Welcome Carrie Smith  to Romance University! Today Carrie is going to talk to us about what every author new and old wants to know – social media – what’s the best way to use it?
If you’re looking to increase your visibility as an author, to personally connect with readers, cultivate an audience , and increase your discoverability, look no further than social media. Your posts and updates can play a big role in your efforts to sell more books or land well-paying writing clients.
But where do you start? Is social media really worth the time and effort — or would your time be better spent honing your craft? Here’s how to use social media and online platforms to take your work to the next level.
1. Choose the right platform(s) to showcase your work
It doesn’t matter how effective your writing is or how powerful your words are if you can’t connect with your ideal audience. The first step to leveraging social media as a writer is to choose the right platform.
Are you writing to a young adult audience? Look for them on Tumblr or Instagram. If you’re writing to a more sophisticated and professional reader, they’ll likely be on LinkedIn and Twitter.
Do some research to see where your audience hangs out online. Using their preferred platform gives you the best connection possible with your readers so you can create your own unique following.
This strategy also enables you to focus more on your craft and less on overstretching yourself on too many social media channels. Don’t jump on Facebook or Twitter just because you think you should. Focus on the channels that mesh with your brand, and leave the rest alone. Instead, worry about getting your best work out there.
2. Display your writing portfolio on Pinterest
To really stand out amongst the crowd of authors, display your portfolio in a visually appealing way using Pinterest. Create a portfolio  that not only showcases your writing, but your imagery, storytelling and visual artistry. Potential clients and literary agents can view your work and see how you might put together a guide or graphic novel.
You can even use Pinterest as a place to gather ideas to plan your next novel . This will involve your readers in the story’s process and create even more hype for your upcoming book.
3. Build relationships
Social media is a two-way street. When used properly, it can help you connect with influential authors, literary agents and publishers. But the most important thing to remember is that social media is a conversation.
Show interest in other people’s work. Comment on their blog posts, share their stories on Twitter and leave encouraging words on Facebook. Nowadays, if you want to be a successful writer or author, you’ve got to leverage your personal audience and the platforms you’ve built online. Building this up the right way takes time and trust — just like a real-life relationship.
4. Create a private launch community
Google+ is not the most popular social media platform, but its Communities are gaining major traction for all kinds of authors and publishers. For example, Chris Ducker is launching his new book and created a Google+ Community  as an exclusive benefit to anyone who preorders his book. Members receive valuable resources and access to Chris — perks that aren’t available anywhere else.
Another idea is to create a private Facebook group to build intrigue and momentum for your upcoming book. It’s also a great way to find a launch team willing to read and offer suggestions before your book goes into the final publishing stages. Lean on your community for valuable feedback and ask them to help spread the word about your new book.
5. Share behind-the-scenes access
We all love it when someone pulls back the curtain and shares an inside look at how they run their business or develop products. Likewise, it’s important for you to open up to your audience and share a behind-the-scenes look at your writing process, and social media is the perfect platform.
Even when you’re not writing or publishing a book, share your daily struggles or weekly successes with your audience. Take them along for the ride! They want to be part of your story-making process, even if it’s just your own personal journey. Readers want to buy your novels, but they also want to know YOUR story.
What do you like or dislike about fellow authors’ social media platforms? What are some things you can implement into your own brand to increase engagement and connect with your audience? The answers to these questions will set you apart from the average author.
The biggest takeaway when using social media is to be yourself — the less edited, fun version of you.
How do you use social media to boost your platform as a writer?
Join us on Monday for Mary Buckham presents: What is ACTIVE SETTING and Why it Should Matter to YOU!
Bio: Carrie Smith is a freelance writer for The Write Life , a site for writers to create, connect and earn. In May 2013 she quit her full-time accounting job to pursue entrepreneurship and blogging. You can connect with the community on Twitter (@thewritelife), or at her personal blog carefulcents.com.
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