SPECIAL FEATURE Taking Control of your Social Media Accounts

SCBWI-BI member AJ de Montjoie discusses how to build and control your social media universe.

The last few weeks have been a storm of noise on Twitter and Facebook with regards to our writer community. I am not going to get into those discussions, but you have to have been in an internet dead zone to have missed it.

So how can you ensure that one of your main means of marketing yourself and your wonderful writing is still exposed without ending up in a mess? I see the words ‘toxic’ used for social media and I think that’s a shame. SoMe (as marketers call it) can be such a power for good and it’s certainly a great way to gain exposure. I think there are few simple things you can do to ensure you are visible and gain from the experience, rather than ignore it completely or end up diving down the debate rabbit hole.


Let’s start with Twitter.

I have a Twitter account that is full of noise and, as I quite rightly say, ‘ramblings’ @ajsramblings. I am not published in children’s writing, but I am in the clinical research world. Very few people in clinical research know that I exist in this form on Twitter and that’s a jolly good thing. I don’t want them reading about my political stance, my posts about my adoration of puffins or authors, my crazy tweets on cycling or Denmark etc. (that is enough for most of you to unfollow me!). I have a ‘persona’ that is me and another ‘persona’ that is professional.

Firstly, create a specific account for your writing.
If you don’t already have one, I suggest this is your priority, or if you have an author account create another one for your rants (see above!). On your author account, connect with writers, publishers, editors, conferences, SCBWI_BI (goes without saying) and stick the @SCBWI_BI in your Bio.

Second Action: Create Lists
You can create various lists on Twitter, I like doing it in my browser as it’s easier to see but you can do the same on the app on your phone or tablet.

You can see some of mine here:

I find these invaluable as I can quickly go and have a look at which agents are asking for submissions, which authors have a new book out and so on without having to scroll through my timeline.

I admit that if you have never used lists then this is going to take some time to create them.

However, this is one way to ensure you get to the right people at the right time.

If you don’t want anyone to see your lists, make them private!

Thirdly: Control
Take control of your Twitter account. If you follow someone who then turns out to be exactly the opposite of what you originally thought of them, either mute (so you don’t see their tweets but still follow them, if you think you need to maintain the connection, unfollow, or if it’s awful, block them. It’s very simple.

Finally, you can use a tool like Hootsuite or Tweet Deck or many others to be able to manage multiple accounts. Start to develop your authorial voice in your Tweets. You are all writers. You know about tone of voice. You know about maintaining consistency and style. You are experts.


I think there are some things you can do to make it your happy place.

Firstly: Create an author page.
This can be the place where you can post all your authorly thoughts and ideas, promote your own book without fear and so on. If you’re not published, I think looking at few accounts of other authors will give you a real sense of what to do. I chose a random author name off Twitter and found Abi Elphinstone’s page this morning. It’s a good example of the way to keep your author self and your private self apart. https://www.facebook.com/abi.elphinstone/

There are many others, but this looks good and you can see she updates regularly. This is the key. You need to keep the content up to date and exciting.

Secondly: control your newsfeed
It’s so easy on Facebook to get bogged down by seeing posts that upset you and yet, you feel able to ‘unfriend’ someone for fear of causing offence. But there is another way. Just like on Twitter you can when you see a post. Just click on the little dots to the right of the post and you will see this:

You can choose to ‘snooze’ for 30 days or ‘hide’ posts from a page or you can UNFOLLOW an individual. You are still connected but you don’t see their posts in your timeline. If you want them back in your timeline, you can always go to their profile page and click follow at the top of their profile.

If you don’t want them to see what you’re posting, you can do that too.

Add your friend to ‘another list’ and add them to your restricted list. This ensures that the only thing they see are your public posts (posts you’ve opened up to everyone).

Alternatively when you create a post, you can use the custom share button to choose those people you don’t want to see a post (it’s a bit laborious doing this each time – so I prefer the restricted list … most of my family are on the restricted list – don’t tell them!).

If it gets too much, just unfriend them or indeed delete your account and create a new one and find the people you really want to connect with.

You’re not obliged to have SoMe and I think for your own mental health, you have to decide if it’s worth having. Also, as an aside (look out, I am about to ramble), I don’t trust Facebook with my data. I have taken the time to delete many posts, restrict old posts and I don’t use it anywhere near as much as I used to. It’s a personal choice. Would I delete it though? No, mainly because of the writer community.

Final thoughts

There are many more channels you could be using but I know these were the two that have created some debate. I don’t have all the answers, but I hope some of this helps a little. Perhaps the most important thing is that SoMe should be a place to really build your connections. Remember that nuance is lost in a 240 character post, so it’s really not worth trying to explain your thoughts on the way Dickens portrayed working class people and women in David Copperfield. Stick to broadcasting your work and amplifying those you admire. Be honest with yourself and your audience (remember they might be the kids or the parents of the kids that you want to read your books). I think we are all craving honesty right now. But most of all, be kind to yourself and others. A kind writerly voice in all that noise makes my day and probably yours too. Have fun, stay safe and feel free to ask me anything on Twitter (and you can always mute me!)

AJ de Montjoie has a day job as a Director of Marketing at a Danish company, but at night time she dreams of wild places, wild ideas and wild words. She rambles on Twitter @ajsramblings  about all manner of nonsense but mostly she about puffins. She is a former SCBWI BI conference chair and has never quite been the same since.

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