As a member of the Georgia Romance Writers (GRW) chapter I am very fortunate to be surrounded by a plethora of talented writers. Piper Huguley, author of historical fiction featuring African American characters, is one such author.
When I first discovered Piper it was like hearing a Top 40 song on the radio. She was the debut author EVERYONE was buzzing about. I heard about her via Facebook and chapter meetings, podcasts and online book clubs. After reading a few reviews, I ended up landing on Piper’s blog—which is amazing, by the way.
Thing is—she doesn’t spam her followers with self-promotion; she is just…genuine and relevant. As a matter of fact, the first conversation I had with Piper was through Facebook after she saw I attended Margie Lawson’s Immersion class. Yes, you read that correctly. SHE reached out to ME. I immediately had a groupie moment and swooned a little because I had been wanting to introduce myself, but I was just too shy to reach out.
*ending fan girl moment*
Anyway, we met. I really liked meeting her in-person and was *pretty sure* she liked me. As such, I decided to test the bounds of our new friendship and corner her at a GRW meeting to ask if I could pick her brain about being a social media BOSS. She was nice enough to grant me this interview.
Rina Gray: On an interview with Michelle 4 Laughs you mentioned: “Social media is responsible for my getting contracts. I didn’t think it would happen that way either.” What else have you surprisingly discovered by leveraging social media as an author?
Piper Huguley: I think the stream of continuous connectedness with the readers is what surprises me the most. There is a feeling of knowing someone, before you’ve met them, something I marveled about when I first met a reader the other day in person for the first time.
Rina Gray: There are so many social media channels out there! What is your favorite social media platform and why?
Piper Huguley: I’m equally comfortable with Facebook and Twitter, but I have a slight preference for Twitter because of the way I receive information that are nice plot bunny ideas for my stories.
Rina Gray: Which social media channels or platforms are your target audiences using?
Piper Huguley: I still think Facebook and Twitter. People are telling me to check out Instagram, but I’m still a little hesitant.
Rina Gray: How do you measure success?
Piper Huguley: A week ago, I might have answered that differently, but this week, I would have to say that if there is a nice consistent buzz on social media about your work, especially without targeting you directly, it means that you are being noticed. And that’s pretty cool.
Rina Gray: On social media are you a pantser (no scheduled posts, just go for it) a plotter (schedule posts, editorial calendars for blogs) or a little bit of both? Can you tell us about your process?
Piper Huguley: I schedule my blog posts, but I don’t schedule other sorts of social media, unless I’ve bought an ad. There is a fake feel to scheduled posts to me. The impression I have these days are of people who want real time engagement, which is hard to do, but makes the connection better, I think
Rina Gray: I’ve noticed that you participated in quite a few online contests related to your book cover. Have you noticed an uptick in followers or likes on your social media pages? Have there been other social promotions you have participated in that has been successful?
Piper Huguley: I do, but I participate in those contests to give people ideas about what is possible in book covers. So no, I haven’t noticed an uptick in likes, since that’s not why I enter those contests. For me, social promotions are about consistently connecting with readers in lots of ways, and by providing information that is of value to them.
Rina Gray: Your blog in a word…Amazing. What have been some positive benefits of blogging?
Piper Huguley: Thank you! Well, the blog is a place people can come for content. When I started it almost 3 years ago, I didn’t know what I was going to blog about. I looked around for blogs about Black History. I was sure there were going to be a lot and I would just get lost in the crowd. To my surprise, there weren’t that many at all. So then I knew what I should blog about. So the way I see it, my blog is a real-time extension of my author pages in my books which helps to continue my connection with them on a biweekly basis. And people who are interested in Black History might come across me and be interested in my books. It’s a win-win situation for me.
Rina Gray: As a wife, mother, author and college professor, I imagine time is precious and maintaining a social media presence can take a lot of time. Do you have any tips for writers for time management and prioritization?
Piper Huguley: The social media aspect does take a lot of time. So I do have to make sure that I control it and get my words down as well as do everything else I need to take care of in my personal life. It’s a real juggling act. So I’ve employed some things in terms of time management, like touching things just once and handling them as they come in. I don’t watch a lot of television. Or if I watch something it’s on On-Demand-when I can schedule it. It’s a juggling act, and I’m always looking for ways to be better organized. I’m a work in progress.