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10 Tips for writers using social media

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Six well-known authors and writers, who are experts in this type of personal branding, share their methods and suggestions on how to use social media to push yourself forward in the writing industry. Whether you’ve been using social media for a while or you’re just starting out, you might learn something new.

1. Sign Up for the Big Networks

It can be difficult to sift through all of the available social platforms and decide which ones to focus on; it helps if you think about what it is you want to achieve. If you’re looking to get your name as a writer out there, it makes sense to use the networks with the most users to boost your presence. That means Twitter and Facebook, for sure, but Tumblr and Google+ are also rising in popularity for writers.

Susan OrleanNew Yorker journalist and author of The Orchid Thief, looks at each platform as a different kind of party. “Twitter is a noisy cocktail party, with lots of chatting and quick interactions, a kind of casual free-for-all,” she says. “Facebook is a combination high school and college reunion and therapy group. Google+ I haven’t figured out yet.”

Twitter certainly seems to be the top go-to network for writers, and it’s incredibly useful. Meredith Hindley, historian and writer for various publications like The New York Times and Humanities, says, “It’s both social and a big RSS feed, which makes my information junkie heart happy.”

2. Interact and Engage — Enthusiastically

It’s easy to forget that part of successfully using social media is actually being social. While linking to things you like and adding commentary are part of the whole deal, it’s important to engage with followers in order to keep them. As a writer wanting to gain a following, you have to try to keep everyone interested in you.

John T. Edge, food writer, columnist for The New York Times and author of Truck Food, uses Twitter “like a madman” when he’s traveling. “I use it as a kind of diary to track things I saw, music I heard, food I ate.” Edge combines his genre with interesting tidbits that aren’t necessarily related to his writing. Your social media account doesn’t have to be all writing, all the time.

With Facebook, it’s all about pacing yourself. Allison Winn Scotch, author of the bestselling Time of My Lifeand the forthcoming The Song Remains the Same, says, “I think Facebook users get annoyed if you post too many status updates, so I’m careful to only post at most once a day, and more realistically, a few times a week.”

Make sure your personality shines through all platforms. Karen Palmer, author of the novels All Saints andBorder Dogs, says that readers are drawn to a writer’s voice more than anything. “The most interesting folks are those with curious minds, oddball insights, passion and humor.”

Overall, it’s important to remember the golden rule. Tao Lin, author of Richard Yates and Eeeee Eee Eeee, makes sure to use social networks “without feeling like I’m doing things I wouldn’t want other people to do to me…or that I’m doing things that will alienate people who, based on experience, I like being friends with.”

3. Minimize Self-Promotion

Fight the urge to promote everything you write — your followers don’t need constant reminders that you’re a great writer.

Winn Scotch says, “What [readers] prefer is seeing who you really are and getting to know both your tone and your attitude. If they like what they read in that, they’ll often gravitate toward your books.” She also advises writers to think about what they like to see, and to avoid controversy. “I’m not a huge fan of reading divisive political statements in my feed, so I never do it myself.”

To minimize self-promotion, Edge suggests finding “a way to be honestly self-deprecating.” In the same vein, Lin posts things on Tumblr “that convey alienation, depression or loneliness in a non-’cry for help’ manner.” These methods might not work for you, but it shows that you should focus on specific topics to stop yourself from becoming your own worst advertiser.

4. Consider Privacy and Comfort Levels

You might be hesitant to join these global virtual communities in which your information and viewpoints are available to anyone, but it’s all about focusing on what you’re comfortable with in a public sphere.

“I found social media hard to navigate at first, because I’m a private person,” Hindley says, but she soon found topics she felt comfortable discussing, such as books, history and her writing process. “Every so often, you should review your tweets to see what you’ve been talking about. Ask yourself if you’re comfortable with the image you’re projecting. If not, make some adjustments.”

At the other end of the spectrum, Lin is very open about his contact information with those who follow him on social networks, and he even gave out his phone number when someone asked for it in an HTMLGIANTcomment thread. “I’ve never had problems — that I can remember — from people having my contact information,” he says. However, proceed with caution.

5. Find a Happy Medium

Stay away from extremes when it comes to expressing yourself. “Your tweets don’t always have to be sunshine and rainbows,” Hindley says, “but if you’re constantly complaining or being a drama queen, people aren’t going to want to follow you.”

This is something to keep in mind not only for potential fans, but also for potential agents or editors. You should own your voice, but be professional.

Of course, it always helps to be interesting. No one will want to follow you if you’re saying or posting things that everyone else is saying or posting. Edge says, “I focus, as best I can, on stories that don’t usually get told.”

6. Make Valuable Connections

Use social media’s endless networking possibilities to your advantage. “Have fun with it and engage with other authors you admire,” says Winn Scotch. “I follow a slew of writers whom I don’t know personally but whose observations on pop culture, for example, I find funny as hell. And you never know where that connection can lead.” She says that those connections are important not just for aspiring authors, but for seasoned authors as well.

That said, it’s important to be somewhat selective when choosing your followers. “I also find that following too many people can lead to chaos in my feed,” Winn Scotch adds, “so I don’t follow everyone.”

7. Keep Up Appearances

Make sure you never let your accounts fall by the wayside. “Don’t neglect your profile,” Hindley says. “Fill it out in such a way that it looks like you have a little gravitas.”

In addition to posting regularly, update your Facebook profile picture or cover photo (every six months is a good time reference), change up your Twitter background and even consider paying for a premium Tumblr theme to spice things up. Show your followers that you’re active and you want to be using social media.

8. Aspiring Writers vs. Seasoned Writers

You may be wondering if there are different ways up-and-coming writers should use social media as opposed to those whose work is already established.

“Social media is an extension of your voice,” says Orlean. “For aspiring writers, it’s a chance to practice miniaturization — how to say something interesting in a very concise way — which is, in itself, a good writing exercise. Seasoned writers might look at it as an ongoing book tour, or at least the Q&A part of the book tour.”

Lin, on the other hand, doesn’t think there’s a difference. “I feel like what I try to do myself has remained somewhat constant throughout my time having these [accounts].”

So it’s up to you how to present yourself, but you should be honest with followers about your work’s progress.

9. Don’t Obsess Over Number of Followers

It’s likely that you’ll become preoccupied with how many people you influence through social networks, but it’s important to let that go.

“Don’t obsess about your number of followers,” says Orlean. “Just be genuinely engaged, and people will listen.”

10. Don’t Force It

It’s alright to admit that social media isn’t for you. “If after experimenting for a while, you find you don’t really enjoy it, don’t do it,” Palmer advises. “It’s obvious to others when your heart isn’t in it. And should you come to find you like it a little too much, use social media as a reward for doing your real work — writing.”


15 Things White Girls Love To Do on Facebook



1. Take pictures of their feet.

2. Express their extreme annoyance at this work day and hint that it deserves a much needed alcoholic beverage at the end of it. WINK WINK.

3. Thank their hubby for being the best hubby in the world while their hubby is sitting right next to them.

4. Complain about bad service at a fine dining establishments. “Never eating at Applebee’s AGAIN!”

5. Express their extreme excitement to see their best friends tonight, Britney, Whitney, and Sarah!!! LOVE YOU LADIES!!

6. Take pictures wearing a lot of makeup and looking really preppy while simultaneously making a “hard” facial expression and holding up what they consider to be a gangster sign. Potential caption: ‘Straight thuggin.’

7. Take pictures of undeserving food.

8. Make their status the song lyrics of any Kings of Leon Song.

9. Take a picture of someone they deem inferior to themselves in some way with…

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It’s Over FaceBook!

Dear Facebook,

        It’s Over! Yeah, you heard me! I found someone else. And no, not just twitter,even though twitter has a helluva lot more common sense than you do. Nope, it’s blogging. It makes me happy, and you’re just going to have to get over it. Besides, we’ve been stuck in that “it’s complicated” phase for awhile, don’t you think it’s time to move on? So, I won’t be needing anymore friend suggestions from people that you “think” I may know. Nosey ain’t cha? No more of your pushy ways to get me to list my entire family. You know I do draw the line somewhere. I mean, what’s next? My blood type? My social security number? You don’t protect me facebook, you just want me to be chum in the water for all the lurking sharks out there. So, you can stop inviting me to every single solitary event that goes on around the globe,I won’t be attending, I mean you do know my exact location right? And I don’t really get off on birthday wishes from strangers, I mean friends, that only know it’s my birthday because you blabbed your mouth about it. No thanks! And I certainly won’t be missing the mountain of game requests I get on a daily either. You’re so demanding! If you need energy, don’t hound me for it instead log off, and go drink some coffee. Or better yet, take a nap so you can daydream about that multi-million dollar farm you must be tending to. You’re free to handle that so leave me alone about it. I also won’t miss  being tagged in your selection of the ugliest shoes on the planet pictures. You have no sense of fashion facebook, No one wears those things! And I surely won’t be missing the constant weather reports, news updates and sports broadcasting, which is useless to me since I do own a tv set. As a matter of fact, I cheat on you with the tv, but you both tell me the same lies over and over again like a broken record.I’ll no longer have to be annoyed at reading each individuals personal, intimate and overly dramatic life, updated every two minutes on the dot! I mean what happened to being respectful and discreet? Or the fact a certain someone had a turkey sandwich for lunch today with chips and a soda, I’ll bet that was yummy. You’ll tell me all about it with the next uploaded pic, I’m sure! I really don’t want to hurt your feelings facebook but not everybody looks model fabulous in a bra and panties propped up on a bathroom counter ya know? The toilet’s not an attractive background and we can’t all be barbie and ken! Oh, and I really don’t have all the time in the world to “check” out your music videos or beats or whatever else you do, since judging by the way you post, you do have all the free time on Earth. So go ahead and quit adding me to your groups, since I have no say whether or not I want to be in them.You’re so bossy! I surely don’t need anymore “friends” that post as much as you do, if that’s not you requesting me from one of your other half dozen accounts, since your time is so extremely valuable. And I could care less about the new iphone you bought just to record a brawl that you had set up so you could see someone get knocked out. Hey, if you want real action, visit any big city in America near you. Those of us that’s actually from the ghetto, don’t really get off on internet violence! And if I feel the need to speak with the Lord, I won’t be confessing to you facebook, that’s what normal people call church! So no more one-sided conversations, profile stalkers and gossip It’s Over! I’m free at last!

© Kel Trustsnoone

There Must Be Rehab for This


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