Wondering what kind of virtual presence you need? Check this out!

I can’t tell you how good it was to reunite with my writing peeps! 

At HippoCamp I was able to: 
See the friends I’ve made over the years.
Connect with people I’ve met online.
Have spontaneous conversations without a Zoom screen. 
Learn, get inspired, and have the chance to share some of my expertise. 

Oh, and here was one of the greatest gifts: I got to meet some of you. 

What an absolute treat! 

I attended so many high-quality sessions with inspirational figures in our field. I can’t wait to tell you all about it in future newsletters. 

But I want to start this one with a quote shared by Joey Garcia during a session called “What Happens to Your Book in a Newsroom.”

 Your network is who you know.

Platform is who knows you

Later that night, I sat in on a Writer’s Bridge session where Allison K. Williams and Ashleigh Renard, broke this down further.

When writers first approach the concept of platform many dislike it because they see platform building as a transactional “tit-for-tat” way of relating to others. That’s bound to make anyone miserable. A real platform is a bridge between two people. It’s an opportunity to both know others and be known. In these writer’s bridges, you can also serve your community. 

Just hearing that made me feel better about my platform. 

As I said in my last post, all you need to do to begin your platform is tell one person you’re a writer. Do that, and someone knows you. 

But what comes next, depends on your goals. 

In the coming weeks, I’ll interview some platform divas and emerging authors who can share their platform secrets. 

But before we get there, I want to talk about the types of platforms you can build. 

This week, we’ll start with your online presence. 
Next week, I’ll talk about writing opportunities including bylines, blogs, and newsletters. 
After that, we’ll discuss all the other ways you can connect with your fellow humans. 

Okay, let’s talk virtual presence. 

Author Website 

If writing is just a hobby, and all you care about is spending your time crafting beautiful sentences, then you don’t necessarily need a website.

But, if you secretly harbor any publication desires, you need one. And you need to create it well before you query agents or publishers. 

Think of your website as the virtual warehouse for all the cool stuff you do. It’s a place where agents, publishers, and most importantly readers, can learn who you are and what you’ve written. 

In the early stages of your writing career, you don’t need to hire a professional. But you do need to buy your domain name. Ideally, this should be your name and not the title of your book.

To get the 411 on what you need, check out this blog post

Social Media Accounts 

If you’re platform resistant, this is probably the header you’ll most likely bristle about. I get it. There are SO many social media platforms. And to top it off, these platforms are always tweaking their algorithms and features which means the learning curve is endless. 

When it comes to social media, you’ll want to develop a three-pronged approach that includes:  

  • A way to network with other writers, editors, and agents.
  • A way to reach your readers.
  • A way to have fun. 

Do you need to be on all the platforms? Nope. 

Just pick the one you feel most comfortable with and consistently add content to it. Ideally, your preferred platform should also be the one where your readers hang out. 

Jane Friedman has a social media hub filled with articles on social media dos and don’ts. You can also attend the free Writer’s Bridge meetings that take place every other week. These live sessions are a great place to learn tricks and tips from some social media experts. And they’re recorded so you can access them later if their live sessions don’t suit your schedule. 

Here’s a list of the current most popular platforms along with a brief description of what they do.  

Facebook: This is largely for the over-forty crowd. Most writers are gaining traction by joining Facebook groups. They’re great for networking and connecting with niche interest groups who might become your readers. And, if you build an author page, you can use it to create ads that will help you market your work. 

Twitter: The average Twitter user is between 25 – 34, though I find lots of writers, editors, and agents hang out there. If brevity is your thing, this might be a great place to network—especially when it comes to finding agents and editors. But to make the most of Twitter, you should tweet multiple times per day.

YouTube: With an average user age in the mid-twenties, this one’s ideal for reaching younger readers. But, because you can create your own channel, it’s also a great content delivery system. You can create book trailers, interviews and so much more.  Public speaking coach Gigi Rosenberg regularly creates videos to share her content on YouTube. Many end up in her newsletter. 

Instagram: This largely visual medium—think photos and videos—is a favorite with the under-thirty-four crowd.  Writers frequently include meaty captions for their posts. You can also use hashtags to increase your reach. 

TikTok: Couple less than sixty-second videos and hashtags and you have TikTok. With an average user of under 25, this is a great place to reach a younger audience. Some authors, like Ashleigh Renard, have capitalized on this platform’s popularity. Read about her successes in this post. 

Reddit: Reddit is a network of communities you can join for mutual benefit and support. Some of the most engaged users are under thirty. While Reddit isn’t designed for marketing, you can become a trusted source of information on this site by posting regularly and commenting on threads posted by other users. The Subreddits tend to have a narrow focus. You can find ones for survivors of suicide loss, day traders, games, illnesses, and even books. Use them to understand the conversations happening around the subjects you write about.

Clubhouse: This is an audio-only platform that requires an invitation from a current member.  It’s a great place to learn from celebrities, coaches, and authors, all while sporting your bedhead. Lurk for a while, then create a room. You can even join some of their writing groups.

Pinterest: If you like bulletin boards, you’ll love Pinterest. It’s a favorite platform for boomers, Gen-Xers, and most of all, Millennials. If your readers fall into these demographics, then Pinterest might be an option for you. There’s even a Pinterest on building an author platform. Go figure!

Linked-In: Most people think of LinkedIn as a business tool, and largely they would be right. But, if your professional role is linked to your book, setting up an account and sharing your publications there might give you yet one more avenue for connecting with potential readers.

Phew! That’s a long list. 

But don’t fall into the trap of thinking you must do all the things all the time. You absolutely don’t. 

Here are a few guidelines to get you started: 

  1. Choose one to three platforms. 
  2. Create a social media plan and a manageable schedule. 
  3. Make it fun.

Here’s my current social media plan: 

  • Facebook: I use this one to connect with family and friends and to network in the various groups I belong to.I consider many of these people potential readers. 
  • Twitter: This is where I do most of my literary citizenship. (Think: sharing articles and lifting up other authors) 
  • Instagram: This is also a place where I connect with both writers and readers. Of the three, this is the one I’m still learning to master. 

My social media diet:

  • A maximum of 15 minutes after my writing time,
  • 15 minutes right before or right after lunch,
  • 15 minutes around 2:30 as a break between client work,
  • 15 minutes at the end of the workday. 

What makes it fun? 
I love to connect with other authors I know. I also enjoy reading humorous posts. 

 Let me know what you love–or hate–about building a virtual presence.  Have any tricks and tips for us? I’d love to hear from you. 

Enjoy the last few weeks of summer and keep writing on! 


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