By DiAnn Mills
Whenever I speak about the value of social media, writers groan, frown, and complain. Too many writers are not willing to get past the learning curve needed to develop their brand. My response is always a focus on a writer’s life requiring flexibility to learn craft, marketing, publishing, and branding. If a new technique in the writing world emerged, we’d find a way to master it. So an open mind and a great attitude will help us acquire the skills needed to develop our online presence.
I think we’re asking the wrong question.
The basic question is why are we writing?
Most of us want to reach others through our books. We have a message in fiction or nonfiction that we are passionate about and want to share. Just ask a writer about her latest project and be prepared to listen. The writer’s eyes will dance, and her excitement is contagious.
How do we find readers?
• Family, friends, and extensions of those
• Book signings.
• Community organizations and clubs
• Speaking events
• Print advertising
• Radio and TV.
• An online presence.
Let’s unpack an online presence and what it means. Every person in the world who is connected to a wifi network has access to us and what we write. In 2015, over 3 billion people were using the Internet.
Can we reach that many people through ads, book signings, speaking events, even radio and TV? Don’t think so. But through social media, we can form relationships to people we may never meet face to face. A very remarkable advantage of technology.
How does a writer choose a social media platform?
Now we see why social media is important, even critical to the writer’s life. But there are so many platforms. This is determined by the writer’s genre and the readers’ interests, age, and culture. A professional writer delves into her readership to discover where they are hanging out and joins in.
Which ones do I need?
Basically, a writer needs a website, a presence on Facebook, Twitter, and a blog. Other platforms are important if your readers are there. A blog doesn’t have to be the writer’s; posting regularly on a blog that receives a lot of hits works well.
I still don’t get it. How does a platform sell books?
We’ve talked about why, the target audience, and the various platforms, but how does all that work sell books?
This is accomplished through posting content that is relevant to our readers’ interests. Writers don’t post, “Buy my book” but useful information. Social media isn’t about the writer, but about the reader. Each one of us has unique skills and gifts that are purposed to help others. Therein lies our content.
When a writer learns what attracts her readers, she can weave other content or post from another site those things which are important. The key is to know our readers and sincerely make a decision to provide valuable content. The reader is sent a subtle message, “This person cares about me.”
Does social media sell books? What do you think? If given the choice between two authors, one who has no online presence and another who posts information that helps and appeals to you, whom do you want to read?
DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels. Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests.