On our webinar about connecting with readers last week, Dan Blank and I gave listeners a homework assignment: To go track what just ONE author you admire is doing on social media. We invited people to see where their favorite author posts, how often they post, what they post, and what the overall impact is on you, the reader.

It’s a powerful exercise because it helps reframe the big giant, amorphous concept of having an “audience” or a “platform” into what that actually is: relationships built up one by one over time. As Dan says in Be the Gateway, social media is social. It is people connecting to people. It is people being the gateway for other people into new communities, new ideas, and new experiences. That is why it is so powerful.

In tracking someone’s presence on social media, you learn things like this:

-       Author A has Twittter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr accounts, but they really only update their Pinterest boards with any frequency

-       Author B tweets all day every day. They are always on Twitter! Most of what they do are retweets, though, and likes, and small little comments.

-       Author C is very political, but in a way that aligns perfectly with what she writes.

When people do this exercise, they see proof that writers who have “made it” are humans just like we are. They don’t have more hours in the day; they don’t have someone else writing tweets for them (although they may have software or an assistant helping push their tweets out); they have not been sprinkled with fairy dust. They are just out there doing the work, day after day.

Elizabeth Salaam is one of the writers who did the homework assignment. She wrote:

“What this study showed me is how much I appreciate the opportunity to catch a glimpse of the artist/writer as a person because it reminds me that the magic of art is right here in the middle of the ordinary lives we live.”

I love that line – “the magic of art is right here in the middle of the ordinary lives we live.” That is the whole lesson. That is the whole point.

It’s a powerful reminder that the work of a writer is indeed the work of connecting. The whole reason any of us wants to write a book is so that we will be read. We want to be connected to other people through our words and ideas – and it happens one sentence at a time in the creation of a book;  and one person at a time when that book is ready to go out into the world; and it happens in the middle of our ordinary lives.

What I especially loved about Elizabeth’s response is that when I wrote to ask her if I could use her line – and her name – she hesitated, then took it as an opportunity to walk the walk: so here Elizabeth is, connecting with me, and with Dan, and with all of you. It's a powerful start.

If you would like to join us for today’s follow-up webinar, feel free to jump in. We’ll be talking about what people learned on their social media explorations – and how we can translate those lessons into action. Sign up even if you can’t make the event – we’ll send out a recording.


  • Last week's webinar recording can be found HERE.
  • Grab the homework lesson HERE
  • Sign up HERE for today's webinar.