you checked your Facebook page today? Have you Tweeted? Did you update
your Scribd account? How are things looking on LinkedIn? Do you have a
topic for your next blog?
Do you use Foursquare, MySpace,
Google Buzz, Goodreads, SocialVibe, or have you created a group of your
own through Ning? Chances are if you are interested in something, any
number of like-minded people are connected through various social media
outlets and their numbers are growing by the hour.
If you are part of the social
network community, the first question you might want to ask is why? If
you are not part of the social network revolution, then why not?
Sites such as Facebook, Twitter,
and the rest have become in many cases an extended family for millions
of people. Are you in one of the Twilight camps? So are hundreds of
thousands of others just like you.
Do you want to know what your
favorite celebrity is up to? What they had for lunch? Where they
It’s all there.
But Wait . . . There’s
For those with ambitions of
being a professional writer, there is more to the social network
universe than keeping up with the latest sparkly vampires (puh-leeze,
don’t get me started), tracking your favorite celebrities, or sharing
your favorite bagel shops with thousands of friends just dying to
receive such knowledge. The social networking world is a great source
of information on writing, tools for writers, the latest happenings in
the publishing industry, market reports, and free advertising
The reality is that working in
the social network arena can provide you with more than entertainment
or catching up with your old college roommate (though those can be
great ways to pass time). These days being socially active can provide
a great boost for your novel, nonfiction book, freelance business, or
other endeavors. The Internet now gives you opportunities that
publishers would have coveted twenty years ago.
How Does It Work?
If you write romance novels,
there are blogs, review sites, and chat areas filled with
people who want to
know about you and your book. The same holds true for any other genre.
Even for those sparkly vampire folks.
Want to build a platform?
Facebook is a good place to start. Fro example: By using an author
can begin to brand yourself. And you will eventually need to figure out
how you fit into the publishing and social media world to be effective.
With Twitter you can set
yourself up as an expert in a particular field. Make yourself the go-to
guy or girl in a particular area or on a particular topic. Become a
conduit for useful
tools and information.
you have a blog? Is it all about you and your cat? Well cut that out
and start blogging about things of interest to others. Describe your
journey as a writer (while that is talking about yourself, you can
include helpful tips and learning moments to help other writers).
LinkedIn is a more professional,
business-related site, but for a writer wanting to build a freelance or
a consulting business, it may be the place to start because millions of
business connections are just waiting for the right person. And it
might as well be you.
Warning: Danger Ahead
Diving into the social
media pool can be a huge distraction.
one expects Facebook friends
to do nothing but self-promotion. That’s a good way to turn people off.
Not every Tweet has to be some earth shattering bit of up-to-date
publishing information. There is room for fun. In fact, striking the
right balance is a great technique for keeping people interested.
Horror author Douglas Clegg is a master at using social media to build
his fan base and promote himself and his work. Why is he so effective?
Because he publishes valuable information, gives away books, games, and
other things with a good takeaway value, and he never inundates his
friends, followers, and others with just me, me, me, I’m
great, buy this, etc.
So far I have a Facebook page,
Scribd page, a LinkedIn account, Twitter account, a blog embedded in my
Website; I am developing a base on Goodreads.com, have a presence on
Edgy Christian Fiction Lovers, and I’ve lost count of the interviews
And I write two columns. You’re
reading one of them.
And that is not even a lot by
But keeping up with it all is
time consuming for anyone developing an online presence. And it’s
temptating to spend a little too much time reading other people’s posts
during “working hours.”
What’s the Answer?
Common sense is the first
answer. Schedule your social media updates at regular times (updates
are a part of the job) and save the surfing and catching up with
friends until after the business of writing is concluded, or during a
break. It’s hard to write the next chapter of your book or finish that
article on the changing face of banking while trying to see that video
about the tap-dancing monks or the guy who plays “America the
Beautiful” with his armpits.
Some writers are doing well
enough that they have an assistant who takes care of some of those
duties. But if you haven’t started getting those five- and six-figure
advances, maybe you and your writing partner could share those tasks.
Then again, there is a lot to be
said for starting small. Is a blog and a Facebook page all you need? Is
a Twitter account enough for now? Remember, you don’t have to do it
You just have to do it well.