Every so often I’m tempted to pull myself out of the social media game and sit on the sidelines. I especially feel this way when I’m focused on finishing a WIP or exhausted from my real life. At those times, I usually feel like I don’t have much to say on my social media sites. So why bother? It’s not like the world needs me in order to keep revolving.
But over the years, I’ve pushed through those times when I’m burned out and tempted to quit. And in hindsight, I’m glad I kept going.
The truth is, if we want to win the game, we have to keep playing. Sure we may strike out from time to time, or have a bad inning, or even have a losing streak (rejection from an agent, turned down by a publisher, or negative review from a reader). But we won’t give ourselves the chance to succeed if we plop onto the bench and simply watch from the sidelines.
Don’t get me wrong. We all need vacations from social media on occasion. I usually take a couple breaks during the year. It’s good for us and our families for us to unplug. And sometimes we have to evaluate our schedules and cut back the time we’re spending on social media—especially if it becomes more consuming than our actual writing.
But we can’t give up altogether, even though there will be plenty of times when we’re tempted to—especially for those who are still in the pre-publication struggles. The BEST time to lay a solid foundation for social media is BEFORE publication, not after.
Over time, the benefits of social media begin to accumulate like money in the bank. And later, when a writer needs to cash in, then those benefits are waiting. But in order to accrue a tidy sum, writers have to keep maximizing social media, join in the writing community, develop genuine friendships, engage in conversations, and give, give, give. Did I mention give?
If we stay in the game even when we feel like dropping out, here are the numerous benefits we might reap:
1. Endorsements.Many traditional publishers require debut authors to get endorsements from established authors. When we build friendships with other writers, they’re more likely to agree to endorse us when we need it. Obviously, established authors don’t have the time for every endorsement request. But I’m more likely to read and endorse a book from friends I’ve made versus someone I don’t know.
2. Agent referrals. We never know which of our friends will get agents before us and perhaps be able to help us get a foot in the door as a result. I’ve occasionally been able to put in a good word for a writer friend when they get ready to query my agent. But that’s only because we’ve already established a relationship and I want to help them out.
3. Feedback. Often newer writers wonder how to find critique partners or get feedback on their writing. I’ve found the best way to develop trusted critique partnerships is out of evolving friendships with like-minded writers. But finding those like-minded friends takes time and effort getting to know others.
4. Influencers. During the release of our books, those early friends we make become some of our biggest supporters. They’re the ones who get genuinely excited for us, shout out the news, and help spread the buzz about our books. I’m most likely to go above and beyond spreading buzz for those friends I’ve had through thick and thin. Many of those are friends I made before publication.
5. Readers. Yes, our early writer friends often become our readers. Not only do they influence for us, but they enjoy reading our books and help pass around the book love to their families and friends.
6. Encouragement. Other writers “get” the pain, frustrations, and disappointments of the writing life in ways that non-writers can’t. In the changing writing industry, agents and editors don’t have the time to pamper and hold the hands of each of their clients. Our writing friends can fill the gap and encourage us when we most need it.
7. Resources. I have found the writing community to be a wealth of information. Because of all the connections I’ve made over the years, I’m constantly surrounded by the best and most recent happenings in the publishing industry that I couldn’t possibly have found on my own.
8. Mentors. I’ve been mentored by countless other writers—through blogs and writing books—many I wouldn’t have known about if not for the friends I’ve made online. I’ve found other writers to be some of the most generous people, willing to share all they’re learning with others.
Summary: If you’re ever tempted to pull yourself out of the social media game, think long and hard before you do. Those early relationships are foundational for success in the modern writer’s career.
Have you ever grown exhausted by social media and been tempted to pull out of the game? What are some of the benefits that have kept you on the playing field?