which begins on Thursday. I’ll address 200 or so aspiring authors on the topic of blogging and social media in the ballroom of the Fairmont Copley Hotel.

The audience will probably include people who belong to twibes and those who will think I have a speech impediment if I mention them. I’ll have done my job if, by the end of my talk, they decide to put a stake in the social media universe.


There are over 400 million active users of Facebook. As a student in my book writing class, Leadership Coach Carrie Beers, pointed out, “Imagine reaching a quarter of a percent of them…that’s a million people!”

It’s almost guaranteed that a large subset of your audience are on social media–and they’re the ones who will organically spread the word and tell others about your book and your work.

But how do you harness this raw power of social media?

  • Through his blog and strategic twitter engagement, Lean Hospitals offers a social media success story.
    Through his blog and strategic twitter engagement, Lean Hospitals offers a social media success story.
  • Social media rewards generosity. In interviewing authors about their successful use of social media, I found that those who had the most success promoted the work of their colleagues more than their own. A good example is author Mark Graban, author of Lean Hospitals. Though his book targets a small niche, his acquisitions editor told him that Lean Hospitals is her best selling book of all time. Mark’s twitter updates, or tweets, include links to articles and research by his colleagues 5 times more often than his own.
  • A blog can play an important role in  your social media plan–that’s where you can offer in depth information, engage readers and get a conversation going. Your other social media can often lead people back to your blog for more information. Mark’s publisher approached him for a book deal because they’d seen his blog.
  • YouTube coverage supported a newspaper article generating TV coverage

    Social media coverage can lead to publicity in more traditional arenas. Take Switched at Birth. A YouTube video helped land coverage in the Patriot Ledger, a Massachusetts newspaper, which included a link to the YouTube video. When ABC-TV saw the article, they checked out the video and decided to cover the story and shoot their own footage.

  • Dr. Sara Stein uses her blog, Facebook, and Twitter to support her book, Obese from the Heart. She tends to use social media to share information, provide in depth responses to news topics and share her own ideas and experiences around obesity. Her social media presence has resulted in publicity via national radio, local PBS-TV and local newspapers. People who’ve found her through social media have invited her to give talks nationally. And, yes, she doesn’t have any exact numbers, but she hears from people who say they bought her book because of a tweet or blog post they read.

If you’re looking to hear more about how aspiring authors can use social media, or if you want a three day immersion into book writing/publishing, hear what agents and publishers are looking for right now, find out how to write a great book proposal and meet agents and publishers in person, join me and the other faculty of Publishing Books, Memoirs and other Creative Nonfiction offered through Harvard Medical School CME. I’d love to see you there.

Lisa Tener

Lisa Tener is an award-winning book writing coach who assists writers in all aspects of the writing process—from writing a book proposal and getting published to finding one’s creative voice. Her clients have appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CBS Early Show, The Montel Williams Show, CNN, Fox News, New Morning and much more. They blog on sites like The Huffington Post, Psychology Today and WebMD.

Reader Interactions


  1. Dr.Randy Kamen Gredinger says

    Hi Lisa,

    Looking forward to seeing you at the Harvard Medical School Publishing Books, Memoirs and other Creative Nonfiction Course. It’s such a consistently inspiring conference.. Can’t wait to hear your talk. I know it will be fabulous.

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