One of the biggest problems any writer has with building and maintaining a platform is the time issue. Many writers struggle to find time to write, let alone keep up with e-mails, blogs, and everything else. What is the solution? Is there one?
There is no one solution for writers to manage their time on social networking. Each author is different, at a different place in her journey, and not everyone should devote the same amount of time online.
I have my own theory about the stages of the writer and social media. Each stage will require a different amount of energy and time.
1. The BeginnerThe writer who is just starting out should not worry about building a fiction platform yet. Beginners are smart to devote the bulk of their time writing and learning about writing. This is a good time to start reading author blogs because they are full of tips and advice. A Facebook page and Twitter account set up under your writer's name are fine to connect with other writers and friends. Don't stress yourself out trying to get followers and friends. Write your book, study the craft, and relax.
2. The Actively Querying Writer
Writers who are actively trying to acquire an agent or who are submitting their projects to editors are poised to build a platform. They are not wasting their time by starting a blog, adding friends and followers on Facebook and Twitter, or any other venue they feel comfortable utilizing.
Writers at this point are wise to schedule time each day or week to be active across their social media sites. Owners of new businesses are willing to spend many extra hours to insure their operations succeed. Think of yourself as a new business. Building a platform takes time and energy. It doesn't happen overnight. Spend the time now so that when you get that book contract, you'll have social networks in place to help promote it.
3. The Debut Author
This writer has an advantage over writers in other eras--she can build buzz about her name and her book before the book comes out--all from the comfort of her own home. Janet K. Grant of Books & Such Literary Agency wrote a phenomenal post--Building Velocity is More Important than Building Sales on the subject. Ideally, by this point, the debut author should have a solid network in place through blog followers, Facebook friends, Twitter followers, or other sites. She'll also want to create a website, if she hasn't already, and publish a quarterly newsletter.
She should invest time to stay active on her sites, whether it's thirty minutes each day or two hours, and she will want to be smart about the time she spends. Her goals should be maintaining contact with her current network while adding new friends. This means actively "following" new people, and being personable on their blog or other sites. I'm not going to mislead you--this takes time.
4. The Established Author Who Wants to Grow Her Audience
This author typically has a fan base, a website, and that's about it. She's savvy about promoting her writing in person but isn't quite comfortable with the whole social media thing. Not only is she unsure of what to do online, she has doubts that it even works.
This author would be wise to evaluate her current website. It should be showcasing her achievements (best-seller lists, awards) and it should be professional, updated regularly, and it should feature her current book, her backlist, and any appearances she's making. She will also want to add social media buttons so fans can easily follow her on any sites where she's active.
At this point, the established author should not feel compelled to start a blog. She already has a fan base--she's in a great position. She can spend a smart fifteen minutes each day on Facebook, another fifteen on Twitter, and she'll grow her audience.
Really? Only fifteen minutes on each? Yes, if the author is focused, she can grow her network quickly in a simple half hour each day. First, she should "friend" all of the authors she knows. Second, she should search for groups related to her genre and "friend" people there. For instance, a fantasy author might look for groups dedicated to online gaming. If she interacts with the people she meets, they'll be much more likely to want to buy her book because they like her. Plus, her efforts will drive people to her website, the perfect showcase for her writing. Win-win!
In my opinion, the writers who can get away with the least amount of time on social networks are beginners and established authors. Writers who will benefit from more time online are those actively querying or who have a debut book coming out. The exact amount is up to the writer.
Do you worry you spend too much time on social media? Not enough?
Have a terrific Friday!