I am an “Old Dog” of the digital publishing paradigm. When I started out on social media, I did not want to be a social media expert. I enjoyed editing and teaching and longed to write fiction. But every a$$clown with a Twitter handle was a “Social Media Expert” and much of the teaching was nothing short of ridiculous.
Some of the advice was downright predatory (or, in my book, cheating).
In my estimation, most of the tactics were more likely to increase author suicide rates than book sales, so I finally decided to become a Social Media
Expert Jedi 😉 .
I’ve been through all the fads. The FREE BOOK Rush of 2010, The Great .99 Book Deal of 2011, The Amazing Algorithmic Alchemy, The Magical Metrics and the Automation Invasion of 2012-2014 (there are still skirmishes along the front).
Guess what? I’m still here.
I don’t say this really to brag as much as to make a point. Social media, done properly is not a short-term burst of gimmicky energy. There is no magic to it and it while it is simple, that doesn’t mean it’s easy. We not only have to manage the brand, we also produce the product.
Not a job for the faint of heart.
And with all the tweeting and blogging and slogging month after month and year after year, I know that it is SUPER easy for us writers to get overwhelmed. That’s why today, I’m here to offer some simple ways to inject fire back into your writing and your career.
*plays Eye of the Tiger loudly* *punches at the air*
#1—Appreciate that Writing and Social Media Branding Can Coexist
When I am on Twitter, I often get tweets like these:
Guess what? I agree! The writing always, always comes first. But why is there an almost automatic assumption we must choose?
Social media, done the way I teach in Rise of the Machines, takes maybe 10-15 minutes a day and feel free to take off weekends. I offer no get-rich-quick advice. My author platforms take time (and discipline) to build, but they are virtually indestructible.
And the writer who tells me she doesn’t have ten minutes a day to work on her brand isn’t serious about being successful.
Whether we like it or not, social media is necessary for our job. Yes writing is fun, but it is still a profession.
Writers are in the entertainment business. Note that half that word is business. We are in the business of selling books. When I was in sales, we had a saying. Fish where the fish are. And the fish are schooling on social media. Makes sense to drop some lines.
The writer who is willing to tackle doing social media well is making a transition from hobbyist to professional. Celebrate! This means you are going places!
Thus, if the career has been sluggish, it might be time to go polish some other types of skills that are now required in this profession. Many times, the problem isn’t with the tool. We simply don’t know how to use that tool well.
#2—YES!!! The Product is All that Matters
When it comes to a brand, the surface perception is only part of the equation. I can have a fabulous website, great author pics, charming tweets and be a downright likable gal, but if my books stink?
No amount of social media magic can salvage literary dog poo.
This is one of the reasons I have written over 900 blogs. I blog a lot on craft because the product is essential. It is the most important part of the equation. Yes, write first. Take classes. Hone your art. Because your social media brand must be able to deliver an excellent product. It is okay to believe that your writing is important because…it IS.
So yes, we do need to work on our platform but you do have my “expert” opinion to focus on that end product. Relax about the social media, stuff. Really.
#3—Embrace the Social Media Trickle Down Effect
Part of embracing the new type of work we must do as digital age writers comes with redefining how we see our work. Feel free to get on social media and trudge through it like some chore, but with that kind of an attitude? I recommend just staying off altogether. We can sense a poor attitude through the screen.
Instead, I recommend you reframe what you’re doing and how beneficial that time really is. It’s an investment in you, in your success beyond simply selling books. There are all kinds of other benefits many writers never even consider.
Virtually every profession benefits from professional networking, why would writing be any different? Where else can you have 24 hour access to publishing professionals all over the world? Follow your heroes and make them mentors. What are they reading? What are they doing? How do they manage their time?
Where else other than Twitter could I start my day chatting with the former editor of Cosmopolitan Magazine (and one of my FAVORITE authors)?
I used Twitter to follow James Rollins. It’s how I got to know him well enough to eventually contact him about giving me a blurb for my second book.
While an in-person writing group is great, often they can be a bit heavy with new writers. Places like Twitter or Facebook allow us access to the seasoned pros. We can chat with people we’d have to otherwise wait a year or more to see at a conference. Take advantage!
Every writer out there gripes about not having enough time to write. Okay. Twitter helps us work smarter not harder. Twitter can make research much faster and far more accurate.
For instance, if you want to write a sexy new story with a Navy SEAL and don’t want to lose weeks researching, hop onto #NAVY and make some connections. Experts are always eager to help writers get the facts correct. The fastest and easiest way to find them?
And, for the shy folks, I know social media is forcing you to do something afraid. That is good. Use this time to hone being brave. Be brave in the small moments on-line and it might make you braver in your writing.
In the end, remember that there are mega-successful authors who are using social media to reap major advantages. This notion that we must choose writing or networking is short-sighted and an excuse. We all must learn simply to use time well and be disciplined.
If we assume that platform-building is this awful horrible time-intensive thing, then we psych ourselves out of some truly fantastic benefits that can really fire up our careers. We have to remember that it is very possible to write books and be on social media. Just like we can bathe and brush our teeth. No need to choose 😉 .
What are your thoughts? Do you psych yourself out when it comes to branding and social media? Do you think you need to do everything? Do you see how social media can allow you to take simple steps to fire up your future? What are some ways you add some mojo back into your routine?
I LOVE hearing from you!
To prove it and show my love, for the month of OCTOBER, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel.
For those who need help building a platform and keeping it SIMPLE, pick up a copy of my latest social media/branding book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World on AMAZON, iBooks, or Nook.