In episode 86, we discussed first steps you can take to launch your social media presence. I suggested you could start simple and slow by establishing a bare-minimum presence at each of the big social media platforms.
I encouraged you to secure your avatar, your handle, your username—ideally using your author name—and fill out your profile or bio at the places you think sound fun or useful for the writing you do (and where you think your readers will hang out).
All of this was in the context of building a writing platform and using social media as one tool to do so.
But consider this. Something motivated you to want to write and publish a book that would require a platform—and part of what motivated you was surely the reader. Not a reader named Shirley, but you know what I mean. Part of you must want to write for an actual person who will open your book and take in the message or story in its pages and be affected by it, changed in some way, maybe even transformed.
If you write nonfiction, maybe you have ideas to share or problems you can solve for the reader. If you’re a science writer, you might be assembling research to pass along so readers can be better informed. If you write fiction, maybe you want to connect with the readers’ emotions and make them laugh and cry and feel shocked or jubilant.
Here’s the thing: you can start impacting readers right now. Through social media, in small doses and with creativity, you can press “publish” and make a difference in people’s lives without waiting two or more years for a book release.
Isn’t that exciting to think about?
Poetry on Twitter
Instead of writing entire poems, submitting them to multiple literary magazines and waiting months to hear back, you can wake up one morning struck by an interaction or scene. Jot out just a line or two, marry it with an image, and share it on Twitter. Just like that, you’ve shared beauty with followers who happen upon it.
While your fully developed, polished poems are under consideration via Submittable, you can still be practicing the art in small ways, enjoying the satisfaction of publishing snippets of your own work as they come to you in your everyday life.
Nonfiction on Facebook
If your passion about a topic has led you to research and outline a nonfiction book that you plan to pitch to a publisher, why not share tiny tidbits on Facebook—maybe an excerpt from an interesting study that helped you see the subject from a new angle. You could share a quote. You can microblog about the material as your long-form project comes together, getting people to think about this topic, generating interest, demonstrating your knowledge, passion, and understanding. Maybe one of your Facebook updates will contain and convey exactly what someone needs to know.
You can help people. Right this minute.
Fiction on Instagram
You’re a novelist, let’s say. Why not tell your story in installments on Instagram? You’ll be like a modern-day Dickens, publishing serially. Others have done this or are in the midst of their stories. Rachel Hulin wrote Hey Harry Hey Matilda on Instagram. Another author, Adam Hurly, draws sketches to go with each installment of his story on Instagram. In an interview, Hurly said:
My goal with this is to create more opportunities and to show people that there are ways, innovative ways, to tell the stories you want to tell. There are ways to find an audience, you just have to be ahead of the curve with it.
Why wait for a publisher to green light your project? Write some great short stories, coupling installments or scenes with images, and publish them on Instagram. Be ahead of the curve.
Mix and Match Genres with Social Media
You can mix and match, of course. Poets love Instagram, and memoir is Facebook or Instagram-ready.
Narrative writer Neil Shea, a contributor to National Geographic, began telling stories through images and words on Instagram…and he’s loving it.
Over time I realized that beneath the selfie surface, Instagram provided a powerful, unexpected, and mostly underutilized storytelling tool. Consider it this way: Instagram has essentially become one of the world’s most successful general interest magazines…slowly I came to enjoy the creative constraint of Instagram, how it asked me to strip things down, pay attention to basics.
The responses have been overwhelming, he says, with a post sometimes being shared, liked, or re-posted over a thousand times. It’s interactive. Immediate. And addicting.
Doesn’t that sound wonderful?
Connecting directly with people. Helping them. Impacting them. Right now.
No middle-man. No two-year wait.
Oh, and guess what? You’ll probably build a platform in the process.
If you’re intent on pitching a book, that’s a great side benefit. But why not do it just for the fun of it? Why not go straight to the reader with your ideas and stories, tapping into your creativity to produce something fresh and engaging within each platform’s constraints?
Start having fun and get creative on just one social media outlet. Experiment. Jot a few ideas for a short story. Write a line of poetry. Think about a mini-essay you could compose. Here’s your chance to get ahead of the curve. Here’s how you can impact readers right now.
Click on the podcast player above or use subscription options below to listen to the full episode.
- Your Writing Platform episode collection
- How to Tell Powerful Narratives on Instagram (by Neil Shea)
- Learn about Charles Dickens publishing serially
- Interview with Instagram author and artist Adam Hurly
- Nonfiction book about marketing written post by post on Instagram
- Interview with Rachel Hurly, author of Hey Harry Hey Matilda, via DIY MFA
- Article about Cambridge student and Instagram essayist Caroline Calloway
Building a platform sounds overwhelming, exhausting. Where do you even start?
Join us in Your Platform Matters!