Hello writers and welcome to the middle of the week. Hard to believe we are already in the last week of January but winter is moving right along and so are we. In case you missed it, this month saw the cover reveal of Sword & Silk's first upcoming release 'Never Say Never' by Justine Manzano, along with a teaser chapter. And we are just getting started!
Wednesdays we like to talk shop and today we are talking about a subject we have touched on before: Authors and Social Media presence. Social Media presence is somewhat of a hot button topic. Social media can be a friend as much as it can be a foe. Growing and maintaining an organic platform is difficult and time consuming. What are the benefits to investing this time? What are the cons? Can you find success without social media?
What does Social Media do for the Author?
The answer is: it depends. Social Media, in the context of author/ creator, is not something that always translates into sales. Social Media can be used as a tie in point for ads, such as through Facebook or Instagram. But ads can also be bought on other platforms that require far less investment of time. In fostering a social media network, their are two large benefits that usually emerge in today's publishing climate.
The Writing Network
Another big benefit is building a reader network. This method is also something that takes a great deal of time and effort in different ways. Building an organic reader base often starts with personal fr
A writer's initial network breaking into social media might comprise of mostly writers and this is not a bad thing. Creating a network of fellow writers lends itself to many opportunities, from one to one critique readers, authors plugging one another, authors sharing opportunities such as workshops and panels, and even finding a writing group to support another and share a knowledge pool. Writing can be a very lonely business and having a core group to help boost and support you through victories and set backs can be invaluable in this industry. When it comes to building this network, you get what you put into it. If you continue to participate in writing events and building connections with fellow authors, this method has its own rewards to make the time and effort worth it to you.
The Fan Base
Another big benefit is building a reader network. This method is also something that takes a great deal of time and effort in different ways. Building an organic reader base can be tricky. If you seek to build something like a Facebook group for your readers to interact and get a leg up on the latest ARCs you have coming out, you start small. Sometimes it starts with personal friendships, people who support you at home, and build up the group as you continue to release new work. Building a reader base generally feels like a chicken and the egg scenario: without having read any of your work, how do you entice readers to follow you? It is still possible to build a hype, especially on visual platforms like Instagram, or Twitter where an author can tease details and imagery of their book before release. Imagery can be a particularly strong draw as a book's aesthetics can help you find the right readers for your story. Building a Fan base generally takes longer, but it is definitely a long term pay off for the time soaked into building a social media platform.
Time Sink & Balance
Here is where we point to the negatives. Social Media can be very time consuming. The modern author is often expected to be accessible and active on every platform and the truth of that is it can be exhausting. Engaging can also have the negative impact of eating into your writing time. When there are only so many hours in the day, spending an hour on Twitter for a writing chat can feel like a huge sacrifice of time. And in some ways it is. There are several schools of thought when it comes to book marketing that will say you don't need a social media presence at all, only a good handle on ads and other marketing tactics because social media presence doesn't sell books, and to that I say, it's half right.
Social Media presence doesn't translate to sales in the immediate sense or the exact sense. What it does do is create an author persona to engage with readers and writers and a visible writer is often a noticed writer. Even more so than ads there is another underestimated facet of selling books: Word of Mouth. Having a cluster of readers who continue to pass on your work to others is invaluable in so many ways.
But, coming back to that time sink. Building a social media presence takes a great deal of time, but it doesn't have to happen overnight. Nor should you spread yourself too thin. This is a marathon, just like everything else in writing, not a sprint. It is important, vital, to balance your time and to do what works best for you. Focus on one or two platforms at most. Put a cap on the amount of time you spend on them each day. This makes your time investment more manageable, and keeps this as a set task rather than eating into your writing time. Don't feel guilty if you use similar or the same material on multiple platforms, you only have so many hours in a day and preparing visuals also takes time and effort. It is okay to use and reuse materials as needed. Social media is meant to be a tool and a way to connect for an author, not a second job. As with any tool in your writer's toolkit, use social media as it suits your needs. Perhaps the time investment is not worth it for you at all, and that is okay too. There is no wrong or right time to start building a social media platform because of the golden rule of writing: Find a path that works for you.