Travis Maddox has one.
So does Thomas Loud.
Heck, even Ivan the Giraffe is in on it.
You’ll find these fictional characters on social media. And they’re all from books.
It’s an effective strategy for novelists, but big brands are in on the fun, too. Elmo, Superman, Mr. Peanut, and even Barbie all have their own accounts on networks that include Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Why you want to do this
Why should you create social media profiles for your characters? Here are just a few reasons:
- By bringing your character to life outside the pages of your book, you’re giving readers and fans an opportunity to connect with the character in a way that further bonds them to your writing. This can be especially meaningful for series authors.
- It helps you create character depth while you’re writing your book.
- You’ve got something to say on social media besides “buy my book.”
- You will have an outlet for precious, beloved material cut from the story.
- It can be more fun than tweeting or posting Facebook updates as yourself.
Really, how can you resist?
Tips for doing it effectively
As with all social media use, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do this, even when the profile is for a fictional character. Keep these tips in mind as you create profiles for your fictional friends:
1. Don’t violate anyone’s copyright.
Make sure the profile image you use doesn’t violate any artist’s or photographer’s copyright. Check royalty free photography sites but consider paying for a photo, too, just to be safe. The service I uses charges a dollar per image; here’s just a sample of what I found when I searched for “handsome young man.”
If you’re struggling to find just the right “person” to fit your character, consider using a different type of image to represent the character — a nurse’s cap for a nurse, and so on.
2. Really get into character when you post.
Too many people use their character’s Facebook Page to post content that they post on their author Page, too. You know — the standard “Author XYZ is doing a book signing tomorrow!” or “(Book title) just got another five-star review on Amazon!”
Is that really what your character would be sharing on social media? I think not.
Get into character and have a little fun with it! Your character’s status updates or Instagram images should be created from their perspective, not yours. Stay away from those “buy my book” messages that are inherent in author appearance announcements and focus, instead, on what your character might say or do at that event.
3. Look for real ways to engage readers with your characters.
Let your character ask questions, provide commentary on world affairs or politics, share favorite image quotes, request movie recommendations, or post pictures from a book club appearance. Know what your audience is interested in, and use your character to share information, ask questions, or lead a discussion on that.
4. Don’t market. Connect.
Stop thinking about selling books. Focus instead on connecting with readers. Your character’s social media accounts provide a way to bring that character out of the type on the page and into a new dimension. You get to bring that character to life.
If you’re forcing your character to share details about book signings or $.99 sale days, you’re just trying to sell. Readers aren’t interested in that — they’re interested in their favorite character’s take on what’s happening in the world around them.
Character profile resources
If you like this idea but have trouble imagining how you’d execute it, consider using social media profile templates that educators use to bring fictional characters to life for today’s social media savvy students. “Fakebook” is one, but there are others. Just filling out the templates without worrying about hitting “submit” will get you thinking about how you want to approach this.
You might also have fun with “ifaketext,” an online tool that lets you create images of fake iPhone messages — messages that, of course, might have been sent by your character. (I think this is such a cool tool!)
Here’s one I created for two of my favorite fictional characters, Stephanie Plum and Grandma Mazur, from the numbered Janet Evanovich series:
Think about how much fun you’ll have with this — almost as much fun as writing the book!
Are you ready to learn how to promote your fiction? Get immediate access to the home study “Book Marketing 101 for Fiction: How to Build Book Buzz Basic E-course” now. You owe it to yourself to learn what works, what doesn’t, and where to put your efforts.
Does your book’s character have a social media profile? Share the link in a comment!