Guest Post: Social Media: Balm or Bane for Authors?


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Today we’ve got another guest post about how authors can make the best use of social media without feeling overwhelmed. This is a topic that I know many writer’s struggle with including myself, so I hope you’re able to glean some helpful insights from Amy’s article.

Social Media: Balm or Bane for Authors?

By Amy Atwell

How many of you use some form of social media? Facebook and Twitter seem to be the bastions most popular with authors today. But there’s also LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, StumbleUpon and more. Social networking is what drives GoodReads, Shelfari and LibraryThing. Even Pandora radio lets you create a profile page and encourages a community of listeners.

Many authors find it all overwhelming. It’s a challenge to find enough time to write fiction, much less post and pin and tweet. So where is the sweet spot? Just how important is social media to authors?
If you’re serious about a long-term writing career, social media will continue to be an important and viable source of promotion and audience building. But, and here’s the key, it’s only going to work for you if—

1. You find at least one of social network that you enjoy.
2. You strike a balance between your online social networking and your writing.
3. You approach social networking with the same imagination and commitment you bring to your writing.

Doesn’t sound too scary, does it?
Here’s why I think it’s important—the Internet isn’t likely to disappear. Millions of people are on it, and millions more are buying smart phones and tablets because they can’t get enough of it. In some ways, our society is growing more fragmented, with less person to person interaction in real life. At the same time, people seek out and savor their interactions on social media.
This is where social media works so well for authors. Most stories have some element of human connection at the core of the story. A hero learning to trust. A heroine returning to confront her hometown memories. A family on the brink of disaster brought whole again.
The readers who love those kinds of stories are out there in social media as squawking and hungry as birds. Keep tossing out birdseed on a regular basis, and those birds will find their way to you. Readers who connect with you and your stories will become loyal fans. They will spread the word for you. Remember the old shampoo commercial? “And they’ll tell two friends, and they’ll tell two friends…” and so on and so on.

That’s the magic of social networking.

You may be a pantser when you write but plotting or, rather, planning ahead will save you a lot of headaches with social media. Make a game plan for yourself so you can make the most of your social networking. And if you’re not published yet, it’s not too early to get a jump start on this. By all means, start to build your tribe now.

1. Study the different social networks and decide which one(s) best match how you want to communicate with potential fans and fellow authors.

2. Secure your profiles on any (frankly, I would do all just in case) social network you plan to use. Ideally, use your writing name.

3. Find an image and write a short bio so your profiles are consistent.

4. Make a list of the topics you will discuss—and not discuss—on social networking. You want to be personable and friendly in your interactions, but remember anything you say can come back to bite you and your career.

5. Start slowly and blend in. Join in other conversations, repeat items of interest, help your fellow authors. Don’t just pop in and shout about your book.

6. Ask questions! Experienced users love to help newbies.

7. Set aside some time weekly, 30-60 minutes to seek out people to follow and friend.

8. Be gracious. Send thank yous to people who repeat your messages.

9. Tend your social network account(s) daily, whenever possible. Each day you miss, you will lose a bit of momentum. 15 minutes is all it takes, really.

10. Be prepared to adapt as the social networks grow and change.

I’ll mention that Facebook is in the midst of rolling out its new Timeline design. Both personal profiles and business (author) pages are changing. You can read a full article on it on Author E.M.S., the online business resource library for authors.

I hope some of that was helpful. I’m happy to field any other questions you might have about social media—so, tell me, what’s your biggest fear or frustration with social networks?

Visit Amy online at her website, Magical Musings, Facebook, Twitter and/or GoodReads.


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