Northern Colorado Writers members Abii Franke, left, and Shelley Widhalm hold up their NCW Writers Conference booklets May 6 during the two-day conference at the Fort Collins Marriott where they picked up writing, editing and marketing tips about the business.
BY Shelley Widhalm
Going to a conference or networking event is the three-dimensional side of social media.
How? Attendees are trying to get likes, fans and friends, and they’re trying to build an audience.
I attended the Northern Colorado Writers Conference in Fort Collins earlier this month to pick up tips on writing, editing and publishing but found myself drawn to a couple of the social media and marketing sessions.
The conference, carrying the tagline “Imagination: The Alchemy of Writing,” offered 32 one-hour sessions over two days taught by agents, editors and authors on the craft and business side of writing. More than 130 writers and authors attended the conference May 5-6.
“The small size makes it a very welcoming conference, and the people that come to this conference want to see everyone succeed,” said Kerrie Flanagan, creative team member for the conference and one of the presenters on self-publishing and magazine writing.
Some of the sessions focused on elements of writing, like plotting, developing a hero character and writing sex scenes. Other sessions gave tips on the various forms of writing, such as screenplays, personal essays and flash fiction, which are really short stories.
Social Media and Marketing
I attended a session on “Social Media & Marketing: Navigating the Event Horizon,” presented by author J.C. Lynne.
Lynne recommended writers develop a platform to increase visibility and accessibility to actual, potential and future readers and to make it authentic.
“Authentic platforms take time and are about quality relationships,” Lynne said. “You’re fooling yourself if you think you won’t have to market your book, no matter if you’re traditionally, independently or self-published. … Even big publishers aren’t willing to spend money on marketing.”
A platform demonstrates a writers’ expertise, while also serving as virtual word-of-mouth to grow an audience. It can include things like a website, regular blogs and social media channels, such as GoodReads, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and LinkedIn.
Putting content on the various outlets lets readers get to know and interact with the writer and keep up to date with the writer’s activities, involvements and publications.
“People don’t go to book signings anymore,” Lynne said.
More Marketing Tips
Other sessions included a guide to creating marketing materials, building an author website and the differences among e-publishing, print-on-demand and other self-publishing options.
I attended writer and editor Jessica Strawser’s session on “How to Be a Writer Editors Love,” where I picked up additional tips on marketing and social media.
“Editors today are looking for the total package: good, talented writers informed about the market,” said Strawser, Writer Digest Magazine editorial director.
Editors look for writers with platforms and who are consistent and prolific in their work, Strawser said.
“Editors like to work with writers who are savvy about the industry,” she said.
Strawser recommended writers build their platforms through websites, social media channels and local networks to build a larger base and collect more followers. A local network can be expanded by sending emails to acquaintances or people met through networking events and by asking them out to coffee.
“It will happen organically,” Strawser said.