Whether you’re a budding writer or published author, you already understand the importance of prioritizing your schedule and setting aside time to write. The feat of drafting your next novel, short story or magazine feature can be intimidating as it is. Add in a social media marketing strategy? Where is one to find the time?
But unless you plan to leave your 400-page manuscript hidden in a drawer for the rest of your days, building your author platform is crucial to your success as a professional writer.
Social media can be an incredibly effective tool for authors. While there is no magic formula suggesting if you attract 100,000 Twitter followers you’ll sell 100,000 books, it does enable you to connect with a vast and diverse audience, which can open new doors in the writing, publishing and book-selling space. The key is to find a way to use social media efficiently, so you can make the most of your time and see real value from your efforts.
Determine a strategy for where, when and how you will communicate.
Once you become a best-selling author, the followers will come to you. In the meantime, you need to do some research to find out which social networks your readers are using, and then go there. Pick one or two key platforms to start, and make your presence known within these boundaries. Here are the most common three for writers:
Although you may feel like a little fish in a big sea, Twitter can be a great value-add for your writing business. There are opportunities to connect with other authors who are making waves in your niche, as well as current fans and potential readers.
Tip: Consider using a management platform like TweetDeck or Hootsuite (both are free), to help you schedule tweets ahead of time. Create Twitter lists highlighting key people you follow, and then focus on these groups when you log in for a few minutes each morning to engage with your audience.
There are a couple different ways you can use Facebook as part of your author platform. One is to build a fan page, like the one we have for WCYR, where you can share your latest blog posts, upcoming conferences you’re attending and fun images that show your personality. The other option is to change the settings on your personal Facebook account so people can “follow you” – an interaction that is separate from the traditional friend request. You can then select a specific audience [ie. “friends” or “public”] for individual posts. If you share posts to the public audience, anyone can choose to follow you and see these updates.
Tip: Facebook fan pages offer opportunities to do some paid advertising to promote your page and posts, which helps you reach a new audience. However, unpaid posts typically only reach around 10 percent of your followers.
LinkedIn is more than just a digital resume. It’s becoming a valuable channel for writers, especially if you are offering copywriting or editing services. You can share links that are relevant to your audience, and you can also join groups and communities that may connect you with paid writing gigs.
Tip: LinkedIn also has a blogging platform, which users can apply for. Once you become a “LinkedIn Influencer,” you can share blog posts directly on the platform, which helps to showcase your portfolio and expertise.
Share your author narrative.
After you’ve determined a social strategy, you can find ways to showcase your creativity. You’re a writer, after all. Maybe you’ll use the 140-character limitations in Twitter to share teasers from your new book. Perhaps you’ll write blog posts on LinkedIn about how you started writing, what tools you use, what communities you’re a part of, and how you continue to hone your craft. Perhaps you’ll share images on Facebook from your writing space at the cottage, where you spent the weekend logging 5,000 words.
Remember to give your audience a unique reason to follow you. They want to get to know you, and truly connect with you. Social media is about being social after all – something all writers, even those who prefer working in isolation, can use a little more of.
Charlotte (best known as Carly) is the social media coordinator on the board of WCYR. She has been published in Zoomer, The Globe and Mail and The Huffington Post Canada, and she recently made the leap to freelance writing full-time. She also works with authors to help them share their stories over social media in meaningful ways. She’s currently writing the first draft of her first novel through a 100-day writing challenge. Find out more at charlotteottaway.com or connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.