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Social Media for Writers

How Are You Using Your Social Media Super Powers?

I was attending a conference of the International Society for the Study of Time in Asilomar a few years ago when one of the learned speakers predicted that content curation would be the big business of the internet’s future.

How right he was.

Last week I accepted an invitation to Google+ from Rebecca Woodhead (more of that in a later post) and the first thing that struck me was the way it was being used. Or underused. It’s a clean, beautiful, empty canvas for the sharing of information, but most users are filling their streams with posts about the way the site works, tasteless gifs, and pictures of cats. As cute as cats are (and I have two Bengal cats so I really mean that), I don’t think it’s the best use of the site’s potential for reaching a massive audience and being reshared at viral level. Surely we should encourage the posting of real information or content that enriches our lives beyond a momentary “awwww…”?

With that in mind, here are a few sites that I find a lot of curious and interesting information from. None of it too heavy. All of it entertaining. Just not banal.

I’ve got an Author’s Website—Do I Need a Blog, Too?

I hear this all the time! Whether published or unpublished, writers all over the world tell me they’ve got a beautiful, slick author’s website that took time and money to put together and they don’t see why they need a blog as well.

In a word, the answer is… conversation.

Can you have a two-way conversation with fans, librarians, teachers, or friends on your website? No. It doesn’t have a comment function.

All you’re doing is saying “Look at me! Aren’t I great?” and maybe you are great, but imagine you’re at a party. Because that’s what the internet is. It’s the biggest party ever invented. 

How to Guest Blog Efficiently

Guest posting for someone else’s blog is a great way to gain new readers, so long as the readership of the blog you’re visiting fits your demographic.

For instance, my Steampunk class teacher at Los Angeles Romance Writers invited me to guest post on the blog she maintains with a group of other Steampunk writers, Steamed!, and I’ll probably do that because I’m writing a Steampunk trilogy. While there is a romantic element to the plot, it’s not a romance novel. For that reason, I wouldn’t choose to guest post on a Romance blog. Make sense?

Beyond genre, the other factor to consider when choosing which blogs to visit as a guest blogger is readership numbers. You obviously want to aim for blogs with the highest number of followers whenever possible.

What Writers Can Gain From Twitter

Twitter is the best billboard a writer can have. In a few seconds you can write 140 characters, include a link to your blog or website, and drive more traffic to your blog than you could possible muster without it.

It’s also just about the only place where you can casually ask an agent or an editor a general question. Where else do you have that kind of access or insight into the process and daily routines of gatekeepers? (Directory of Book Trade People on Twitter)

The knowledge being shared in short, quick soundbites on Twitter every day is phenomenal. To get the same level of awareness of your market (who’s open to submissions, who’s looking for what, what’s selling and what’s not, etc) you’d have to spend many hours scouring thousands of sites in person.

Thank you, Los Angeles Romance Authors!

On Saturday night I was elbow-deep in boeuf bourguignon, preparing for a dinner party, when I got an e-mail from Niki Chanel of Los Angeles Romance Authors, a chapter of Romance Writers of America, saying that their speaker for the next day’s meeting wouldn’t be able to deliver the scheduled chat and asking if I would fill in.

Yikes. What could I talk about with so little time to prepare? My dinner guests wouldn’t be leaving until close to midnight and Niki had kindly offered to pick me up at 8:10 am and drive me there. I would have to totally wing it.

I thought about saying I couldn’t possibly do it, but I wanted to help Niki. I took another swig of wine and reasoned with myself that moments like this are sent for a reason. These unplanned, serendipitous bolts from the blue are a “call to adventure” if you choose to view them that way. So a few minutes later I found myself e-mailing Niki to accept her invitation.

It was the best thing I could have done.