A Starter’s Guide For Fiction Writers Trying To “Establish A Social Media Presence” Part 1/3(??)

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

Part 1: Becoming A Good Internet Citizen – As A Writer

If you want to be a writer, the ubiquitous “they” tell you that you need to “Establish a Social Media Presence”, but so much of the advice out there is aimed at Non-fiction writers.

Non-fiction writers sell books based on establishing their expertise in a particular area.

Fiction writers? We sell books based on the story, the writing, and word-of-mouth.

So how do we make social media work for us?

Morgan’s Approach To Social Media

Once upon a time, I finished drafting my first novel, editing it, and sending it off to beta-readers. While I awaited their feedback, I started researching “the next step”, and everywhere I looked said I needed an author page. At the bare minimum, I should have a website landing strip to get my name out there.

Morgan Gets Herself a Website

I bought my own domain name for Branding (you’re gonna hear that word a lot in this essay) and set up a WordPress site. I might be a coder by day, but I’m not about to spend my limited writing time coding.

But, an empty website with just my name on it seemed a bit barebones and half-um…tushed. So, I figured I’d put up three to five posts so there would be some content there.

That was in April of 2015.

I followed the suggested “slow blogging” approach, starting off posting at least twice a month, until the second-half of February 2016. And I haven’t missed a week since then. (Although, I *did* do one rerun when I was out of the country).

Somewhere around May of 2016, I was reading a blog, I can’t remember if it was Kristen Lamb‘s or Anne R. Allen with Ruth Harris‘s that suggested it, but. The blog suggested, even if I’m not planning on using a social media, I might want to reserve my name.

Why Reserve Your Name on ALL the Platforms?

  • Trends may change, my friends/followers might move to a different platform
  • jerks might try to reserve your name
  • Using the same ID is helpful for Brand Consistency

Suddenly, I had a Twitter, a Tumblr, a Goodreads, a Reddit, an Instagram, a Pinterest, a Facebook Author Page, and I’m sure I’m forgetting something. Oh right, a you-tube channel, like where you can watch me ramble on this very topic…

The article on reserving your brand said I didn’t need to do anything with them, just pick my favorite one or two and ignore the rest.

Well…I can’t leave well-enough alone. I couldn’t just leave them empty. *facepalm*

The problem is, none of these social media networks work the same way, and figuring them out is tricksy! [I’ll cover Blogging in Part 2, and the other social medias in Part 3. Probably. Unless Part 2 gets too long…]

Where Is Morgan Now?

My personal stats aren’t amazing, but they’re solid and steadily growing. I’ve been blogging regularly for 3 years and am relieved when my new posts get over 25 views on the first day, pleased when they get over 50, and THRILLED when they get more than 75 views.

I saw most of my other social media as supporting the blog and that’s how I’ve been treating them. But just because I like blogs and RSS feeds doesn’t mean that’s where my future audience is hanging out. And that doesn’t mean that’s what they’re looking for in social media interaction.

Especially since I write YA. So, I’m trying to go where the teens are.

But, before we can talk about how to actually get started with social media, you need to know what sort of behavior is respected online.

CAVEAT: If you don’t care if Agents, Readers, and my mom respect you, feel free to stop reading now.

Morgan’s Guiding Philosophy For Interacting With Others On The Internet

You are still yourself, you have a personality, opinions, and preferences. And that’s okay! You’re allowed to do all that.

BUT.

You’re also creating a brand, (yep, there’s that word again).

I like to think I’m pretty WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get), but I have a filter. And what I post online is stuff I’m okay with my future agent, my future fans, and my mother seeing (hi Mom!). Both today and in fifteen years when Google unearths my archives. Nothing about what I post or write is inauthentic, I’m just channeling what I feel is my best self, focused on writing in general as a theme, and in a professional manner.

How To Interact Online

  1. Be polite
    • Even if someone is being a complete jerk. If you’re struggling, just contemplate how smug and good it will feel to be able to claim the moral high ground.
      • P.S. Don’t be afraid to walk away. Turn off comments. Disengage. Your job is not to argue on the internet.
  2. Be patient
    • You see aspiring writers who have yet to finish a chapter asking for feedback on their first page, social media newbies who don’t know how threaded comments work or missed the directions for the site/twitter contest/whatever.Remember that you were new once, too. Be patient, or direct them to someone else who has the patience for that.
  3. Be supportive
    • It’s a good thing when other writers succeed. Most of us are here because we love to read. And with the heavy competition, hopefully, that means better writers are rising to the top, which means better books to read!Plus? The more writers you encourage and are supportive of, the more people out there who are also rooting for YOU.
  4. Be kind
    • There are enough jerks out there, why join them? Before you bash someone, remember:
      • You don’t know what they’re going through
      • You don’t know how hard they’ve worked to get where they are now
  5. Praise publically, admonish privately
    • If someone does something awesome, share it! Spread it!
    • If someone messes up, tell them privately and give them a chance to fix their mistakes.
      • In this day and age of Call Out culture, mobs can be started for accidental misunderstandings
      • In this day and age of #MeToo,
        • if someone crosses a boundary, but it seems accidental and is minimally damaging? Tell them. In person, in an email, whatever makes you feel the most comfortable. It’s okay to bring a friend. (Or send a friend)
        • if someone crosses a boundary, but you know it’s on purpose or it’s very damaging? Escalate as you deem appropriate, but gather a support network for yourself. Too often we see dismissal or excuses. Find people you trust to help you through whatever actions you decide to take. (Preferably ones that aren’t actually felonies…)
  6. Vent in private
    • THIS IS A BIG ONE.The publishing industry, especially the traditional publishing industry moves SLOWLY. But the publishing industry, as a whole, is very small.

It can be aggravating when you’re wracking up form rejections, or personalized ones that totally didn’t get your story. It can be frustrating, when manuscripts you’ve scoffed at turn into best sellers, while yours still sits on your computer and flies in your dream. Or when agents keep either asking for niche books you can’t write, or stories that look just like yours, after they rejected your manuscript.

We all need to vent sometime. But be aware of who you’re venting to.

Many writing groups have people who intern with agencies.

Many writing groups have people who have agents or will get agents, in the near future.

Many writers have friends in publishing and editing.

People talk.

Be careful where and to whom you choose to vent.

  • Optional: Politics
    • Personally, I’m not above liking a political post, or the rare comment here and there. But, my public social media is for my writing and politics distracts from that.
      • Bonus? By avoiding politics on my public social media? Most of my feed is about books, writing, and cute pets.

      If you want to use your social media as a platform for your politics, you’re not alone. There are plenty of issues out there that could use more support. But, just keep in mind that your politics will influence what audience you get.

      • Warning: You need to be prepared for a potential backlash. One misspeak, or unpopular opinion and you might find yourself facing trolls, doxing, or even death threats. Only you can decide if your beliefs are worth the time and emotional energy.
  • If you want to use your social media as a platform for your politics, you’re not alone. There are plenty of issues out there that could use more support. But, just keep in mind that your politics will influence what audience you get.
    • Warning: You need to be prepared for a potential backlash. One misspeak, or unpopular opinion and you might find yourself facing trolls, doxing, or even death threats. Only you can decide if your beliefs are worth the time and emotional energy.

Summary

Now I’ve addressed my approach to social media and shared the philosophy that guides my online interactions. Tune in next week while I get into the methodology behind my blogging.

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15 thoughts on “A Starter’s Guide For Fiction Writers Trying To “Establish A Social Media Presence” Part 1/3(??)

  1. Pingback: A Starter’s Guide For Fiction Writers Trying To “Establish A Social Media Presence” Part 2 | Morgan S Hazelwood

  2. Pingback: A Starter’s Guide For Fiction Writers Trying To “Establish A Social Media Presence” Part 3 | Morgan S Hazelwood

  3. There was a writer I social-media friended through a group. This is really good information. I must add, as someone who has followed you for a minute, you’ve always demonstrated the behavior you recommend. I want to be just like you when I grow up. You know, if I ever get my, um, tush in gear.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Pingback: A Starter’s Guide For Fiction Writers Trying To “Establish A Social Media Presence” Part 4 | Morgan S Hazelwood

  5. Pingback: Miniature Staircases to Creating a Social Media Presence

  6. Pingback: A Starter’s Guide For Fiction Writers Trying To “Establish A Social Media Presence” Part 5 | Morgan S Hazelwood

  7. Pingback: Bonus: A Starter’s Guide For Fiction Writers to Trying to “Establish a Social Media Presence” Part 5a | Morgan S Hazelwood

  8. Pingback: A Starter’s Guide For Fiction Writers Trying To “Establish A Social Media Presence” Part 6 | Morgan S Hazelwood

  9. Pingback: Accountability Time For Morgan | Morgan Hazelwood: Writer In Progress

  10. Pingback: Didn’t I Used To Be An Extrovert? | Morgan Hazelwood: Writer In Progress

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