Over the past few days, I’ve had the opportunity to chat with a number of writers. Some have books out already, some are shopping manuscripts around, some are polishing up their latest drafts – but a lot of them are wondering about marketing and social media. My advice? Don’t market. Now, I’m a marketer by trade, so that might sound strange, but work with me.
Photo credit: Flickr user Tashmahal
For the most part, writers are fabulous communicators. That’s kind of our schtick. Even better, writers usually enjoy communicating. So let’s call a spade a spade: Marketing is communication. It’s that simple. That’s all there is to it. That said, you do need to navigate your options and make sure that you’re communicating with the right people, in the right space, in a way that’s beneficial. My personal favorite, for many reasons, is Twitter.
Am I talking about that weird site where teenagers and college kids gather to commit their hashtaggery and their @mentioning? Yup. The forum in which Justin Beiber’s fans discuss how much they #belieb in him and where Lady Gaga posts dress-up photos of her tiny dog? Ding ding ding! Truth is, in 140 characters, you can make connections in one of the most organic ways the internet has to offer, and there is so much more to Twitter than teeny boppers and celebrities (although they’re welcome, too…let’s not be alienating). The site’s literary community, ranging from writers to reviewers to agents and more, is particularly strong. Hashtags like #FridayReads and #AmWriting are commonplace, and the overall atmosphere is incredibly supportive for writers of all experience levels. Tweeting is an ideal way to introduce yourself to fellow craftspeople and potential readers, and to have genuine interactions with the literary community.
That said, don’t blow your opportunities here. Nobody likes a sales pitch at a cocktail party, and no one wants you filling their social media feeds with links to your Amazon page. If you’re a writer who doesn’t have Twitter and you haven’t published yet, GOOD. Make a profile now, and start building relationships in the community before your book is released. You can make real friendships through the digital network, and connect with real people. And you want those people to know who you are, to be familiar with your voice, when it comes time to announce your publication date. They’re the ones who will be buying, reading, reviewing, and telling their friends about your work. You need them, but more importantly, you need the support – and that has nothing to do with sales.
Writing is a notoriously lonely endeavor, haunted by individuals who feel chronically misunderstood. Twitter not only makes it possible to connect with all sorts of different people – people who are like you and people different from you, people who understand you and challenge you and inspire – it makes it easy. There’s none of the will-they-think-I’m-a-weirdo-if-I-friend-them social anxiety associated with the more personal format of Facebook. There’s no pressure to produce longform works on a regular basis, as I do so infrequently while blogging. Just “follow” people (which sounds creepy out of context, but is a completely legitimate Twitter term), whether you know them or not, and say hello. No big deal, no awkwardness. It’s a public forum, and your presence is not an intrusion. You can see what other cool people are up to, or support them by sharing their messages and responding to their quips. Twitter is what you make of it, so get involved in a way that makes sense to you. Have fun. Be yourself. Hashtag with abandon. Slowly but surely, you’ll reap the benefits of being an active member in a community with a shared interest in the written word. And maybe you can check out those pictures of Gaga’s dog while you’re at it.
Find me on Twitter, tweeps! @daniwriteswords
There are tons of other social media/marketing options out there for writers. Other than Twitter, what works for you? What do you want to learn more about? Maybe this can become a series of posts about different venues. Who knows! Have at it in the comments, my lovelies!