Guest blog by Emma Lombard
Please help me welcome the "Twitter Mom" Emma Lombard for the Writer's Journey Blog Guest Post this week.
Confidence. Those of us with oodles of it are perceived as brave and daring. Those of us without it are incapacitated by the lack of it. There would be few others who suffer more crippling doubt than an unpublished writer—which goes hand in hand with its good friend, Imposter Syndrome.
How Can I Claim to be Something I’m Not?
I’ve seen so many conflicted authors on social media, where the debate rages about whether we unpublished folk have the right to call ourselves authors. Some folks are more comfortable with the title writer rather than author. The Cambridge Dictionary defines these two terms as:
· writer: a person who writes books or articles to be published
· author: the writer of a book, article, play, etc.
Regardless of what title you give yourself, if you’re creating using words, you are taking on the responsibility of authorship. Own it and enjoy it, baby!
How Do I Own It?
Every author writes with a different purpose in mind, so I can only speak from personal experience.
Although I am a historical fiction author, I have ended up with a blog that supports other newbie writers, which has fortuitously done very well. Blogging was the last activity I ever wanted to start when I discovered that I had to build an author platform. However, I realised my potential in this department when I started receiving hundreds of views on one of my first blog posts, Finding and Using Beta Readers, and when all the lovely comments of support and thanks began rolling in.
All I’d done was share my experience with the hope of helping others. [Hint: this is the secret ingredient].
Get Yourself Seen
The thought of putting myself out there on social media gave me jelly knees and an attack of the collywobbles. But again, all my research showed me that I needed to take this plunge if I had any hopes of creating a name for myself in the authoring world. Call me old school, but the furthest I have ventured so far is Twitter and Facebook. These two social media platforms are time consuming enough, and my mantra is I’d rather have fewer platforms that I manage well than a bazillion social media accounts that perform poorly.
I use my Twitter account to:
· support, retweet and comment on other authors’ posts (secret ingredient)
· drive traffic to my author newsletter
· promote my blog posts that are predominantly articles to help newbie writers (secret ingredient).
I use my Facebook account to:
· entertain my followers with writer/reader memes
· drive traffic to my author newsletter and blog
· share other author’s posts (secret ingredient).
I also don’t think my teenage sons would appreciate me attempting to rap the first page of my historical fiction novel on TikTok.
What I’m trying to say here is stick with what you’re comfortable with—especially in the beginning. But, you are going to have to be brave and branch out at some stage.
Take Ownership of Your Author Platform
My next successful step that I took was creating an author newsletter (have you seen how many times I’ve repeated this little ditty?) that shares an intimate monthly peek into my agent querying journey. My newsletter is the only place where I share this information, to keep it exclusive for my subscribers. As anyone on social media knows, we are all reliant on the mysterious algorithms, and there’s no guarantee who or how many will see our posts. Having direct access to subscribers’ inboxes is the most reliable way to get my blog posts and book updates seen by my readers. It’s also a fabulous way for readers to contact me directly in a more private and intimate email setting.
What happens if tomorrow, Twitter or Facebook goes belly up like MySpace did? All that hard work I’ve done garnering followers goes down the gurgler. Having a mailing list, is a much safer bet.
But while Twitter is still a thriving and functioning platform, you might want to learn how to make the most of it. In the very early days, I jotted down my discoveries about how to best make Twitter work for me in my Twitter Tips for Newbies series, with the aim of helping other newbie writers build their Twitter presence (secret ingredient).
Still Not Convinced to Follow Advice from an Unpublished Author?
I get it. What do you know Emma, you haven’t even published your first book yet?
True. But what I have done through my networking and platform-building endeavours is make some brilliant contacts in the publishing industry! And as my confidence in my own blog and writing has taken hold, so has my conviction to (very politely) reach out to some heavy hitters in the industry (with some marvellous results).
· Janet Reid’s (aka The Query Shark) guest article for my blog: Literary Agent, Janet Reid: Rules for Writers
· My guest blog for publishing expert, Jane Friedman’s award-winning blog: How and Why to Build a Twitter Following While Unpublished
· My first ever blog listicle, sourced directly from literary agents: 14 Literary Agents Share Their Query Letter Top Tips and Pet Peeves
· My newest post (coming soon to my blog): Published Authors Share Their Book Marketing Top Tips and Biggest Blunders
So, if you can’t take it from me, then take it from other traditional & self-published authors (fiction and non-fiction), who have published books. [Hint: You’ll spot a recurring theme from many of my guest authors, wishing they had been braver about putting themselves and their work out there sooner.]
What does all this hype have to do with getting my historical fiction novel published? Well, for starters, it gives me street cred as a serious writer. Some (not all) agents request to see other samples of your work and/or examples of your author platform. How can I give them this info if I haven’t done all this pre-publishing ground work?
I’m planning to go down the traditional publishing route, but on the off chance that I do end up down the self-publishing route, I’m in a great position to leverage my well-established author platform to drum up excitement about my new books.
Despite still being unpublished, if I hadn’t taken ownership of my authorship when I did, I’d also have missed out on making so many wonderful writerly friends and industry contacts along the way.
What are you going to do today to take ownership of your authorship?