The Craft of Writing — December 2021
THE CRAFT OF WRITING — DECEMBER 2021
SOCIAL MEDIA! Many of us have a love/hate relationship with this enormous influencer in our world. While there are positive aspects to keeping up with our friends and family, there are negatives when it comes to spending hours skimming posts or witnessing heated discussions. There’s even evidence that too much social media is detrimental to one’s mental health.
However, as authors, we can use these platforms to make the world aware of our books. Navigating the waters of which platforms to use, how often to post, and how to best use their resources is the subject of today’s post.
I have long wanted to have Edie Melson as a guest on The Craft of Writing blog. Edie is an acknowledged expert on social media, and her advice can enhance our use of those tools to sell books and change the world. Social Media for Today’s Writer, which Edie co-authored with DiAnn Mills, is my go-to guide for using social media.
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Edie Melson is a woman of faith with ink-stained fingers observing life through the lens of her camera. No matter whether she’s talking to writers, entrepreneurs, or readers, her first advice is always “Find your voice, live your story.” As an author, blogger, and speaker she’s encouraged and challenged audiences across the country and around the world. Her numerous books reflect her passion to help others develop the strength of their God-given gifts and apply them to their lives. Connect with her on her WEBSITE, through FACEBOOK, TWITTER and on INSTAGRAM.
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Social Media with Edie Melson on the Craft of Writing Blog. Click To Tweet
Welcome, Edie, and thank you for joining us!
When did you first get involved with social media?
I fell into social media by accident. I became the managing editor of an online magazine for young Christian men in 2008. It didn’t take me long to realize that to grow the magazine readership—and communicate with my co-workers—I had to learn social media. At the time I didn’t have a blog or any social media accounts and my phone was an old-style flip phone.
I learned how to ask the questions I needed answers for in search engines, took online workshops and read every marketing blog I could. What I learned was how to do social media efficiently and effectively. That training has translated to helping myself as a writer and other writers how to utilize this valuable tool without losing important writing time.
Are there particular platforms you recommend for authors to use?
It’s important for an author to understand where your audience hangs out. I find Facebook and Twitter to be the most valuable for the books I write. But Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube are all valuable options.
It’s also very important for an author to be active on more than one platform regularly. Things happen on social media, accounts get suspended and even deleted. If you’re only on one platform and something goes wrong, you have to have another place where your audience can find you.
Also keep in mind that if you love Facebook and Instagram—those two only count as ONE platform because Facebook owns Instagram. So if Facebook suspends your FB account, chances are good that they’ll also shut down your Instagram account.
What benefits do you see social media having for authors?
I’m on social media as an extension of my mission as a writer. I use social media to serve my audience. That service—giving without expecting anything in return—is what also grows my audience. Trying to use social media as a place to ONLY advertise books is the quickest way to fail. No one like commercials and if your social media account comes across as only advertising, no one will be interested.
Social media is also a great way to network with other industry professionals. I’ve developed some solid friendships through social media with editors, agents and other writers.
How does an author go about establishing a presence on social media?
The most important thing is to give something valuable. Other writers follow me on social media because I share solid information about being a writer—from how tos, to industry news, to tips. Readers follow me because I share spiritual encouragement—devotions, Bible verses, interesting articles about living out your faith in our world today. I also have a small following of those interested in photography and creativity—I share how to articles for all sorts of crafts, as well as tips for photographers.
I do all of this without expecting anything in return.
This proves to my audience that I’m more interested in helping them than promoting myself. Once I’ve gained their trust, then when I have something I need help with—like launching a new book—they’re happy to help.
So a good rule is to give first and often, long before you begin asking favors.
How often should an author promote his/her own work on social media? What other things should they consider posting about?
I recommend what has come to be called “Edie’s 5 to 1 Rule.” For every 5 social media posts I share, I allow myself 1 post about myself—that promotes something I’m doing—like a blog post I wrote or a new book.
Using this guideline helps our social media feeds NOT look self-serving.
How important is it to build a large following on social media? How do you go about doing that?
An engaged following is much more important than large numbers. Publishers want to know that an author has a connection with the readers they’re trying to reach. So an author with a Facebook group of 1,000 where seventy-five percent of those are actively posting and engaging is much more desirable than a Facebook page with 10,000 followers who never see or comment on what the author posts. Different publishers have different expectations and guidelines for authors.
The most important thing is to have a growing presence—better this month than last month. That takes small CONSISTENT commitment. I recommend spending 30 minutes a day 4 – 5 days a week.
I often hear about new platforms for social communication. What can you tell us about them?
TikTok is continuing to gain popularity, as is MeWe. TikTok is video driven, almost like a video version of Instagram. Of course that’s a generalization, but I think you get the idea. MeWe is similar to Facebook, but with a lot less rules and a lot less people on it. But it also is showing promise. Parler is another one that’s gaining ground.
What topics do you cover in Social Media for Today’s Writer?
This book covers how to engage on the most popular social media platforms. We share recommended practices, and some things that can get authors in trouble. It’s written so that beginners can understand it and more advanced users can pick up new tricks and streamline the process.
What single piece of advice would you give to new authors about the use of social media?
We recommend that writers begin using social media BEFORE they become authors. It takes time to build a solid social media platform and having one in place can make launching a book much easier. You don’t have to spend hours a day to create a good following. It’s more important to be consistent than to spend huge blocks of time.
We also suggest you have an account on all the major networks—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, LinkedIn, & TikTok. Having an account means you have your name, bio, and link to your website. Then find two or three networks where you enjoy hanging out and spend your time there. You don’t have to be active on all the platforms, but it is good to reserve your account in case it becomes the next big thing!
Where can we find out more about you and your work?
Thank you, Edie, for sharing your expertise with us!Social Media with Edie Melson on the Craft of Writing Blog Click To Tweet