Whenever I used to read magazine columns, short stories, greeting card poems etc., I’d almost always hear that little voice somewhere in the back of my mind saying, “I can do this.” It wasn’t until a few years ago, after reading a really great article on coffee that I finally heard another important question to follow up the last one: “How come I’m not selling my work?”
Ok, I’m going to skip that first big step to selling your work (which is the step about moving past the fear of rejection and actually sending your work out) and move to the next big step: How to sell yourself by using your social media platforms.
Twitter offers amazing opportunities for writers today. It was only five years ago that I decided to sign up for a Twitter account and I told my wife, “Ha! Twitter can’t possibly last long, it’s useless.” Now, five years later, and about 15,000 follower/friends between my social medias, (9,000 on Twitter) and 60,000 subscribers to my blogs and columns, I’ve discovered that by understanding how to connect with the right people, you can increase your sales exponentially.
The Social Media Golden Rule (my golden rule, of course): Get your story to those who have been waiting for it.
Social Media is 100 percent about conversation. There are 900 million streams of conversation happening at almost any given time. A huge portion of those conversations are looking for your story, so your goal is to find those streams and let them know you’re here.
1. Follow Strategically
It’s easy to just start following your favorite celebrities and entertainment gossip groups, but don’t waste your time. Look up publishers, editors, literary agents, writing organizations, writing resource groups (like Helium). Several short stories and articles I’ve sold in the last two years were sold because of Twitter.
A secret I discovered (not really a secret but many writers don’t think about) most of the great literary agents, publishers, and editors that you look through the Writer’s Market guides to find and submit to, are on Twitter and you can connect with them personally. This is how I sold several shorts. I researched the editors in my Market Guides, then I researched them on Twitter, found them, started conversation, got them interested in me and that was it.
Research your target audience:
Look up words like; Writing, Writers, Write, Freelance, Freelancers, Journalism, Submissions, Editor, Publish, Publishers, Poets, Greeting Cards, Literary Agents. Also target specific markets that you are interested in already. Then check out the people that they follow and see who’s similar to you, follow them.
2. Researching Your Conversation: The Hashtag ‘#’
The hashtag (#) is an incredible tool. People will tell you the rules for using it but as a writer you get to think outside the box and find ways to make it work for you and your specific needs. The coolest thing about using the # is that you get instant access to any conversation stream you can think of.
When a client seeks to hire me to create “chatter” about their book, film, business, event, etc. the first thing I do before accepting the project is make sure that I can find 100 streams of conversation that I can start tapping into. I’m working with an amazing filmmaker right now on an amazing documentary.
When I got the package from him in the mail I read over the synopsis, fund proposal, and other materials. Then I went to my dry erase board, wrote the film’s title in the middle and started mind-mapping every #Word I could think of that represented active conversations about the film and subject. Within 30 minutes I had my first 100 hundred potential conversation streams written down. Two hours later I had a list of 200 confirmed streams picked out. So I emailed him, shared the news, and I wrote down the date that I could start breaking into those conversations. (More on this in a bit)
Start with a mind map. Place the word ‘ME’ right in the middle and then draw a line leading away from ‘ME’ and write a word that relates to your work, like ‘#Fiction’. Add the hashtag #. Then go back to, ‘ME’ and draw another line and another word. Do this repeatedly until you have a good 50 to 100 words.
Example: As a short fiction writer you may have words like;
#ShortStories, #Fiction, #Writers, #Scifi, #Mystery, #Horror, #Thriller, #SubmitShorts, #ShortFic, #Fantasy #FicSubmit #Submissions #WritersSubmit #Literay #LitJournals #LiteraryJournal #FictionMagazine
3. Hopping in the ‘Stream’
This is the easiest and most fun of all the steps. Take one of your conversational words and pop it into the search bar and you instantly have access to every conversation where that word is used. Spend some time browsing the conversations. Find the ones that speak to you and relate to your work. Start chatting and follow those who are likely to be interested in your conversation. Introduce yourself properly, as a writer.
Try to tweet a least 3 or 4 times a week just sharing a little about what you’re working on, any highlights, interesting facts your writing habits, and make sure to # relevant words like #Writer #WritersLife #Novelist etc. It’ll take a little bit of time to get use to the lingo but once you do, and once you find how to tap into the right streams of conversation it’ll be well worth it. Remember to have fun.
Sam Connelly is writer and blogger. He also started a new Twitter-based entertainment business called Filmmaker In The Cloud(TM) Live Chats, which uses Twitter as a platform for fans to ask questions while he hosts chats with filmmakers and actor. He has been hired by several businesses and organizations to train their marketing and social outreach teams to do this. Sam also has several syndicated blogs:
MyMistressMuse : Fictional Blog about the relationship between The Writer & the Muse
SamuelConnelly is: TastingThePlanet: Coffeehouse Travel blog – which has been bought by the Travel Channel and is being turned into a show by the same name.
His new Facebook page, Rise Of The Writers, is all about encouraging writers who have stopped writing or stopped submitting – because they have lost faith in themselves — to start writing again.
Find Sam on Twitter at: