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Jumpstart your writing career while still in school! Part 2

February 18, 2010 Leave a comment

Last time we covered how to best make use of your university press, radio, venues, and writing groups. This time, we’ll go cutting edge and take a look at how to use the internet to your advantage.

Your Own Website

Every writer really does need a website. If your name comes to an editor, whether you just pitched a story or submitted a piece of writing, they are going to want to know something about you, and having a website really helps to establish you as something formidable, if you will.

There are a lot of free services out there to use, such as wordpress.com and weebly.com, which are user-friendly and can look professional.

If you are willing to spend a bit, register a domain through one of those sites or through Godaddy.com for next to nothing. If you are willing to spend more, then you probably know something about websites already and don’t my advice here.

As far as content goes, you want the essentials: an About page, a page to list events you’re attending, maybe some writing samples, a clear and presentable picture of yourself, and perhaps what I’ll be talking about in the next section. Oh, and do not do any advertising, such as Google Adsense. That will probably annoy people, and could drive away more potential revenue than it earns you.

Just make sure that your personality (the fun parts) come through on the site. The writing must be professional, since you are selling yourself here, which means correct grammar, proper punctuation, and simply solid sentences. You’re a writer after all.

Your Own Blog

A blog can be a great way of keeping people checking your site, which ensures that your name is out there. You can let people know very quickly if you are doing a reading so they can come listen, or any other thoughts and events you might have. Your goal here is to maintain interest. VISIBILITY.

But remember, you have to portray yourself professionally. You do not want to talk about potentially embarrassing things, how much you drank, unnecessary personal details, etc. Project your personality, but limit who you are to the best aspects of your persona. Image image image.

Social Media

Facebook allows you to create a fan page. Follow the same guidelines as your website in terms of what you should and shouldn’t put up there. Invite all your friends, have them invite their friends, and when you are going to do a reading or some sort of event, you can post to your fanpage and send out a mass message that will have everyone within the 6 degrees coming out to support you!

And later on, when you’re trying to convince someone to publish your book, you can show them you already have 6 billion fans.

Make sure to link your Facebook page to your website and twitter back and forth and so on. Maximize the traffic and you maximize your publicity.

Twitter does a lot of the same things a blog does: keeps attention, spreads your name, and promotes visibility. As a bonus, it allows you to interact and network with other people in your field, or with any fans you might have. You might want to put your twitter feed up on your website. Here’s a list of people to network with on twitter.

Editor Unleashed has a great list of people and companies on Twitter to follow.

Podcasting

A new thing that some authors are trying is podcasting. They are either posting podcasts of their thoughts, rambling, whathaveyou, or they are actually reading their writing and putting it up for free.

The Writer Unboxed has a new article up about podcasting your book. I don’t know how well this really works, and it seems like it takes a lot of effort that might be better spent writing (and that the general student doesn’t have). However, many schools might have the recording facilities to just walk in and do one of these.

I took a class a few years ago that was recorded and put on iTunes for the students to download, and a lot of universities are doing this–just check out iTunes U–so if you’re interested in this, see if your university can accommodate you.

And you’re going to want to promote your podcast well to make the effort worthwhile. Here’s a few links that describe how to do just that: 12 Ways to Promote Your Podcast, Podcasting Tutorials, Promoting Your Podcast book, Thinking Seriously.

I would just be careful and consult a copyright expert on the dangers of this. You don’t want your work stolen. And you don’t want to get into a court battle.

However, if you’re a very good reader, this might be a good strategy.

So until next time…

when I’ll talk to you about Zines and eZines, pens at the ready!