Are you there, Web? It’s me, Janelle.

Today, I’m blogging about social media for writers and my experiences so far, what’s gone well and what hasn’t. I’m hoping you’ll chime in and share your experiences, since we’re all at different stages in our careers.

See, my goals for 2011 are fairly straightforward: Besides finishing a complete, start-to-finish draft of my current WIP, I’m also working to build an online platform so I can talk reading and writing with people who share my passions. I don’t expect that this will magically happen by the end of the year. But I want to build a solid foundation.

I started out with LJ last fall and am pretty happy with how it’s going. My blog isn’t getting tons of hits, but I’m meeting really cool people and I’ve found a lot of other blogs that are helpful and enjoyable, so I’m pleased with my progress. I just started a professional Facebook account and am “patiently” tending to it. Later this year I hope to expand to Goodreads and Twitter. The first time I tried this, I started everything at once. Didn’t really go so well. Lesson learned: It’s a lot like juggling. You start out with a couple things and add incrementally as your skill grows.

I’ve found people and resources that have been especially helpful. Here are a few:

       1.) Crit partners: This one is an oldie for me, but a goodie. It’s not about social media per se, but social media can help you meet future critique partners. I’ve been critiquing since I started taking college creative writing classes when I was still in high school. (Yes, I’m a nerd. Please don’t give me a swirly.) When I got to graduate school, I met a group of wonderful people who were as passionate about writing as I was. A few of us lived in the same area, so we started meeting. That was way back in what, 2006? (Amelia and Kathleen, correct me if I’m wrong!) They’re dedicated, talented, and, not least of all, honest. They care about my work as much as their own, and they push me to take it to the next level. Every writer needs a fellow writer or two to critique her work and give honest, helpful criticism. Not nit-picky stuff or something that’s just plain mean. Having another writer read your work means that you’ll get feedback that a non-writer can’t provide. A non-writer can say, “I don’t like this scene,” or “It was hard to get into.” A writer knows the tools and lingo of the trade. They can say, “This character is inconsistent. You need to develop him more.” Or “These scenes don’t have enough conflict; they’re not moving the plot forward.” Or, “Heighten the tension.” And we need that if we want to grow in our writing. They also provide the kind of support only a fellow writer can provide.

       2.) Rachelle Gardner: One of my crit partners turned me on to Rachelle’s blog. Rachelle’s advice applies to any writer in any genre. She is honest about the hard work of writing but also inspirational.

       3.) Kristen Lamb: I read Kristen’s blog and make frequent use of her book We are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media. I found her book first via an Amazon search. Kristen talks a lot about brand. Don’t cringe! Branding is not the evil corporate, soulless endeavor you’re thinking of. This is different. But that is another journal entry. She also gives commonsense advice about how to build your social media platform.

4.) Kait Nolan: Kait offers insight and honesty about writing and building a platform. She doesn’t sugarcoat anything, and she provides great, practical advice. She’s also an indie writer. It’s hard in the days of self-publishing to go indie. I don’t know why indie writers have it so much harder than those who go indie in any other art form, but that’s a blog entry for another day (seriously, coming soon). Until I read Kait’s blog, I didn’t even know there was such a thing as indie writers. All I knew about were the extra-speshul snowflakes who were certain every thought inside their noggin was per solid gold. But there are indie musicians, right? Of course—I’m friends with one of them, and she’s damned talented! (Rock on, Electrik Emily!) People like Kait are challenging perceptions and paving a new road. Whether you want to go indie or take the traditional publishing route, I’d encourage you to check her blog out.

        5.) Romance Writers of America: The national organization also has local and subgenre chapters that you can join. The dues are reasonable, the people are friendly, and the resources are great. There’s a monthly print magazine, but equally useful are the RWA e-Notes e-mails that include, among other things, links to articles about romance writing and the writing market in general. There are plenty of conferences, retreats, contests, e-mail loops, and online workshops to join or attend. It helps to know that, as Kristen says, we are not alone.

OK, so those are just a few. And I’m just starting out with blogging and social media in general, at least as far as my writing is concerned. I’d like to come up with a detailed plan, but growing a social media platform, like growing as a writer, takes time. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

As Tiffany Trent said in a recent post of advice for writers, “Patience, Grasshopper.” Tiffany, what is this patience of which you speak? And where can I get some? I’ve always joked with my husband that patience is a virtue, just not one of mine. Well, this fire sign (seriously, Sagittarius with Aries rising. What were the stars thinking?) is growing. Yeah, it’s hard work. I’m OK with that. We’re writers, and we’re climbing uphill with boulders strapped to our backs. I think I’ll call it endurance training.

Social media isn’t just about building a platform. It’s about remembering that we’re not the only ones climbing the mountain. It’s about meeting people who can support you and whom you can support through each step. It’s about learning, about conversations, about friendship and personal growth. And you know what? I might just be picking up a dusting of patience along the way. But that’s still to be determined. 😛

3 thoughts on “Are you there, Web? It’s me, Janelle.

  1. I’ve just got started on building my online platform too. I set up my official website in January and my blog too, so for the last few months I’ve been trying to get them established. It’s difficult though. While networking’s a lot of fun, it’s also time-consuming and I really don’t want it to get in the way of my writing. My next stop is Twitter. I’ve convinced myself that I need a Twitter page! : D

    • Ditto! I didn’t quite realize how much time developing an online platform would take up, but I figure it’s all part of the adventure. I’m planning on branching out to Twitter, too. I’ve heard Goodreads is also really helpful, not just as a writer, but as a reader.
      I hope to start ‘tweeting’ soon. Once you’re on Twitter, let me know so I can follow you. 🙂

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