How Writers Can Leverage Social Media to Boost Success
Must you be active on socials? What if you hate it? Read on...
The question of whether writers must use social media is kind of like asking if you need to put ketchup on fries. Some people swear by it, while others opt for mayo, vinegar, or nothing at all (my preference).
The answer hinges on what you're aiming to achieve with your writing career.
Social media has its merits, especially for writers. It can act as a public portfolio, a networking tool, and a marketing channel all rolled into one. Plus, it offers a unique way to interact directly with readers, almost like an ongoing book signing where the table between author and fan is removed.
However, it can be a double-edged sword; the same platform that amplifies your voice can become a timesink or even a source of stress and anxiety. This is particularly true if you find yourself embroiled in the less savory sides of social media, like trolling or harassment, which is an unfortunate concern, especially for women, LGBTQIA+, people of color, and differently-abled.
There are certainly other effective options for writers to consider. Let's break them down:
1. Traditional Media: Being featured in newspapers or magazines still holds a fair amount of prestige. If you can get an op-ed or article published, it often lends a sense of legitimacy that social media doesn't always offer (plus, you can add those bylines to your bio).
This kind of opportunity doesn’t happen out of the blue. Many authors hire a PR (public relations) expert who has those contacts and can book you into publications and interviews. I’ve worked with David Ratner, PR. He’s honest and helpful.
2. Newsletters: Think of this as social media without the noise. You're reaching out directly to people who are genuinely interested in what you have to say. It's more intimate and often has a higher engagement rate, and because they opted in when they subscribed, you can continue to grow.
Should you be on Substack vs. a more traditional newsletter option? Read my comparison here ⬇️
3. Writing Conferences and Workshops: These events offer great networking opportunities. It's like LinkedIn but with less spam and more genuine connections.
Zoom became the go-to tool for online conferences and workshops, so if travel is not in your plans, look for virtual opportunities.
Here’s a great list from Dave at Kindlepreneur https://kindlepreneur.com/best-online-writing-courses/
4. Public Speaking and/or Panel Discussions: Striking fear in even the heartiest writer - public speaking, are you kidding? LOL no.
You'll not only build authority but also connect with a targeted audience. Plus, these types of opps often lead to more opportunities.
Not a video fan? Record audio or your screen if sharing a how-to (humor is always helpful if that fits you).
Host/cohost/participate in X Spaces (formerly Twitter). Audio only, and you can just listen or ask for the mic to speak. Up to you.
Join me any Wednesday at 11 am pst/2 pm est for #BookMarketingChat on X (formerly Twitter).
5. Book Readings and Signings: These traditional events provide a direct connection with readers and can be an effective way to gain new fans.
Talk with your local small bookstores and libraries, which will often share local authors’ books.
The COVID pandemic helped writers find new ways to interact online (e.g., using Zoom), which are still popular options today. Especially helpful for us introverts.
6. Online Communities: Websites, social media groups, and forums that focus on your genre or subject matter can be gold mines for connecting with like-minded individuals. Just be cautious and protective of your personal information and well-being.
Join or create your own public or private groups on X, Facebook, LinkedIn, and even Instagram now. Or use Discord or other forum-type apps (rapidly becoming THE place to pitch and connect with agents and publishers). See why #DVPit moved!
7. Podcasts and Webinars: Either hosting your own or being featured as a guest can broaden your audience and allow you to dive deep into topics you're passionate about.
You can either do all the podcast creation and webinar content yourself or hire outside help if it feels too overwhelming.
In essence, social media is a useful tool, but it's not the only tool in the shed. And for the sake of your mental health, sometimes diversifying your approach can not only be effective but also refreshing.
What route resonates most with you? Please share below and consider subscribing!