Unless you’ve been offline entirely for the past few weeks (lucky you!), there’s been no avoiding the turmoil engulfing Twitter at present. (There’s an overview here if you’ve been out bush.)
No matter where you stand on the situation, whether you’ve closed your account and migrated elsewhere or are sitting tight to see what happens, the situation holds one clear lesson for writers of all types and stages.
To wit, don’t build your entire platform on someone else’s real estate.
Twitter has long been a favourite hangout of writers, editors, publishers, booksellers, and readers – including me. It’s my favourite platform for ‘watercooler’ banter in a long, lonely writing day (aka, procrastination). When you don’t get out much, it’s lovely to be able to be able to open up Twitter and find people to chat to in real time.
I started my author career on Twitter. First, using it to promote my daily blog, then to connect with other people in my industry, and, later on, to promote my books and chat to readers and reviewers.
But, and here’s a big but, I didn’t stick with Twitter to the exclusion of all other platforms. I maintain a website, I have a Facebook page, I send out a newsletter and, yes, I’ve been known to put a Reel or two on Instagram.
Where’s your focus?
My mantra with social media has always been ‘don’t do everything at once, but do more than one thing’. I’ve added social platforms over time and I’m definitely more active on some than others, but my main focus remains keeping my website up to date and sending a regular newsletter.
I wrote a blog post in 2015 about how social media platforms were the equivalent of visiting a café to talk to people and hang out, but blogging was inviting those same people home. (You can read that original post here.) While it’s true that blogging has changed a lot over the past years, the central tenet of that post remains the same.
Content created for social media platforms – any social media platform – is content created on someone else’s patch. You can’t control it, and if someone decides to knock that platform over to build a 20-storey carpark, your content goes with it.
Your website, on the other hand, is your home on the internet. The only real estate you own.
So, yes, go out to play in other people’s houses. Try some new ones until you discover the places you feel most comfortable. Meet people, have fun.
But be aware that other people’s houses might, just might, disappear overnight.
So don’t forget to maintain your home.
Keep your bio up to date. List any events or news you might have. Update the buy links for your books. Put some effort into SEO. Invite visitors to sign up for regular mail.
Allison Tait is the author of three epic middle-grade adventure series for kids: The Mapmaker Chronicles, The Ateban Cipher and the Maven & Reeve Mysteries. A presenter at AWC and former co-host of the So You Want To Be A Writer podcast, Al’s next middle-grade novel will be out in July 2023. Find out more about her at allisontait.com.