Guiding Authors through Social Media at Midwest Writers Workshop

2014-07-24 15.08.12

This was day one, and a very excited me.

Midwest Writers Workshop took place July 24-26, 2014. I had the privilege of being a Social Media Intern. This means I helped authors understand how to effectively utilize their online presence to actively participate in conversations about writing, publishing, and of course, how to build their platform without being pushy and awful about their work (AKA the “BUY MY BOOK” disease).

I have never been to any other conference but this one, but many Tweets from the conference agree. No other conference is as friendly and intimate as Midwest Writers.

My days were extremely full. There were so many authors looking for help building their platform, specifically through social media. A majority of them came to me asking, “What is Twitter?” Between countless sips of coffee, I would try to show them the ropes in the world of retweeting, hashtaging, favoriting, and following. One cunning client told me a hashtag (#) used to be called an octothorpe, and it has become my new favorite word.Octothrope

But it wasn’t all Twitter. I taught authors how to create lists on Facebook. How to operate WordPress and Blogspot. How to use their time effectively on Twitter with Tweetdeck. How to create websites or a blog and what to write about when they have a blog. I showed authors social media they had never heard of, like AboutMe. I advised authors how to manage themselves on social media, and what to talk about.

I met mystery writers, and legal thriller writers, christian writers, and memoir writers. Every one of them had a story to tell, and each one of them wanted to tell other people about these stories. I gave them as many tips as I could, but there truly is only one answer to this question. You must care.

You must care about the writing world, and this means caring about other writers just like yourself who are trying to make it. Be influential. People will realize you are more than just another writer, you are a supporter of other writers. This is worth more than any story could ever be. Be connected with the writing universe, and they cannot help but connect with you back because you CONTRIBUTE SOMETHING.

Social media is used incorrectly too often, as I told many of my clients. So now I will tell you.

Many people see social media as a way for people to pay attention to them, and I used to be one of them. “Look at me, I look so pretty today.” “Look at me, I’m hurting other classmates/friends with my words on social media to disguise my own pain.” “Look at me, I have so many followers/friends on this screen.” “Look at me, LOOK AT ME.” “Look at me!”

Social media should be a place to showcase the positive about yourself AND OTHERS. Mostly others.”Look at me” should instead be, “Look at you”, or “Look at this.”

If you need to be convinced further, check out the term Literary Citizenship. Literary Citizenship speaks specifically about using social media, and your entire life, in order to promote writing and authors you love, but really it can apply to anything you want. Supporting things that interest you and people that make the world better will make others interested in you. There is no better way to get others interested in you than being kind, relevant, and helpful.

But really, Midwest Writers is the best conference on the planet. Next time you are itching for some writing inspiration/advice/feedback, check out this conference. It will be worth your while.

MWW

All the interns! From left to right: Linda Taylor (our beautiful supervisor/superhero), Morgan Aprill, Heather DiGiacomo, Me, Sarah Hollowell, Jackson Eflin, Brittany Means, Haley Muench, and Becca Wolfey

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