Building a Following: Risk vs Reward
Getting a social media following is a handy tool that you can have in your arsenal. Having a waiting audience who might buy your book when it’s released is a good thing. It’s also quite easy to do.
You’ve probably looked at my social media and seen how low those numbers are and might even scoff at me saying it’s easy to do. If it’s so easy, why haven’t you done it? I hear you ask. Well, because easy doesn’t mean attainable. There’s a reason that a lot of people will have a team managing their social media. It’s a lot of work, easy work, but work nonetheless.
There is no big secret to building your social media following. Post interesting content that’s designed for the platform, engage with other people and the numbers will go up. However, therein lies the problem. Firstly, what you think is interesting may not be interesting to other people. Secondly, it takes a lot of time investment to do all of that consistently and regularly. We, as people, have finite resources. We have limited time, energy, inclination, if you’ve come home from work do you really want to push the mini-humans in your house aside and spend an hour or two commenting on some Instagram posts?
This is where the risk and reward come in. You could reshuffle a few things in your life around so that you can devote the time and energy needed to build your social medias. But what do you cut down on? Do you take less hours at work? Seems a bit drastic unless you’re financially stable. Do you leave your partner and abandon your children so you can focus on your career? You really shouldn’t. Maybe you sacrifice your social life? Then your life just becomes a series of different working instances. The easiest thing to cut back on is your writing.
At the end of the day, you could spend a couple of months sacrificing your writing to build your social media and see very little meaningful growth. Social media is more of a scatter gun approach than a precision shot. You sort of have to throw a lot at it and see what sticks – there are generalities that can be assumed, of course, but you need to find what works for your audience and the audience you’re trying to build. That takes trial and error. Maybe a couple of months is an acceptable risk to see if it works. If it doesn’t you haven’t really lost much. But what about a couple of years? That’s what it will take, realistically, to build a social media following to the point where anybody will actually care about it. What if you spend a couple of years sacrificing your writing so that when you finish your book you can sell it to them and it doesn’t work? That’s a lot of time you’ve wasted. If you hadn’t have done that, your book could be with a publisher by now.
And that’s a decision that you need to make for yourself. How much time and energy do you devote to building an audience? I see a lot of people who devote a lot to building their audience to the point of where they neglect the product to sell to them. Which is something that you need to remember; you’re building an audience to sell them a product. If you don’t have a product, why are you building that audience? Balancing this time between practices, however, is actually a very beneficial skill to develop; writers rarely get the opportunity to just write any more. We have to market our own books, build social media, be working on the next project all while, realistically, you haven’t lost any of your other commitments.
Building a following is an important part of starting out your writing career, but don’t let your focus on that stall the creation of your book. Your book is number one. If you don’t have a product to sell, why are you building a receptive audience.
© 2020 David Chitty
Available under the Thanet Writers Education Policy
David Chitty was born and raised in Thanet in the 90s. He devotes most of his energies to writing fantasy fiction novels.