New Facebook Address

That’s right, our page now has enough love and followers that Facebook has deemed us worthy of our own address. You and everyone else in the world can now find us at:

www.facebook.com/KingstonMFA

Don’t forget to “like” us.

Oh! The excitement of it all.

Artwork by Alaa El Fadel

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The Twittering Writer

Sinéad Keegan is an Irish-born writer in the final year of her MFA at Kingston and currently writing her first novel. Her short stories and poetry and have been published in several magazines and she blogs at www.sineadkeegan.com. Twitter: @sineadkeegan. She is the editor of No Dead White Men and recently taught a course in blogging and social media for Kingston Writing School.

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When I tell people that I edit a blog for which other people write and that does fairly well in terms of hits-per-day, I usually get a look that says, “Oh, so you’re not one of those ‘writers’ who says she writes, but really just mucks around in her pajamas all day.”  But the minute I say that I use Facebook and Twitter I can see them picturing me back in my red, snowflake, flannel pajamas clutching a cup of coffee, surfing the internet for cat videos and calling it “writing”.

This is, unfortunately perhaps, untrue on several fronts. First, my snowflake pajamas aren’t flannel and I wear pink or blue tracksuit bottoms when I’m working from home. Second, I don’t drink coffee. And third, I don’t while away time on the internet. That is not to say I don’t waste time. I do. I, like all self-respecting writers, am a connoisseur of procrastination techniques. It’s just that I prefer ones that make me feel productive. I cook. I do chores – the house is never cleaner than when I’m on a deadline. I catch up on emails – has it really been 6 months since I went through my junk folder? And I read. I read a lot. In the name of research, of course.

Catherine has covered procrastination quite eloquently, however, so I won’t dwell on it. So the question that remains is: What am I doing on Twitter and Facebook then?

I’m being a writer. Honest.

Granted, I spend some of my time reading articles about writing and writers, some of dubious research value such as this one from The Onion. But for the most part, the hour a day I spend on social media is spent making and keeping connections, working with writing communities and, of course, some shameless self-promotion. Writers, if you don’t do it, no one else will.

That said, I offer some guidelines for how to shamelessly self-promote without driving your social media ‘friends’ crazy.

1. Treat your Facebook and Twitter profiles like you do your LinkedIn profile. You wouldn’t put photos of you mooning the guards outside Buckingham Palace while chugging back a plastic bottle of vodka on LinkedIn, so don’t do it on Facebook. You might well be on your way to writing The Old Man and the Sea, but don’t make us all watch, Hemingway didn’t.

2. Put up a link and leave it. I know you really want to post everything you do everywhere, but, chances are, if you do that, your friends are going to see the link 30,000 times. If I see a link from the same person more than twice, I make it a point not to look at it. Maybe that’s just spite on my part, but if you have to advertise that hard, it makes me think something else went wrong. Also re-tweeting 20 tweets at a time is irritating, it just gums up my feed with people that I don’t follow – perhaps for a reason.

3. Which brings me to the next point: Slow and steady. Yep, back to the tortoise and the hare. You have to give yourself and your reputation time to grow. The next big thing, the person with the meteoric rise to stardom and success? Most likely, it took them ages and if it didn’t, they probably won’t be around for too long.

4. Slow and steady requires consistency. Above all be consistent and reliable. Everyone, from agents, to publishers, to readers want consistency. If you blog, really blog. Don’t blog once every 2 or 6 or 14 months. Pick a time frame and stick to it. (Says she, shamefully, not having updated her own blog in over a month) If you tweet, tweet daily or weekly, but NOT hourly. You don’t have that many interesting things to say. Trust me. You don’t.

5. Build the brand. First, you have to know your brand. What are you and what do you want to be? What do you write? Who is your audience and how do you find them? Follow people like you on Twitter, find groups like you on Facebook, get in contact with bloggers like you. You can choose to look at other writers as competition or as a network. Accountants don’t refuse to speak to other accountants so why do we do that in the arts? If your writing is good enough, you can get published and if you don’t it’s not because someone else “stole your spot.” If it isn’t good enough, you (probably) won’t get published (insert your angrily shouted exceptions here). Why do those accountants network? Because it’s all about who you know. And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise: it’s the same in writing. Contacts can mean everything. Work them.

So for an hour each day, I give myself permission not to write and I sit down and think long-term. What do I want? How do I get it? How to I take a step toward that today? Then I tweet, blog or post on Facebook or just support the other people in my community, because I want them to succeed too. Success breeds success and that can only be good for our struggling arts.

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