Why Writers Should Embrace Social Media

A discussion of the benefits of using social media to connect with your audience and peers.

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When I was first signed to my publisher, Inspired Quill, its Commander-in-Chief and I had a conversation about social media. To me, that’s precisely what it was: social media. I used Facebook to stay in touch with friends and meet like-minded people on topics I was particularly interested in.

I grew up in the 1980s and came-of-age in the 1990s, where social media didn’t exist. Even when it eventually arrived, is was not in the way we’re used to it now. Bulletin boards began to appear after a while, but my internet connection at the time was—like everyone’s—a dial-up connection of variable quality, so the world wide web didn’t really enter my consciousness too much. It genuinely didn’t occur to me to find other uses for it.

But Sara framed the conversation in a different way; she helped me see that an effective social media presence—in a digitally connected world—was as much a part of a writer’s discourse and connection to readers, potential readers, and a world who hadn’t yet heard of you.

I was nervous and dubious in the same breath, but agreed to dip my toe into the world of a more professional attitude to my social media. Twitter became something I would occasionally dabble in, and Instagram was something I would occasionally visit without—for a long time—knowing precisely what to do with it.

I’m not the greatest user of any social media now, seven years on, but I can, with certainty, understand the essentials. Social media has connected me to new readers and writers, introduced me to followers who had bought my book in the basis of reviews they have seen and dialogue they’ve had with me, and given me inspiration. People have shown an interest in my online presence—including my own website—and this has enable me to showcase my work as well as have interesting conversations with other people.

Having a website is an absolute must for any writer wanting to be treated as a professional. It’s important to remember that, as a writer, you need the respect of both readers and writers—your own peers—and so it’s just not good enough to say, “Oh, I don’t do technology. I’m not interested in things like this.” Whilst you’re entitled to that point of view, you’ll be giving up on a block of people who might be interested in hearing what you’ve got to say—and might actually like it enough to then want to buy your work.

You might think that you don’t have the time for all this, or see it as nonsense, and that’s a perfectly valid point of view—I certainly didn’t ever want to invest too much time on it before a couple of years ago—but now I can see the point of it. Social media shouldn’t consume your life—nor should you live your entire life through it—but it can reflect a part of your career by connecting directly with people who share your love of writing.

Social media often has a bad reputation, but there shouldn’t be an expectation that we live the entirety of our lives through these platforms. We control the information flow in terms of what we put online (and I know the arguments about data mining, so you certainly need to be careful), so why not connect with people who might be interested in your writing, or you in theirs? Showcasing your work online captures a wider circle of people the chance to meet you, and there’s always time for that—even five or ten minutes a day can give you a lot of connections.

Thanet-based author Matthew has three novels published by Inspired Quill, is an inveterate blogger, and writing is his passion.

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