Social networking is a huge time-suck, or at least it can be until you learn how to manage it. Perhaps I’m not the best person to write about this, as the allure of Twitter and Facebook is far too tempting. Many of you who follow me under @christinerose or @omgrey know just how prolific my tweets can be! But, not all of those tweets are me at my keyboard typing them in.
As writers, we must write. Imagine that. As much as I’d like to count my 140 character updates toward my daily word count, it doesn’t get you any closer to finishing that short story or novel. Bottom line, you must manage your time and practice some form of self-discipline.
You have all likely heard the advice that you should write every day. And you should, but that’s not always on your current WIP. As authors in today’s industry, we must spend at least some of our time marketing. The most effective way for any author to market themselves without a huge marketing budget is to utilize social networks. This is done by using at least three tools: Blogging, Facebook, and Twitter. Depending on your time and energy, you can add other networks like GoodReads, LibraryThing, Ning, and countless others.
So, let’s start with those three. You will want Twitter, Facebook, and your blog to work together, all towards the purpose of branding your author name and connecting with your readers. I use WordPress, obviously, and I prefer it to Blogger due to the user interface and because readers don’t have to jump through as many hoops to comment. I can’t count the number of times I gave up on trying to comment on Blogger because it was just too complicated. I, like you, must have time to write as well.
First and most important is your blog. This updated frequently (i.e., 1-3x a week) will truly increase your readership if you blog about the right things and utilize tags to your greatest benefit.
Twitter and Facebook both act as feeds to your blog. This is where you mingle with others, as if in a huge party, and they are introduced to you and intrigued by you enough to look further. Then they go to your blog and get a taste of your writing style and a sense of who you are. The connection begins. They’ll keep coming back if you have relevant, frequent content. Next Wednesday, I’ll talk about what to write about on your blog.
The way to manage your time to write these 1-3 blogs a week is to set aside one morning to do just that. Perhaps Saturday or Sunday morning. Take three – four hours and write as many blog posts as you can. Then you schedule them over the next week or two. In WordPress, you can “publicize” them to Twitter and Facebook automatically by just connecting the accounts via the “sharing” link on your WordPress dashboard. Then that’s done. Don’t have to do that for the rest of the week. You can focus on your WIP.
Next are the very tempting tools of Twitter and Facebook, and this is where some self-discipline comes into play. It’s so easy to get lost in playing and “networking” (which we like to tell ourselves) on these two, and you really should do it everyday. You just need to limit your time on there. When I’m working on a project, I plan my writing in hour-long chunks, at least. Use the #Hashtag #1K1HR and #amwriting, announcing to your followers that you’re going into writing mode. Then close (not just minimize) Twitter and Facebook and write until you reach BOTH an hour and 1K words. When you reach both, get up and stretch, get another cup of coffee, and check-in on Twitter/Facebook. This should be limited to about 10 minutes. Send a few @replies and RT some interesting things. Give your followers an update of your word count. Repeat.
You will want to spend some time setting up some automation, and although it could take longer than you’d like, depending on your tech-savvy level, it will ultimately save you hours upon hours of work. (I do offer consulting services, so I could do this for you if you’d like)
That said, only 1/4 of your Twitter activity will be automated, otherwise you will look like a BOT and not a person. The goal in any social networking plan for marketing is to connect with readers, not SPAM or sell to them. If done right, the automated feed will provide interesting content to your followers a few times a day, not three times an hour. I have a full section in my book on how to set up automated tweets via TwitterFeed, Google Alerts, and with programs such as TweetAdder. It’s worth the $15 (paperback) or $2.99 eBook price just for this alone. And, you can still download it for free if it’s not worth that much to you. But, you know, I do have bills. 😀
The other 3/4 of Twitter will be a mixture of RTs, @replies, and personal tweets. If you use TweetDeck, which I highly recommend, you can schedule these to go live periodically throughout the day. That way when you take your writing break every hour or two, you can schedule a load of tweets to populate your feed over a period of time and they don’t end up dumped in your followers’ feed all at once.
Here is a sample schedule taken from my book Publishing & Marketing Realities for the Emerging Author.
Sample Daily Schedule (without day job)
This schedule is for Monday – Saturday
• 7am – check email, read blogs & comment
• 8am – schedule daily tweets in TweetDeck (or chosen program), incorporate links to your most recent blog post; RT and @Reply interesting Tweets
• 8:30am – Update Facebook status and comment on others’
• 9am – Tweet that you’re going in for a #1k1Hr #amwriting stint. Then Write for at least an hour.
• 10am – Tweet #1k1hr #amwriting update, quickly respond to any @replies, RT interesting Tweets. Check on hashtags you follow.
• 10:15am – Another #1k1hr. Repeat until noon.
• Break for lunch, briefly. I always eat while I work. During lunch, check Facebook, Twitter, email, etc.
• 12:30pm – Tweet #1k1hr, and write until 2pm.
• 2pm – Finally change out of your PJs. Shower (optional).
• 2:15pm – 5pm. Read. Preferable in the genre in which you are writing, but read every day. It will make you a better writer.
• 5pm – Evening. Change back into PJs. Dinner. Watch Buffy and/or Doctor Who with your family. 🙂
• Sunday Mornings from 8am until noon, write three blog posts & schedule them for the next week. Take 1/2 day off, or work/write/network more.
The book also has a sample schedule with a day job. You really should buy it. Have I mentioned?
This post was requested by @MelissaRoske. Follow her, too.
How do you manage your time between writing and networking?