Recently, I’ve read several books and articles on what agents/editors/publishers want besides good writing skills, a unique voice, original plot, and strong characters. They demand a strong platform—online social networking. In other words, they want a lot of people to know your name. Your brand. Remember the song, We Are the World? Now is the time to embrace the concept. Get online and shout, “Hello, World!”
If you’re like me and shun all technology beyond e-mail and cell phones, you are living in the dark ages. Create a blog, purchase a domain name and website package, create a Facebook (my grandchildren taught me to do this), and learn to tweet (Is tweet a verb? If so, how would you conjugate it? I tweet; I tweeted; I have tweeted; I’m tweeting?)
Think of a blog as a letter to a friend, a website as your professional image. Facebook is like walking down the street with your friend, Jane. Along the way, you meet another friend, Morgan, who doesn’t know Jane. Morgan is with one of her friends, Nancy; neither you nor Jane knows Nancy—did you follow that? A friend of a friend, okay? You have a circle of friends; Jane, Morgan, and Nancy each have a circle of friends you don’t know. When the circles intersect, lots of new people see your name. That’s a good thing. You want as many people as possible to know your name.
Do the math—this isn’t difficult even for an English teacher: If you have 10 Facebook friends (it’s easy to multiply by 10s), and they each have 10 Facebook friends, you now have your name in front of 100 people (I think). If the Facebook friends of each of your friends have 10 Facebook friends, well, you get the picture. If not, get out your calculator, or trust me when I say the number increases exponentially. What? Just because I’m mathematically challenged doesn’t mean I don’t know a few math words. I wasn’t married to an engineer for 25 years for nothing!
Think of Twitter as a quick greeting/note/response, as brief as a handshake—Hey, how ya doin’? Or Let’s meet on Tuesday for lunch. Or Did you see Burn Notice last night? Or I love you! Be careful with that last one.
I mentioned in an earlier post that I joined several writing associations. Romance Writers of America (www.rwa.com), offered online classes to help me get started with social networking. Just this month, I’ve learned to use several tools to fling my name into cyberspace—in a good way.
I know how to write. I know what to write. I make time to write. Every day. But all this is only part of the picture. It’s no longer enough to write a good book; you must help with marketing as well. Think of this as a rite of passage from unpublished to published writer. Or you could think of it as blackmail by the publisher: “Do this or your book dies!” Did I mention that I also belong to Mystery Writers of America? Whatever you call it, you have one more skill to hone—just when you thought passive voice or comma placement was the only skill you needed to master.
I gave myself two challenges this week: 1) learn to add tags to my blog, and 2) create a writer’s Facebook account separate from my friends and family Facebook—some things are not for the world to know.
I challenge you to 1) go online and read your favorite writers’ websites, blogs, Facebook, and Twitter, and 2) create a blog or Facebook—even if it’s for friends and family only. Some blog sites enable you to link Facebook and Twitter to the blog (wordpress.com does).
Take the challenge: Let’s get techno savvy and cyber-social! Do it; Write Now!