By Corabel Shofner
Social Media can be fun; it can also be dangerous and I don’t mean the way a mother warns her child of stranger danger. I mean that a naive person can post what they think is sassy, get on a plane, be torn apart during the ride, only to be greeted at landing by an avalanche of attacks. You may drop what you think is a cheerful comment into a discussion only to discover that you have made a pack of enemies. Your book may be savaged and nobody will tell you why. And trolls! Let’s just say trolls should have stayed in fairy tales. Beware: People lose jobs; Books get cancelled.
So why would a writer, especially an older one like me, engage on social media? Well, I like to learn new things and it can be fun if you stay smart.
Everyone says the author must promote their own books and many feel social media is the key. I do not believe that social media will make my book a best seller, but I do believe that I can keep it from being completely overlooked. I learn publishing from people who have much more experience than I do. Who’s who? Where are they? And what are they doing? I can meet gatekeepers and, if they like the book, they might spread the word. I can get comfort from other writers. I can make actual friends in real life, on social media. This is amazing and true. One of my dearest friends came from social media. Turns out we grew up near one another in the Mississippi Delta. We now make presentations together at conferences and festivals.
Try each of the platforms to discover where you are most comfortable: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumbler, and Goodreads. Each of them is different and requires an effort to learn how to engage successfully. Hint: it is not all about you or your book.
1. Avoid squabbles of all stripes. It is impossible to address serious topics in the social media context. Thus, do not drop into a conversation without knowing everything that went before. Do not attack or defend anyone. Not defending someone is hard for me but if you do it on twitter, you enter into a world of hurt and you can’t get out. Find other ways to defend the writer.
2. Do support other writers, generously. Make friends, promote their books, and announce their good news. Learn to tag and hashtag so that posts get seen.
3. Keep it light and fast.
4. Find something unique to you, that you love and incorporate it into your on-line persona. Art work? Clever Quotes? Recipes? Flowers?
5. Talk about your own book less than 1/5 of the time. Make it quick and clever then move on. The hard sales are a complete bore.
6. Do what you enjoy and if you try social media and don’t like it, that’s okay too.
Corabel Shofner is a wife, mother, attorney, and author. She graduated from Columbia University with a degree in English literature and was on Law Review at Vanderbilt University School of Law. Her shorter work has appeared or is forthcoming in Willow Review, Word Riot, Habersham Review, Hawai’i Review, Sou’wester, South Carolina Review, South Dakota Review, and Xavier Review. ALMOST PARADISE is her first novel. Find her on Twitter @corabel, or online at corabelshofner.com