Lots of people are saying it’s the best time in the history of the world to be a writer.  It may be true.  There’s lots of cool stuff going on, amazing opportunities writers couldn’t have dreamed of years ago.

But there are some new jobs for a writer in this sweet new world.  One thing the modern author has to have is an online presence.  A webpage, some social media profiles, and some ways for readers to reach the writer online–publishers and fans expect it nowadays.

Plug In. (#76/365)

Someday maybe all writers will be as enthusiastic about technology as this guy is.

So while the world may be ripe for writers these days, having a webpage and some social media work is some extra work that writers have to take on if they want to be successful.

On the show, we get into ways writers can use the web to gain fans and get feedback, methods for protecting creative energy so you can keep writing books, and the best patterns for engaging your readers.  Also, Tommy bemoans his website and wonders if the public reading is dead, and Jody and Baker help pull him up out of the despair live on the podcast.


  • We all have websites for our writing careers: Baker Lawley, Jody Gehrman, and Tommy Zurhellen.
  • Publishers expect writers to have a website; when they get your manuscript, they check to see if the writer has a website and social media presence.  It’s part of the calculations of who gets a publishing contract and who doesn’t.
  • The plight of the modern author is about balancing the demands of social media and publicity with the creative energy needed for writing new works.  It’s a balance that has to be unbalanced towards the writing and creativity, with the web as a secondary focus.
  • The authors who handle publicity best are the ones that have a great consistency of personality and create community with their publicity and online presence; the ones who handle it worst are the carnival barkers who don’t do that, and instead are constantly saying “Buy my book!  Buy my book!”
  • It’s hard to do publicity using the internet, but it was even harder before there was an internet.
  • The best approach authors can use is to build a community of fellow thinkers.  You do that with a pattern of “give, give, give, ask.”  Which happens to be the message of a good book about this very subject.
  • Readers are growing to expect this contact and accessibility from authors or artists.
  • Using the web can help writers with their creative process, too–Jody tells of how her online community helped her as beta readers.
  • To keep the social media and online efforts from taking your creative energy away, the best approach is often to just make your online presence synergistic with what you think and are passionate about anyway.  Let readers in on the creative process and build interest in books before they come out by letting readers in on the creation of it.
  • What can writers do who aren’t naturally good at technology or self-promotion?  It’s about using Twitter, Facebook, or your website in moderation, as a break from the real work (rather than having the website be the main work).
  • As a writer, the website and social media are a secondary place of engagement.  Readers will have usually found you somewhere else (a bookstore, a reading, word of mouth about your books), and will come to the website to learn more as a second step.
  • The hard part about being an artist is getting people to pay attention to you.  The web page helps you do that more easily.
  • Tommy and Baker tried promotion the old-fashioned way, driving around and reading and peddling our books.  But, honestly, not a lot of people came.
  • We wonder if the reading is dead.  Then Baker encourages Tommy to tape readings and put the video on his website or his podcast, so it’s up there for good and it’s one of his strengths.
  • Then Tommy wallows into a pit of despair about how much work this promotion can be…but there are lots of different ways of doing it, and the key is finding the best way you can do it while keeping your creative energy.
  • Networking with other writers is a great bonus for the online efforts of publicity.

And, speaking of websites…

Fiction School is still offering to help you set up a website FOR FREE when you purchase your hosting through our affiliate link to FatCow Web Hosting.  

We get a little money from them to help pay for the podcast, and it doesn’t cost you anything extra.  Thanks for supporting the show!  Learn more about the free website setup offer at http://www.fictionschool.com/website.