Social media is a trap, in case you aren’t aware. A time-sucking, soul-draining, brain-numbing trap. And we need it, dammit.
It’s one of the areas I’m weak in my writing career. Once upon a time, a writer had to focus on writing. Now, we are editor, agent, publicist. Sometimes we are videographer, cover designer, director, music organizer and producer. We are usually speaker, event organizer, marketing guru and mule (unless we can bribe the wonderful SO in our lives to tote that barge, lift that box of books). The days of the publisher doing any marketing for our books is long gone for most of us.
Social media does have its benefits. It’s an easy platform for sharing information. Whereas we used to rely on print ads, press releases or radio/tv, we now can reach our audience almost instantaneously. And people are as connected to their smart phones and iPads as they are their thumbs.
The cost is virtually free for most applications – just the time needed to input what we want to share. Many are second nature to us: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Others include WhatsApp, QQ, QZone and Telegram. There’s a list here that I found useful.
But sharing information isn’t the only benefit. We can learn. From other authors. From industry professionals. From academics. From the market. Just as there’s no shortage of people looking to learn, there’s no shortage of people looking to teach.
In picking who to follow or watch on social media, think of your goals. Are you a new writing looking to learn the craft? Are you a mid-list author trying to break through to bigger markets? Are you self-published and want to move to traditional? Traditional looking to explore self-publishing?
If you are new to writing, find authors who teach online or have an active blog or newsletter. It’s also important to be active in a local writing group because they can be a first source of information. RWA has an active forum online that can be useful for writers of all levels. There are also sites that offer a smorgasbord of online classes and other events that will connect you with readers, writers and industry professionals. Here’s one of many lists of blogs for aspiring writers.
If you’re published and want to expand your reader base, consider following other authors who cross genre lines or who have a large author base in the genre you’re interested. It can give you direction when you want to try out new ideas. Writer’s Write put together a list of author blogs they felt are top notch. There are also reader websites, blog hops, review websites and online “parties” on platforms like Twitter or Facebook where visitors can learn more about you and other participating authors.
Following editors for lines you’re targeting, or agents you would like to submit for representation can also give you an idea of the dos and don’ts for that house/line/agency. I’m partial to Savvy Authors for pitch events. Sometimes I just want to see what the editor or agent has to say about a particular submission tag line to know if I’m targeting the write person.
The key point I hope you take away from this is the availability of information is vast. Deep space kind of vast. You have to research to see where to properly target your space ship so you don’t end up Lost in Space.