Social Butterflies

At SCBWI, there was a lot of talk about how writers can/should engage in social media and marketing. At one point, I was talking with a couple of women who balked at the idea of having to tweet/blog/be on Facebook. One of them said she saw it as a fad and didn’t want to waste that much time on something that would be worthless eventually. At the time I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want to argue, but I actually enjoy the social media aspect of being a writer. I was blogging/tweeting/tumbling before I thought about it as a “tool.” It’s a fun way to connect with readers, other writers, editors, librarians, and book-enthusiasts. And even if the next big thing comes along in ten years, it doesn’t mean that what you do now is useless. Maybe everyone you used to be friends with on MySpace (flashbacks?) is now friends with you on Facebook and will follow you to the next online forum.

My advice for writers leery of of social media:

  • Assuming that having an online presence is a necessity for writers, it’s important to make sure you’re doing what works for you. Don’t start a blog if you hate writing posts. Maybe Twitter would be a better option since it’s only 140 characters.
  • Don’t worry about posting brilliant and astoundingly original content, or having to share all the intimate details of your life. (In fact, you probably shouldn’t share the intimate details of your life.) A lot of the internet is just about sharing and getting in touch with people who have similar interests.
  • Don’t feel like you need to have a million followers or commenters at once. It’s like writing fiction–sure, you could assume that maybe no one will ever read your work or you won’t win any major awards, so you might as well stop. But if it’s something you care about, you’ll do it anyway.

For more advice from actual professionals, make sure to check out the blog posts from the SCBWI Marketing Intensive:

Also check out this interview with Laura Barnes, MG writer and marketing consultant. Some of Laura’s tips for effective blogging/author sites:

1. Have your name in your title. Even better, have it in your address. Next best would be to have it in your subtitle.
2. Include your contact information. You’d be surprised how many people have blogs with no means of contacting the owner.
3. Have a message or a mission statement. I don’t mean to post this for people to see, but know what you’re blog is about. Are you giving authors writing advice? Are you sharing your love of books through interviews and reviews? Are you rambling your way through life? All of those are okay as long as you are consistent. This can be a confusing concept to grasp because it doesn’t mean that your writer advice blog can’t contain an anecdote about your Thanksgiving Dinner. It just means that a new visitor should be able to read one or two posts and be able to get what you are about.

#3 is very good to think about in particular. I like to think my blog is focused on writing/reading YA lit (or fiction in general), with a little random fun thrown in there.

What are your favorite social media tools? Least favorite? Suggestions for newbie bloggers?

2 thoughts on “Social Butterflies

  1. It seems like social networking is incredibly important for writers at this point, perhaps even moreso than being published in lit mags– I’ve had two relatives get book deals based, in part, off their blogs. Having a social networking presence shows to publishing companies that you can build an audience and a demand– and with so little money for marketing these days, that kind of grassroots effort is necessary.

    • Very good point. I think a lot of blogs are like newspaper/magazine columns; being able to sustain one and deliver good content can demonstrate your ability and market-worthiness as a writer. But I’d be interested to see the blog-into-book trend in 10 years.

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