Many writers don’t have lots of time to spend on social media to build their writer platform and (I always cringe at the next term) “personal brand.” Others have never taken a dip in the virtual pool and feel more comfortable staying IRL. Even with all of the ease of use, understood benefits, emerging (free!) applications, and opportunities available to writers, some folks are stuck on a loop of resistance. I’m surprised that I still hear the same falsehoods that I heard nearly a decade ago from different writers who delay use of any type of digital media.
Have you heard these before or believe them yourself?
Myth #1: I’ll start a blog and social media when I’m done with my book or later in my writing life. I should focus on my creative writing first.
Your creative work is definitely a priority, but marketing yourself doesn’t start later – it starts right away. Other writers, readers, and everyone should know you’re a writer. You can always change the degree to which you participate with social media at a later date if you feel it’s necessary. (Just like I decided a Facebook Page was not worth my time as an author.) Having an active online platform is important for catching the eye of a literary agent, and it’s also important for you down the road when it is time to sell books and your services. Learn about the different social media platforms and decide which one is the best fit for you. As with any lifestyle change, decide what type of presence would be attainable for you to maintain while working on your creative writing. Maybe you decide that once per week you’ll post an #amwriting status update, interact with one other user, and find one agent (who represents your genre!) to follow.
Myth #2: I’ve been fine without social media so far, so it’s not worth starting.
Folks with this attitude do their competition a favor. This is often a catch-22. Generally they can’t be convinced about the benefits (connecting with agents, reaching new readers, developing fans) unless they invest the time in social media, but they fail to set up and maintain accounts because they don’t believe in the benefits. If you commute 10 miles to work everyday and ride your bike, but someone comes along with something called a car and explains you would get to work in less than 5 minutes and you decline from using the car because you don’t know how to drive, you’re stuck pedaling away in all sorts of weather, unnecessarily overexerting yourself. A few simple driving lessons could solve that. With this metaphor you get to where you’re going faster–and have even more places to go with your writing!
Myth #3: Social media posts are just people bragging about themselves.
Maybe that is true for some celebrities and tweens, but most folks who build a genuine following know the 80/20 rule. Eighty percent of what you post should NOT be about you. Share details about a conference, an editor, a new bookstore – then mention something about the setting of your novel. Plus, the nice thing about your social accounts is that you control the message. Develop a strategy in advance to avoid being perceived as a narcissist. Build positivity.
Published and aspiring writers interested in discussing the above at greater length can sign up for my class at Glenda Beall’s Writers Circle Around the Table in Western North Carolina on Saturday, August 6th. My class at her studio last summer had a waiting list and Glenda was kind enough to find a larger space. She’s accepting registrations until 7/30–contact her soon!