Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Social Media Platforms: Are They Really Necessary for Writers?

Rhonda Browning White

Short answer? Yes! But because you’re smart, you want more than the short answer, right? You want reasons. You want to know that taking time away from working on your novel, your memoir, your short story collection, and your self-help-slash-how-to book to update a Facebook status, tweet on Twitter, or write on your author blog is worthwhile and productive to your career as an author.

First, know that even the most well-established authors are embracing social media as a way to acquire new readers and maintain relationships with current and past readers of their work. Don’t believe me? Check out megawriter Stephen King’s regular posts on Twitter, or bestselling author J.A. Konrath’s blog for writers. 

Not everyone has time for regular blogging or cares for Twitter and its 140-character limitations, however; author Karin Gillespie reminds us that each author should choose the form of social media that works best—and is the most fun—for them. “I’m very sociable, so I love Facebook,” she said in a recent email to me. “I rarely think of it as promotion. In fact, very few of my posts have a promotion element; they are more about naturally foraging relationships.” 

Because of Karin’s active blogging and Facebook posts, she’s received opportunities to write elsewhere. “I got asked to do a Drinking Diary interview (if you saw my FB posts you’d understand). At least it gives me some name recognition. The world is all about connections, and people like doing business with those they feel like they know on some level. Thus you never know what social media might reap.”

Inspiration For Writers, Inc., client Don Kesterson recently learned firsthand what social media efforts can reap when he received a phone call from a London television director who—unbeknownst to Don—followed his author blog and subsequently offered him a spot as an expert witness on the American Heroes Network national TV show Myth Hunters. Keep in mind that Don’s a fiction author, yet his excellent history research—about which he regularly blogs and that is the basis for his novels—pegged him as an expert. (You can check out the episode’s trailer in which Don is featured here.)

In multiple chats with agents and publishers, I’ve been told repeatedly that a new writer’s social media presence is especially important, because the publisher equates Friends and Followers with potential book sales. It also demonstrates that the unproven author is familiar with self-promotion and networking—two activities that are crucial in driving book sales for unknown writers. Author Leslie Pietrzyk recently moderated a panel of agents, editors, and publishers at the Hub City Writers Project’s “The Writer’s Show,” in which panelists discussed the importance of social media for writers. You can watch the very informative episode here for great advice: 

So how much time should one devote to creating and maintaining a social media presence? This is a tricky question to answer, because it’s different for every writer. If you find yourself spending more time on Pinterest and Instagram than pounding out paragraphs for your work in progress, you may need to rein it in. Some authors set aside half an hour in the morning and a half hour in the evening to Tweet and update their Facebook statuses. For others, a couple of times a week are all they can devote to building a social media presence. The important thing is to begin. Get started. Familiarize yourself with a variety of social media platforms (browse a book on them, do a Google search for more information, or—when all else fails—ask a teenager), then choose one, and set up your account. It’s okay to start slow; just get going! When you determine what platform works best for you, commit to it, and post regularly.

Though I’ve been active on Facebook for several years, started a Twitter account about a year ago (@RBrowningWhite), and have regularly blogged here and at, I’ve only recently started my own author blog: I have to tell you, writing a couple of blog entries for my personal blog each week, in addition to ghostwriting and editing for Inspiration For Writers— while still making time for my own personal writing—is tough. It didn’t take long for me to figure out that I had to get up half an hour earlier each day to fit everything into my schedule. But that’s okay—we make time for what’s important to us, and writing is a huge part of my life! 

I’m not suggesting that you set your clock half an hour earlier and guzzle coffee along with me—though I welcome your company!—but I do believe that if, like Karin Gillespie and Don Kesterson and Stephen King and scores of other breakout and bestselling authors, you want to get and keep the attention of agents, publishers, producers and, most importantly, readers, then it’s time for you to consider establishing a social media presence. 

Remember that Inspiration For Writers, Inc. is here to help you every step of the way, and this includes assisting you with establishing a social media presence. Whether you want social media coaching via email or phone, or simply need a professional editor to proofread your blog essays, we are available to you. 

And, since we practice what we preach, don’t forget to Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter (@WriterInspirer). You’re already reading this blog post, so we know you understand the importance of connecting with other writers and readers, so while you’re here, click on the Follow link to the right. 

Once you establish your social media accounts, don’t hesitate to post a link in the comment section below, so we can connect with you, as well. See you on the Web!

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