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Social Media and the KidLit Community: My (Updated) Personal Take

Quick navigation: Bluesky Lists – I’m mainly on Bluesky and Substack these days.
*** UPDATED March 3, 2024: Also see my new Bluesky Tips: Community Engagement post!

Spoiler alert: As you can tell from the image above and screenshot below of Melissa Stewart’s article in School Library Journal, Bluesky is currently my preferred social media watercooler of choice these days. For slower-paced and longer-form posting, my happyplace is still Substack.

Since I posted my previous personal take on social media for the kidlit community, a lot has changed, so I decided it’s time I post an update. However, keep in mind that I am NOT actively posting on all social media platforms. Like many others, I got tired of checking out the shiny new platforms claiming to be THE replacement for Twitter. I’ve been approached by several SCBWI Regional teams asking if I’d do talks advising the children’s book creator community about social media. While I was flattered (YAY for SCBWI Regional Teams!) I had to decline because I’m no longer up-to-date on all the platforms and lack the motivation to do that research.

I’d much rather carve out more time for my creative work than invest more time in researching social media.

With that caveat, here’s my own personal take on the state of social media in the children’s book community right now.


There doesn’t seem to be ONE place where the kidlit community has settled, sadly.

Twitter/X, contrary to many predictions, has not yet imploded. According to, Twitter has around 528.3 million monthly active users. I still check in once or twice a week, mainly to check for educator @ mentions. I am not a Paid Subscriber. I recently did a cover reveal for my upcoming picture book, I WANT TO READ *ALL* THE BOOKS, and (as of today), it was reshared 69 times, liked 308 times. I have been spending less time on this platform as the number my interactions with toxic people (trolling, spamming) increased. When Musk announced that the Block feature wasn’t that important, it pushed me over the edge. See my X account.

threads app

Threads seems to have an active kidlit community, especially now that it’s open up to Europeans. It has more than 130 million monthly users, according to Meta. I check in every so often, but it hasn’t grabbed me as much as Bluesky has, and I haven’t taken the time to figure out how to easily find people. This is just personal preference, plus the fact that I simply can’t spend time being active on yet another platform. When I shared my cover, it was reshared 0 times and liked 21 times. See my Threads account.


Instagram: Since Instagram started trying to be more like TikTok and other platforms, I haven’t been as enamoured of this platform. I also find the viewing algorithm ranking confusing and somewhat frustrating. I *really* wish Instagram enabled us to create private lists so I could, for example, go to my “see posts from my nephew and nieces” list and be guaranteed to ONLY see posts from them when I want to. I have two Instagram accounts: one is my personal IG for sharing my art and photos, and one is my Bookstagram for talking about books I’m enjoying. When I shared my cover, it was shared 20 times and liked 570 times.


Facebook is still a go-to for many, mainly because it’s where family members and childhood friends hang out. I am not a fan of Facebook, mainly because I find it overwhelming. There are no easy ways to easily view curated lists, for example, and the post viewing algorithm seems to keep changing. I have friends on FB from many of my worlds including kidlit, board gaming, university, family, filk music, fountain pen pals, publishing industry, etc. I recently posted my cover reveal on my Personal FB page and received SO many wonderful comments and hundreds of Likes and Shares…but within two hours, a spammer had created a fake account in my name, scooped and pasted my personal profile pic and cover image, responded to EVERY SINGLE comment to encourage people to click on a link. I reported the fake account, of course, but had to delete the post; I had a couple of friends message me to ask whether it was really me, but others might still click the link. I posted the cover reveal on my Author/Illustrator Page, where it was shared 11 times and liked 142 times.

Mastodon is still a favourite of some of my friends, especially those in the sciences. I confess I haven’t logged into my account in many months. I just tried now, but got a message that the email address or password I entered was invalid, or maybe my account is hosted on a different server. I’ve heard the on-boarding process and features have improved since the days when I first tried it but at this point, I simply can’t spend time being active on yet another platform. I had such high hopes, but the ongoing technical issues (every time a new feature was added, another feature started having problems) that most of the kidlit community who joined ended up wandering off in search of a more stable platform. Curated lists still have not been added. You still can’t add ALT text to images. To change the email address associated with your account, you need to message support (I tried and didn’t hear anything back). However, Post is still a great place for finding and posting content related to U.S. news and politics, plus there are some creative types whose posts I still enjoy. At this point, though, I have to ask myself whether I really have the time to be active on yet another platform. See my account. Zero shares, liked 33 times.

TikTok: I still haven’t figured out how to use TikTok. Or rather, how I can use TikTok that won’t be the same as what I post on other platforms. I have started spending more time learning about this video-based platform, though, because I know TikTok can be a factor in helping to sell books (especially books geared toward older readers). Plus I do have fun putting together videos on other platforms. If you want to see what I do with it, feel free to follow my debbie.ohi TikTok feed (please note this is my real account, not the other Debbie Ohi account where far more people are following).


YouTube: Because I’ve been enjoying learning more about Adobe Premiere Pro and also doing more video creating/editing, I’ve been thinking about finding ways to use my YouTube account more effectively for my book-related promotion. I love that YouTube videos can be easily embedded in my Substack posts and elsewhere, so there will be a lot of cross-promotion opportunities, increasing the value of any time I invest in this platform. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to sustain a regular posting schedule, though. Here’s my YouTube channel.

substack wordmark

Substack: This is still my happyplace online, in terms of user experience. It’s not really a social media platform like the others I’ve mentioned so far, though the social media elements (Substack has been adding more) warrant its inclusion in my list. Most people think of Substack as just a newsletter tool. While newsletters ARE the main focus, people can still read most content on the Substack website without subscribing (you can set up a paywall if you want), I love the community aspect. You can share content, Like and comment on people’s posts, participate in text-based chats. Substack also has introduced short-form Notes, which is great for posting updates between newsletters, helping boost other people’s Substacks etc. Like the regular Substack newsletters, you can Like, comment, and share. I love Substack because its slower pace and longer posts encourage deeper thinking and less skim-scroll-scan. You can see my main Substack here, where I also host a free Picture Books 101 series for beginning picture book writers and illustrators. When I shared my cover reveal, it was reshared 7 times, liked 36 times.

And this brings to Bluesky…

A simplified silhouette of a butterfly, with two symmetric pairs of wings, colored with a sky-blue gradient.


This is where I mainly hang out these days; you can find me at I ended up settling on Bluesky as my Twitter replacement mainly because there is an active and growing educator community. I don’t have nearly as big a following as I do on X but I enjoy my experience on Bluesky MUCH more.

Bluesky is now open to the public, with no invite codes necessary; they recently crossed over the 5 million users total on the network. See their blog post, “Join Bluesky Today (Bye, Invites!)“, which includes a great explainer comic by Davis Bickford about Bluesky and what makes Bluesky different from many other platforms. Bluesky is gradually federating, which one user explains means “Your school or work can make their own little Bluesky within Bluesky. Think like servers on Discord.”

I’ve created a Starter thread on Bluesky with tips for new Bluesky users: will always point to my updated thread.

Bluesky’s interface is VERY Twitter-like, which makes the on-boarding easier for those familiar with that platform. It has also added the ability to add user-curated Public Lists, and has a wide range of moderation tools to help users curate what they see. I strongly recommend checking out 3rd-party Bluesky clients like (I use this browser-based app on my desktop computer & iPad) and Graysky (I use this on my iPhone), both of which have many more features than the default Bluesky app. There are many more 3rd party apps, of course! Here are the apps highlighted on Bluesky’s About Page:

Main challenge for newcomers (just like in the early days of Twitter): Finding and connecting with people they enjoyed following on other platforms. It’s one reason I created LISTS and FEEDS. You can find these in my Bluesky profile, under the appropriate tabs.

Here are just some of the public Lists I’ve created on Bluesky (I’m still crossing my fingers that the ability to create Private Lists is added soon!):

For each of the following Lists, click on the About tab in Bluesky to browse a list of the users in that list.

K-12 Educators & Librarians

Indie bookstores & booksellers. Also see my custom feed of posts from this WITHOUT replies.

KidLit & YA Agents. Also see my custom feed of posts from this list WITHOUT replies.

KidLit & YA Editors (who work with traditional publishing houses). Also see my custom feed of posts from this list WITHOUT replies.

KidLit Art Directors & Book Designers (who work with traditional publishing houses)

KidLit/YA Book Bloggers & Others Who Promote KidLit/YA Books

Kidlit/YA Book Booster List (those who have agreed to only use 📚👍🏼 emoji combo in posts promoting other people’s books. You can browse their recommendations here)

Building Custom Feeds Using Skyfeed

You can also create a custom feed using a 3rd-party app called Skyfeed. Here’s a thread I created showing you how a Bluesky LIST differs from a custom FEED. A custom feed can be pretty powerful! Here’s one example: Browse the KidLit & YA Book Love feed for book recommendations from the Bluesky book community.

I created this using Skyfeed. First I created a public Bluesky List of those who were interested in participating. Then I imported that list into Skyfeed, and created a custom feed consisting of posts from anyone on that list with a 📚👍🏼 emoji combo.

ANOTHER EXAMPLE: Here’s my Bluesky list of KidLit/YA Editors. Click on the About page for list of users. Display, however, defaults to Posts – and currently (depending on how you have your Home Feed Prefs set), you may see lots of posts from people other than editors. Why? Because if anyone of the Editors list has replied to someone, the Posts will show not only the editor’s reply, but also the original post. This can be useful if you want to see what a particular editor is interested in, but also makes the Posts tab of Bluesky Lists super-cluttered. This is why I used Skyfeed to create a custom feed of posts (WITHOUT replies) of posts from those on my KidLit/YA Editors, but with replies removed.

For those interested in creating their own custom feeds with Skyfeed, be warned that the interface is NOT intuitive. Here is what Skyfeed looked like after I used Feed Builder to create the feed above, for example:

Also, Skyfeed sometimes runs into tech glitches which results in the feed not displaying properly. Still, considering Skyfeed is created by just ONE PERSON, I’m impressed (and grateful). You can follow SkyFeed App on Bluesky as well as see important status updates here.

I’ve created a thread on Bluesky to show I created a very simple user-based custom feed, for those interested.

In Summary:

Is Bluesky perfect? No, of course not. Top of my current wish list in the native app: clickable hashtags and private Lists. Note: Third-party Bluesky clients like and Graysky (I use the first on my desktop computer and iPad, latter on my iPhone and iPad) DO have clickable hashtags as well as other features.

But which platform will give me the most engagement?

Bluesky reminds me of early days of Twitter. To those complaining that they’re not getting engagement over on Bluesky: Instead of thinking in terms of “how much traction am I getting”, I strongly encourage you to find a way to first decide what you want to get out of a social media platform. Are you hoping to connect with a kidlit agent or editor? Browse my list of KidLit/YA agents on Bluesky look for opportunities for interacting with them that way. Respond to their questions. Help boost their signal. DON’T query them directly on Bluesky; that’s a sure way to chase them away. Are you hoping to connect with K-12 educators and librarians? Browse the #EduSky and #Skybrarian hashtags (easy to do in and Graysky, as I mentioned earlier), or my list of K-12 Educators & Librarians on Bluesky.

Biggest pieces of advice, for those wanting to connect with others on Bluesky: Seek out kindred spirits via Lists, Feeds, and Search. Don’t expect people to discover you; be proactive and seek them out.

Here is more advice for those looking to improve their community engagement on Bluesky. (A thread I posted that includes tips not just from me, but others in the community).


Make sure you fill out your profile BEFORE you start following, so people know you’re a real person. Take the time to explore your Moderation and Settings, to better control what you see. If your home feed seems too quiet or too full of replies, for example, you can tweak your Home Feed Preferences.

Check out my Bluesky Starter Thread and Bluesky How-To Videos. If you don’t know how to do something, just ask. Feel free to tag me (I’m on Bluesky) and I’ll try to help if I can.

For those curious about what engagement was like for my cover reveal, my post about I WANT TO READ ALL THE BOOKS was reposted 11 times and Liked 82 times. Summary of the platforms in my cover reveal experiment:

Bluesky (13.8k followers): Shared 11 times, liked 82 times.
X/Twitter (28.8k followers): Shared 69 times, liked 308 times.
Threads (2,367 followers): Shared 0 times, liked 21 times.
Instagram (11.2k followers): Shared 20 times, liked 570 times.
Facebook Personal (4.2k “friends”, followed by 1038): Original post was shared many times but had to be deleted because of a spammer. 😢
Facebook Biz Page (6k followers): Shared 11 times, liked 142 times.
Mastodon: Wasn’t able to login and I was too lazy to figure out how to do it (it’s been way too long since I’ve been active on Mastodon). (3078 followers): Shared 0 times, liked 3 times (but only just posted today).
Substack (1573 subscribers): Shared 7 times, liked 36 times.

Before drawing any conclusions from the above, however, be aware that while I am most engaged with the community on Bluesky, I do still use Twitter for helping boost my interviews with authors/illustrators as well as sometimes helping to boost others. I suspect the number of Shares/Likes would be far lower if I only used Twitter/X for broadcasting promo. I might be wrong, though.

I believe that there is no ONE right way to use social media; you need to find what works for you. I do recommend not spreading yourself so thin that it stressed you out. Your mental health always needs to come first, as well as your creative work.

If Threads is working for you and you love it the most, then go with it! Only you know what will and won’t work for your own situation. Find the 1-2 social media platforms YOU enjoy the most, and embrace those. Don’t try to be everywhere.

As I reread this post to check for typos, I also came to a realization that part of what draws me to a social media platform is the user experience in browsing other people’s content. I don’t like just broadcasting. I genuinely enjoy seeing what other people are posting about BUT without an easy way to curate what I’m seeing, I get stressed out. It’s one reason why LISTS are so important to me. As toxic as it can be, Twitter/X is still the best in that functionality — it enables users to create both private and public Lists. Bluesky now enables users to create public Lists and Feeds, but private Lists greatly enhance a user’s browsing experience. Fingers crossed!

UPDATE March 3, 2024:

Also see my follow-up post: New To Bluesky? Here are some tips. Includes advice for those seeking more community engagement on Bluesky!