Do you have a Facebook Page? A Twitter account? Instagram? Yes? Congratulations! Or maybe commiserations? I suppose it depends on how you feel about using social media to further your writing career.
For me, this was a big step. Naturally, I’ve had a private Facebook account for years, but the thought of creating an Author page was both exciting and a bit daunting. Same goes for Twitter and Instagram. Initially, as this is such a new adventure and I haven’t yet told everyone what I’m up to… I was concerned more about friends and family seeing my page before I was ready to tell them. Then I wondered if I could claim the right to set up pages and accounts with the title of “author” attached. I went ahead and did it anyway though and the exhilaration was palpable!
Once my worries passed, I began to contemplate why on earth do we need all these different social media channels? How might they help me as a writer? If my goal is to write a novel, why must I also write a blog, and Facebook posts, and tweets, and and and…? First let’s just answer that question right there: I don’t have to do any of this if I don’t want to! But…
Using different social media channels can create a vital part of an authors platform. Regardless of how your book is published – traditionally or independently – you need to be able to reach a responsive audience. Every channel used is a potential point of contact with a new reader and it allows you to create a network of people who know and support you. Apparently, having an already-established audience is also a big draw for a prospective agent or publisher and should not be underrated! Besides this, social media is a great way to connect with other authors and make new writing friends.
So how do I reap the benefits of social media and avoid the pitfalls? One good piece of advice I heard recently was to make a distinction between the private me and the writer me so I don’t overload friends and family with writing updates, or writing friends and readers with updates on my children’s latest accomplishments, fascinating as they may be. Another piece of advice a friend offered, was to choose where I most want to be visible and not try to be active everywhere. It takes too much time and attention! Finally, something I read the other day when researching my last blog post, was how social media can easily become a drain on your energy and ability to focus. It’s much better to avoid social media for a few days, weeks or even months if necessary, than sacrifice the attention your writing requires.
By establishing this site and engaging with social media I have made a conscious decision to build my online presence, at the same time as I work on my novel. My main goal is to chronicle my journey from reader to author, but I must admit – it would be lovely to also build a following of potential readers. The way I see it is, what I do now will potentially benefit me in the future and so it’s worth my time and attention…. We’ll just have to wait and see what comes of it all!