Social Media for Writers
Social media doesn’t have to be intimidating. Try to think of it as a platform to connect you with other people who are passionate about the same things as you are. Here are some of the benefits social media holds for writers:-
You can learn about the industry
The book industry is well represented on social media. Everyone is on there. Twitter is a great way to learn more about literary agents, editors, authors, publishing, publicists and writing in general. Understanding the industry will help you to find the best place for your writing, and help you network with it.
You can control how you would like to present yourself as a writer
Being active on social media platforms allows you to dictate the style in which you and your work are presented. These days, a lot of authors will be expected to be heavily involved in the promotion of their books. A strong social media following is a huge bonus in this. It's also an attractive proposition for publishers when they are researching new writers.
Social media will allow you to interact with people you might not have the chance to in person, helping build connections with like-minded people who could offer you support.
Being active on social media platforms allows you to dictate the style in which you and your work are presented
You can interact with your audience
Getting involved allows you to gauge what it is your audience expect or need as well as being able to make individual connections. A lot of writers will pitch questions to their followings these days, asking for input on historical facts and other aspects of their work.
Our Top 10 Tips for Writers on Twitter
1. Write something good offline
You might be an aphorism machine on Twitter but that counts for diddley-squat unless you write something worth reading offline. Twitter is like a virtual staff canteen for writers - it's a great network for writers stuck in their studies at home. Like a good tea-break, however, use it wisely.
2. Know why you're there
Don’t start a Twitter account because you feel like you should. Know what you want to do with it. It might be simply to discuss writing with other writers, or to research writing opportunities. Have a look at the Twitter accounts of other professionals you respect to see how they are using it.
3. Be genuine
The more you use Twitter the more you’ll realise that you’re developing a voice. Is this friendly, insightful, cynical or a bit too negative? Take a moment every now and again to read through your old tweets just in case you are coming across as a bit of a ranter, grump or just plain weird.
4. Be regular and interact
If you create Tweets that sing sweet irony or totally nail the ‘why’ of ‘why are you on Twitter’ (see above), then you might only need to tweet once a month. For the rest of us, it is about trying to form a habit around tweeting and interacting. Try committing to a certain level of activity a day or week - whatever you're comfortable with. Downloading the app to your phone (if that's possible) helps as it will let you know when someone's mentioned you - again, whatever you're comfortable with.
A good tweeter is a good communicator. If someone compliments you in real life, you wouldn't ignore them. Listen, respond and build a community. Apply the rule of thirds to your account: one third your thoughts and updates, one third interactions with others, one third other people's news. Broadcast, rebroadcast, conversation.
5. Mention people by their name
It is good etiquette to thank people in your tweets by including their Twitter handle in your tweets (like @ScottishBkTrust). It takes a bit more effort to do this but it will pay dividends. Similarly, if you're linking to a competition, blog, etc. think of ways you can incorporate the Twitter handles of those running those competitions, or writing those blogs. And DON'T FORGET, if you start your tweet with someone's Twitter handle only they, and any contacts you share, will see it.
6. Keep up appearances
Most people wouldn't turn up to work half-dressed. Take a bit of time making sure that your Twitter profile looks professional and represents who you are. Companies like Twitter make this as easy as they possibly can (even for the IT illiterate) so don't be intimidated. Plus, you're a writer: make sure your Twitter bio is well-written.
A good headshot is proven to gain you more followers but if you would rather use an illustration or something more unusual go for that - as long as it best represents you and your work.
7. Say something
You won't build an audience unless you have something to say. Get involved in the conversation by keeping an eye on what's trending; the news; and what other writers are saying. Is there anything you can say about World Poetry Day, The Booker Prize, sport, or the economy? What are you passionate about? Be opinionated but, remember, keep an eye on your own feed to make sure you're coming across OK. With social media it's better to spread the love than the hate. Avoid Twitter fights if at all possible.
8. Share good content
Make yourself useful to others and your followers by finding good articles, sharing news about other writers' book launches and generally being a good egg. If you help people to share their news, they will help you in turn. Good content can involve your own book news too. People who follow you want to know about your writing - just don't overdo it.
9. Get creative
David Mitchell has published an entire story on Twitter. Pulitzer Prize winner Jennifer Egan has done the same. Don't be afraid to try new things, especially around your book launches or public appearances. Not everything you try will go viral but fall forward. Experiment. Twitter's also a great place to source ideas. Need to find out some esoteric knowledge for your book? Ask Twitter.
10. Write something good online
Social media is made up of words. You are a writer, therefore there is nothing to fear - you're in your natural habitat. As a writer, be sure to use good grammar and punctuation though.
Twitter is great for working your abilities to write succinctly. Embrace it. Hone your aphorism skills. Go play.
Tips for Blogging
1. Know why you’re writing
Blogging can quickly become a Sisyphean task. Even committing to one blog a week is a huge commitment. That said, it's a fantastic way for you to build an audience between books. If you don't have the time to commit to a personal blog, why not approach websites or blogs with topics you know about? If you would rather maintain your own blog, make sure and choose a topic you are passionate about otherwise it's going to be a slog.
2. Train yourself
Just as with your writing, train yourself to notice topics which are perfect for blogging. Have you just started a blog? How about: '7 things I learned about starting a blog'? Does running help to loosen up your writing? What about: 'How running can help you write'? Is there anything people keep asking you about? Perhaps there's a blog in that.
3. Set time aside
If you're going to start your own blog, schedule time in for it. Commit.
4. It has to be good, not perfect
Blogs don't have to be perfect. Dedicate time to polishing up your prose in your books. Your blogs can be looser and more informal.
5. Tell people
Spread the word! This is your creation and if it’s worth writing then it’s worth sharing. You might be surprised to find out that a lot of people are interested in what you have to say. If you are on social media, make sure people can quickly find their way between your online homes by including clear links.
6. Be regular
If people visit your blog only to find your most recent post was three months ago, they won't come back. You don't need to be prolific but you do need to be regular.
7. Multi-purpose your blog
Promote your blog on other social media networks to maximise its reach. Think about the best way to present your blog on Facebook (visual), Twitter or any other networks you're on.
If you are unclear about any of the terminology, click here's a glossary of social media terms to familiarise yourself with. Want to learn more about writers and social media? Read Nicola Morgan’s top five tips for writers using social media, and find out why it's important to have an online presence.
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