By now you’ve got a web site, email, business cards and social media. What’s next? Let’s build up your online activity. This will make you look alive and contributing. As you meet more people, this will increase their confidence and interest in you. There’s a lot to cover so without further ado, let’s break it down by the platform:
A Word About Questions
We’ve all heard the saying “there’s no such thing as a stupid question.” That’s nice for the classroom, but in the real world, some kinds of questions show you didn’t do your research or are lazy. When you’re online long enough, you’ll see repeated questions in rapid succession, showing the poster isn’t paying attention to anybody else. You’ll see requests for creative ideas asking you to do their work for them. You don’t want to be one of those people.
When you see a question, before you answer it, make sure you’re correct, but also make sure you can answer it with kindness. It can get tiresome explaining that paying a publisher is a scam (Vanity Press), so if you can’t do it with patience, don’t. Somebody else can handle it.
Join writers groups as your Author Page. Read up and learn, answer questions you can. Give encouragement, take part in topics asking about your own project. If I write an article on writing, I’ll post a link, if the group rules allow it.
Also join groups related to your genre. I write Urban Fantasy and Steampunk so I am in groups for those topics. I participate as fan, like everyone else. Now and then, if I write an article for my blog they might appreciate (like a book review or how-to) I’ll post a link there.
Joining as a Page
I’m not sure how this works on the mobile version, but on a web browser, when you are looking at a group’s page, on the top left side (scroll up if needed), you’ll see “Interacting as yourself.” Click on that and a sub-menu will appear to allow you to join as your Page. Once you do it a few times you’ll get the hang of the process. Joining this way makes it so when people click on your name, they’ll go to your author page. You activity will also show up on your author page, so people just finding you can see what you’re into and that you give good answers.
Here’s writers groups to consider joining:
Sci-Fi Writers Group
Fantasy & Sci-Fi writers group
The Unblocked Writers Group
Writers Helping Writers
Fantasy Writers Support Group
On Twitter, you need to follow the right hashtags and post with the write hashtags. You can use the search tool to find clusters of people posting on the same topic, like #steampunk. Twitter works by following people and being followed. If nobody follows you, nobody knows what you posted.
Follow For Follow (F4F)
This is the practice of following who ever follows you. Often called a Follow-Back. There’s two schools of thought on this. You’ll note plenty of famous people follow less than 200 people, yet have 10,000 followers. And others who are very influential have nearly equal number of followers as people they are following. You can’t bank on your inherent popularity like Barack Obama can, so you must network, by following others back.
Follow the People Not bots
Avoid following anybody who doesn’t have a profile picture or tagline filled out. These are often bots. I only follow fellow writers because they need to headcount as much as I do. This helps weed out businesses and date-scammers.
Hastags to start with
Look for #WritingCommunity and #amwriting because these are your people. In the #WritingCommunity, you will often see posts to encourage F4F and following anybody whose name you see there will likely get a follow back. Replying to those will also new you more followers.
Check your Followers screen
As your activity increases, you’ll gain followers, it’s good courtesy to follow them back, especially if they are writers.
If you haven’t followed anyone new in awhile, use the WhoUnfollowed me site to purge people who unfollowed or aren’t following you back. It’s a trick trick to do a F4F and then unfollow, so your following count stays
Use the Right Tags
Post More than once a week, several times a day
Twitter mostly works by your post appearing on somebody else’s screen within a short time. If they have to scroll, they will not notice it. Also, don’t repeat the same thing you said. That’s a hard thing to keep up with, but it’s good practice to finding many ways to say the same thing.
Reply, Like and Retweet
If you see somebody’s post you like, Like it. If it’s good, retweet it. Getting exposure for others is the currency of Twitter. Reply with encouragement, answers or questions. Interaction builds trust and followers.
I have covered little of this, but I put a blog on my website. If I hadn’t I’d use WordPress or Tumblr and put a widget on my site to display the blog. Getting people to seek your content out is the goal, so all my internet things lead to my site.
Having blog articles on writing enables me to post links in writers groups to help. That builds my credibility and interest in my projects. I’m not a writing expert. So I don’t blog about how to do things fancy writing advice experts write about. So what can I contribute? I wrote the world’s first Writers FAQ, by googling up every question, stupid or not. The steps for proofing a draft before handing it out to others. Links for writers tools (like one to find adverbs). And, I wrote this series on Author Platform building, because while I don’t know how to write a best selling novel, my twenty plus years as a business technologist has given me the skills to do it and explain it to others.
If you’re aim is to be a fiction writer, don’t get into the writing advice business, other people have that covered. But do write a few articles on something you know how to do.
Post Links on social media
Every week, I write an article on one of four topics. When I do, I post a link on my twitter, Facebook page, and any FB groups it might apply to. This gets me more views, and because it’s relevant, isn’t spam.
I’m not the only one who’s come up with this, but for my writers guild, we wanted daily prompts and topics to encourage activity. So I built a spreadsheet that lists the date and what to post. Topics rotate, we have Sharing is Caring Monday, Tiny Prompt Tuesday, Haiku Wednesday and Thinky Thursday. To aid in filling that out, the first sheet is completely calculated, showing be the date and what to post. The other sheets hold the header/footers for each day of week theme, and the last page is seven columns of lists of content. The Wednesday column is just random words for the haiku theme, for example. This lets the spreadsheet assemble the content based on the date turning into day of week column and week number. If you’re handy with a spreadsheet, this is easy. If not, just fill it in the hard way. When you’re done, you’ve now got a ton of content to keep activity up and engage your following.
General Warnings on Posting/Replying
Here’s tips that apply to everything you do:
Check your spelling/grammar as best you can.
You’re a writer and error riddled writing does not leave a good impression. Do NOT criticize somebody else’s grammar. It’s not a double-standard, they both look bad.
Do NOT post chapters or snippets of content you intend to sell to a publisher
This can invalidate that content as they want First Rights. I write fiction specifically to give away, separate from the stuff I intend to sell
Falling Tree in the Woods
I’ve been blogging and doing social media for almost two years. For a long time, nobody knew I was doing it. That’s okay, because I built a backlog of content. Now, as I gain traction, when somebody checks out my profile and site, they see a steady volume of work. They know this is not a dead end of stale content. I’m still not famous. I still don’t have my book done. But the pieces are in place and there are people who know I exist and will help spread the word, because I worked on contributing to writers groups and fan groups.
Catch up on the rest of my Author Platform series at https://www.klforslund.com/authorplatform