Social media is a key component of book promotion and content marketing for authors and hashtags are shortcuts that help find like-minded people on social media. A hashtag is the keyboard number—pound—symbol that appears as a double-crossed capital "H" and is a metadata device used with social media networks.
Users will place the hash before a word or a string of words, tagging the words electronically. Its use will allow other people to quickly search and locate messages that also contain that tag. The social media provider will gather all of the same tags into one stream.
Hashtags Help Find Your Book's Audience
What started out as a Twitter "thing," hashtags are now used on all types of social media platforms—Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, and others. For purposes of this article, we'll stick to hashtags for authors and other bookish pros.
Using specific hashtags for writers and publishing professionals can connect you with like-minded authors and fans. This connection will help you grow your list of followers on Twitter and on other forms of social media.
First Hashtag First
One critically important hashtag for author research purposes is: #mswl
This is short for "manuscript wishlist" and it's the hashtag used by editors and agents who are trawling for particular types of manuscripts.
Hashtags for the Writing Community
Before you market your book, you must write it. Here are some useful writer hashtags to help you find Twitter sympathy while you toil away at the keyboard. These tags allow writers to reach out to readers, editors, other writers, and publishers as they are in the process of writing or marketing their work.
The list is #alphabetical. Also, while it mentions Twitter, these tags can be used on any social media site.
- #amwriting: It’s not really clear how one can be writing and tweeting at the same time, but this is commonly used by writers to indicate they’re generating pages.
- #amediting: Similar to #amwriting, this hashtag indicated that the writer is going through their pages, revising.
- #fridayreads: The writing and book publishing communities are nothing if not passionate readers themselves. By adding this hashtag to a Friday tweet about what you’re currently reading, you show support for other writers and for the book business. It’s good karma for your own work.
- #ff: Stands for “Friday Follow”; another weekly show of generosity on the part of a tweeter, where one recommends sites to follow.
- #nanowrimo: National Novel Writing Month—in November—helps create solidarity among those toiling on their magnum opuses.
- #writingprompt: This hashtag is used when writing coaches give a suggestion about what to write. Prompts are an idea to get the writer going and help to stimulate the flow of the pen on the page.
- #writingtip or #writetip: Writing coaches, editors, and others whose livelihoods depend on authors will offer up their tweety pearls of wisdom, marked by these hashtags.
- #writingsprint: The Twitter version of “on your mark, get set, write", this hashtag encourages author participation in a timed writing exercise.
- #writerwednesday: Used on—you guessed it—hump day, this general hashtag can be used alone or in tandem with other hashtags to mark a variety of different tweets—for author promotion—for oneself or one's friends—or to highlight other writing pursuits, such as a #writingtip (see above).
General Book and Genre Hashtags
These mostly self-explanatory hashtags will help connect writers with fellow genre writers or readers. They can come in helpful when looking for support during the writing process or get out the word in book marketing efforts:
- #cookbooks (also related to the cookbook genre are #food #cooking recipes)
- #fiction (often combined with other genres
- #histfic and #histnovel (used for historical fiction)
- #kidlit (children's literature)
- #litfic (literary fiction)
- #paranormal (used for books like Amanda Hocking's)
- #scifi or #science #fiction
- #short or #short #story or #shortstories or #shortreads
Useful Hashtags for Author and Book Promotions
Using these hashtags for use in tweets and on other social media platforms that will help alert followers and potential followers about your book promotional efforts:
- #bookgiveaway: This signals to all that you’re raffling or otherwise giving away a free copy of a book. Also useful: #free and #freebie
- #indiethursday: Readers who support independent booksellers use this hashtag when tweeting about their purchases on Thursdays.
- #novelines: Use this hashtag when you quote from a novel—your own or others.
- #poetrymonth: Poets are used to short-form writing—they should be pretty good at tweeting, no? Also, in April, they should use the hashtag for National Poetry Month.
- #shortreads: This hashtag generally relates to short stories and gets used most intensively in National Short Story Month, during May.
- #teasertuesday and #samplesunday: Offering up a link to a sample chapter or another snippet from your current work or work-in-progress is a great way to get readers involved. The Twitterverse has made Tuesdays and Sundays the days when writers customarily do this—these hashtags helps readers find the excerpts.
General Promotional Hashtags
These hashtags can highlight the elements of your book marketing campaign to the Twitterverse, the Facebook crowd, Reddit readers, and Pinterest pinners:
- #free or freebie
Hashtags for “Indies”
Self-published “indie” authors have an especially rich on-world Twitter. As many indie writers publish on ebook only. Tweeting and linking is an organic way for them to drum up reader interest in their books and connect with other DIY writers.
- #indieauthor or #indiepub: Authors use these to define themselves as self-published.
The following hashtags help alert potential readers to the ebook formats on which the work is available
- #pubit PubIt is Barnes & Noble's ebook publishing platform
eBook Publishers and Purchase Sites
These tags allow for direct followers to sites where the books can be purchased:
- #kpd (Kindle Publishing Direct)
- #nook (Barnes & Noble)
Of course, there are undoubtedly more hashtags that will be useful, depending on the topic tweeted about.