The increasing number of social media platforms provides opportunities for new and established writers. Writers on Wednesdays: Social Media for Writers tutor Katie Evans tells Writers Victoria’s Alex Fairhill why social media’s a necessity.
Why is social media important for writers?
I will be the first to admit that I am completely surprised by how social media avenues have infiltrated all of our lives. Whether you like it or not, however, social media is here to stay and I would even go so far as to say that it has become the main avenue of communication between people. It’s both irritating and brilliant. At best, social media creates communities through networking, which is why it is so important for writers – especially emerging writers. It’s a PR tool for you, your publications and also for the publishers who have the difficult task of promoting your book. It’s a very inexpensive way of generating interest and can also be used to create a viral marketing campaign, which has obvious benefits.
Successful social media use can generate sales of books and, in turn, longevity for writers. That’s if you keep it up. Keeping up-to-date with your Twitter/Instagram/blog etc. can become a job in itself, but, if approached in the right way, a job that powerfully connects you to your readers, which can be extremely satisfying. For unpublished writers, social media is a necessity because it helps create a ‘platform’ – a presence, and proof of dedicated followers – to pitch to publishers.
Is there a difference between using social media for personal and professional use?
Absolutely. I would encourage writers to create a separate account for their business. This makes it easy to dedicate specific time to promoting writing and books. As I mentioned above, keeping up with your social media accounts can be time-consuming. If you can weave social media into your everyday working life as part of your business as a writer, however, the task becomes less daunting. Keeping separate accounts also gives followers a clear idea of what they can expect from your social media sites. Readers tend to predict the style and tone of an Instagram or Twitter account – same for blogs and Facebook pages – and if you confuse followers with pics of the family dog or your latest holiday, then they tend to switch off. That doesn’t mean that you can’t post random pics – just make sure they are connected in some way to your writing.
Can you give us some examples of writers or publishers who use social media well?
The big publishers are all over social media and use it to promote books, author visits, other special events including TV and radio appearances, and even giveaways. Social media connects readers to other aspects of the PR and marketing machine, so it is imperative that big publishers update their followers about what’s happening with an author and/or book. I actually think that many writers, even established writers, are yet to fully exploit social media in the same way that celebrity chefs do to promote their cookbooks, for example. Young adult publishing is an area where there is a lot of activity on social media due to the fact that young people who are digital natives tend to communicate more through these channels. Individual YA and children’s writers in turn have embraced social media a bit more readily than adult writers.
About Katie Evans
Katie Evans worked as an in-house editor at Penguin for eight years before becoming a freelance editor for Penguin/Random House, Allen and Unwin, UQP, Working Title Press and Rockpool Publishing. She is a copywriter for Milan Direct, Style Hunter and the Herald Sun 'Home' magazine as well as being a mentor at Writers Victoria.