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Myth and reality in social media for new writers (Part one)

This is the first in a series of posts that I’m writing to smash away at some of the myths around social media for new writers. There are a number of reasons that writers use social media. Sometimes it’s a distraction, sometimes its a way to procrastinate. Sometimes its a way to vent their feelings following a script rejection. And, occasionally, it’s even useful. But it can also be a time consuming distraction, especially if you’re new to the writing game and don’t have much to your name.

someone using their phone

There are hundreds of social media whizzkids out there who will tell you that without social media, you are doomed to fail as a writer. Those same whizzkids will probably also have an online course or two that will teach you the secrets you’ll need to make it big. I’ll leave it up to you (with some advice from me) to decide if you need to pay for that course.

In my time as a new writer, I’ve noticed a few myths that are repeated time and time again.

Myth 1: You can get your name out there

For new writers, social media represents an excellent way to get their name mentioned in the same breath as some of the more established names. For those who are able and willing to put in the hours. a retweet from Stephen King is probably worth thousands in Amazon advertisements. 

Truth 1: No one cares about you (yet)

I’m sorry to destroy your ego, but at the beginning of your career your fans are usually limited to your parents, your other half and any friends you have. It’s a great start, but it’s not a proper fan base.

alone man in a field

Even if you get that retweet from Stephen King, what will any interested people find? A blog talking about writing? Or some short stories? 

The chances are that unless you have something to show prospective social media buddies, engaging with them will take a lot of time, but have very little reward in the long run. After all, do you want people to see your name and associate it with funny comments on UK foreign policy, or your writing?

How to overcome myth 1

To get past the first myth, I’d suggest that you put down your twitter account and start doing some actual writing. The best way to get more fans, and to make sure that they remember you for what you want them to, is to create some art that they can engage with. 

It doesn’t have to be much – a short novel, a self-help book, or even a link to where they can see your stories. By doing this, you’ll not just be ‘that funny person on Twitter’, you’ll be ‘that funny writer on twitter whose books I must buy.’

Next week

Next week, in my post about social media for new writers, I’ll have a look at myth number 2 – you can use social media to promote your own material. If you want to get a reminder when that post it live, why not join my mailing list? I know. Shameful. But here’s the link again.

The images on this page are all from unsplash.com.

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