by Kelly Carey
Is your writing journey ready for our new virtual environment? Is your social media presence ready to be an asset to your writing?
If you’ve been timid about social media in the past, our new environment is the perfect moment to rethink.
We can’t meet in person and those wonderful connections you could make at workshops, conferences and book events are either no longer an option or they’ve all gone online. It’s time to pivot and create those connections virtually. That means you need to build a strong social media game.
Even when we are back to face-to-face days, your writing career will benefit if your social media community is full and rich.
But are you stuck in a cycle of social media excuses that are holding you back? Let’s see.
Excuse #1: Social Media Is A Time Suck
Everything can be a time suck and a distraction from your writing goals IF you allow things to obliterate your focus. Setting an egg timer allowance of 15 to 30 minutes a day or a week can help remedy this excuse and I would argue you may actually find time saving and valuable information on social media.
In that short 30 minutes spent on Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram you may find the #MSWL tweet from an agent looking for your exact book! Score! You may happen across a Facebook post about a revision workshop that is just what your middle grade novel needs. Win! You may see a Publisher’s Weekly article that a fellow author posted and it will make you more knowledgeable and aware of current industry buzz. Excellent!
You can use your goals and focus your social media efforts so they are productive.
Excuse #2: Connections On Social Media Are Fake
Connections on social media are fake if you are being fake. Be your authentic self on social media and you will find real connections. I would argue that social media gives you the opportunity to make connections you might never have made if geographic proximity and chance were required.
If I read a book that I love, I tweet out praise and tag the author and/or illustrator and publisher. Almost 100% of the time one or all tweet back. There was NOTHING fake about my original tweet. It was genuinely motivated by my appreciation for a book. That is real. Social media gave me the mechanism to share my kind words directly with an author who I might never meet in person.
If I come across a great article, interview or blog post and I repost it on Facebook, my fellow writing colleagues may appreciate the opportunity to see it. If I tag the author of the piece and thank them for their efforts there is NOTHING fake about my respect for the article, interview or blog post. If you go through the effort of putting something out to the internet universe, it’s nice when someone notices. I think the authors and blog owners that see me repost their work alongside kind words appreciate that I do that. Almost 100% of the time I get a response. And now we are connected.
Be authentic and your social media connections will be real.
Excuse #3: Connections on Social Media Are Shallow
This is a situation of you get out what you are willing to put in. Granted, nothing can really replace the kismet meeting at a book launch that sparks a spontaneous conversation where you discover that you both had a childhood cat named Rex. BUT you can make connections that are deeper than ankle height. They will require effort and energy, just like any relationship.
If you are a passive social media user who just lurks around the platforms and hits like or clicks a heart if you see something that you agree with or love, then yes, your connections will be shallow. Those options are like waving across the room to a colleague but refusing to walk over and shake someone’s hand. You need to shake hands and offer a bit of conversation. You cannot just wave. Instead of hitting like or punching hearts, make a comment. That comment shows effort and moves you into the realm of active participant. Be that person.
If you engage in a meaningful way, your connections will be meaningful.
Excuse #4: I Stink at Technology
Me too! Just ask my kids. But you are a brave creative individual who puts manuscripts in front of critique groups. You can wade into Twitter and/or Facebook. Start small. As we suggest with all goals, make your technology goals manageable. We would never set a goal of writing three novels in one week, so why set a scary social media objective? Decide that you are going to set up a Twitter account and commit to 15 minutes of Twitter time a day and one tweet a week. You can do that. Want to get better at using Twitter? Add in a goal of watching a Twitter tutorial online.
Here’s the good news. While you are learning and figuring things out and making mistakes, like sending out a tweet with misspellings or forgetting to tag the author whose book you are gushing about, you will barely have any followers! So who is really going to see it anyway? In the beginning the only folks who see your tweet will probably be your crit group and your best friend! You’ll have time to hone your skills before a crowd is watching.
You will only master technology if you take steps to improve your skills.
Excuse #5: I Can Wait Until I Have a Book to Promote
No you cannot! Well before you have a book to promote and NEED your social media community you must put in the time to build the community and contribute to it.
I launched my debut book last month – in the middle of a pandemic that shut down everything! If I didn’t have social media, how would anyone have seen my book? The only reason I have followers on social media is because I posted and tweeted and tagged for years leading up to my book launch. The result was an online community ready to help boost news of my book because I had boosted their book news, retweeted their blog articles, and been a full participant in the social media community.
Even without the confines of the pandemic, my social media community puts my book news in front of WAY more folks than I could reach with face-to-face contact and to a much broader geographic reach.
If you wait until you need social media, it will be too late.
Are you ready to up your social media game, create real connections and build a social media community that will benefit your writing career? Great!
(Now prove it by tweeting and/or reposting this blog!)
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