Please welcome Maria Ribas as our guest today. Maria is a literary agent at Stonesong and a blogger at Cooks & Books. She helps turn great ideas into beautiful books, and she specializes in cookbooks, design, personal development, business, creativity, and spirituality. She likes those topics so much she also writes about them on her blog, Cooks & Books, where she hopes to show writers that running a creative business doesn’t have to be at odds with a quiet and intentional life.
I hope to help fiction writers see that sharing their work online is one of the most powerful ways they can grow creatively and that they already have many of the innate skills needed to stand out in a noisy online world. I believe storytelling is the secret sauce of the interwebs.
Turning Social Media into the Grandest Writing Exercise Of All
I specialize in platform-driven nonfiction, which is a very different beast than fiction. Or at least it used to be. In the past few years, there has been a shift toward platform-building in the fiction world, and I know this trend has left many a novelist frustrated and discouraged.
So what I want to tell you is this: as a novelist, you have a secret advantage in the online world.
I recently signed a new author—a food blogger—who has over 500,000 Facebook fans. People love her recipes, and they frequently come back to her site and newsletter for more of them.
But on Facebook, less than 5% of her fans are liking or clicking on her posts. That’s because recent algorithm changes to Facebook and Instagram have throttled the reach of posts, meaning that only a tiny percentage of the people who once clicked “like” on your page will ever see a certain post.
In today’s online world, you need to understand the algorithm if you want to get results from social media without the usual frustration and wasted effort. Luckily, at Facebook’s recent F8 conference, they explained exactly what makes their algorithm tick and how to make it work for you.
And it all comes down to one thing: storytelling.
Social media is nothing more than storytelling. Very-short storytelling. Let’s call it micro-storytelling, if you’ll humor me! It’s sharing snippets of stories with readers, but this time, you have a few more tools in your bag of tricks. You have images and videos, and they can open up your range of creativity and allow you to create vivid worlds and emotions for your reader.
Nobody does this better than novelists.
That’s why I sometimes have to coach my nonfiction authors to embrace storytelling on their social media and blogs, because many of them have become so efficient at posting new recipes or sharing helpful links that they forget that emotion is important, too. They become just a content-sharer, rather than storyteller, because they’ve convinced themselves that no one is interested in the stories of their day-to-day lives—their readers are just there for the listicles and action items. [Read more…]