We live in a bold new era. To become a successful writer, one must learn to navigate the unsteady currents of social media in order to discover, reach, and build an audience. No matter how groundbreaking your novel, a strong online presence gives you a leg up on your competition. I’ve outlined below a few basic strategies, including a few examples, for cultivating and maintaining a social media presence.
Getting short stories accepted at literary magazines is still a form of currency for finding an agent and a publishing company for your novel. Remember to keep your followers aware of any success, no matter how small. For example:
- “My Short Story,” has been accepted for publication by Literary Magazine
- “My Short Story,” has been published online by Literary Magazine
- The issue of Literary Magazine with “My Short story,” has been published in print
- In case anyone missed it, last month “My Short Story” got published.
Short stories may be a more pure form of fiction, but eventually it comes down to your novel. Consider sprinkling your news feed with some of these:
- 100 pages in and feeling great
- Whew! That’s 20,000 words in just two weeks #onaroll
- Finished a new draft #couldthisbeit?
Even if you haven’t been working on your novel, you don’t want to stop the flow of information. Here are some examples of good generic posts about the writing life:
- Nothing better than a good morning spent writing
- So glad the muse returned. Never leave me again
- Working on this story for months and just figured out the ending #epiphany
Social media isn’t just useful for getting the word about your novel. You can also crowd source for specific details:
- What kind of music would a punk girl love in the early 80s?
- What brand of suits would a hedge-fund manager in Connecticut wear?
- What size tires would a ‘67 Buick Skylark need?
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copyright Pinterest. duh pinning
Pinterest doesn’t care if you had a bad day or if your boyfriend sent you flowers or if you finally nailed that sweeping updo hairstyle only to have it fall before noon. This is because, unlike other social media sites, there’s no way to update a status! Glory! I say Glory Hallelujah! Haven’t heard of Pinterest? Don’t worry, it’s probably not for you anyway. For those of you (ladies) who worry about missing out on the “Next Big Thing” I’ll let you pretend to be Early Adopters of Rogers’ Diffusion of Innovations theory between now and the moment I hit post. After that you become a part of the Early Majority. (see diagram for help)
if you've never heard of Pinterest = Laggard
In a fan base over 90% women (and obviously upper/middle class women), Pinterest (or Pin Interest a friend still calls it) has found the perfect niche for itself. Maintaining the sharing aspect of Facebook through with the rapid and constant changes of content comparable to Twitter, the crafting, recipe-sharing, fashion savvy, photo pinning site is a quick addiciton for the unsuspecting web-surfing lady. I’ll admit I got sucked in. Read more »
There’s a rock alongside a road on campus here, right next to the river, that was given to Michigan State University as the senior class gift back in 1873. On campus, it’s known as The Rock, proving either that simpler is better or that there’s a historical lack of creativity in naming things on campus. Almost every night, someone paints the rock. The tradition is that anyone can paint it, but if you don’t guard it all night, someone else can come along and paint over it.
I’ve painted it twice, though both times I was more of an accessory to the painting rather than the painter itself: once as part of a soccer team and once as a member of the marching band.
It’s rare for the same message to be left on The Rock two days running, and it’s become something of a campus tradition. Painting The Rock always makes the unofficial lists of the things you should do while at MSU, and there’s never a shortage of people willing to go, buy spray paint, then cover the rock with a new set of paint. (As an aside, there’s so much paint on that rock that no one knows how big it actually is.)
I teach a freshman writing course at MSU now, and I’ve focused my course on new media. I’m trying to get my students to understand that all forms of communication are valid and valuable, that Facebook posts and text messages should be just as thought out as formal texts, that it all matters. My students came in the first day not understanding themselves as creators of texts—that was what I did, what other writers did—and as they leave my class this week, this is the one lesson I want them to remember the most. It all counts. Read more »
I signed up for a writers workshop through the local evening college, and in the first class yesterday, I mentioned a Twitter chat for writers of children’s literature. I don’t follow the chat myself, but many of my followers participate in it, so I’ve seen enough to see how useful many people have found it. Except, my suggestion went over the heads of the other class participants because it turned out that I was the only one using Twitter.
The idea still persists that Twitter is a waste of time, a pointless social media site designed for people who actually think the world cares what they do all day. Go to Twitter and click on any trending topic. These people use Twitter, yes, but these are not the people that Twitter was designed for.
I tweet mainly about topics related to reading and writing, though I also discuss topics related to politics, feminism, design, technology, and MSU sports. And yes, very occasionally I will sink to the level of what I did that day. But mostly I stay within my niche, knowing full well that my followers expect a certain thing from me. I post links to articles, blog posts (mine and others’), and news stories. I retweet (repost) other people’s tweets that I feel are important or insightful. And I of course produce original content with insights of my own. Read more »
I’ve been thinking lately about Shira’s discussion of blogging and introducing high school students to a world of Internet communication wider than Facebook, wondering if they (or I) even really have Facebook nailed yet. Two weeks back I posted a link to an infographic on my Facebook that, due to the content that had been analyzed and designed, riled a few feathers (to put it lightly). The comment left on my post was sent to my email and came through while I was at work, which meant that I had all day to think about what to respond but couldn’t actually go on and craft a response until I got home. And I admit, I stressed more than a little bit about it.
On the one hand, it seemed so silly to me to be worrying about it. I mean, it’s Facebook, for heaven’s sake! People write articles about how to handle Facebook breakups and whether or not you should friend your ex. And here I was wondering how to respond in a way that people visiting my profile would (1) see me standing up for myself and my views and (2) doing that in a respectful and logical manner. Judging by the articles across the web, not the concern of your average Facebook user.
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