Today’s writing marketplace is a minefield of yesterday’s query space debris and tomorrow’s tech savvy go-getter. Staying one to two steps ahead of the game involves incorporating the latest social media tech, trends and memes into a writer’s playbook to gain a wider audience, build a bigger brand and ultimately win more publications.
It means going above and beyond posting to Facebook or Twitter to using upstart platforms like Pheed.com, Path.com and Tumblr.com to build a movement of followers and catch the eye of any editor hungry for a growing readership. Dump that SASE zero and get with a Pinterest hero!
Here’s a rundown of the latest social platforms every good writer can add to their arsenal to get the gig. And here’s how best to use them.
Social Media Platforms
First you should acquaint yourself with the usual suspects. They are Twitter, Facebook and Youtube. How do these lead players figure into your brand as a writer? Simple. If you’ve discovered anything about the ever evolving nature of social media platforms, you’ve learned that it is a wild west frontier where the playing field favors the quick thinking and the creative. And these three desperados run the show.
Twitter followers, Facebook fans and Instagram trends can boost your future sales, build a case for why a publisher should choose you, or simply put your name out there as an emerging writer. How you win them and engage them is the determining factor.
The hashtag #FF (FollowBack Fridays) is an excellent means of market strategy. Yes, follow back anyone who follows you on Twitter or Facebook or Youtube. But don’t relegate your #FF to only Fridays.
1. Follow back
Pay it forward and follow everyday of the week. One follow leads to another follower. And by virtue of Twitter suggestions, you’re bound to be introduced to someone who knows someone who could be your next fan or your next editor. Twitter publishes a newsletter that’s teeming with suggestions. You’re likely to figure in one of these newsletters as someone to follow.
2. Vlog – seeing is believing
What do you get when you cross a blog with video? A vlog. In today’s social media market seeing is believing. YouTube is the visual equivalent of the gold rush. YouTubers who create viral videos and loyal followings end up seeing their brand grow and reap financial reward.
Why not dedicate a channel to your work as a writer? Why not create a 3 to 5 minute weekly vlog that shows a day in the life of…YOU? Why not show viewers how to whip that pumpkin pie into shape from that cooking feature you recently published?
Conducting a book signing? Film it. Vlog it. And then share it on all your social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook.
You get the point.
Make use of YouTube for something other than watching dancing cats or laughing babies.
Moving beyond the A-listers of social media, it’s time you make nice with the rebellious bunch on the brink of stealing Facebook’s thunder.
3. Tumblr is your BFF
Sure you can fork over a few hundred to craft a website that needs to be updated every so often. Or you can use the free Internet real estate that is Tumblr to build a smoking blog of your musings, clips, excerpts from forthcoming novels, behind the scenes pictorials, etc. And a lot of the PR involved will be generated from the kind folks of Tumblr itself in their “Special Delivery From Your Tumblr Dashboard” newsletter. Be hip. Be edgy. Be creative. But more so than anything else be inventive.
Tumblr is your canvas where upon you can wax poetic or dark or authoritative all in one breath. Fill your blog with thoughts of the day on current events, pitches or sample chapters. And if you’re not as tech savvy as you’d like to be, Tumblr has a plethora of profile building templates that will make your page sizzle.
Building upon the Twitter follow back strategy, you’ll likely encounter other writers and magazines who use Tumblr. Send potential publishers and editors to your Tumblr page. THIS is your website now. And the ultimate plus is you can update your Tumblr in real time. Got an idea? Bang! Publish it to your Tumblr and let the world know.
4. Brand it
Every social media wizard has a brand and a brand of followers at that. Justin Bieber has his Beliebers. Rihanna has her Rihanna Navy. Lady Gaga has her Little Monsters. And strange or not, they equal dollar signs and products sold.
While you may not be a rockstar, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t act like one. Build a glorious headbanging brand of followers that you can identify in a police line up. If you’re a mystery writing maven then name your audience of readers something that corresponds well: Agatha Christies for example.
Engage them while branding them in every communication, every outpost, and every transmission from your Tumblr, Twitter feed, Facebook post, or Pinterest pin.
Tell them about the latest article you’ve published. Invite them to read the first few pages of your new novel.
Ask them what they think about the opening lines to your new romance epic. As Captain Picard always said, “Engage!”
5. Pheed your hunger
Drive is everything in staking a claim atop the social media mountain. Couple drive with a budding platform of go-getters and you have a recipe for great things to happen.
Pheed is the newest kid on the block, offering users a means to share text, video, photos and audio all in one funky space. None of the others are quite doing it in the same manner. And in that regard, Pheed is ideal for a writer hoping to connect to a new audience with snippets from new work, photos from book art, video of a reading or book signing, or audio snippets of an audiobook.
Imagine trying to do all of that in one webspace that you’ve paid a web designer to build for you. You’re looking at quite an investment financially. However with Pheed, most of the work is done for you. Now all you need to do is provide that brilliant content that editors and fanboys alike will flock to.
Pin it to your Pinterest dashboard and get beyond those stale headlines already crafted for you and name your own brand of pins. If you have a series of travel escapes then name your pins the same as your book series for example. Draw interest in the very product you’re trying to sell or publish with scintillating images detailing where in the world is Waldo so to speak in beautiful living color. Pinterest followers love moving images and will likely click through to the product itself if the image is stirring enough.
Chart a direct Path to your editors, publishers and agents. Path is essentially the diet Coke of Facebook; reduced calories and still all the buzz. It purposes to provide a safe and more private structure for connecting with friends, family and colleagues without all the gray matter of privacy intrusion that currently embroils Facebook feeds. Invite your growing database of colleagues and future publishers to a more intimate network where upon they can view your work directly online and interact with you without their communication becoming blasted from the rafters like on Facebook.
For $1 you can build a stunning email newsletter and they will come. Aweber offers a subscription service that sends out your email newsletter per your instructions and specs and offers a steady stream of video tutorials to get you to the next level of greatness. Build that writer’s newsletter that you’ve always wanted to use to connect to readers and industry colleagues alike. Plunk down a dollar and thank your lucky stars for the worthy investment.
4) Your email signature.
Embed icons of your top 3 to 4 social media platforms in the body of your email signature, driving traffic from all comers who receive your email to your blog, snippets from your audio book, pictorials of artwork from your book, or where to buy that great American novel. People are naturally curious. When an editor sees your signature with a giant T sending them to your Tumblr page, naturally he or she will click to see where the yellow brick road takes them. And by golly if you’ve done your homework building a brilliant Tumblr page, they’ll find several more reasons to accept your query.
This is mostly intuitive once you get the wheels rolling on your social media empire. Don’t be afraid to connect with others doing what you love. Ask them for tips and tricks to make your pages sing. Editors, agents, and publishers will all be impressed by the legion of fans you’ve garnered online and equate that to a readership that you bring with you to the table.
In a time when print is an endangered species and the internet is fast-becoming the king of the jungle,
publishers want a strong return on investment. And if you’re as a good a writer as you say you are, your social media savvy will sell the rest
About the author:
Akil Wingate is an American writer and singer-songwriter based in Lausanne, Switzerland. He currently writes for Style Equation, Viral Fashion, and Menswear Style UK magazines. He also has been published in The Savvy Explorer, Writers Weekly, Writing Tomorrow, Devilfish Review, and others. When he isn’t writing, composing or touring the world, he usually can be found in the kitchen whipping a challenging recipe into shape
Also by Akil Wingate:
1. Incentives for Freelance Writers to Earn as They Learn (article)