Recently, a friend and I were speaking about the importance of social networking for anybody looking to gain access to the publishing industry, and I thought I would blog about why it is so important.
Firstly, it gets your name into the real world. If you have a blog, there is officially some way other writers and other people can connect to you without knowing you personally. They can see your opinions; your tastes; your style; all without ever having to read your work or speak to you directly. You create a sense of who you are. In creative writing, this is especially good for your own skills. A reader wants to identify with a character and their personality. Blogging uses exactly the same technique, only for you personally rather than somebody you’ve created.
Secondly, you create connections. You begin to speak with other writers, gain advice from agents, editors, authors and writers you may follow about publishing and the journey towards it. Everything I know about publishing has mostly been taken from people I follow. They’ve blogged, I’ve read it, and found out more about the industry. This is invaluable for anybody trying to break into publishing, as not only do you have a chance to read about it, you can ask the blogger about it. You won’t ever get the same opportunity by reading a guide on publishing. But you have plenty of chance on the blogosphere.
Thirdly, there’s promotion and planning. If you reach the stage where your writing is being published and thrown into the world, people want a way to contact you. A high percentage of fans, agents and editors follow or write some sort of blog. Having this to connect you with them is something you can’t afford not to have. Somebody may only be looking at your blog by chance. It’s the only time you have to show your writing, speak about projects and give a sense of who you are. It’s rare, but there have been cases where agents have contacted people based on their blogs. Consider this, and realise how silly it would be not to maintain some sort of blog with this possibility.
I could go on and on about the reasons why it's important. And there are so many ways you can get connected even after you’ve created a blog.
Twitter has gained an incredible amount of popularity in the last few years. As well as members of the publishing industry, there are writers who you can relate to, and who may be going through the same process. Speaking to other people about similar processes is never a bad thing. You can bounce off each other, and create great friends in the process. Also, through accounts such as @AdviceToWriters, @WritersDigest and @PublishersWkly to name a few, you can be linked straight away to helpful articles and quotes. The list of genuinely helpful tweeters is endless. And Twitter is another way to get your name into the world.
One other way to promote yourself is through comments. While it is invaluable to read blog posts, it’s also worth your time to comment. It’s how people find each other. If you comment on somebody’s blog and a reader likes what you say, they might decide to look at your blog. If they like what they see there, you may have gained another follower, simply by commenting on somebody else’s blog. It happens all the time. I’ve found an incredible amount of bloggers through this process. Comments and discussion is a wonderful thing to take part in, as it allows subtle self-promotion without any required effort other than speaking on a topic.
All these methods are so simple, and yet they are so incredibly valuable to writers. Social networking can be the starting point to your career. In the end, publishing revolves around getting your name into the world. That is what every writer aspiring to publishing wants – an opportunity to see their name in print. Blogging and social networking is simply an extension of this. Don’t disregard or overlook it; it could become a great help in the future.