Social Media for Writers

When a lot of writers hear "social media strategy," their first reaction is often to panic. Like, where do you even start with this "strategy"? How do you get more followers? And how do you make those followers want to buy your book? And how do you leverage those followers to catch the attention of an agent or editor?

In my opinion, all writers should be on social media, but the good news is that a "social media strategy" in a writing sense is easier than you'd think, especially if you're shooting for traditional publication.

First things first: you DON'T have to be an influencer with a huge platform to get published as a fiction writer. Of course, having a crap-ton of avid readers hanging on your every word won't hurt, but the main thing that agents and publishers want to see is simply that you have a regularly-updated social media account. If you want readers to be able to find you, a social media account isn't optional in this day and age. In fact, it's so important to have one that I recommend you put the links to your accounts in the signature of your query letter (but don't mention your follower count in your query unless you're an actual social media influencer. Trust me -- you'll look stupid otherwise).

Personally, I think the best thing you can do with a social media account is to connect with other writers. The online writing community is huge -- especially on Twitter -- and by getting involved, you'll connect with thousands of other authors who will support and encourage you. You might even find critique partners to help make your book better. And when you and your online writer friends get published, you'll be able to help support each other's books. How cool is that?

Now, on to some actual marketing strategy. If you're planning to self-publish your book (and/or writing nonfiction), you need to realize that it's a business, which means building up a social media following of people who want to read what you write. So unless your book is just meant to be a keepsake for friends and family, you really do need a social media strategy (and if you want to be traditionally published for fiction, like I said earlier, having an avid following can only help your chances).

Now, I'm no social media marketing guru, but hear me out: you build a platform by producing content that your target audience wants to interact with and share. It's that simple, and that difficult. For example, I write YA fiction, so I run an Instagram account where I discuss and post pictures of popular YA books. I don't have a book out yet, but when I do, I have the perfect place to tell people about it.

If you're not a huge fan of social media, you don't have to be on every single site -- just pick the ones that you like. But be aware that your target audience might be in different places. For example, if you're targeting suburban moms, Facebook is the place to be. If you're targeting teens or young adults, Instagram might be a better bet. This means that when you're creating your content, it needs to be optimized for the platform. For example, if you're on Instagram, your photography had better be stellar (you don't need a fancy camera -- a phone camera will usually work just fine -- but you need to be cognizant of lighting, composition, etc).

Create content that your target audience will love

Social media can be daunting at times, but it's well worth it for your career. Do you have any social media tips for writers? Share in the comments!

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