The crowded greenroom is bustling with activity between the heavy black velvet travelers off-stage. The lead actresses apply finishing touches to their lipstick and another shot of hairspray to their hairdos. Actors in costume tighten their belts and straighten ties. One member of the cast mumbles the lines from her monologue at the end of act one while you stand patiently waiting for lights to go down in the house.
The backstage manager gives the signal, and you hear a full house go quiet. The audience rustles and a wave of coughs goes through the crowd as people settle in for the show. Stagehands open the main drape, and the director pats you on the back. “Break a leg,” he says. You stiffen, take a breath, and stride onto the set with your lines at the tip of your tongue.
Some of my favorite memories are from participating in community theater. I’ve been in You Can’t Take It With You, Once Upon A Mattress and Annie, to name a few. It’s both exhilarating and scary to be onstage performing to an attentive audience.
These days, that stage is everywhere and anywhere you want to be seen. Recently, fellow Blackbird Writer Valerie Biel asked me the question, “What would you tell your pre-published self?” for her blog. Back then, I didn’t know what I didn’t know. That I needed a bigger platform, and a few stages to shout from.
Your kids use it. Your uncle and granddad use it. I doubt you’re new to the publishing game, but I’m talking about social media. Many—dare I say most—of your followers are on social media. This is the platform from which we announce, address, and communicate news of our upcoming events and publications. On these platforms, your new readers will find you. But with so many to choose, from which stage do you give your soliloquy? If you’re a newly debuted author, and even if you’ve been at this a while, this can be a daunting assignment.
Read to the end, I have a question for you!
You know there are a dozen platforms to choose from, but do you need have a presence on them all? No way, Jose. If you’re a photographer, pictures can speak a thousand words. Facebook and Instagram combined this year to form Meta. Posting to both the Facebook and Instagram forums—at the same time!—is easier than ever. Pinterest is another photocentric space. I’ve used it to create story boards for my characters. Some authors use it to create photo collages of their favorite mystery or thriller reads.
Tic-Toc, one of the newest, is all about very short videos. It’s a fantastic venue for attracting young readers. And if you love making videos, interviewing others, or giving live, writerly advice from your desk, YouTube could be your game.
Twitter is the word-centric social forum. Best for short blasts, it’s a great place to be heard if you can shout above the 300 million users. If you’re a Twitter user, learn all about how to gain followers. Tweet topics that fit your brand. Are you a mystery writer? Retweet mystery books. Is your next book coming soon? Let the world know. Sure it’s easy to get into that political debate, but if you’re a romantic suspense author, do you really need to bash that senator from your neighboring state? Will it promote your new release? It might be best to think before you tweet or post on any forum.
Linked-In is the business and professional site. Like Facebook, you can announce your news to followers and congratulate your fellows but without the need for photos. If you have a company, a small press or an editing business, Linked-In can be a great place to promote your services. Alignable is a newer social site for businesses who wish to –you guessed it, align. Be sure to turn off the email notifications unless you like your inbox inundated. And look at Medium if you’re a writer who likes to get paid. Opportunities abound on this site with over 100 million readers.
The next subset of social media sites are for bookish people. Readers, this means you. Goodreads is a great place to discuss books, promote books, and review books. Authors need a presence on Bookbub. Unlike Goodreads, there are no groups to join. But Bookbub is the place to learn about promotions and book sales. It’s a great venue for advertising. Articles and advice on How To advertise on Bookbub can be found here.
Many authors also have news and updates on their Amazon Author page. If you’ve ever bought a book from Amazon, and I imagine you have, you can follow the author to get the latest updates and discounted books. All Author is another great place for authors to promote. I love their GIF making feature, to create designs with your reviews. If you pay for their author program, they will send tweets with your book cover every day.
The number one reason to engage in social media is to draw readers to your website where they can sign up for your newsletter. It’s the most important platform for your work. Your website has something that no other author in the world has. Your books and your brand. This is the biggest stage for your work. It should be beautiful, fit your image, and feature your most recent works because this is where you stage your books and news.
(I don’t have enough space to give details of website design here. Helpful hint: If you aren’t good at web design, hire someone. Cousin John, or your friend who knows everything about drones, computers, and aliens might not be the best guy to build your website. Professional services abound at many price ranges. Find someone who fits your needs. )
Do you need accounts on all these social sites? Heavens no. Many professionals recommend you stick to only two and most importantly, do them well. And that’s the best advice that I can give.
My favorite stage is Facebook/Instagram. My Author Page is where you’ll find news and posts from me. Every day. Or for a little less news, sign up for my quarterly newsletter at www.traceysphillips.com
Tell me the platform or stage you use most in the comments below!