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.
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.
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).
Others I'd met in person but strengthened my relationship through social media, such as Elizabeth Essex, Melinda VanLone, and Christina Delay.
I'm not alone. Many of you have forged lasting friendships with other writers that began on social media.
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.)
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.
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.
Copyright © 2023 Writers In The Storm - All Rights Reserved
I totally agree. People do like to relate and form relationships, so thanks for the advice. I'll try to show my face more often instead of hiding behind quotes (at least on instagram)...
You're welcome! And yes, it's great to have the quotes, but also nice to see the person who chose them. 🙂
So true, Julie, and I think this is THE best advice for a new writer - not craft, not publishing - because if you don't have peeps on this journey, you're not going far, and the rest won't matter.
So glad I found you along the way.
And just to make Y'all jealous, Julie's at MY house right now! Yep, I've got that going for me!
And I thought people should be jealous of ME for getting to hang out with YOU! What a perk of our once-online friendship. <3
For the record, I was completely jealous of BOTH of you. My pals!!!
I've always favored the "SOCIAL" part of social media and I try (without doing actual math) to keep my posts at least 80% social and 20% "media/marketing/promo."
That's a great ratio to remember! Thanks for that tip, Terry.
I definitely keep my social media non-political and positive, but I will add one thing to your article is that I dislike getting friend requests from authors I've never interacted with and have no idea who they are. We may have mutual friends, but if that's because they're sending friend requests to every author they can find, it feels inauthentic.
I realize many authors are introverts. My advice, if you see an authors posts and enjoy them, "like" and comment to build at least a tiny connection before sending a friend request. Unfortunately, some marketing gurus tell newbie authors to build their platform by friending the friends of other authors in hopes it will help them look credible and since most authors are nice, they'll share all your "Buy my book" posts. I happily promote -- but only for real friends or in a promo group I belong to. I don't want to bombard my friends by sharing posts promoting other authors who's work I haven't read. And I also don't want to see my feed filled with posts I'm not interested in because I do like to interact with my friends and readers/fans.
Great advice, Tracy! You should definitely be supportive and friends first before asking for anything from another. (And you shouldn't do it just to get that support, but to be authentically supportive!)
Thank you for this post, Julie, it reflects so much of what I try to practice on social media. I'm grateful for all the time I have to write and for those who support me online. I view social media, then, as a place where I try to give back via my blog and volunteering as the Writing Challenge leader this month. It doesn't require a lot of effort and, in truth, I get back more than I put into it.
*I was devastated upon discovering my keyboard wasn't capable of creating a interrobang. I did, though, find it under special symbols (‽)! ?
H'm, will it show when I post…?
Yay! Love that interrobang. And writing challenges are a GREAT part of social media. I've benefitted from them too! Glad you're doing that.
Love this, Julie! I definitely agree - social media opened up a world of writing friends for me. One point you make is that social media can't be all about marketing. I think in people's eagerness to sell, they often forget the social aspect...and that's the best part!
Thanks! And I agree with you 100%.
Engagement means a lot.
I agree with Tracy in that I don't like out of the blue friend request because we have one or two mutual friends. Also don't like the recently friended and then they ask you to follow their author page.
I'll be honest: Lately, I've been whittling my "friends" list on Facebook. I initially said yes to a whole lot of friend requests, but over time, I've concluded exactly what you say: "engagement means a lot." Discontinuing some follows where we've never engaged with one another allows me to more aware of what's happening with those I want to connect with most.
It's great when you can meet other writers and find your "tribe." That's what happened to me. It started with social media, but the big change came when I attended my first conference. That's where I hooked up with Jenny, John, and Kris (I already knew Ellen from our local critique group). The pearls I've been able to sift out here on WITS have been priceless.
I agree with you that the in-person contact makes a big difference. And it's so nice to arrive at a conference already knowing people—and really looking forward to seeing them!—because y'all first met on social media or mostly engage there. Thanks, Eldred!
+1 on the ‽ 🙂
Hahaha! Thanks. Glad to know I'm not alone!
Haha it's a very common response for me!
Great reminders Julie, thanks! I have loved finding out that other writers share some of my quirks too. Like you said--they "get" it. What a relief! (ha)
One other special "fun fact" about that photo of the 4 WITS Ladies - I'm pretty sure Janice Hardy took that pic. It was an awesome-fest that day.