We live in a bold new era. To become a successful writer, one must learn to navigate the unsteady currents of social media in order to discover, reach, and build an audience. No matter how groundbreaking your novel, a strong online presence gives you a leg up on your competition. I've outlined below a few basic strategies, including a few examples, for cultivating and maintaining a social media presence.
Getting short stories accepted at literary magazines is still a form of currency for finding an agent and a publishing company for your novel. Remember to keep your followers aware of any success, no matter how small. For example:
- "My Short Story," has been accepted for publication by Literary Magazine.
- "My Short Story," has been published online by Literary Magazine.
- The issue of Literary Magazine with "My Short story," has been published in print.
- In case anyone missed it, last month "My Short Story" got published.
Short stories may be a more pure form of fiction, but eventually it comes down to your novel. Consider sprinkling your news feed with some of these:
- 100 pages in and feeling great.
- Whew! That's 20,000 words in just two weeks #onaroll.
- Finished a new draft #couldthisbeit?
Even if you haven't been working on your novel, you don't want to stop the flow of information. Here are some examples of good generic posts about the writing life:
- Nothing better than a good morning spent writing.
- So glad the muse returned. Never leave me again.
- Working on this story for months and just figured out the ending #epiphany.
Social media isn't just useful for getting the word about your novel. You can also crowd source for specific details:
- What kind of music would a punk girl love in the early 80s?
- What brand of suits would a hedge-fund manager in Connecticut wear?
- What size tires would a ‘67 Buick Skylark need?
Getting an agent and getting a publisher are two notable events you must make your online community aware of. Fairly self explanatory, but you can always spice it up:
- Would you believe what started as a writing prompt in my college Intro to Fiction class will be coming out in hardcover in Spring '15?
- Turns out Mr. Agent from Agents Incorporated is a fan of My Debut Novel.
- Guys, it's time to party! Big Five Publishing Company said yes.
The next step is the book tour. These aren't fun, but are a necessary part of being a successful author. Don't neglect social media on these occasions:
- Can't wait to see the good people of Minneapolis.
- Come on down to Frank's Bookstore on Main street tonight.
- I hope my Buffalo friends won't mind if I read the first chapter tomorrow.
- Any great tourist ideas? I've got four hours to kill before my evening reading.
Bonus points for anthropomorphizing the city.
- Hey Chicago! Love your pizza. Hope you love my book!
- Milwaukee, I'm going to be in you tomorrow night. What's happening?
Odds are you'll be making a living as a writing professor no matter how exemplary your novel(s). Posting about your students is a another opportunity to boost your name recognition and overall good will.
- Do high school teachers no longer bother with grammar? Such great ideas, such terrible sentences.
- It never ceases to amaze how passionate and talented these kids are. Feeling lucky to be their teacher.
- My favorite student has gotten a story accepted in Undergrad Lit Mag. The first of many I'm sure.
Finally, it never hurts to disguise humble brag as thoughtful statements about life as a writer.
- It's nice to scroll though your Submittable submissions and see some green "accepted" among all the red "declined."
- Reached the halfway point of another novel. It really does get easier each time.
- So many of my lessor stories have found a home. I can't help wondering if my new stuff is too bold or groundbreaking for this literary climate?
- Living life as a writer isn't easy. I should know. That's why I'm so grateful for this string of recent success.
These easy tips should put you well on your way to having a successful social media writing life. For the truly serious writer, please consider buying my book "How to be a Writer on Social Media." It also makes a great gift.
Some apologies to Rebecca Makkai, whose hilarious post, Writers You Want to Punch in the Face(book), I discovered only after I'd written most of this and wondered if anyone had already written a similar piece. I think there are enough differences to justify publishing this one. Check it out on the Ploughshares blog. Comments from people who missed the joke and got angry because they thought she was jealous of a more successful writer are priceless.
Perhaps this would be a good time to mention my article is also satire.