Making social media matter

Stop wasting time and start building your writing career with these tried-and-true tips

Social Media

Create some noise

Michelle Gamble, CEO of 3L Publishing and PR, suggests: “Don’t try to be liked, but rather find the ‘controversy’ in your book, whether it’s fiction or nonfiction. One of my authors – D.B. Stearns, who writes the Harmonic Wars series – uses this strategy. He uses his book platform to open up provocative discussions about politics. While not everyone agrees with him and he can definitely stir up the discussion, the idea is not to gain agreement. The haters will hate you regardless, and honestly, all publicity is good publicity. It gains more exposure for him, which in turn generates book sales.”

Don’t bite off more than you can chew

Don’t try every single social media option – you’ll get frustrated and give up. Pick something that interests you and have modest goals.

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When I first tried to run my own blog, I figured “Hey, who can’t knock out three 800-word posts a week, right?” That blog failed within two months. Worse, it felt like work the entire time.

So I tried again with a new strategy. The new blog that I launched in April 2018, OnlyPictureBooks.com, only has one post per week, and I’ve got a clear system for what the posts will be each month:

  • Week 1: picture book review with me covering the writing and a guest illustrator covering the pictures
  • Week 2: an interview with a picture book writer
  • Week 3: education activities (that I devise) on a new or forthcoming picture book
  • Week 4: industry insider interview with an agent, editor, or publicist

That’s it. The interviews practically write themselves. The review? I’m only doing HALF of it. And the education activities? I’m married to someone who has a master’s degree in education.

I enjoy doing this blog, and I typically have two months of completed posts in the queue. And each time I hit “publish,” I run the posts on my social media, too.

Treat social media like a job

Don’t assume you’ll just automatically do the hard work of keeping your social media going. You won’t. So actually schedule it in your calendar. All of the social media gurus I know set aside an hour or so a few times per week – often while watching TV – to write the material that they’ll use on social media for the next few days. That way, each post/tweet only takes a few moments to handle when it’s time to go live. (Alternatively, you can schedule tweets via tools like Hootsuite and Sprout Social, which saves time but requires you to keep an eye on current events. In times of national tragedy, where the conversation turns to mourning or ensuring users’ safety, scheduled self-promotional posts will make you look callous and foolish.)

Plus, if you don’t have a business-like mindset about social media, you’ll get caught up in the digital time-sucks. Baby panda videos. Political rants. “Which Harry Potter character am I?” quizzes.

Treat social media like a job when you’re doing it for your career. Treat social media like fun when you’re using it for fun.