I shared, in a previous blog (“The Hardest Part of Being a Writer“), about the difficulty of waiting during the writing journey. Well, I’m happy to report that there is an area where you not only don’t have to wait, but you shouldn’t, and that’s building your audience through social media.
I can’t tell you how many of the proposals we’ve seen in recent weeks that say something along the lines of “When my book is contracted, I will have a professional website built” or “As soon as I receive a contract, I will establish a presence on social media to promote it.” I kind of understand this way of thinking. Some of it is about finances. I get that. And I realize that the only way to get your message out as a writer used to be having your book published. But nowadays, with the reach of the Internet–and specifically online social media–you can share your message with your readers long before you have a book to sell them. In fact, you not only can, you need to do that. Don’t wait for a contract. Start now. Today.
(One disclaimer: Please don’t hear me say “Start now!” if you haven’t done everything you can to ensure your message is as well crafted as it can be. Put in the time to refine your skill at communicating/writing, and then jump in!)
Okay, I hear you now: “Why would I do this without a contract offer, or before I’ve even put together a book proposal?” Well, if “because I said so” isn’t enough for you <grin>, here are three solid reasons:
- To help others. There are people out there now who need your message. If you really believe you have something God has given you to share, why wait to share it? The sooner you share your message, the sooner it can help them.
- To help your message. People love to react and respond when they hear something that resonates, that can change their lives or improve it. They will spread the word. And they will respond to you about the message and how it has impacted them. What better resource could you have for seeing ways that you are—and aren’t—communicating well. Let your audience help you refine your message so that it’s as effective as it can be.
- To help your proposal. Because, when you put together that proposal (following the agent’s or editor’s guidelines, of course) you will have something of substance to put under readership and marketing. You will have a platform started already, rather than saying “I plan to …” and list all the things you’ll do after you have a contract. You can say your website receives x number of hits, and that there is already a community engaged in your message and sharing it with others. What agents and editors want to see is that you’re actively engaging your audience, and that they are responding to you and your message.
So how do you do this? Well, stay tuned to next week’s blog! (And if you’d like to explore more on the why of social media before you’re contracted, do a search on this site for “social media.” You’ll find a number of great blogs from my fellow agents!)
Until then, why not share your “best practices” social media tips with each other. What have you learned that might help a fellow author?