In the American gold rush of the 1890s people were carried away on a tide of getting rich quickly. Few succeeded and those who made the most, were well informed about the geology of gold. I have seen the same thing with the Internet with all kinds of professional people, and writers have not been immune. But social networks, which form one of the strands of any marketing exercise for writers, are not a magic wand creating income for you. You have to mine them with expertise and knowledge.
Social networks work like any community, people in them with similar interests get together and chat. They function best when members have clear goals. Take Jacket Flap which exists primarily for all professionals dealing in children’s books. You will find writers, editors, illustrators and publishers all willing to receive messages and talk though ideas with you if children’s books is your chosen field.
LinkedIn deals with professionals across the range of business, but the broad spectrum of skills available does not dilute its benefit to the writer. For just as you should have clear goals – say to employ a good editor or be employed to be a copywriter on projects – you should also be open to being taught by people who can inform you how to get the most from internet marketing, what new approaches may or may not work, how to create e-books, design covers and if none of that interests you, who to employ to do it for you. With the right frame-of-mind social networks act like creative shop windows, and just as you can highlight your own skills and abilities you can easily see those of others. In the new world where the writer can be in complete control of their work this level of access to professionals is a vital resource.
LinkedIn was the first place I found where writers would actually talk through their experiences, and give an idea of how well they were selling. Their experiences go well beyond the Predators and Editors web site which informs writers of the agents and publishers to be avoided. Sales figures are explored on some of the writing groups. Detailed lists are shared that offer marketing tips for writers, opportunities for radio interviews and guest blogging, and advice on what to expect in terms of costs to get your book into the market place.
Writers talk about every issue facing the modern publishing business. I have had discussions with people wanting to know how to write a novel right through to best selling writers telling others they are plain wrong in their assumptions. This is an honesty writers will appreciate. Members do give their time to teach. This giving-back to the community is a vital part of what makes LinkedIn work or any other social network work.
One of the writers I met there has sold 100,000 books in the USA. No it is not the kind of book I would ever write but the techniques he employed to be successful are transferable. Imagine if you could walk into a publishing house and talk to anyone there for half an hour. That’s the kind of resource LinkedIn offers.