Edie Melson is a freelance writer and editor with years of experience in the publishing industry. She’s a prolific writer, and has a popular writing blog, The Write Conversation. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, as well as a popular faculty member at numerous others. She’s also a regular contributor to Novel Rocket, a Writer’s Digest pick for top writing websites, and the Social Media coach for My Book Therapy.
She currently has two books available, the best selling eBook, Social Media Marketing for Writers, and her latest project, a devotional for those with family members in the military, Fighting Fear: Winning the War at Home When Your Soldier Leaves for Battle. Married 30 years to her high school sweetheart, Kirk, they have raised three sons.
Writing is All About the Relationship and so is Social Networking
When I first got involved with social networking, my reasons were—get my name out and prove to the gatekeepers (editors/agents) I was publishable. I never considered interacting with other writers to be anything other than a side benefit. After all, writing is primarily a solitary pursuit, right? Wrong.
That is a popular, but entirely false, assumption. Writing for publication is an endeavor built on forging relationships. And those relationships can ultimately determine your success or failure in the writing industry. Here’s a list of those relationships.
- Between you and other writers.
- Between you and the reader.
- Between the reader and the subject or characters.
- Between you and the editor.
- Between you and your agent.
I listed the relationship between writers first, because surprisingly, it’s often the most vital in your writing life. The actual act of putting words on paper is a solitary act and because of that it’s easy to lose perspective. Writing in a vacuum can give us a false sense of whether or not we’re effective in our endeavor. We either wind up thinking we’re a genius or sink into the depths of despair because we can’t string two coherent sentences together. Rarely is either perspective accurate.
Let me add a word of caution here. You may be tempted, like I was at first, to insert friends and family into this role. Unless they’re also writers this dynamic just doesn’t work. They’ll unwittingly encourage you when you need a swift kick in the pants and administer the kick in the pants when you need encouragement. We need others in our profession to give us feedback, keep us grounded and provide encouragement. Social Networking is a great way to find these people.
The most valuable relationships I’ve developed through the years have come from those I’ve met through two avenues, at conferences and online through blogs, Facebook and Twitter. My critique partner and I met at a writers conference in another state—and we live only two miles apart. Several of my biggest encouragers came from meeting each other through another friend’s blog. My mentors, my colleagues and yes, even many of my editors have come from those relationships.
That’s an important fact to remember. People move around in this business, the writer whose blog you comment on today, may end up as your editor in ten years time.
So what steps can you take to build these online relationships? Here are my suggestions:
- Answer comments on your blog/Facebook page/Twitter feed.
- Comment on other writers’ sites.
- Offer something of value.
Many new to the social media world wonder how they can offer anything of value online. Here are some ideas to help you get started:
- Promote someone else—this gives you credibility with your audience. Don’t be afraid of the competition. It may seem counterintuitive, but the relationships you build with others who offer similar products or services can advance both of you.
- Celebrate another’s success—we all need to know success is possible. By sharing someone else’s achievement it encourages them, as well as others who may wonder if anyone ever succeeds.
- Don’t waste people’s time just to get your name out there. Make certain that what you talk about online has value. (see the points above)
- Keep it positive. Don’t ever forget that what you say online may outlast you. Take it from someone who knows—don’t say anything negative about a person, product or service—ever.
- Don’t be a Social Media Hog. Translated this means keep yourself to no more than a couple of Facebook or Twitter updates in a row. Otherwise you’ll highjack the social media stream.
These tips will help you begin relationships that will last throughout your writing journey. Don’t wait to get started—introduce yourself—I can hardly wait to meet you!