Debunking Writing Myths: Blogging & Social Media
I have a workshop I teach occasionally called “Debunking the Myths of Writing,” and I thought I’d start sharing some of those with you occasionally, starting with the newest one that I’ve added to my list.
You MUST be involved in social media through blogging, Facebook, and Twitter if you want to get published.
You MUST write a great, well-crafted story, and you must study the market/industry if you want to get published.
Though you’ll hear authors (and editors and agents) talk a lot about how important it is to begin building name recognition (last year called your Platform, this year called your Tribe), you need to keep in mind that all of that is a load of hooie. When it comes down to it, there are two very important pieces to getting published that leave the others in the dust: writing a great story and getting to know the industry so you know how to get published. (How many authors’ books have you bought and read and loved without having had any contact with them on social media—or without ever having heard of that author before?)
Agent Rachelle Gardner said on her blog once that unpublished authors should spend at least 90% of their writing time writing their story, and less than 10% studying craft, studying the market, going to conferences, and marketing (which includes all forms of social media).
Believe me, if I’d been able to spend 90% of my writing time in the past 10 months actually writing, I wouldn’t have ended up a month late on my first deadline, spending five days writing the bulk of the book on the second deadline, and now facing both of those issues on the third deadline (of course, having only ten months to write three books doesn’t help either).
But as a published author whose livelihood depends on the sales of my books, I must spend at least 50% of my allotted “writing” time every day (after the four to eight hours of time dedicated to my freelance editing work, which actually pays the bills) doing the marketing stuff: blogging, Tweeting, FBing, responding to reader e-mails, filling out blog interview questionnaires, participating in e-loops for the different groups I’m in—and let’s not forget the 7,600 miles I’ve logged traveling to book signings, speaking events, trade shows, and conferences this year. And then there’s also the technical stuff that goes along with the books: cover art info sheets to fill out, back cover/marketing copy to write or edit, coming up with ideas and writing proposals for my next series (both historical and contemporary) while still trying to stay in the story world of the books I’m actually on contract to write, revisions and editing of manuscripts, proofing galleys, negotiating with copy editors to maintain my voice/unique phrasing, and so on.
Don’t force yourself into a must-do-this, must-do-that kind of mentality before you’re published—because now is the only time you have the freedom to be able to say no to those opportunities that become obligations once you’re published, if you want to be successful (and, in reality, there are plenty of successful authors in both the general and the Christian markets who don’t blog, who aren’t on Twitter, and who are rarely on Facebook).
Now is the only time when you can actually just focus on the pure joy of writing your story. So enjoy it while it lasts!