As I follow conversations among writers in online communities, I notice some writers struggle with the idea of using social media when it doesn’t interest them, of self-promotion, finding the time to write and the time to run a platform, and of wanting to be known for their work and not what’s on a Twitter feed.
In my last post I talked about how social media is beneficial to some authors, even if they’re going the traditional route. In today’s post I’m going to give you some basic principles to use when approaching you’re own social media platform.
Platforms are largely misunderstood and important things are left out both by those who rave about it and those who despise it. It’s not enough to use it for the sake of using it. How you approach your platform matters.
So how does a writer approach their platform without going batshit crazy?
1.) Your best creative energy ALWAYS goes into your craft first. Your art always, always, always comes first. There will be days when you need to spend a little bit more time on your platform scheduling posts or responding to comments, but it should always come second to your writing.
Your social media platform will not be your most important creative project; your work is. But that doesn’t mean the two can’t exist side-by-side with one another. I post on this blog once a week to say what I need to say, but my very best creative juices are going into the books I write. Live by this, and you will live with ease. You are a writer first and foremost.
2.) Have a personality. If you study some of the most successful platforms, you will notice that not only do the writers express something, but they have personality.
Chuck Wendig at Terrible Minds writes for video games, his own fiction, and his blog. On his blog he writes for nerds like me who love books and love writing them. His voice stands out not only for what he says but how he says this:
As many of you know, I have a
cackling monkey-demonpreschool-age son, and we attempt to approach parenting with as much compassion as we can muster. Sympathy and empathy in attendance. He’s a little kid and we think OH PSSH LIFE IS EASY FOR CHILDREN but fuck that, it’s not. Being a kid is confusing as hell. You have almost no actual power or choice in your life and your itty-bitty body is a cauldron of conflicting, bitey hormones. So, we try to be kind.
In fact, after writing that much in a given day, my brain felt not unlike the long snarl of rotten hair you pull out of the shower drain after forgetting to clean it for about six years. It looked like the little girl crawling out of the TV in The Ring. By that point, it became a bedraggled, wretched thing. Dead and dripping. (And it’s why I went out afterwards and had margaritas and tacos with the family because that’s how I recharge my batteries. TACO FAMILY TEQUILA POWER. Woo!)
From Counting Words
This is how Chuck writes about writing, authorship, parenting, and social issues. You get the sense that a very unique individual is writing this, not an SEO bot, and that only Chuck could pull off this voice. People like me read his blog for his inspiring advice on writing but more for the unique way he expresses it.
BE YOURSELF. If you cuss, then cuss. If you’re a True Blood fanatic and can compare everything in life to whatever those vampires do, then write about that. If you like to rant about fashion trends or how Christmas decorations go on sale in September, then rant about it. Giving a shit about something gives you opportunities to open up and express your most authentic self, something audiences appreciate. In the long game, authenticity wins.
3.) Keep it simple. Use the platforms that make the most sense to you. If every day you’re having a blast on Pinterest, then knock yourself out with it. But if Facebook is a bane to your existence, then don’t bother with it. Don’t do it all, because you feel like you “have to”, and risk spreading yourself thin. Stick to the areas where you thrive and excel.
4.) Be consistent. Post regularly, even if it’s not perfect, even if it’s a dud and a not a masterpiece. Posting irregularly is a great strategy for being forgotten.
5.) Be imperfect. Being consistent may demand imperfection at times. This part is pretty counter-intuitive to writers. We’re careful about sharing imperfect work and spend most of our time refining it. But when it comes to platforms, you’re going to learn valuable mistakes through experimentation. To grow your audience, you will need to try new things and experiment with them.
As mentioned earlier, Wendig sometimes writes about parenting in his posts. That’s not about writing, and that’s okay. It’s an experience he has that allows him to connect with his audience, and he’s consistent about it.
These are some basic principles to guide you through the confusing and uncertain work of building your platform. Writing this post, I came up with about a half a dozen more that have helped me. So today I’m offering something special.
For those who would like to read further on this, I’m offering a free download of Social Media for Writers Who Hate Social Media, which includes:
– Part 1 of this post (published last week)
– Part 2 of this post (the extended version)
– Bonus resources (links to other voices about this subject)
Download your free copy: Social Media for Writers who Hate Social Media
(P.S. This is a first edition of this guide, and it was written with a modest amount of editing. I’d love to offer updated versions in the future, so if you have any feedback – or notice anything that was left out – please e-mail me at jane [at] word-savant.com. Much gratitude).