This post was written by Ronel Janse van Vuuren.
You’re a writer, an artist, and thus should only be concerned with creating, right?
Unfortunately, that is not the case. More and more the opportunity to publish in ezines, guest blogs and other online media (and some print outlets too) expect writers to have a social media following. A healthy online following means that people will buy your work.
Not interested in the online world?
Publishers expect authors to do their own marketing. The days of publishing houses doing everything have long passed: authors have to work at generating buzz over their newest book release because the budgets for marketing their books aren’t huge (and sometimes non-existent).
Having a social media following means that you have people to tell about your new product (story/poem/article/book) and thus you can raise interest.
Social media is free to use, global and can be focused on your target market. Sure, figuring out which networks to use and how to use them is rather time consuming (so is building a following), but in a world where you can let everyone know that your short story was published in an ezine without having to do much more than tweet it (Twitter consists of short messages of 140 characters or less and hashtags help to zone in on your target audience), using this advancement in communication makes absolute sense.
As a bonus, you can network with other writers and publishing professionals online and build friendships and connections that can help you. A lot of anthologies are only open to writers who know the organisation/publisher/group involved in putting the book together – sometimes writers collaborate on projects like that to raise awareness of their work in a new reader demographic. It’s easier to work with people you know…
So how do you figure out how to use a social media network? Trial and error. Okay, so you can check out various author blogs to see which networks they use and how they use it (I like to do a post about a network’s ins and outs every couple of months as I’ve tried out a new platform). The internet is full of how-to articles: figure out what works for you and ignore the rest.
As a rule, authors should have a blog (it’s the place people can always find you and your work), Twitter (the writing community there is awesome), Google+ (because it’s great for your blog’s SEO to have your blog posts publicized there) and something to do with images like Instagram or Pinterest (the latter is great for referring traffic to your blog). This is called your author platform.
People like Facebook too. Though it can become a place where you forget that you’re a professional. You might start spewing personal feelings about politics/religion/whatever other hot topic can blow your top. The internet is forever and people don’t want to work with hotheads who aren’t professional.
Still not convinced?
Let me put it like this: you grow tomatoes and you want to sell those tomatoes. But if no-one knows about you, how can they buy your tomatoes?
Check out my posts about the different social media networks mentioned here. And take the advice of experts – keep what works for you and discard the rest. In the end, your author platform should work for you.
Which social media networks do you use? Have you met your best writing-friend online? Has your author platform brought you any writing-opportunities?
Author: Ronel Janse van Vuuren
Ronel Janse van Vuuren is the author of dark fantasy filled with mythology and folklore, some of which can be read on Wattpad and on her blog Ronel the Mythmaker. When not leading her Rottweiler pack or arguing with her characters, she’s writing award-winning fiction.