by Julie Glover
Social media can be a fantastic way for authors to connect with resources, share about their books, promote events, and more. But there's another aspect of social media for writers—the social part.
I've experienced many benefits of making friends online. And you can too.
Pearls of Writing Wisdom
If you want to find pearls, first find oysters. Fellow writers are like oysters—people who create and polish up their wisdom and then share it with you.
Sure, you can find fantastic courses, conferences, and craft books, but there's an added layer when a friend says to you, "Here's what worked for me." Of course, you don't always agree, because what works for them doesn't necessarily work for you. But with so many pearls, you can sift through and find the best ones.
Plus, you can share what you've learned. It's always a good feeling to help others on their path.
We tend to trust recommendations and advice from people we know more than people we don't, so writers who are also friends can be a great boost to your knowledge of resources.
They can give great recommendations for a book cover designer, a copyeditor, a writing coach. Or they can assist directly by critiquing your manuscript, showing you how to set up a Facebook ad, etc.
More than once, I've answered a grammar question for a writer friend—because I'm here and they asked, plus I have subscription access to the Chicago Manual of Style. They bring other perks, but I'm their go-to grammar girl. It's a win-win.
People Who "Get It"
When a writer posts about what it's like to work on a book, their writer friends nod their heads, comment with understanding, and let them know "you're not weird, you're just a writer."
Honestly, I had no idea other people told themselves tales in their heads, imagined stories for people they saw in coffee shops or at the mall, and tucked away ideas and phrases they might use someday, somehow—until I was among others who had similar experiences. Turns out I was normal, for a writer.
When you're wanting someone who understands your excitement about a book deal or release, relates to your struggles and disappointment when the story isn't working, or appreciates how the characters you created seem so real—other writers on social media get it.
My roommate for two years at DFW Con was a woman I met through social media, or rather, through a mutual friend on social media who connected us. The woman and I conversed online, threw in together, and it went so well, we roomed together the next year as well. Two of my roomies at RWA National one year were also online friends.
Others have shared expenses with hotel rooms, taxi or Uber rides, book marketing, buy-one-get-one courses, and much more.
Connecting with another writer online can save you money...and create friendships.
By far, the biggest perk is real-life friendships. Yes, some people I will only ever know online, but others I met online, later met in person, and became good friends with. Among them are Laura Drake (a prior host here), Jenny Hansen (the heartbeat of WITS), and Catie Rhodes (an amazing writer).
I'm not alone. Many of you have forged lasting friendships with other writers that began on social media.
How to Be Social Online
None of these perks come with interacting on social media solely as a marketing platform. Yes, plenty of authors have good results to show for engagement, ads, and promotions on social media. However, if you want social connections, here are a few suggestions for how to make genuine friends online.
Real people are like your readers: they want three-dimensional characters. If you present yourself as a writing entity, you won't connect with others. You don't have to share about your whole life. In fact, don't. But be honest about who you are and how things are going.
Many people I met through social media later turned out to be the same in person. Because they'd been authentic online. (Although Jenny Hansen's voice was pitched way lower than I originally expected! She's like Lauren Bacall, y'all.)
Part of this, by the way, is to show your face. It's fine to have a different profile pic or use an avatar now and then, but people want to interact with a person. Authenticity involves showing your face. (And no, not the face you had 30 years ago when you took your last professional photo—the one you have now.)
Be more positive than negative.
Some great research by The Gottman Institute shows that a healthy relationship needs about five positive interactions to every one negative interaction. Think about that when you decide what to post.
That doesn't mean you can never share about some fecal festival you're dealing with, but if you've built up goodwill, such posts come across as authentic rather than "there he goes again."
Also, be sure to celebrate others' successes and giving encouragement when needed. That positivity is always appreciated.
Find your niche.
What aspects define you? Figure out what those are and let them guide what kinds of things you post.
Are you a crafter? Share what you're working on. Are you a traveler? Share pics of where you've been. Are you an animal lover? Share dog or cat memes. Are you a movie lover? Share what flicks you're watching. Are you a hard-livin' cynic with a past that would make the average person's eyes pop? Share a story or two with a splash of sarcastic humor.
People like having that window into who you are, and it helps you connect with others in authentic ways.
Finally, just be nice online. Thank people when they share something you posted or about your book. Apologize if you spoke too soon or crossed a line. Share your own experiences or ideas, rather than telling people what to do. Admit when someone else has a point.
Say "please," "thank you," and "excuse me." And if it's your thing, say "Happy Birthday!" when someone's special day comes around.
Good manners aren't about rules, but about making others feel welcome and comfortable. Do your part to make social media a nicer place to be.
How has the social side of social media benefited you as a writer? What advice do you have for other writers to get the most out of social media?
Image credit: Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
Julie Glover is an award-winning author of mysteries and young adult fiction. She also writes supernatural suspense under the pen name Jules Lynn.
Her most recent release is My Stepmom's Ghosts, the third of five YA paranormal short stories coming out this year.
When not writing, she collects boots, practices rampant sarcasm, and advocates for good grammar and the addition of the interrobang as a much-needed punctuation mark.