Middle Grade Mondays
GOOD NEWS ABOUT SOCIAL MEDIA
By Natalie Bright
The Oklahoma Writer’s Federation Inc [owfi.org] sponsors a conference the first weekend of May every year, offering informative sessions for writers of all levels. Around 300+ people attended the conference in Oklahoma City this year. They also offered a contest with opportunity for cash prizes and helpful critiques.
My middle grade western took 2nd Place in this year’s OWFI Contest! The aggravating news is that I had a typo. On my manuscript I had the date 1887 and on my synopsis I had 1897. How many times did I read over that submission? It doesn’t matter how many times, obviously it wasn’t enough times.
The sessions were excellent and as always, I come back home armed with something new about story craft and inspired to work.
Update on SOCIAL MEDIA
The social media panel at OWFI 2012 this year included C. Hope Clark, Jan Nipps, Lela Davidson, and Adrian Carenza with a wonderful job moderating done by Amy Shojai. Each of these writers have impressive numbers of blog fans and they shared some interesting, insightful facts about social media.
The most amazing aspect about social media, as pointed out by Clark, is that ten years ago authors didn’t have this medium to promote their work. All agreed that it’s an exciting time to be a writer.
The main misconception is clarified; it’s not about “me, me, me”.
The general rule is to use 1/3 of your posts on links to interesting articles, blogs, or things you’ve discovered (these can be automated), 1/3 can be retweets, as in do unto others and help them with promotion of their books or blogs, and 1/3 should be real-time conversation. Sprinkled within that mix would be posts about you and your work. The reader wants a “take-away”. Don’t waste a reader’s time with what’s in your crock-pot unless you include the recipe.
Sure, social media offers amazing and low cost opportunities to promote yourself and your work, but you don’t want to bash in everyone’s head with a hard sell of you. Be gentle, be kind, be aware of what you’re putting out there for potentially millions of people to see, FOREVER.
How to Offend
Each of the panelists were adamant on one point: they do not talk politics or religion. Everyone has an opinion today, and some topics definitely push people’s buttons and emotions run very high.
As authors, we’re trying to sell a body of work and create a fan base. We hope that people will buy our books or read our articles again and again for many years to come. In the world wide access of social media, you might have followers that are atheists, Wiccans, Baptists and you probably have followers that side with the Left, or the Right, or feel neutral on anything relating to politics. Why would you want to create negative or hurtful feelings in your potential readers? Why would you want to offend anyone?
The exception would be if you have a political or religious blog. Then yes, you want to push buttons. You want to have those heated discussions with people who feel strongly enough to post comments. Use your best judgment and consider that the ideal place to air your opinions for sensitive topics may not be your blog or Facebook or through snarky Tweets.
Design It for Your Target Audience
Design your social media promotion efforts based on your interests. Of note, Pinterest has become the second highest referral after Google and topped Twitter for outgoing links. All panelists agreed that at the very minimum you should start with a blog and twitter, but be consistent. The second best way to get involved is to leave intelligent comments on other people’s blog and leave your name in the comments.
Think about using Goodreads to connect with readers who enjoy the same genre you do. As an author, you can set-up boards on Pinterest to showcase your book covers, pictures of hobbies, and locations of settings relating to scenes in your book.
THE BOOK OF THE FUTURE
I think the best comment came from Lela Davidson [leladavisdon.com], who reminded us that in today’s publishing environment having a book is not the be all, end all of a writing career, because who knows what the “book” is going to be in the future. A writing career today encompasses so much more. She encouraged us to be receptive to all forms of social media and pointed out that a directed, planned approach is the most effective in the long term.
It’s All Good
Authors were never able to reach the numbers of people we can today. Take advantage of all opportunities and become a person who is reachable. Know your target audience and connect with the people who will want to buy your books.