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10 Non-Salesy Social Media Content Ideas for Authors

Asking readers to buy your books can get stale – here's how to engage with them more organically.

If you’ve researched author success tactics then you’ve probably heard you need a social media presence. It definitely helps. After all, many authors without a platform struggle to build an indie brand, and attracting a publisher is equally challenging. Some authors make it look easy and have no issues leveraging the full power of their audience, while others effortlessly ride trending hashtags. The problem with these strategies is that they both create anxiety if you’re a people pleaser. Presenting too many “asks” feels slimy and being topical can invite drama. So, what’s the alternative for those who want to sell books without being salesy or controversial?

One option is not to use social media. Yes, a social platform is a desirable tool, but it isn’t essential. You can sell books without using reader magnets and paid ads. Still, life is easier for authors with significant social clout. So, say you’re set on social media. What else can you do? Quite simply, you can focus on books and give instead of asking. Give and you build social karma. Those who follow you only associate you with good vibes and generosity. They want your content. You never need controversy for attention. Be generous enough and you never need to ask. However, when you do, the rarity amplifies the pay-out.

“Give what?” you might ask. Well, that depends on your strategy and what you consider a “give.” A whole book can work, but you couldn’t produce a fresh novel as often as you can share a smaller piece of content. Thoughts, time, goodwill, insights. You might not view such ideas worthy, but readers often just want access to writers they admire. While you see such items as self-indulgent or normal, you’re too close to authorship to appreciate the small moments. In reality, you experience a lot that readers will happily consume. Hence, today you’ll discover 10 social media content ideas your readers will enjoy that won’t make you feel salesy or risk controversy.


It takes a long time to write a book, but telling readers about it doesn’t have to happen all in one post. Say you’ve written an 80,000-word novel. In theory, if you split that work into 20-word quotes, superimpose them over a background image and pushed them into the social ether, that translates to 4,000 posts — 12,000 if you repurpose each one as video and audio excerpts. Sure, not every 20-word snippet will be a shareable quote, but you get the idea. What’s more, doing so isn’t salesy. Do you consider it salesy when you read a quote on Instagram or watch a movie teaser? Nope, and your readers will look at your snippets the same way.

Project Updates

Sharing your work is cool, but words aren’t the only assets that form a book. It’s true; nobody types final-draft words from day one. Each novel or non-fiction guide forms as a result of a process that includes:

  • Outlining
  • Writing
  • Editing
  • Proofreading
  • Formatting
  • Cover design

Along the way, as the author you see hilarious typos, concept covers, digital cover reveals, physical unboxings and sales figures, all of which are prime examples of project updates that would also interest your readers. So, share that content as a blend of images, words, audio recordings and videos. Your readers will appreciate the insights into your production process and will stay engaged as you develop each book.

Lessons and Tips

Have you seen TV shows that explain how mega-factories produce everyday objects, or watched a nine-to-five professional explain their job in an interview? While both appear dull at a glance, most people see the “secrets” of unfamiliar industries too interesting to skip. Now, imagine how fascinating they find aspirational jobs and products. In many ways, authors are like athletes, popstars and gamers for millions. We have an aspirational job, meaning your readers will eat up any experiences you share. Sure, the content will be mild entertainment for some, but others will consider it dream fuel. Think: if it interests you, it probably interests others, too.

Social Proof Appreciation

On the surface, bragging doesn’t appear to be a “give”, but you aren’t asking for anything and fans love to celebrate the milestones of creators whose work they enjoy. As long as you celebrate with humility and credit your readers, you’ll be fine. Sharing in this way helps twofold:

  • It keeps your work at the forefront of existing readers’ minds.
  • It pushes social proof into the world, convincing new readers to check out your work.

Won an award? Snap a pic of the rosette. Got a great review? Thank the reader. Hit 100,000 sales? Run an #AskMeAnything to celebrate. Do it right and you’ll appear to be a humble creator simply expressing appreciation for your audience and life.


Typing “Buy my book!” at readers is definitely a “take” activity. Yet, there’s nothing wrong with telling them when one of your books is heavily discounted or available for free. After all, a lot of your readers won’t have read your entire backlist. Hence, if one of your titles drops in price, they were planning to buy it at some point anyway and you let them know, you’re actually doing them a favour. This goes for any format, meaning you can mix up how you choose to deliver the message. For example, you could share it when you run a Kindle Select Countdown Deal, when your paperback hits libraries or when you have audio codes to dish out to lucky readers.

Availability Updates

New authors often try to direct all social media posts at one e-retailer to concentrate their marketing energy. The problem with this tactic is that it becomes a “take” after the first instance. Your core reader base already knows the book is available there, so you aren’t delivering new information. You’re just shouting “Buy my book!” Tell them about a new place your work is available, however, and it’s an entirely different matter. You aren’t repeating the same information. You’re sharing the excitement of reaching a new frontier, letting potential readers who couldn’t get your work in the past know that your books are now available at their favourite store.

Creative Process Insights

Much like learning about how you publish a book and reach stores, many readers love writing process insights:

  • What inspires you?
  • Where do you work?
  • How do you develop a character?

Indeed, most of us work similarly in terms of milestones; we write a draft, get it edited, format it, etc. We don’t, however, all manufacture creativity in the same way — and that fascinates readers. So, what insights can you offer? Perhaps you keep a crystal ball on your desk for inspiration. Maybe you take a midday break, wake up your snoring labradoodle and take him for a walk. Perhaps you sit in a coffee shop or a home library. Props, pets and workspaces all make great content.

Community Spirit

Authorship feels like a solitary profession at first. Hundreds of hours writing alone. No colleagues. Everyone you meet is a rival in the charts. But is that true? Often, no. In many cases, collaborative authors benefit more than competitive ones. After all, readers can read a lot faster than most authors can write. So, feel free to share what you’re reading between launches. Contrary to logic, these kinds of posts won’t lose you readers to a competitor. More often, they result in social karma and actually lead to more sales, especially if you recommend similar authors. Essentially, it teaches retailer algorithms to cross-promote your books — and makes you friends.

Personal Adventures

“Spend more time typing” is good advice for writers who want to be more prolific, but it isn’t always good for your wellbeing or creativity. Plus, it doesn’t make for an interesting story on social media. While some readers want wordcount updates, many like varied content. Thus, ask yourself, “What non-writing activities can share?” For instance, do you attend a martial arts class? Visit museums? Perhaps you stay at luxury resorts. Each pastime you can spin to zhuzh up your social story. Martial arts classes? You mean fight scene research. Museums? Historical fact checking. You could even argue the resorts are research for contemporary romances or spy novels.

Fan Interaction

Ask celebrities what fans want other than a new movie or album and many will answer, “Time!” And while you probably don’t see yourself as a celebrity, your ardent readers will. As a result, they appreciate every interaction. How you manage this is up to you. You could, for example, ask them what series you should work on next and make the winner your priority. Or you could create games for them. Failing that, you could share fan art or post pictures of you with readers you’ve met at events to show them you care. Fan interaction may be no big deal for you, but meeting the author they admire most will stick in their mind for years. So, make them feel special.

When you’re creating content for social media, it’s easy to fall into a cycle of only posting whenever you want something, but too many “asks” can damage your reputation. Plan in advance, though, ensuring you have enough gives to balance out asks, and you’ll see the benefit. As a general rule, asks should take up no more than 20% of your content. This might seem difficult at first, but create evergreen templates you can repurpose around book launches and regularly producing the kind of content readers love gets considerably easier over time.

Daniel Parsons

Daniel Parsons

Dan Parsons is the bestselling author of multiple series. His Creative Business books for authors and other entrepreneurs contains several international bestsellers. Meanwhile, his fantasy and horror series, published under Daniel Parsons, have topped charts around the world and been used to promote a major Hollywood movie. For more information on writing, networking, and building your creative business, check out all of Dan’s non-fiction books here.