Yes, Virginia, you do need a social media presence if you want to write books . . .
I have a half dozen emails/Facebook messages with the same question. It comes in various forms.
I want to write, but I’m not interested in social media. Do I really have to worry about that?
I’ve backed away from self-promotion. Do I really need to spend time on Twitter and Facebook?
Can’t I just write a book and not worry about social media?
The answer is you DO need a social media presence, but—like Christmas—you’ll soon discover behind all the bells and whistles there are a few really great gifts.
Gift #1: There are real people who want to support you.
So many people approach social media as self-promotion. They think it’s just about talking to people about themselves. They think it’s all about me, me, me. Personally, I see social media as connecting with others. Every day I meet new people—real people—who have the same interests I do: writing, being a mom, homeschooling, mentoring, adoption, faith. I’m able to encourage them on a daily basis. I pray for their needs. I’ve met some of them face-to-face, and we’ve become good friends. Yes, there’s the added benefit of building a readership, but if some of my online friends never buy one of my books we both win by learning about—caring about—each other.
Gift #2: These real people love to help.
In addition to building online friendships, my social media friends have become a great support system. I’ve asked for ideas for book titles (and got great ones!). I’ve asked for tips for articles and blog posts. I “test” an idea by folks on Facebook and Twitter, knowing their response will give me a great sampling of comments/concerns that other readers will have. These folks become a focus group, of sorts, and they love feeling like they’re a part of what I’m doing. (I love it, too!)
Gift #3: You’ll gain the attention of a publisher—or publishers!
Put yourself in the shoes of My Example Publishers. For every book they choose to publish they’re making a $50,000 investment (on the low end). This includes money for your advance, for editors, marketing people, marketing dollars, printing, shipping, cover design, etc. Say they have two books before them they’re trying to pick from, and they both are great.
Author #1 hasn’t put time and attention into social media. This person has personal friends, college friends, and church friends they’re connected with on social media, but not many.
Author #2 has a growing social media presence. They have 2,700 Facebook followers and a few thousand on Twitter. They have an active blog with a growing readership. They interact with not only local or school friends, but they are connect with readers across the U.S. They not only talk about their writing, but they also point readers to information and the advice of others who write about the same topics. They are being seen as someone to pay attention to.
Looking at these authors, who is the safer bet? Yes, I thought you’d say that.
Gift #4: Through social media you are sending out GREAT message about God’s love and faithfulness. Yes, you are sharing your life and work . . . but you’re also sharing about what God is doing in and through you. For people who wonder what living and serving God looks like, you are giving them a great example. They watch you. They learn about God through you. They hear His good news, shared through you, every day.
Currently, I have 58,000 followers on Twitter. If even one percent of those people read something I tweet, that’s 580 people I’ve touched in one day. I couldn’t meet/talk to that many people in one day in “real” life, but because of social media I can touch lives I’ll never meet in person. How amazing is that?!
So, Virginia (and other friends), the answer to your question is yes, yes, yes you do need a social media presence if you want to write books. So get busy, friend, and start making connections. But, like Christmas, don’t focus on what you can GET . . . but what you can GIVE.