Becoming a Social Writer

Photo by Tanja Cappell made with Paper app via Flickr

Joseph Frare, Fiction Panel Editor

If there is one thing to take away from “Social Media for the Authors: The Toughest Topic to Advise On,” a blog post by Jane Friedman, it’s that social media is the easiest and yet most successful way to advertise your book or your other works of writing; one of its best features is that’s it’s free. Friedman makes a good point that “too often ‘serious’ writers are trained to see social media as a distraction, as meaningless, as a low-class or even dumb way to publish, partly because it rarely involves payment.” But that is all just a mindset; these “serious” authors are living in the past. But hey, if those older authors are already making good income on their books alone, then by all means they don’t really need it. But for those young or aspiring authors out there, social media can be a powerful tool.

There’s a reason why Friedman has been asked about social media often — it is literally our entire world. The social media world is becoming nearly our entire life. Everyone is accessing social media 24/7, and they take it everywhere they go. Whether they’re taking glimpses at it during a family dinner, or scrolling through their feed on their commute to work. Social media is a part of our daily routines whether we like it or not, or believe it or not. Children, for God’s sake are using social media effectively, when most children in the past generations could’ve hardly worked a computer. To those authors who are trying to understand the social media game, Friedman explains his own principles that should help the writer get their work across on the social media platform.

What I absolutely support about her first principle is that the writer, when using their desired social media outlet, should provide a lot of content to their followers and to potential followers; however, I will deviate just a little bit against her by saying that the author using the platform should use the social media as strategically as possible. This way, eventually interested users of the platform would catch on that you’re devoted to your writing. Therefore, other users would be willing to follow you and your content because of how invested you would appear. When starting out, I feel it necessary that there is some strategic element that must be involved when publishing content on people’s feeds. You don’t want to be too excessive, putting out ten posts in a row and spamming your followers’ feeds, especially if the content you’re spamming out is rushed. This shows followers that you’re in it for the noticeability only, and that you value the content itself far less than the fame you would receive from the people who view you. You don’t want to appear desperate, and you certainly don’t want to post content you haven’t put all your heart in. This, I think, is the only strategic method that should be implemented when using social media to get yourself recognized as an author.

Friedman goes onto her next principle talking about micro publishing, in which the author with the social media account can post “sneak peeks,”which are previews of content from their novel, or a blog. This concept brings me to thinking about entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuck, who is a big fan on spreading content through the social media wavelengths. Gary stresses the same fact that I do; social media is successfully marketable. In one of his blog posts  he advises the best way to take advantage of the social media-driven world by producing content that could fit into as many social media platforms as possible. If you post as much content to as many platforms as possible,the chances that you’ll get noticed by the public will quadruple the amount than posting to one.

So how can a writer do such a thing? Well, one way is that you can turn your writing content into an audio book by making podcasts. Authors can make this very effective. An example of successful storytelling through this medium is The Adventure Zone, which had started as a weekly podcast created by three brothers. The podcast is a continuing story about the three brothers and their father as Dungeon and Dragons characters going on perilous quests. The Podcast became popular enough to become a successful graphic novel series sold by an actual publishing company.

Other ways is using even platforms like Wattpad, blog forums on Goodreads, and even writing posts on Instagram and Facebook, using interesting pictures to help draw in viewers to your writing. And as Gary Vaynerchuck advised, don’t just post on one platform, but post on as many as you can. Audio books can even be posted on Youtube and Spotify, since Youtube Red can allow users to listen to videos on their phones while doing other activities like exercising or other chores.

Friedman makes an example out of an author named Roxane Gray who posted on Tumblr about her health and diet, which as a result, got users who viewed her post wanting more of her expertise on healthy dieting, which led to her making a book. This is what I’ve personally seen happen to a lot of rising authors; they post small bits of writing that they’ve intended only for one post, and then suddenly their followers comment in their messages saying they want more, and then the author is encouraged enough to propose a book and it sells. An example I have that is truly an author’s Cinderella story is Cassandra Clare and her Harry Potter fanfiction. Her popular content on fanfiction.net, a popular social media outlet of her day, is a free website that encourages users to write fan stories of their favorite book series, television shows, comics, and more.  The fame of her fanfiction stories prompted her to write her own book series which ultimately, because of her followers on fanfiction.net, became a huge success.

If they were able to become a phenomenon through these platforms, why can’t you?

 


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