From burning books to a social network just for writers, hosted an enjoyable workshop session for Kingston Book Festival last week. Here are the highlights…
1. Be social or be ignored
The impact of the #ArticulateMinority movement on the recent election showed that social media is shaping public debate. The cliche of a writer alone behind a typewriter no longer applies.
2. Try new platforms
Not just Facebook and Twitter. Paulo Coelho is active on social media but so are Jamaican writers and publishers like Kei Miller and Annie Paul. Wattpad is a social network built for writers to share their work and now has 40 million monthly users, of which 90% are mobile users – try it!
3. Tailor your writing
Be prepared to present your work in shorter, filleted or completely different formats e.g. Gary Shteyngart does YouTube skits featuring actors including Rashida Jones and James Franco. The example of Upworthy.com shows how content more important than/longer than 140 characters can still get its message across.
4. Build audience & relevance
Global bestseller Paulo Coelho doesn’t get paid to create memes but as a writer he’s not unwilling to get his hands dirty and build a huge online following; while fellow writer Salman Rushdie regularly rolls up his sleeves to debate on Twitter.
5. Get inspired by social
Neil Gaiman wrote 12 stories based upon answers by his readers and then went back to social media to source illustrations for them.
6. Share & teach
Murakami’s Place has turned the Japanese author into a bit of an agony aunt with tens of thousands of questions and dilemmas submitted so far. Though you’ll probably need to be famous to do something similar, but at least that’s something for you to aim for. Bestselling Veronica Roth’s The Art of Not Writing is pretty good too.
7. Selling yourself
Humans of New York’s Brandon Stanton is a modern-day Studs Terkel, stopping regular people on the street and telling their story with photos and text in their own words. He’s helped others along the way; and of course, he got published.