New and old writers are discovering social media is a must-have for the modern-day author’s lifestyle. Some of us have adapted to the art of interacting online as part of everyday life. For the rest of us, the idea is daunting and, at times, feels like it has a massive learning curve. With a plethora of choices such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and so on, it can leave an author asking which one to pick. At the end of the day, whether you publish traditionally, take the indie author hybrid route, or self-publish, you need a social media presence.
We are in the age of technology which drastically changes how the book industry works. With these changes, we, the modern writer, get to talk to our readers, see their responses, and at times, this transparency can be both scary and intimidating.
Agents and publishers want to know who we are and often seek out our social media sites, even if we are pitching our debut novel. They want to put a face to the name and story, something that has only happened in the modern era. Many of the recent bestselling authors have been active on social media for at least a year, making their names more familiar to fellow writers and potential agents, including Pintip Dunn and Brenda Drake. Twitter is one of the best ways to build an online community and keep in touch with fellow writers you encounter at workshops and conventions.
A lot of times social media provides authors opportunities for interviews, offers to write articles, or contact information for agents looking for a piece. The best way to weed out these opportunities is with Twitter. You want your social media presence to be actively working on several aspects of your career, no matter if you are still polishing that first manuscript or seeking an opportunity to sell the next book or even planning to switch between self-publishing and traditional platforms.
ALL WRITERS SHOULD HAVE A TWITTER ACCOUNT.
Besides the value of connecting to agents and improving your understanding of the traditional publishing route, Twitter is a hub of information. Despite the 140 limited characters on posts, there are ways to search for advice from a wide range of people in the industry with tags such as #wiritingtip, #querytips, #AskAgent, #AskEditor, #PubTip, #WriterTip, and many more. You can find a more complete list broken out into different sections over at the Aerogramme Writers website (www.aerogrammestudio.com/2013/03/12/100-twitter-hashtags-every-writer-should-know). Diving into these allow you to not only find advice, but reveal tons of ways to get your own tweets seen by the right folks in the industry. Having a saved list or getting familiar with hashtags can and will help you cater Twitter to your needs and wants, such as building a dream agent lists or tracking authors who inspire you.
Another useful hashtag is #TenQueries which is a great way to see how queries are being canned and which are being requested. The hashtag challenges agents to weed through ten of their queries and how they fair, or why they didn’t pass. This has become method for agents to show transparency in their own pipelines and give insightful advice from their agent’s point of view. It’s a great way to see if the query or first pages were the stopping point, in others work and sometimes in your own. If you are wondering what happens to the slush pile, #SlushWorks is filled with stories of both sides, agents and writers, connecting, and even agents backing up and grabbing work from their slush piles. These hashtags help writers see inside another part of the publishing industry, especially what the desk of an agent looks like.
There is a large, active community of agents on Twitter who host amazing events to get writers connected more directly. Brenda Drake was recently in Orlando with her fellow authors and friends Pintip Dunn, Darcy Woods and Jen Malone. It was a great opportunity for local writers and authors to geek out, meet someone who has influenced the writing industry, and ask questions. Drake has been running a Twitter-based event called Pitch Wars for over six years (www.brenda-drake.com/pitch-wars). Drake started this cornerstone well before landing herself an agent and pushing out her debut novel. She is a great example of how connecting and being active in the online writing community can increase your visibility. There are several other events throughout the year inspired by Brenda’s Pitch Wars and #PitMad, including the holiday season event #Pitchmas.
If you are still not sure about joining Twitter, you can at least use their search for the ever growing “Manuscript Wishlist” by using “#MSWL” to get the inside scoop on agents’ desires. This can assist you to tailor your current manuscript to match specific agents or be more aware of what is trending. There are also agent-based events where agents are invited to post their Wishlist, and it has spurred a, Manuscript Wish List, where writers can discover agents who are super active in the online community (manuscriptwishlist.com). Some of these agent wishes are not only about story ideas, but the type of writer or author the agent is hoping to find and add to their lineup.
Another fun activity for writers and authors is sharing quotes or snippets of their current work or upcoming novels. It’s a chance to pull out some hashtags to draw readers, agents, and fellow writers into your profile and other websites so you can gain visibility. A lot of times, being active in this way can develop relationships with those established in the industry, which can provide a valuable resource. As the tweets roll out, each connecting to one another, you can relish in a wave of new followers, retweets and the occasional comment . To help your audience to follow along, add a book cover, image, and/or link in the beginning and end of the session. This provides a fast and friendly way for the visitors to find the start and read it through later one, make a purchase, or retweet the parts they liked best.
The best part about Twitter is the fact you can connect it to most other social media sites. This means that if you are active here, the posts are duplicated automatically on other sites like Facebook. Twitter also provides the ability to allow you to use other social media platforms, including blog sites like WordPress, to auto-posted on Twitter. It’s a great tool to hit all your platforms and never have to lift a finger or remember to post the same information on two or more sites. In the end, explore the information and discover how you can use twitter to fit your needs. As an author and writer, but I cannot express enough that Twitter is a great starting point if you are building a social media presence.
Valerie Willis is the author of The Cedric Series, a high-rated Paranormal Fantasy Romance Series featuring an anti-hero dragged away from the revenge he seeks on his maker by love and the onset of a larger threat. Valerie’s work is inspired by a melting pot of mythology, folklores, history, topped off with a healthy dose of foreshadowing. She is a local instructor for Writer’s Atelier and mentor for several writers in the Central Florida area.
You can find Valerie on Twitter (@Valerie_Willis) or check out her work at www.WillisAuthor.com.