First, a disclaimer: this is not one of my stronger areas. I’m a Figment. We don’t have social media. We once burned Writers at the stake (and, accidentally, at the steak). I’m so bad at this that I hired a social reality person. (Which reminds me that I need to fire her and hire someone else, but that’s not part of this post.)
A lot of first-time writers don’t start publicity for their books until after they’ve published. At the very least, they wait until release week and spam everyone with their excitement. Excitement-flavored potted meat is not nearly as tasty if you’re not the one who created it.
You really need to start setting up your social media before you ever start writing. The real trick, you see, is that social media is about connection, not about potted meat. If you start connecting with people before you get excited about your book, they will get excited with you because you have a connection. If you toss it out there before they know you, you’re a telemarketer. Even telemarketers don’t like telemarketers.
Now that you’re caught up on your homework (you are caught up, right?), here’s your next assignment: get your social media in order. Lucky for you, I have a handy dandy guide.
- Figure out your pen name. You will want to use this across social media, so get it right. Even though I’ve considered changing my name to Sniggly Tanbottom Jr. (it’s shorter), I will stick with Zanzibar because this is who my readers know. Play around with it until you’re happy. Try signing a few autographs, too.
- Find a picture of yourself that looks good in thumbnail, in profile pictures, and blown up on a page. Crop that thing down; no one needs to see Aunt Edna getting drunk in the background. What you want to be left with is a picture that encapsulates you. Think of it as your personal blurb/summary. When people see your picture, do you want them to think: he sure takes a lot of selfies or wish I lived by an industrial waste plant- what inspiration!? I like people to think about bright colors. I’d stick with a facial or upper body shot if you’re not a Figment.
- Figure out what your social media type is.
- Instagram/ Flickr/ Picasa/ Pinterest: You think a picture is worth a thousand words (might want to consider a career change). You take photos all the time and you love to doctor them up. Note: this is good for writers revealing book covers, art, maps, etc.
- LinkedIn: You want someone to hire you to write. If you don’t, I would update your profile to include “Writer” and leave it at that.
- Meerkat/ Periscope/ Vimeo/ YouTube: You like to use videos to tell your story or you want to vlog. It’s not an area heavily used by writers, so you could get a lot of mileage out of this one if you’re good at it.
- Facebook/ Google +: Very similar and very different. Facebook is almost a must for a writer, but Google has better groups. Play around to see which you like better or use both. I’m all for polysociality.
- Twitter: If you like to be chatty and very in-the-moment in your social media and if you can compress your thoughts to 140 characters or less, this is for you. Strength is its immediacy.
- Blogging platform of your choice: Here’s a tip- only blog if you’re going to do it regularly. If you only blog once a month, but you always blog once a month, you won’t disappoint your readers as much as someone (like me) who publishes daily for a couple of weeks and then vanishes. Hey, you’d be quiet, too, if The Conductor was in the next room. Do this if you like to “journal” and you have something to say. There’s nothing worse than a writer who can’t blog well. I assume they can’t write well, either. I also judge books by their covers. It’s fun.
- Email Media: Works best in conjunction with something else, because no one wants you sending them email they didn’t sign up for.
- Goodreads: Every Writer should be on Goodreads. It links Writers to Readers. Go on there first as a Reader and get active on message boards. (Another reminder to fire my social reality person.) Set up a Writer page. Do giveaways. I cannot stress the love for Goodreads. Really I can’t. It’s in the restraining order.
You can sign up for any or all of the above, but it’s best to keep it down to one or two to start. If you get comfy and feel like sharing the warm fuzzies, move on to the next one.
4. Set up an identical or near-identical profile on every site you use. Create your user profile once and reuse it. Again, this is a “you” blurb. Be consistent.
5. Start using social media regularly. Be active on groups. Make friends. Make connections.
When you get around to publishing and start to sell potted meat, everyone will like you and they’ll buy, even if they don’t particularly like potted meat.
Plenty of homework here. Don’t come back until you’ve done it. Okay, come back, but lie to me. It’s your writing career.