Social media can be a pitfall for writers. For the busy writer juggling home and work commitments with only a few precious moments to fit in writing time, social media is a black hole of distraction. By the time you’ve liked all the photos of your interstate cousin’s newborn baby portraits and watched that heartwarming video of the guy resuscitating a prairie dog, there’s ten valuable minutes you haven’t spent writing.
However, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms are also full of published and unpublished writers. As a writer using social media to connect with other writers, agents, editors and publishers, being part of an online writing community is a great motivator. Especially as writing can otherwise be quite a solitary pursuit.
When I first decided to write my novel, I signed up to do Year of the Novel Online with the Australian Writer’s Marketplace. I realised there were many other writers wanting to commit to the task of writing a novel and lots of them had great ideas for stories. I then discovered the So You Want To Be A Writer podcast, which has a huge following of writers and a Facebook group where writers can ask questions and share ideas. The Australian Writers’ Centre runs a course called Build Your Author Platform, which provides advice on how to use social media to promote yourself as a writer and to build a network with other writers and those in the writing and publishing industry.
I was soon following lots of other writers on social media – and some of them were following me back! Now when I open one of my social media accounts, my news feeds consist mainly of pictures of other writers’ laptops besides lovely tea cups, the latest book recommendations, writing questions and writing-related blog posts.
Even though I haven’t met most of these other writers, I know if I have a question someone will answer it. And although I haven’t asked anyone to beta read my work yet, I know someone would volunteer to do that if I did ask. And I would gladly do the same (and have done) for them. There is a strong feeling of support and encouragement from other writers and it’s so reassuring when you’re facing a roadblock or a rejection to find out that others have felt exactly the same way. We are also there to congratulate each other on our successes, and when one of us gets a book published, are the first on the pre-order list.
Several published authors are also active on social media and communicate with fans. A simple acknowledgement with a ‘like’ from an author when I’ve tweeted about enjoying their book makes my day. I will never forget when J.K. Rowling liked my tweet about her Robert Galbraith novel, Career of Evil. Sometimes it can be disappointing sharing your review of a book on social media only to find the author hasn’t acknowledged your review, especially if it was a positive review. But there are many authors, such as Natasha Lester, Louise Allan, Sarah Bailey and Lia Weston, who are lovely people to follow on social media because they support other writers, are grateful for the support they receive, and have lots of great advice to give.
Thank you to everyone in my online writing community for being wonderful and supportive. I wish you all the very best with your writing goals, whatever they may be, and I look forward to seeing you achieve them.