Social media. It’s fair to say that this area of the internet has the good, the bad and the ugly. I’m only here to focus on the good, but within a very specific part of the social media world; the online writing community.
So, why do I believe that, like me, unpublished authors should be active online? Is it for promotion? To find people who might one day buy your books? I always thought that’s why people suggested it but…no. Arguably, the answer is also yes, but all the followers in the world won’t guarantee you book sales. No, there are so many more wonderful reasons. Take a look:
Encouragement and Support
When I joined the writing community a few years ago, I knew I was entering a world of like minded people. I knew there’d be decent people, with big hearts, who wanted to succeed, but see others succeed too. But I was overwhelmed by quite how many there were. The writing community is full of encouragement and support, with everything from kind words and best wishes to practical advice and honest feedback. You can really be lifted from your doubts and worries, and it’s so incredibly heartwarming to know that there are people cheering you on.
People Who Understand
Writing can be lonely. It involves taking a lot of time for yourself, to sit in quiet and work in a solitary environment. And even if you’re surrounded by supportive people in your family or friendship groups, they may find it hard to understand what you’re going through. Crying over killing off a character, feeling low after another rejection, floating on pure elation when you finally figure out an important plot twist…with all the best intentions in the world, some people just don’t get it. But in the online writing community, your thoughts and feelings are completely understood, and it’s impossible to feel alone.
Motivation to Keep Going
I joined the online writing community with my Instagram account, after a year of no writing. There was no way I’d have gotten back into it with such passion if it weren’t for connecting with other writers. Seeing others working on their goals and dreams is a great motivation to stick at it yourself. And seeing other writers finding an agent, landing a publishing deal or selling their self-published works is such an inspiring way to realise where your hard work could take you. Not to mention the amazing motivational quotes and stories people share.
A Place to Find Friends
Social media is exactly that…it’s social. And therefore it can be a great place to form friendships with people from all over the world. You’ll come across people with similar interests to you, be it related to books/writing or another aspect of life. I’ve met some incredible friends through the online community, some I’ve gone on to meet in person at writing events too. There’s no such thing as too many friends, so get stuck in and start conversations with those you find interesting.
The Chance to Meet Beta-Readers
Making friends who share a passion for reading and writing gives you a great opportunity to meet beta readers or critique partners. Seeking feedback on your novel is so important, and can really help you to tighten up your work before sending it out into the world. By spending time getting to know people online, you can pick somebody you trust and somebody you know will be honest and genuine. It also gives you the chance to beta-read for others, and learn more about storytelling through enjoying other writers’ works.
Insight into Agents
If you’re going down the traditional publishing root, then you’ll probably spend time looking for agents. It’s always important to do your research and make sure you’re finding somebody who would be right for you and your story. Though bios on websites can be insightful, social media gives you a real insight into the thoughts of agents. On Twitter especially, you’ll find agents talk about the books they are reading, the things they like to do in their free time, the work they’d love to see land in their inbox. It gives you the chance to connect and talk about mutual interests, which could work as an icebreaker when you come to pitch your novel.
If you want to get into the industry then you need to know the industry. The social media accounts of publishers, magazines and popular blogs can be a great way to stay updated. Knowing what’s working in the publishing industry, what’s hot and what’s not, gives you an advantage over those who may not be keeping track. It’ll help you hone your query letter in a way that proves you know your stuff and that you have a passion for the industry you’re trying to break into.
Connect with Favourite Authors
Many successful authors use social media as a marketing platform, but also a place to connect with their readers/fans. It’s a really lovely way to share when you’ve enjoyed a writer’s work, and to offer positive feedback. You may even find that in turn one of your favourite authors follows you back/supports you. (This happened to me recently, when an author I adore wished me luck with a query!)
Share and Receive Opinions/Recommendations
Polls, questions, shared reviews…there are many ways to find out people’s thoughts online. This can helpful when you have a question specific to your genre, or even to find recommendations of reading material, helpful writing books or events/classes. You can also share your opinions to make sure other writers get to experience the books/events that you’ve loved.
Surrounded by creative people, you’ll find yourself scrolling through beautiful photographs, amazing artwork, interesting stories and musings, clever song lyrics and funny videos. Any one of these things could inspire you at any time, and any place that throws out inspiration is a positive place to be!
Do you use social media as a writer? What benefits do you love the most? Comment below to share your thoughts and experiences.