Last week I talked about the even playing field for writing that is the Internet. Now I want to talk about how a writer can best utilize the Internet to present themselves to their audience and potential audience. I think it all starts with your personal website. Right now, for me, that’s a blog. Until I publish my first book (fingers crossed) and want to promote that on my homepage, as well as readings and other media appearances, it seems fitting to keep my website in the strictly blog format. A blog is like a home base for me. I can submit stories to literary magazines or write a review or essay for another website and in the bio line link back here. Blogging is also a way for a writer to show her audience that she is a real person, someone more than the stories she tells.
I recently interviewed for a publicity job and one of the questions was: what are your top three social media priorities for our website? This is a great question for all writers to think about as they venture into the confusing and over-saturated world of social media. When I answered the question, my interviewers nodded a lot, scribbled notes, and said, “Ah, I hadn’t thought about that.” So presumably my ideas were good. I’ll post them here for any writers new to social media. This could be a good jumping off point.
1.) Be Realistic
Often new authors think they need to take part in every channel of social media–Facebook, Twitter, a blog, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram, etc. The problem is that they spread their content too thin. Unless you have enough different material to cover each platform with something unique, don’t bother. It’s a waste of time to your audience if you give them the same information over and over, and frankly, it might annoy them enough to make them stop following you. Pick a few platforms that balance each other and make sense for what you’re doing. I have a blog for all things literary, post smaller literary ponderings on Twitter, and keep Facebook mostly personal (unless I’m shamelessly promoting something of mine to friends and family). I don’t currently see a need for me to use more visual sites like Pinterest or Tumblr, but I can understand how someone promoting an art book or comic could properly utilize Tumblr or how someone with a cookbook or lifestyle book could create Pinterest boards associated with their project. You have to find the best way to make social media work for you, not spread yourself thin trying to fit into every different platform of social media.
Since I’m trying to follow my own social media rules and keep my blog posts hovering around the 500 word mark, I’m going to postpone my second and third rules of social media until next week. Stay tuned, and in the meantime, think about which social media platforms are the right combination for your work and the online presence you hope to achieve.