Wednesday 9 March 2022

Writers’ Questions: Do I need to be on social media to get published?

Welcome/Welcome back! Since the sale of my debut novel, Bronte’s Mistress, in 2019, I’ve been writing blog posts answering fellow authors’ burning questions about the writing and publication process. 

I’ve touched on the topic of social media before, in my post on the best writing hashtags to follow on Twitter and Instagram, but today I’m back answering one of the questions I’m asked most frequently: is a social media presence necessary in order to get traditionally published? 

The short answer = no. 

If you write fiction, your social media presence will have little to no impact on whether you’re offered a publishing contract, with a couple of important exceptions. If you’re a celebrity or an influencer who’s amassed a huge (I’m talking six figure or higher) following, this bodes well for the marketability of your book and will open doors for you in the industry. And, if you’re writing under your real name and have a penchant for posting highly controversial statements on social media, your online activities may hurt your chances should an editor or agent Google your name. But trust me, these rare scenarios aside, there’s no need to sweat over whether you have 200 or 2000 followers.

Case in point: my acquiring editor only reviewed the biography passage of the Bronte’s Mistress submission package after she’d read and become interested in the manuscript. It didn’t matter that my day job is in social media, that I’d been writing this blog for six years, or that I’d been building my presence on all major platforms. So, if you’re one of those people who doesn’t enjoy digital self-promotion, please know that you’re probably not damaging your hopes of achieving your writerly dreams.

What then is the value of engaging in the writing community online prior to selling your first book? In my view, the biggest benefit social media offers early career writers is the opportunity to learn from published writers/publishing professionals and to connect with each other. This is a low-pressure way to dip your toe into the writing community online. If you don’t know how to get started, you can always check out the writing hashtags I suggested previously. The other benefit, of course, is that when your book does sell, you won’t be building up your online presence from zero, but we’ll save marketing via social for another blog post…

Let me know which questions you’d like to see me answer next in my Writers’ Questions series. You can comment below, contact me on Instagram or Facebook, or tweet me @SVictorianist. Haven’t read Bronte’s Mistress yet? My debut novel is available in hardcover, paperback, e-book and audiobook now!

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