People, you know I’m a worrier. I worry about whether enough people read my blog, if I have enough followers on Twitter, or whether just posting blog updates to my Facebook page is enough (it isn’t). Then I read a bunch of other writer and agent blogs who tell me all the things I need to be doing to market myself, and end up worring that I’m spending too much time online and not enough time on the really important thing: writing a great book.
We’re all worried. And yet the advice never seems to match up. How’s a writer to separate the wheat from the chaff?
The first thing about using social media well is branding, says Kirsten Lamb. And you do that with the name that’s going to appear on your book jacket, not with a kooky handle like trinigirl_18. The reason is that when you use Twitter, and comment on other blogs, people will get used to your name, so when they see your books, they remember who you are.
This is excellent advice, except, some people who are doing really well at social media and making names for themselves don’t do it. In fact, @inkyelbows on Twitter has a second account by her real name, Debbie Ridpath Ohi, and advices people to keep their personal and professional lives separate (more on that later).
Another piece of advice is to write about what you’re passionate about, i.e. writing, and to keep your posts focused. This applies also to Twitter, says Ohi, who will un-follow people whose primary focus isn’t writing about writing. Agent Jane Friedman agrees, and even offers some tips on what to blog about. However, Lamb says that you probably shouldn’t focus on blogging/tweeting about writing since pretty much every writer out there is doing the same thing. Rather, she advices profiling your potential reader and writing about the things that they are interested in that also appear in your books. For e.g. if you write fantasy, your blog and tweets should probably be about that, rather than “Top 10 tips for writers” since everyone has posted one of those darn lists.
Friedman also has advice on how best to use Facebook to promote your professional self. In her mind, it’s better to do everything on a personal page, and not force your family and friends to “fan” or “like” what’s basically a marketing page. Well, I already blew that one, though I don’t think anyone felt forced to join. (Did you?) And clearly there are those like Ohi who disagree.
So should you keep your worlds separate? Or make everyone your buddy? Should you write about writing, or the topics your readers like?
The answer to that is: Do whatever the heck you want and quit worrying about it.
I think the point I missed about social media is that it’s supposed to be fun. Something I only remembered this week when I got chased by a rabid groundhog and immediately thought it’d make a funny blog post. So what if @inkyelbows stops following me. (I like her. I hope she doesn’t, but I can’t worry about that.) The operative word is “social.” Writing is hard enough work. Don’t make this hard, too. Just tweet, blog, and be merry.