It was my turn to write up a post for the Wordwraiths … and I wasn’t sure what I was going to write.
Then I was mentioned in a post on Jolly Fish Press’s blog about How To Become a Better Social Media Networker (thanks Reece Hanzon!), and an author friend suggested I do a master post on social media for writers, since it seemed I was on the right track with that myself.
And I thought, great idea! So here it is, writers. Your social media master post! Ahem …
Start with Twitter
My personal opinion? If your goal is to be a published author, traditional or indie, I’d put Twitter at the top of your list. Facebook is either a little too personal, or too hard to find people (and see their posts) in. Instagram isn’t so great unless you have a lot of visual content to share (although I highly recommend this for building an audience if you have a lot of short writings you can take pictures of and share). There are several other platforms out there that are fun (Pinterest and Periscope, for example), but for an author’s intentions, Twitter is really your best bet.
1) You don’t have a lot of time, and neither does anyone else. Say your piece in 140 characters or less = quick and easy to compose tweets and also read tweets. This is also great practice at being efficient in conveying only essential information.
2) Hashtags make it very easy to find tweets on any particular subject and then contribute to those discussions.
3) It offers the most direct access to anyone who has a Twitter account, even big-name people you’d never dream would ever talk to you. Tweet to Nathan Fillion and you might actually get a response. From him. Personally. Where else would that ever happen?
These three things also make it really convenient for authors to find the people they need to find on Twitter.
Browse Targeted Hashtags
The following are excellent places to start:
#MSWL (=ManuScript Wish List)
#JanWritingChallenge (changes every month, see www.writingchallenge.org)
Look at the people who are tweeting under those hashtags, and follow the ones you think you might like to get to know better, to include other authors, editors, agents, and publishers.
Target Who You Follow
Do not follow everyone, and do not follow everyone who follows you.
Consider each person who follows you. Read their bio and their Twitter feed. Decide if you want to follow them. There is no universal law that says you must follow back. Sure, you’ll get a few unfollows if you don’t follow back, but to those people I say “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.” Quality is far more important than quantity. We’re not in a popularity contest here, folks.
Another good place to start is to find your favorite authors and follow them. Browse the people they follow and follow anyone relevant to you. If any person you follow through the above-listed hashtags lists their publisher or agent or cover artist in their Twitter bio, follow those links and check out those people, and follow if you find them interesting and engaging, too.
Why Targeting Who You Follow Matters
I follow 1400+ people on Twitter (as of this writing). About 85% of those 1400 people are other authors, writers of some nature, literary agents, acquisitions editors, freelance editors or artists, or publishers. The remaining 15% are usually people obsessed with the same fandoms as me. What does this tell you?
Despite the fact I’m following a huge number of people, I’m only following the people I am genuinely and personally interested in.
By being very selective on who I follow, I customize and direct the nature of my Twitter newsfeed.
By keeping random clutter off my newsfeed, I get more posts related to my target subject: writing, books, editing, reading, etc. … with the occasional cat picture or piece of awesome fandom news.
And that’s exactly what I want on my newsfeed. Having a very specific newsfeed lets me interact more often with people who share my same writing and publishing interests. (You can also put people into lists, to make it easier to keep track of your very favorite Twitter peeps.)
Interacting more often with these people keeps me involved, and leads to more leads … more agents, more editors, more authors, more books, more conferences and contests and publishers, more manuscript wish lists. My network and networking opportunities grow and grow, and all I have to do is have fun conversations with interesting people about things I love.
That doesn’t sound so hard, does it?
Twitter is Not for Selling
Instead, just be yourself. (Unless you’re an asshole. Then don’t be yourself.)
Share your journey and your experiences, but try to put everything in a positive light. There is enough negativity everywhere else. Make your corner of the Twitter ‘verse uplifting and inspiring. If you’re having a hard day, rant to your friends and family. Then go to Twitter when you’re feeling better and share how you came out on top.
Share your writing progress on some of the above hashtags. This is the best way to generate camaraderie among other authors, and can even attract future readers, too.
Share some lines of your manuscript, sure. And cover reveals are great.
And yes, you can share blog posts, but don’t make that all you ever post, either. (Your feed shouldn’t feel like it’s a ME ME ME show, in other words.)
Book release announcements are awesome on Twitter … if you aren’t trying to push people to buy all the time. Preferably, put a link to your book in your bio or pin it at the top of your feed.
If you’re running a promo, share it! … but not every hour every day of the promotion. Three times in one day is most certainly the max.
The best time to promote and “sell” your work as an author is during the pre-scheduled Twitter pitch events, as listed in the Hashtag section above. Otherwise, use Twitter to research agents, editors and publishers who might be a good fit for your book and to decide if those people are people you’d like to have a working relationship with. But once you find those people, don’t simply dump tweets about your book anywhere you think they might see.
Find out what they are interested in and strike up a conversation about that subject. They may not reply, but if they don’t, it’s okay. They’re busy. You reached out to them, that’s enough. Wait a few weeks and see if there’s something else they’re talking about you can contribute to.
Better yet, try to help them out. Are they wondering about a good restaurant in a city they’ve never been to, but you have? Give a recommendation! Are they looking for the next great fantasy book to read? Give ‘em your two cents on what they should read next!The point is, it’s not all about you and your book. The more your attitude is about community and networking and helping other people out any way you can, the more people will gravitate toward you as someone they like and want to know, and as someone they want to work with, too.
What led to my name being mentioned on this blog post from Jolly Fish Press? Something not related to my own book at all. It was Reece’s massive home library. You guys, he has so many books. I commented on that one day, and he replied. I followed him, and realized he loves Star Wars, too. And as he says, “the rest is proverbial history”.
Not only did I find someone to regularly geek out about Star Wars with, but I found someone who ended up being excited about my manuscript to the point where his enthusiasm is largely driving the pace of my current edits! I also discovered that Jolly Fish Press is an amazing organization that treats their authors like friends and really believes in the books they’re publishing.
And that is exactly the type of place and the kind of people I’d love to work with.
I cannot stress it to my fellow authors enough: you must network.
Somehow, some way, it must be done. In this day and age, we have social media. It’s a treasure trove of networking waiting to be cracked. It’s easier than ever now to connect with people in the industry, at all levels. You have absolutely no excuse for not getting out there yourself.
So go. Now. I promise you won’t regret it!
❤ Jeni and the Wordwraiths!!