Social Media and the Writer

On Sunday, author Myke Cole (@mykecole) blogged about he uses social media. It begins with Myke admitting he was surprised to hear an editor say he was an example of author who does social media right. Give his post a read if you want a well-reasoned take on how an author should use social media.

I agree that Myke Cole is a new author who does it right (other examples being Rachel Aaron (@Rachel_Aaron), who has a few books out, and John Scalzi (@scalzi) who has many books out and a very popular blog, The Whatever). If you had asked me why I thought Myke does it right (before reading his post), I would have said it’s because 1) he engages with his readers on his blog and his twitter feed and 2) he is open and honest about his writing process and lessons he has learned.

But having read his post, I realized I had overlooked a few important pieces. First, look at what Myke doesn’t blog/tweet about. He doesn’t comment on politics, and he doesn’t engage the haters. This can be difficult for many people (myself included), but it keeps his “message” pure and avoids any distractions. Second, he tweets regularly and tries to respond to his readers. He stays in front of his audience. And third, Myke carefully considers his tweets before posting them. This can also be difficult because Twitter makes it so easy to post off the cuff remarks.

So what’s the big takeaway from Myke’s post? Engage with your readers. Post often, but post carefully. Consider what you are about to post and avoid distracting posts.

Of course, for an author like myself who is still trying to get published, is social media as important? Some people say no, focus on writing, then develop a platform. Your writing will attract followers. Others say yes, have the platform (Blog subscribers! Pageviews! Klout score! Twitter followers!) ready to go as it will help agents or publishers decide in your favor (and a pre-existing platform makes publicity easier). What do I say? Well, I have a platform, as limited as it is because I like blogging. I like tweeting. I like posting on Facebook. I like engaging with people through various forms of social media. As much crap as people give Klout, I like it because I’ve received a few free books because of my score–and from my point of view, free books are always a good thing.

But are these metrics going to get me published? No. Only my writing will do that. So yes, I blog, but more importantly, I write. Every day. And sometimes that means closing down Twitter and Facebook. It’s a balance I have to strike. Your mileage may vary depending on how easily distracted you are and what your writing routine is.

What’s your take on social media? Have you been published? How do you think your platform or social media engagement has changed when you progressed from one stage of your career to another? Leave a comment below.