Conference Sticky Topic of Interest: Does Social Media Matter?

While attending the COFW – Central Ohio Fiction Writer’s Conference early this month, I had the pleasure of meeting some amazing people. Many are aspiring authors like me. Some were very well seasoned writers, best sellers even. I met editors and agents and the nicest lady ever born from the Publishers Weekly blog. During a Q&A session where the industry professionals played the role of panel, the audience had some great questions. I liked this one (and plan to share a few more in the days to come)….

Does social media really matter?

I watched them shift in their seats. They looked at one another. They passed the microphone around saying things that didn’t match their body language. From this I gathered social media is a sticky topic. There is the obvious problem with having nudey college pics and drunken college brawl mug shots to bite your career as a children’s author in the butt. Also, something I touched on earlier, maybe a past self pub endeavor that hit the toilet.  Bottom line: If you have nasty stuff online with your name on it, it’ll hurt you. On this, they all agreed.  But, you can always change your name.

Part 2 to the question:

Okay, but will you still want us if we don’t blog or twitter or otherwise clog up the social media circuit with our quick wit and irresistible charm?

Yeah. If your story rocks their socks, they’ll work with you on the social media front.

Part Three (Yes. it’s a complicated question & everyone had a follow up): But does it help?

Yeah. It helps.

The first thing they’re going to do after they realize they love your manuscript is tap your name into google. If you don’t come up they’re gonna rub their chin and wonder why? Social media is a sign of the times. While they won’t say ‘no’ based on this, it will make them wonder what you’re waiting for. Branding your self BEFORE you sell will help you sell bigger and this is still a business. Selling equals good.

Some on the panel warned not to “over do it” claiming they want you writing not tweeting all day. Legit. Okay. But what if you can do both? I say go for it. They didn’t. Julie said it. I love social media and enjoy the connection. I tweet while writing, editing, reading, anytime my mind wanders, I shoot out a tweet, crack my knuckles, stretch my neck, you know, then back to work.

Here’s the thing. The Harlequin rep told us Harlequin provides their new authors with social media training. Now all of you who just nodded approvingly that someone will teach you when its time….wait a second. What does that say about social media? It IS important. If it wasn’t why would a publisher waste time and money on training authors in it? Exactly.

Final thoughts from me:

  • Social media is ever present. People use it. People buy books. You should be using it to meet those people.
  • It is free. Free advertising, branding, meeting readers. Free. Free. Free. Why are you still waiting? It’s FREE.
  • I’m reading more and more agent blogs where the agent brags on their big score at finding a new author for their payroll who has mega-superstar-Klout. Making a niche for yourself online is brilliant. Market yourself now before you’re selling something. Get to know readers. Get to know the industry. Don’t miss out on ANY opportunity. They next letter in the slush might be from someone writing your genre who took advantage.

 

2 comments to Conference Sticky Topic of Interest: Does Social Media Matter?

  • You never know what contacts you’ll make from using social media. A journal I hadn’t submitted to but whose website I had visited started following me on Twitter. I don’t know how they found me , but I’m more likely to follow through on submitting from seeing the name again and hopefully they’re likely to remember my name.

    While I choose to put some personal touches on my Twitter such as what video games I’m playing and random things about my life, my personal Facebook is too personal for too many strangers. But Facebook has the option to create a free author page, which is what I use to track my publications and post writing and publishing related updates.I recommend that to people with privacy concerns or who just want to keep professional and personal life separate.

    Most sites give you the option to make certain things you post private, delete entries, etc. If it happens that something embarrassing is on a site you now want to use for promotion purposes, you can always clean it up make it private and start a separate public account. If you’re writing in a genre or about a topic that you’re not sure about the reflection of on the rest of your career, you can always use a pseudonym and reveal your true identity later if you choose.

  • I think social media can be very important, but knowing how to use it wisely is THE most important factor. If you’re only selling your blog / book all day long on Twitter, sorry – nobody cares. You have to sell yourself as a person before you can make people care what you’ve written. And if you don’t know how to do that without seeming pushy, yeah definitely wait for the social media training – it’s a very fine line, and one that you’ve got to be conscious of!

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