First, a big “Thank You” to Frances Caballo of Social Media Just For Writers for hosting Writer’s Relief for this guest post!
Social media gives writers the opportunity to connect with more readers, agents, and editors than ever before. If you’re new to social networking or want to know how to make the best use of your author platform, here are a few guidelines to help you effectively utilize your online presence:
Engage, Entice, and Be Enthusiastic
Engage in the dialogue. Whether you’re new to marketing your author brand or a seasoned, published veteran, you should establish a professional presence online. If you prefer discussion and commentary, a Facebook Fan Page or a Twitter account is right up your alley. For more image-driven networks, consider up-and-comers Tumblr and Pinterest. And don’t be shy—contribute something. Just be sure that what you post brings something of value to the conversation. You don’t want to appear to be blowing smoke for the sake of attention, or you’ll risk getting a reputation for self-centered promotion.
Entice followers or fans back to your own profile. Once you’ve contributed responses on public forums, try posing some questions of your own. People who find your thoughts interesting may seek out your page or website to learn more about you and your writing. On Facebook, whenever you leave a comment or Like a post, that activity is broadcast to your fans. The same is true for Twitter, where your tweets and retweets are sent to all of your followers’ news feeds. The more fans or followers interact with you, the more opportunities your messages will have to reach more potential readers. Just as a fire slowly grows and spreads, your name as an author and news about your writing projects will start heating up the social networks.
Enthusiasm is contagious. Nobody likes negativity in life or online, so be sure to stay upbeat. Your name as an author will create the brand for your book. While the latest sharp-tongued curmudgeon may grab a moment in the spotlight, you don’t want that sort of reputation for your writing career. Agents and publishers will pass on someone who has a reputation for being difficult. Being positive and enthusiastic, as well as putting in the extra time and effort to promote your name and your writing online, will make you an agent’s dream come true.
Interact and Have Fun
Once you have the social media fire burning, you need to keep fanning the flames so it doesn’t go out. How do you go about maintaining an online presence, you ask? We’ve got plenty of ideas!
Get people involved. People love expressing their thoughts and opinions, so you should embrace that sentiment and give them something to talk about. For instance, if you are in the process of deciding on a character’s last name, the title of a project, or a graphic for your book cover, post it as a question. Keep in mind that it’s best to give options rather than pose open questions in order to keep the responses manageable and useable. Some ways to get people involved are:
- Take a poll. If you’re considering a few options on a topic, pose it as a poll! The visual element and easy-to-click voting method will be sure to get many people involved.
- Post with the weekly trends. Whether it’s a #ThrowBackThursday or a #FollowFriday, keep yourself relevant with the trends of the times and have fun with it!
- Pose a prompt. Writing prompts are a great way to get thoughts churning and share creativity.
- Host a contest. If you’re working on promotion, offer a free giveaway or an interactive contest. Before you start, be sure you have enough followers or friends to make the effort worthwhile; and it’s a great way to gain some more! Declare a contest, promote it for a week or two, and then announce the winner. It’s up to you to come up with the contest rules, but it’s best to keep it simple.
Maintain the Flame
A little daily kindling will do the trick. Here’s what we mean: If you build a routine, it will become second nature. Start off with a basic schedule, perhaps some daily morning and nighttime interaction, and keep in mind that you don’t have to monitor your social media 24/7.
Post a thought, question, or reply before your day begins. Later, while you’re unwinding in the evening, check back and share, tweet, like, follow, do something to keep your social forums active. With the proliferation of smart phones and mobile technology, even midday updating doesn’t seem implausible. Your lunch break could be a great time to plug in a question or idea, and you can look forward to reading the responses in your evening session.
The more people participate and interact with you through social media, the bigger your following will grow. Keep readers updated about the status of your writing, whether you’re concluding a manuscript or setting a release date. You could serve as an inspiration to other writers while simultaneously marketing your brand. Then, if you gain traditional representation, you’ve already made a name for yourself and a brand for your writing, all on your own. All of the followers, fans, or friends you’ve accumulated will be potential buyers already invested in the success of your writing career.
And while you’re creating an online presence via social media, think about getting an author website. It’s a great way to centralize your image as an author.
This post was written by Writer’s Relief Staff: Writer’s Relief was started in 1994 to help creative writers make well-targeted, professional submissions to literary agents and editors. We are not a literary agency, publisher, publicist, self-publisher, or marketing company. Get to know us personally! Start with our FAQ page for common questions about our process, our clients, and our success rate. We are called Writer’s Relief—as opposed to Writers’ Relief—because we believe in emphasizing close relationships with each and every one of our full service clients.