Thomas Smith

Thomas Smith is an award winning writer, newspaper reporter, TV news producer, playwright and essayist. He writes supernatural suspense/Christian horror and is currently at work on another such book, much to his mother’s chagrin (“Why can’t you write a nice romance?”). In addition to writing he enjoys teaching classes for beginning writers at conferences and local writers’ groups. He has been a joke writer for Joan Rivers and his comedy material has been performed on The Tonight Show. Currently in his fifth decade of service, he is considerably younger than most people his age. Visit his website: Twitter: and Facebook:

How NOT To Get Published

Blogging and Social Networking: Tools or Time Wasters?

Have 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 shopped?

It’s all there.

But Wait . . . There’s More

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 opportunities.

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 page, you 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.

Do 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.

No 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, have a presence on Edgy Christian Fiction Lovers, and I’ve lost count of the interviews I’ve done.

And I write two columns. You’re reading one of them.

And that is not even a lot by some standards.

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 all.

You just have to do it well.


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