Everywhere you look there are blog posts, webinars, online courses and websites all shouting the same message: Join Social Media! Engage! Connect! Network! Build Your Audience! Everyone says that in this new world of publishing, authors have to navigate the social waters to be successful. Is this true?
Unless you happen to be a celebrity or are gifted with a giant promotional push from a publisher...then yes.
And herein lies the problem. Many writers are introverts. They like having the computer screen between them and the world, thank you very much. They don’t want to get involved in every newfangled social media platform, or blog with no idea what to say, or try to find an 'in' on a site when it seems like everyone knows each other already.
When it’s been decades since you’ve hadto walk the playground and make friends, the idea of entering a giant onlinecocktail party can be hive inducing. So what is a writer to do when they feel they are not suited for social networking or are simply terrified by the idea of it?
Stay In Your Comfort Zone
If the idea of social networking is overwhelming, pick something contained and more likely to be in your comfort zone. Writing Forums are much less intimidating than the biggies of socialization like Twitter, Google+ or Facebook. In a forum, rather than being bombarded by hundreds of people, interaction is more intimate. Joining conversations in a forum will put you together with only a few people at once, and the topic is focused. You can learn, share and make friends at a slower pace. Some incredibly friendly writing forums are The Critique Circle, My Writer’s Circle, and if you write for Children or Young Adults, Verla Kay’s Blueboard.
Become a Lurker
Rather than be pressured into jumping into the fray, do some lurking. Visit writing blogs (I have a great list here) and blogs on topics that tie into your books. Read the comments so you can understand how people engage. Check out how other writers interact on Twitter by searching up some hashtags like #writersroad #amwriting or #writechat. See what they share and click on some profiles to find people who interest you. Run searches for your interests. If you like cycling, you’re not alone. If your book is for dragon lovers, search for Dragons and you’re sure to find fans. Hang out on Google+ and run a search for writing or writers. Or again, choose a keyword that ties into your book. Put a few people that have interesting profiles in a circle--remember, you can follow them without engaging if you chose to. Or, if you have a Face Book account, check out a few groups! Writer’s Support 4U is one of the most active and friendly ones, but there are many others.
Dip Your Toe In...On A Trial Basis
If you did some lurking and found a social networking medium that seemed like it could be within your comfort zone, then step in, slowly. Reach out and share a bit--it can be things that inspire you, what you find funny or something about writing if you want to connect with other writers. Friend or follow a few people and comment on what they share. If you’re looking to connect with your direct novel audience, then share content that you know they will enjoy that ties right in with your books. Soon, conversations will start and you’ll be off to the races. If you find you enjoy it, great! And if not, then you can walk away, wiser for trying.
There’s a new place for all artisic types that I really would like to give a shout out to, and that is WANA Tribe. This new space is not only for writers, but all Creatives. The mission is collaboration and knowledge sharing and is part of WANA International, the brainchild of Kristen Lamb and Ingrid Schaffenburg.
Social Networking can seem intimidating at first. Some worry it will chew up all their writing time and that they need to be everywhere to be successful--Twitter, Blogs, Facebook, Google+, Tumblr and more. Know right out the gate that it is much better for you to choose one or two of these and do them well than scatter yourself across all networks! And if you do find you enjoy it and are worried about your writing time, just remember YOU are in control. Engage as much or as little as time allows. Writing always must come first!
Are you leery of Social Networking, trying to decide whether (and how) to jump in? Or have you decided to give it a try? I would love to hear your experiences, good or bad, and whether social networking has changed things for you as a writer or author!
Angela Ackerman is a Canadian who writes on the darker side of Middle Grade and Young Adult. A strong believer in writers helping writers, she blogs at the award winning resource, The Bookshelf Muse and is co-author of The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide To Character Expression. Angela is represented by Jill Corcoran of The Herman Agency.
The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression is a writer’s best friend, helping to navigate the challenging terrain of showing character emotion. This brainstorming tool explores seventy-five emotions and provides a large selection of body language, internal sensations, actions and thoughts associated with each. Written in an easy-to-navigate list format, readers can draw inspiration from character cues that range in intensity to match any emotional moment.
-----The Golden Eagle