Social media is an interesting part of modern life, especially for a writer. We’re constantly told to use it to build a platform and connect with possible fans, who will hopefully buy our books. I get the logic behind that, but not the way some people go about it. Some people blast links to their books or reviews all day long. But you know what I’ve found it most useful for? Making friends!
Yes, just like everyone else, social media should first and foremost for writers be about making connections. To give you an example, last December on Twitter, I met up with a wonderful group of writers from across the world. I’m not exactly sure how it happened. I was off work (day job) for Christmas break and was participating in a few writing contests, while working feverishly to finish the first draft of my second book. Somewhere in there, we just came together, like it was meant to be. Soon @dyingechoes and @adrianaryansc called us Team Awesome (#TeamAwesome) and @EmmieMears was declaring 2013 would be our year.
Now we do writing/editing/researching sprints together and we just held our first virtual happy hour. An agent among our group came to represent one of our writers and we’re up to about a dozen or so members. I can’t speak for the rest of Team Awesome, but I feel like we’re really friends and I can’t imagine life without them. None of us try to sell our books to each other, but we have read each other’s work and in some cases have become critique partners and collaborators. Most of all, we’re support for each other in a profession that can be both isolating and lonely.
And that’s not to mention how much Twitter influenced NaNoWriMo for me, or how it helped me get my agent – but those are stories for another day.
I’m slowly figuring out the Facebook page/profile thing. For me, the biggest advantage there has been to connect with groups of other Arthurian/Celtic enthusiasts who I can learn from. Some are even historians whose work I’ve used in my research or authors I’ve long admired. Without social media, I wouldn’t have had the chance to interact with them, ask questions or meet with people of like mind. Sometimes through our interactions we naturally end up subscribing to each other’s blogs or buying each other’s books, but very few are overtly selling, which is the key.
Now I’m trying out a new form of social media called PushPages. I found out about it from my favorite actress and muse, Rachelle Lefevre, who tweeted about it. The thing I like about PushPages, besides being really easy to use, is that the whole point of it is a giant Q&A. It’s like an ongoing interview that allows you to get to know people. It seems to be very new, and could possibly be a rival for Tumblr (which I cannot for the life of me figure out.) If you have any questions for me, drop by and ask. I’ll answer as long as they aren’t proposals of marriage or anything obscene. What its long-term benefits are remain to be seen, but I like the idea of being able to interact with people spontaneously.
There are so many types of social media, I could go on for another 1,000 words. (If you want to read another great article visit Andy Rane’s page.) I guess my point is this: if you’re going to use social media as a writer, or a purveyor of goods of any sort, get to know people and transactions will naturally follow. Shouting about your books or shoving them in people’s faces is just going to annoy them. Be a friend first and if anything else is meant to come of it, it will. And you’ll be enriched in the meantime. Who knows what friendships or future business connections you may make?
What about you? How do you use social media? Which ones do you prefer? What have your experiences with writers, celebrities or anyone else with a product to sell been like? Who do you think does social media particularly well? Do you have any tips on using it successfully?