You might think your novel speaks for itself. Agents always ask for the same things, after all: great plot, great writing, great voice. But that isn’t all of it. You are still the one with a mouth, or fingers, and it turns out that you need to use those anatomical features to push your manuscript into unsuspecting victims’ hands. It’s the sad reality, but one of the first things people ask you on the submission journey is whether or not you are active (read: popular) on social media. They hope you have a following already, so they aren’t completely responsible for launching you into the world, and they want to know how well you’ll do at marketing yourself. We also tend to reveal much more of our personalities on social media than we probably realize. No one wants to work with super egotistical, lazy writers who had beta-readers do all the hard work and who can’t play nice with their sisters-in-law on Twitter. I know that isn’t you, but if it is, your Twitter account probably holds clues. Those clues help the world know what it will be like to work with you. It's one big job interview.
So, say you accept the necessity of social media. Now what? Starting out on my journey, I had a few questions about the entire thing. For one, was it a good idea to start a blog or Facebook account when I wasn’t even sure if I’d be using my full name, partial name, or pen name? If you post often but only have a couple hundred followers, is that considered good, or not good enough? If you can’t join “book Twitter” in the hunt for specific political figures’ heads, should you give up on anyone liking you?
I don’t have the easy answers, but I do know some hard ones. Basically, just do it. Get that Twitter account, make friends on writing forums, start a blog (or, better yet, get a full website). You might not have all the pieces of your publishing career puzzle worked out, but taking your few initial followers along for the ride isn’t a bad thing. They’re the ones who can say they “liked” you before you were cool. Be yourself, and you’ll be fine. Look how well I’m doing, and I really only wanted to write this post to share the awesome social media comics I found!
Since lists are always best, I have a quick list of things you should be working on if you are new to book-focused social media. It's quick because there are only two things: a blog and a Twitter account.
I'm a millennial and I can't figure out Snapchat, but hopefully that one won't hurt us in the end. I am slightly addicted to Pinterest but, quite honestly, sometimes we need to separate our personal fun addictions from our audience. If you happen to find me on Pinterest, you'll see very little writing or book-related anything. It's mostly funny t-shirts that I'm reminding myself to buy for hikes and Pilates, and recipes. I may have a wedding board because all girls my age do. It's natural. Don't laugh.
The other stuff on the social media list? Probably not a good idea right now. No one wants to manage a Facebook page with no "likes," but that is another sad reality before your book hits shelves or is at least at a marketing stage. Don't put yourself through the trouble right now. Instead, focus on getting your voice out there, so your future readers get a feel for who *you* are as a person. If you want to share DIY craft ideas or gardening photos along with your literary rambles and book reviews, go for it! If you are obsessed with horses and spend your days cleaning out stalls and nights typing into Scrivener, then let us know. Blogs are good tools for the longer narratives, and tweets are tiny blogs.
One final thought, concerning YouTube. Does a YouTube presence help? Of course! But it depends on the content, like anything else in this post. If you film witty book reviews in your genre, I say bravo! If you are posting baby videos, it might not be something you share in your query letter.
If anyone has additional thoughts on social media for the fledgling submitter, please comment or hit me up via the contact page. I'm not too proud to edit this post with your suggestions!
Love and hugs and polar bears,
PS: There are more comics to inspire guffaws at current social media trends located Here.