Five things Every Writer Should Know: Social Media.

I want to continue with the discussion from a few Mondays ago about social media.

The ‘experts’ state writers are to spend a certain amount of time blogging, tweeting and Facebooking about our book(s), and that it has to be ‘organic’, especially when it comes to Twitter. Problem is, the majority of writers have other things to do during the day, myself included. Goals like this can be a little hard to obtain, but it can be accomplished if you have a solid understanding of exactly what social media is.

Social media is the umbrella term used for online programs that connect people. World-wide there are roughly 15 or so popular platforms (depending on region), that encompass three forms of media; print, video, and picture. While many writers think social media is a pain, it is a necessary evil for this industry, but it can go a little easier if you understand a few things.

So here we go; five things writers should know about social media.

  1. It doesn’t have to be time consuming. 

Did you know you can schedule your posts on a majority of platforms? Blogs, Twitter, and Facebook have options that allow you to schedule, which means you can write out a pile of posts to schedule, which allows you to be consistent with your activity. This is a wonderful tool for writers and should be used all the time and takes some pressure off.

  • Post don’t have to be long. 

 I read an article years ago which stated that the perfect blog post length is around three-hundred words. This is mainly for blog posts, as Twitter already has a character limit. The shorter post are easier on the reader, who may subscribe to dozens of blogs and only a short time to read through them all. I keep mine between three to five hundred words (this one ended up being close to 700) depending on the topic, but it’s a good thought to keep in mind for other platforms as well. I consider short posts a lesson in creativity. Trying to convey what you want to say in as few as possible is a skill on its own.

  • Only do the platforms that you are comfortable with.

There are at least a dozen social media sites on the internet and each has its pros and cons, so do some research before you make an account. What is it you want to do? What kind of content do you want to create? More importantly, how much time are you willing to put into it. Video platforms are time consuming and require a modest amount of money for equipment or programs, while blogging sites are the easiest and require very little in the way of creating content other than writing.

  • There are rules.

Yes, whether you like it or not, there are etiquette rules for social media. Remember, just because you delete something online, doesn’t mean it’s gone forever. Think about what you want the world to see. The link below will take you to a site that can explain it better than I ever can.  

https://www.moneycrashers.com/social-media-etiquette-tips-personal-business/

  • Have fun!

I can’t stress this point hard enough. More than once I’ve stopped doing something online because it became more of a chore than something I looked forward to doing. Hence the reason I haven’t blogged a lot in the last few years. All these platforms are great to connect to people, but they do require some of your time to maintain. You have to want to do it, and have fun while you’re doing it. If it starts to lose it’s appeal or you just don’t feel like doing it anymore, that’s fine. Give yourself a break from it. As a writer, social media is important. Authors need a way to get the word out about new releases, and these platforms are the only way to do it, especially for new writers. This is why I suggested in #3 to only work with a few to start with.

There you have it; five things every writer should know about social media. Join me next week when I take a deeper look at blogs.

Have fun, and stay safe.

Five things Every Writer Should Know. Period.

I’ve been writing for a solid twelve years, and I’ve hung around the writing community for about fifteen. A lot has happened in those years, and no matter how many things come and go, they always stay the same. Every year, new writers enter the writing world and are bombarded with things they should do, shouldn’t do, maybe should do – well, you get the picture. I’m here to tell you, with all the experience and knowledge I’ve gained in the last ten years, or more, there are five things that every writer should know. Now some of this is just common sense, but it doesn’t hurt to restate them every now and then.

  • Writing fads come and go.

Remember that vampire craze a few years back? Remember how everyone was writing about them and you couldn’t swing a rope of garlic without hitting a book that had vampires? Just replace vampires with werewolves, zombies, witches, ghosts, and it can feel like the publishing world is getting a bit crowded with the paranormal, but don’t fret. What comes around goes around, and if you have a paranormal novel with any of the above and you feel it won’t be seen, wait a few years. These tropes never go out of style and there’s a reason there are so many-because they’re popular and have a very large following. Keep writing that book, and when it’s done, do your research. If you feel the time isn’t right put it away and wait for a time when it is.

  • Never compare yourself to another writer

This should be a no-brainer, but it needs to be said. All writers have that internal voice that nags at them and tells them they’re not as talented as (insert author here), or why aren’t your books or your career doing as well as (?). I’ve fallen victim to it myself several times and it’s a real pain in the ass to ignore too, but you have to. You have to tell that little voice to fuck right off. Negativity like that can damage your creative energy. Once you start thinking you’re not as good as so-in-so, you begin a spiral that eventually pulls you away from the passion you have for not just your story, but for writing in general.

  • Agents talk to each other.

Yes, they do. Frequently. They talk to each other and about all sorts of things too; stories about how well their clients are doing, upcoming novels they’re really excited about, and authors who have decided to be assholes and harass or belittle them.  If you harass an agent, you can damn well bet that other agents will not only know about it, but be keeping an eye out for anything you send.  Agents get hundreds of emails per day and the last thing they need is some writer giving them a hard time because that agent passed on their manuscript. I follow several agents and at least once a year I see posts from them about some wanna-be author taking their rejection personally. Please, be an adult about this. If an agent (or editor, for that matter) passes on your manuscript, yes it hurts, but it’s not the end of the world and not worth being labeled. Yes, you heard me right. You’ve marked yourself right from the beginning as being hard to work with, and trust me, NO ONE wants to work with that asshole.

  • Writing is HARD.

A decade or so, when self-publishing soared into popularity, everyone decided to write a book. Nothing wrong with that, but some soon learned that being an author isn’t easy, and neither is telling a good story. I get it. Writing is hard, but the difference between a writer and an author is how you handle that hardship. A new writer may look at other writers/authors and see how effortlessly they accomplish word goals, or publishing goals, or handle promotional work, etc, but I’m going to tell you that each and every writer has struggled with all of these at one time or another. The reason it looks so easy, is because they understand the nature of the beast. Writing is more than just telling a story, and promoting is more than just putting up a link to your novel. This is a business and it has to be treated like one. Learn as much as you can about your craft and everything that comes with it. The writing community is very supportive. Hook up with like-minded people, because the information they can give you is priceless.

  • How-To Books are Guidelines

This goes along with #4. Writing books are a wonderful place to start for the new writer. Hell, even seasoned writers can gain new insight into their writing with them. I have a few myself, but I’m well aware that what has worked for the authors might not work for me. In those instances, I tweak their information to work in my situation. For example, there’s a popular advice that states you should read for 4 hours a day and write for 4 hours a day, every day. I don’t have that luxury and neither do many of my writing friends, but I didn’t dismiss this advice. Maybe I can’t write or read 4 hours a day, but I can write for 30 minutes every other day. The fact is, I’m writing. I’m creating a writing habit that will help me move forward with my stories, and guide me through those days when putting words down is difficult.

So there you have it; 5 Things Every Writer Should Know. Period.

Take care and stay safe.

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