(This is the first in a series of advice for newbie authors. Caveat: I, myself, am a newbie, but having been through many of these issues and questions myself, I hope I can offer some insight!)
We’ll be talking about some of the best advice on each social media platform, as well as some general “rules”, should you choose to engage. Most first-time writers are struggling with not only the pressures of finishing their novel and finding a publisher, but also being told by everyone around them that they “must” have a social media platform. And, should one be lucky enough to find a publisher, then the publisher will most certainly require (at the very least): a website, Twitter handle, and Facebook page. This is a lot of pressure for many of us, especially as writers tend to be observers of life, and not necessarily wanting to be the full-time salesperson of our books.
Well, I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to be. In fact, you shouldn’t be asking your new readers, fans, and friends to “buy your book”. Harlequin asks its authors to limit any sort of buy links to a 1:9 ratio; one “ask” per every nine content-laden posts or tweets. In my personal opinion, it should be even lower. For example, Diana Gabaldon tweets about what is going on in her life and engaging with her fans, and has a very devoted online following (who then does go out and buy her books!).
People want to connect with their authors as people, not as an author in an ivory tower. So decide what you are comfortable sharing – kids, what you ate, your dog’s antics? Also, start slowly on each of these media. No need to be on all at once, or even all of them, period. It is better to be very engaged on one than spread thin on many.
Additionally, start to think of your brand or platform. Your story is your platform; the reader wants to engage on the current story AND the next one. Social media is just the tool through which we tell it. (some great advice: http://thewritepractice.com/fiction-platform/ )
Of course, the writing of your best possible book is still where you need to focus your energies. A good rule of thumb is to spend anywhere between 10-30% of your writing time on marketing (including social marketing) tools. With all of that said, let’s get down to brass tacks!
Disagree? Have more tips? Leave a comment!
Also, if you’re a fellow newbie, ping me and let me know what else you’d like to know about, either via comments or Twitter. Looking for more blog ideas for next month!