How do you as a writer get the golden goose of being published in today’s social media market? Become a Belieber. Yeah, it’s time to invest a little more time researching the trends we love…or love to hate. Twitter, for instance, is like the Gold Rush of the Wild West. Saddle up your steeds and wash out those gold sifting pans. Sometimes the difference between a good clean query and a good clean query with a twitter following, a tumblr page, a vlog and a smartphone app are what divide yesterday’s writer from today’s writing go-getter.
Social media is indeed a melting pot of politicians, artists, athletes, entrepreneurs, and everything in between, clamoring to have their voices heard in 140 characters or less. But no one has mastered the art of the tweet more so than Generation WTF/LOL.
1.) Hashtag your tweets. The hashtag is the cherry on the top of the multi-layered red velvet cake that is your tweet. It encapsulates everything that you are trying to say in tone, emotion, concept, and idea in one word preceded by a number sign. It also creates trends that are easily seen on twitter. Pre-existing hashtags like #music #FF (which is FollowbackFriday) and #hope circulate in a sort of Twitter most-popular appetizer menu on the landing page. So, naturally, people surfing twitter for new trends will gravitate to the latest and most popular hashtags, yours being one of them if it includes said hashtag. Bieber for instance will put his Shakespeare-esque writing to use in a tweet saying something to the effect of “u all were loud tonight. thanks for the love. it’s all love. all the time. #Believe.” Rivetting. Right up there with The Tempest and Macbeth. Ah, bless. So imagine tweeting the pitch to your new novel, the scoop for that brilliant expose, or the next book signing or reading and capping it all off with a brilliant hashtag that will garner attention.
2.) Build a brand. Almost like build-a-bear, where you venture into a store and stuff all the soft and cuddly parts of your future cuddle buddy into a cute little teddy bear, building a brand is building hopefully thousands of cuddle buddies that will lap up your every tweet. Rihanna has the almost religiously dedicated Rihanna Navy. Justin Bieber has his Beliebers. And Lady Gaga has her Little Monsters. While I doubt you’d refer to any of your audience as monsters (unless of course they include the cold-hearted editor that hacked off 50 pages from your epic novel) naming and claiming your audience as part of your brand is a brilliant playbook for becoming a force on the twittersphere.
Who is your audience? Are they 40-something-year-old housewives who love a few hours to themselves buried in the pages of a dark detective novel? Are they weekend warriors that trim the lawn from the comfort of their John Deere on Sunday afternoons, take in the game with the lads Sunday evening, and tuck in with a few pages from that adrenalin-pumping football hero novella? You get the point. They have a face. They should equally have a name. When engaging your audience, identify them. Gaga’s great for constantly engaging her brand with “Monsters” at the head of each tweet. Are yours the GridIronGang for instance? Use the brand in every outpost of newsletter, facebook post, Pinterest and Instagram commentary, and tweet that directly goes to them. If it’s well-crafted and thought out, they’ll embrace it wholeheartedly. Trust me.
3.) Become a part of the conversation. Engage the higher ups in the twitter food chain, the ones with hundreds of thousands of followers and tweets every split second. More specifically, engage the tweeters who perhaps, like you, are chasing the dream. Find those writers or entrepreneurs or comedians or whomever it is that really strikes your fancy and equally aligns with some of your own interests and follow them. Follow their followers. And follow those all-important Twitter suggestions on their pages of “People You May Also Like.” Then, become part of the conversation. Say hello. Say thanks for following me back. Compliment the ones who you adore. Or even ask a bit of simple advice. Watch your followers instantly multiply. People will become curiously attached to your own twitter neighborhood.
4.) Don’t be afraid to Vlog. Yes. Vlog. Math time. Video plus blog equals vlog. This is where the truly creative you comes front and center. 140 characters isn’t enough to really flesh out your inner Steinbeck. And Facebook’s limits on embedding don’t really allow you to show the full picture of what you’re up to. But if you’ve got a trusty camera, a webcam, or even a camera phone, you’re in business. A simple 1 to even 6 minute video straight from the hip showing the world through your own rose-tinted lens will keep your GridIronGang salivating. Maybe you do a quick vlog showing yourself in the kitchen mastering a no-bake cake recipe. You pepper the dialogue with your own witty humor and some sprinklings of a few readings from your latest work while the dust settles from the cake mix. Maybe you film a behind-the-scenes of your latest reading or book signing, showing everything from the dodgy taxi driver who tried to con you out of 5 extra bucks to the moment you got stuck in the elevator to the moment you hit the stage with not a bead of sweat and every ounce of cool. Find your edge and film it. Keep it simple. Keep it entertaining.
5.) Make it all one happy family. Social media is teeming with life. Best to act like a biologist and get well-acquainted. Synchronize all your accounts: Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Blogger, etc. And make them all speak the language of love. No need to spend endless hours going from one platform to the next to post your latest news. When you sync your accounts, you can post from one and instantly have the same post published on your other pages. Keep everyone in the loop that way. Tweet your latest vlog hosted on Youtube that was equally favorited and re-shared on Facebook that had picture stills feel the love on Instagram and Pinterest. You get the point. Connect the dots.
Honorable mentions. If you’re really tech savvy, head over to a platform like Reverbnation for instance, and build a smartphone app for your loyal followers. The app will give your audience exclusive content only available to its subscribers: clips from the upcoming book, podcast interviews, photos, news, etc.
All of that in a nutshell speaks volumes to any editor worth his or her weight in Facebook shares. Granted, you should already be a contender in the writing department. But going the extra mile by being a force to reckon with in social media will naturally turn a query into a stunning no-brainer for any publisher.
Akil Wingate is an American singer-songwriter and writer based in Switzerland. He currently writes for Style Equation, Viral Fashion, and Menswear Style UK magazines. His forthcoming novels, There Be Dragons and La Mariquita, have been excerpted in Devilfish Review, Jukepop Serials, Writing Tomorrow and Graze magazines. He also has contributed to The Savvy Explorer and Travel In 10 magazines. When he isn’t writing, composing, or touring the world, he can be found in the kitchen, whipping a challenging recipe into shape.