Decisions, decisions, decisions . . .

  1. Decide how to best focus your time—and remember why you’re doing this.

So how much of this do we have to do? Outside of having an online home, how many social media outlets do we have to be on?

There’s no “have to.” It’s better to be actively engaged in one place, and create a following and a strong connection with readers and potential readers there, than to be sort-of-doing-the-occasional-thing everywhere. It’s a bit like mixing juice from concentrate—if we dilute it too much, there’s no flavor left. Aiming for one or two social media outlets is a great place to start.

Choose something, and do just that—start. Experiment. See what comes naturally, where and what your fans respond to, and whatyou like doing. (If you’re not having fun on social media, your lack of enthusiasm will come through and negate your efforts; read Authentic Connection above.) See also what time-savers you can find. Most platforms allow you to schedule posts and updates in advance, as well as automatically move information between outlets. For example, my seven weekly blog posts at I’m Here. I’m Queer. What the Hell Do I Read? and SCBWI: The Blog are sent automatically to my Facebook page.

The coolest thing—and also sometimes the biggest pitfall—about online social media is that there are no gatekeepers. We can put stuff out there and reach our readers and potential readers directly. No agents to pitch, no editors to hear back from. The danger is we’re putting stuff out there with no team vetting or filtering, so we need to be thoughtful about what we say and do and learn from our mistakes when we make them. But this is also an amazing freedom, and a chance to start our dream, right now.

Remember this, too: Unlike a print published book, there’s no “done” with an online presence or platform. We don’t have to get it perfect from the start. We can make it better as we go along. So figure out your Who, Where, What, How and Why, and steer for the stars.

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