The Writing Sparrow Episode 25 | Your Team of Pros: Your Editor with Briana Morgan

This week, I welcome Briana Morgan back to my podcast. Last time, we talked about social media for writers, but today, we talk about how to find an editor for your book, why you should, and what to know before you hire someone to edit your novel.

To find out more about Briana, check out what services she offers on her  website find her or Twitter , or follow her on Instagram.

Listen to the Episode

Read the Transcript

[intro]

Sarina: Hello, and welcome to The Writing Sparrow podcast. I’m Sarina Langer, and this podcast is all about writing, publishing, and marketing your book. You can find transcripts on my website at sarinalanger.com. Let’s get started. 

[music]

Sarina: Welcome back, friends and sparrows. Today is the 1st of March 2021. This is Episode 25, and today, Brianna Morgan is back. Last time she was here, we talked about social media for authors. Today, we’re talking about the only reason that I know her, which is that she is my editor and has been from my debut novel. We’ve worked together for, what, roughly five years now? 

Briana: Almost five years. 

Sarina: Yeah. Welcome back.

Briana: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Sarina: Always a pleasure. Most important [00:01:00] thing maybe first, because you’ve just told me that you don’t actually edit anymore. [chuckles] 

Briana: Yes, I’m not editing.

Sarina: This is great. How long have you been an editor?

Briana: Technically, I’ve been editing since college, because I had to take a bunch of workshop classes where we did peer reviews and things like that, but I’ve been getting paid to edit, well, also since college, I guess. That’s been about– 

Sarina: [crosstalk] -that’s now how many years that is? 

Briana: I know, I’m afraid to say [laughs] how many years.

Sarina: [laughs] You’re good. 

Briana: That’s 11 years. 

Sarina: You’ll always be younger than me. [unintelligible [00:01:41]

Briana: Nobody knows how old we are. It’s just floating out there now.

Sarina: Yeah. Shall we just pretend that we’re the twins that we’ve always known we are and just leave it at that?

Briana: Yeah.

Sarina: All right. Roughly 11 years, which is impressive, because we’re only 10, so we’ve done very well. [chuckles] [00:02:00] When you were still editing, what did you enjoy about being an editor? 

Briana: I like almost every part of being an editor in terms of actually doing the work, getting into the manuscript, and helping an author polish it and make it into the best story it can be. The only thing I probably didn’t like was the inconsistency. I always wanted more books to read more often.

Sarina: Yeah. It can be difficult because it’s such a thing where I always feel authors should book us in advance a lot more. But in reality, it’s more like, “I’ve just finished my book and I need an editor now.” “What do you mean you’re booked already? That can’t be right. I need you now.” 

Briana: Yes.

Sarina: Yeah, I feel that pain. When you said that you enjoyed helping authors make their books the best that they can be, what did that entail exactly? How would you take a [00:03:00] story and make it better?

Briana: First, I would read through the whole thing without making any notes or anything just to get a general overview and a reader experience, so to speak. Then I would go, and typically, I would do a developmental edit, where I look at the structure, the paragraphs, the pacing, things like that, general full picture stuff. After that, I would do a line edit, where I’m looking more at the sentences and sentence structure. Then, I do a copy edit, where I’m just cleaning things up and checking that the periods are where they should be and all of that. Then last but not least, I would do a final proofread.

Sarina: It’s a lot of work involved. [crosstalk] 

Briana: Yes. There are a lot of different stages.

Sarina: Yes. A lot of time as well, it’s such a big time commitment. I’m sure you have quite a few stories to tell. I know I have quite a few. [00:04:00] I can tell from your face that this is going to be great. Without naming anyone or any titles, of course, what’s the hardest job you’ve ever worked on? What made it difficult? Why was it only doing a proofread on my first book when you knew you did more work?

[chuckles] 

Briana: I couldn’t– I don’t want to upsell to someone who doesn’t want it. I’m not going to try to sell people on more services if they don’t want it. I just assume maybe they’ll come back later like you did and ask for more. [laughs] The hardest book, oh God, this is actually the reason why I now say, “I won’t.” I’ll edit romance, but not just erotica. 

Sarina: Oh great. Go on. 

Briana: Yes. I had this erotica client. He wanted to sell books to get rich, which I thought was very strange on the face of it because writers are not rich.

Sarina: We’re really not. [00:05:00] But I think it’s sort of the dream I think that many of us have, to begin with. Before we learn better, I think that’s one of the things that many of us have in our hearts. But normally, when you then start the writing, and you start really looking at publishing it, I think you’ve realized quite quickly that you may never get rich. 

Briana: True. 

Sarina: I’m very sorry if I’m crushing anyone’s dreams here, but there’s a chance you’ll never be rich. [chuckles] 

Briana: He made a lot of money in his day job and he was just looking for another get-rich-quick scheme, on top of what he already had. I’m trying to be very careful not to name or get close to naming anyone, so it might take a minute. He was writing a book about this woman in Las Vegas, who, I think, she was cheating on her husband or something like that, and there was this private detective following her around. [00:06:00] Then, she ended up sleeping with the private detective and–

Sarina: As you do.

Briana: It was a lot to handle. A lot of suspension of disbelief going on there. He wanted to fight me over everything. The book was too short at first, it was only 10,000 words, which I told him is not really a book. 

Sarina: 10,000. That’s not even a novella. 

Briana: 10,000 is usually when I decide that I am writing a book.

Sarina: Yeah, like you said, write the first 10,000 and see how it goes.

Briana: Yes. I was surprised that that was all, but he would just push back on everything. Really, the biggest problem I had with him was he would not respect my work-life balance, my boundary. 

Sarina: That’s really hard.

Briana: Mm-hmm. 

Sarina: Yeah, I think the hardest thing that I’ve ever had was a client who didn’t [00:07:00] necessarily care that I got sick, and that I had bad days and that I deserved a Christmas break. It’s a sort of similar thing on the respecting your time issue. 

Briana: Yeah.

Sarina: This client would constantly say, “Oh, what do you mean you’re still not done? Is this going to take even longer because this is already longer than I thought it would be?” I remember specifically when I told this author that I had burned out pretty severely, and I also had obviously caught a cold at the same time, because why would it just be the one thing. They said to me, “Ah, so will you do this little work every week then?” I thought, “Oh, well–“

Briana: That’s awful.

Sarina: -we won’t be working together again.” 

Briana: Yeah, you don’t want to work with those people. In the beginning, it’s hard, especially you don’t know how appropriate it is to push back. You’re worried about getting paid, you don’t know [00:08:00] if that’s going to be your last job for a while or not.

Sarina: Yeah.

Briana: That’s hard. 

Sarina: I think, especially if you’re trying to do it to make money and to maybe fund your writing, it’s really hard because you possibly end up taking jobs that you– I mean, you kind of do have the time for because it’s your job, and you want to make it work, but having that extra pressure on there doesn’t help and editing is such a time-consuming, really quite stressful thing because I don’t know about you, but when I edit, I really overthink every bloody word. 

Briana: Yeah. I do too. 

Sarina: Yeah. I think I tend to edit one sentence, and then just to make sure that I’ve done a good job. I read over it again, and then I can end up obsessing over it very quickly. On the other hand, that if I edit it for you, you’re going to [unintelligible [00:08:52]

Briana: You spend a lot of time on it. 

Sarina: We do, don’t we? 

Briana: Yes.

Sarina: Yeah. I think the lesson there is [00:09:00] that if you are thinking about hiring your first editor, please bear in mind that we have a life outside of your book. I think I saw a thing once on Twitter many years ago where an editor had gone to the beach at the weekend in the summer and their author contacted them saying, “How dare you take a break? You’re still working on my book.” Everyone was like, “But it’s the weekend, it’s the summer. She’s at the beach. Why wouldn’t she go?”

Briana: Yeah. She doesn’t need to be there all the time slaving over your probably bad literary fiction piece.

Sarina: We do other things. 

Briana: Sometimes.

Sarina: Sometimes. Well, yeah, actually are we though because, again, I don’t know about you, but I end up editing everything, including myself. Right now, as we’re talking, I keep thinking, “Really? You’re using that word again? Seriously?”

Briana: You have to turn it off. It’s hard.

Sarina: Yeah, it gets really hard when you start doing your own [00:10:00] transcripts. This right there, big red dot, what am I doing? Can’t I spell? What’s wrong with me? You really realize when you’re doing your transcripts just how often you repeat yourself. 

Briana: Yeah.

Sarina: That’s a nightmare. I do have another question from ourselves, but we also have three questions from social media today. Actually, let’s do those ones first. I’m going to move that one down. I think it’ll fit better at the end. Our first question is from @djbwriter on Instagram. “Do either one of us have literary agents? The struggle is real?” That it is DJB, that it is. That’s not technically related to editing, but–

Briana: Kind of. [crosstalk] 

Sarina: I think it’s quite common for writers to wonder how much editing they should do before they query. Let’s run with that. I don’t have an agent, neither do you.

Briana: Right. I would just say [00:11:00] if you are considering, you don’t– for publishing, there is more than one path of publishing, you can go self-pub or you can go traditional pub, I’m sure that has been covered before on this podcast. So, I’m not going to go too much into that, but you don’t need an agent.

Sarina: You know what? I haven’t.

Briana: You haven’t? 

Sarina: I have not. 

Briana: Oh.

Sarina: I’m going to make a note. You keep talking, I’m going to make a note, because I’m not sure– [crosstalk] 

Briana: Okay. Basically, all I was going to say is that you don’t need an agent to publish. If you’re self-publishing, you don’t need to. Even if you’re publishing with a small independent press, you don’t need to. There are ways to get around that. But if you are interested in preparing work for a literary agent to review, and maybe represent you with, you can book an editor, you can get a full edit, there’s absolutely nothing stopping you from doing that. But it is not necessary if you are traditionally publishing [00:12:00] because when you get traditionally published, your agent will work with you to edit it first, and then when your book is picked up by a publishing house, their editor will go through it. It will be torn apart by other people. Like I said, if you still want a professional edit ahead of querying, that’s fine. Go ahead and do it, but don’t ever let anyone tell you, you have to get one, because it’s not true.

Sarina: There used to be quite a lot of stigma around self-publishing. Maybe that’s part of DJB’s concern that– It really is a struggle to get an agent for many reasons.

Briana: It is.

Sarina: It used to be that a lot of readers still looked down on self-published authors, but I think that stigma is slowly dying. 

Briana: Oh, yeah.

Sarina: Slowly. It’s getting there. Don’t feel that you have to traditionally publish at all. [00:13:00] That wasn’t your question, but to answer it, neither one of us has an agent and I think we’re quite happy with that. 

Briana: No. 

Sarina: I can’t speak for Bri, but I’m a control freak. 

Briana: It doesn’t make sense for where I see my career going and where I want my career to go for me to have an agent. If in the future, I was presented with an opportunity where it made sense, I wouldn’t turn it down necessarily. Basically, if it made sense with my plan, I would go with it. But right now, it doesn’t make sense with the plan.

Sarina: Yeah. I always say that I am technically open to the idea of having an agent at some point, but I feel like it would need to be a very lenient agent-

Briana: Yeah.

Sarina: -and a very cooperative publishing house because I would want to stay in control of a lot of the process, which I don’t think really comes with that package. 

Briana: No. That’s one of the best reasons to be indie is you [00:14:00] get a say in everything. I would imagine going from that to trad pub where you don’t get a say in very much would be pretty challenging.

Sarina: Yeah, I think it would be quite difficult. I hope that answers your question, DJB. The next question comes from gambit190 on Twitter. “When you’re writing, regardless if it’s the rough draft or later revisions, do you recommend just writing or editing as you go?” 

Briana: This is a tricky question just because I would say that it varies depending on you as a person. I personally advise my writing consultation clients and my friends who ask about this, I advise them not to edit as they go just because a lot of early writers can get caught up in perfectionism and the idea of trying to make a page so perfect that they can’t move on and finish their book. But if you have been editing as you go the whole time, [00:15:00] and you’re still finishing books and putting them out there, then by all means keep doing that. Again, it really just is a matter of what works best for you, but typically, I would say try not to edit as you go because you can get stuck on the same book for years and years and years.

Sarina: Yeah. I have certainly the [unintelligible [00:15:18], I think my advice is pretty much the same as yours. I am someone who prefers to just get the whole first draft out, get it done, and then I tend to let it rest for at least a month before I come back to it. I put it into my little proofing drawer, and then there it stays until I eventually can bear to look at it again. I find that works best for me because then when I come back to it, you’ll never look at your book with fresh eyes anyway, because you’ve written it and you know everything that happens in there and everything that could have happened. But I find that when you give it a break before you start editing, it really helps you look at it with as [00:16:00] fresh eyes as you can get. 

Briana: Yes.

Sarina: Which was terrible grammar, my inner editor tells me.

Briana: I’m not going to edit that. Don’t worry about it.

Sarina: Thank you very much. I am hard enough [unintelligible [00:16:13]. One more question, also from Twitter from Gracethewriter8, “When is the right time to start searching for an editor? First draft? When you’re further along?” 

Briana: This is also going to depend on your process. I know people who like to submit their first draft to an editor and I would strongly urge you not to do that because number one, I think you’re depriving yourself of a lot if you don’t learn how to self-edit, if you don’t do the work that it takes, at least part of the way to make your story into a real book. The other thing is that– I don’t know, some people can work off [00:17:00] just one draft and they barely make any changes and it’s good, it’s done. But if you know you need extensive drafts, like you’re going to need at least two or three rounds of editing changes, beta readers, all of that, I would urge you to start basically as soon as possible.

If you have been publishing for longer, you should have a better idea of timelines about, how long it takes you to write a book, so this step should be pretty easy, because you can probably estimate. If you are brand new, I would say maybe once the first draft is done and you’ve done a draft, maybe then you can look for an editor.

Sarina: Yeah. I don’t know if this will help at all but normally what I do, or what I do now, after already having published six books and my process used to be completely different as you know, back when I only got to proofread. Please don’t do that, by the way. It’s terrible idea. At the very least, you want a developmental edit, a line edit, [00:18:00] and proofread on your first book. Don’t forget beta readers and critique partners because I have beta readers, but I didn’t even know that critique partners were a separate thing at the time. 

Briana: Yes. [laughs] 

Sarina: I hope that you already know better than I do. What I do these days is that, as I said, I tend to let it rest for a bit. Then, I do my own first round of big edits, which is generally developmental things and line editing. Sometimes, it needs a second big round as well, depending on just how bad a shape the first draft was in. Then it goes to critique partners. Then, I go over it again. Then, I send it to Briana. At that point, I’ve already edited it a few times, because I think that by that point, A, I have gone over it myself. As you said, if you don’t do that, you’ll deprive yourself of that opportunity to learn how to self-edit, which is quite important. [00:19:00] I always think that if you do some self-editing, then you will ultimately get a tighter professional edit. It’s sort of not seeing the wood for the trees thing. You can either go in and there’s a million things wrong with it, and your editor will do their best to address all of it. But the more there is, the harder it’ll be to really get everything the same kind of time. Whereas if you’ve already done as much of it as you can, it’ll be a lot easier and it‘ll be a lot tidier at the end of it.

Briana: Exactly. I would also say– I would hope this goes without saying, but I have seen some things that make me believe it’s not, it doesn’t, don’t send an editor something you haven’t finished.

Sarina: That’s what happened to you?

Briana: Yes. 

Sarina: Oh. 

[laughter] 

Briana: A few times. 

Sarina: I don’t know what to say to that. I didn’t know it happened.

Briana: Yeah, they send me part of the book and then they’re like, “Basically, I just want to know if I should keep writing.” [00:20:00] Then, I just don’t really know what to say to that or why they– [crosstalk] 

Sarina: No, hang on. I sent you my last draft, which at the moment– [crosstalk] 

Briana: That’s different. 

Sarina: That’s different, is it? [laughs] 

Briana: It’s different because that was a manuscript evaluation, and we have a different relationship, because I know your process and how your brain works, but if it’s an author who’s never published anything, and they’re like, “I just started writing, and I wrote three chapters yesterday. Here, look at them and edit them.”

Sarina: That’s too early. 

Briana: That’s not good. 

Sarina: That is way too early.

Briana: I would also say at that stage, you’re probably too fragile to maybe listen to constructive criticism. It’s one of the hardest parts. You need to find an editor who’s good at giving that, but you also need to be able to hear that maybe work isn’t as beautiful as you think it is, sometimes.

Sarina: Yeah, I’d say if you can get a sample edit of a potential editor, then that’s a good idea, because you’ll really get a feel for how they work because not every editor is the same. [00:21:00] We all work in slightly different ways. I know that Briana and I are quite similar in that because we both tend to also put in a lot of compliments. 

Briana: Yeah.

Sarina: We also tend to put in some things that might make it a bit more fun and take the pain away. I always think that it’s quite important as well to make you aware of what you’re good at because you can– 

Briana: [crosstalk]

Sarina: Obviously, you should work on your weaknesses as a writer, but you think if you know what your strengths are, then that’s also something that you can further build on, which is also good.

Briana: An important thing to remember at the end of the day, most editors want to help you keep writing and write more books. They’re not out there to discourage you or stop you from writing. If an editor ever makes you feel so bad about your work, that you want to stop writing forever, you should not be working without an editor. It’s toxic. 

Sarina: But also, maybe consider of what the editor saying, maybe does have a point, you maybe [00:22:00] just weren’t quite ready, maybe.

Briana: Yeah.

Sarina: I feel I need to be very careful there, but I do feel a lot of writers, especially with the first book, we can be very protective.

Briana: Yes, absolutely. I was.

Sarina: I was.

Briana: You were too. [laughs] 

Sarina: Also, the really weird thing was my first ever book and you haven’t even seen that one. I didn’t think we still had it until my partner one day told me that he still has it somewhere on his hard drive. It’s like, “What? I thought we burned the thing.” 

Briana: [laughs] 

Sarina: Apparently, we haven’t. I didn’t know that. When I wrote that book, it had so many mistakes in every shape. English isn’t my first language, so they were quite a few things in there where I hadn’t quite caught on yet to the various phrases and everything. 

Briana: English is hard. 

Sarina: Not as hard as German, I assure you. [laughs] 

Briana: Well, yes. I can’t speak German, so I don’t know.

Sarina: Well, to be fair, I’ve lost a lot of it, so I technically can’t speak it all that well [00:23:00] anymore either, to the great amusement to my mother. 

[laughter] 

Sarina: He went over it for me, and he would find out things, like, “Oh, the grandmother, that’s not quite how the saying goes,” and I got very defensive about it. So, if that’s something that you’re still doing, then maybe leave it a bit longer before you ask an editor to come over it.

Briana: Yes. That’s why you mentioned critique partners, it’s a great time to bring in critique partners, you can help them improve their writing, and they can help you improve yours.

Sarina: Yeah, but also, again, I’d be aware maybe with who you ask. Your best friend you meet all the time maybe isn’t the best person to give helpful feedback on something that you’ve written because your best friend probably wants to make you happy, is probably just super proud that you have written the book. She may not necessarily tell you that the structure is often various points because she may not know.

Briana: Critique partners should [00:24:00] be other authors in some capacity. I like to grab a bunch of different authors from– I try to get some that are trad pubbed and some that are self-pubbed. I try to get people who have one or two books under their belt and people who have like 12, just so there’s a nice spread. I say that, but I didn’t use critique partners at all last year. So, I’m not sure if that’s even still my process anymore, but I think it’s a good process, so I’m going to put that out there. 

Sarina: Our processes change all the time anyway. They’re fluid things. 

Briana: When you change your process, if you decide down the road that you would like to try a different editor, that’s fine too. It’s like any other professional relationship. If it’s not working out, you can always just go your separate ways.

Sarina: Yeah, not all editors edit every genre either. If you’ve been writing romance, and you’ve been having the same editor for that, and then maybe one day you decide to [00:25:00] maybe write more heavy erotica, for example, then that’s something that not that many editors are willing to work with. Don’t assume that your current editor will be happy to do it just because you’ve already been working with them. Some editors are very picky about the genres they work with. That’s something to consider. Do your research. 

The ideal answer to that is that you can technically be too early to hire an editor. Self-edit yourself at least one, and maybe get some critique partners on there and then see if maybe you already know an editor, maybe you’ve been following someone on Twitter you’ve had in mind. If you’re not sure, if you’re too early, you can always ask them. I’m sure they won’t mind answering that question and helping you from there.

Briana: I’ve gotten asked that question several times, I’m fine with that. I’m usually just like, “Yeah, it’s too early,” or, “No, it’s not.” That’s it. It’s [00:26:00] not a big deal at all.

Sarina: There you go. We’re friendly people. 

[laughter] 

Sarina: To come back to my question so I don’t forget it. What’s something you wish writers knew before they hired the editor? 

Briana: Oh. The biggest one is probably one I already mentioned. The editor is not out to get you. Especially with a lot of first-time novelists, there is, I feel, a lot of hostility, like they think that I am trying to break their work and tear it apart and upset them and bring them down. For me, personally, that is never what I want to do as an editor. These are some editors, I’m sure, who are harsher than I am and good for them if that works. For me, and the clients I work with, that kind of relationship would not work. I think just being aware of that they are trying to make your [00:27:00] book better. Not all editors, some editors are garbage, and they are just bad. Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to find those.

Sarina: No. Again, if you can get a sample edit to get a first impression before you hire someone, then that’s a good route to go. Also, chances are they’ll have a website. They might have some testimonials on there. I think I would possibly be quite wary of an editor who says that they’ve been working for, say 10 years, but they have no testimonials to back that up. I think I’d be worried about something like that.

Briana: Yeah. I would also be worried if someone tells you, “I have all these references,” and you reach out to the references and they seem really reluctant, even if they’re not openly bad-mouthing the editor, because all of my clients when I’ve used them as references, all I hear back is people who are excited to work with me. [00:28:00] I don’t know, if someone was lukewarm, I think I would feel a little weird about it.

Sarina: Yeah, think I would possibly then wonder why they’re kind of choosing the words very carefully. 

Briana: Mm-hmm. Yeah. 

Sarina: Yeah. I think that would definitely make me quite worried. I feel like I had something else but I forgot what it is. 

Briana: Oh, no. 

Sarina: Oh, yeah. No. As you said, editors are not out to get you. To that, I would add that, remember that you hire your editor because they’re a professional who knows what they’re doing.

Briana: Yes. 

Sarina: You’re not hiring someone without any kind of credentials, without any testimonials, hopefully, anyway, you can trust that they know what they’re doing. Whereas, especially if it’s your first book, you can generally assume that they might know a little bit better than you do, just because they’ve been doing it for so much longer. A good editor will really lay structure and how to improve on that. 

Briana: Exactly. 

Sarina: Yeah, I think if you’re not [00:29:00] sure about anything at all that your editor suggests, I would be happier if my authors discussed it with me and we could then talk about it and I could explain why I’m doing this because I find that many of my authors want to learn. They are very open to that feedback. I can then see in the next book that they’re doing better, which is great, and I love seeing that. 

Briana: I love seeing that too.

Sarina: Yeah, so instead of fighting your editor and everything, remember that you’ve hired them to do a job, and that job isn’t to make you happy or even to like your book. That’s one thing I see quite often, is that, “Oh, I hope you like my book,” “You’re not really paying me to like your book.” If what you want to hear is just that there’s nothing wrong with it and you’ve done a great job then, that’s not really the point of it. 

Briana: Go show it to one of your parents for free.

Sarina: Yeah, I guarantee they will be impressed. Well, hopefully they will be anyway. It doesn’t always work, but hopefully [00:30:00] they’ll be. Finally, do you have any advice for writers about to hire their first editor or, maybe someone moving on from a bad experience?

Briana: Oh, I feel like I have so many. The biggest thing I would say is do your research. Like Sarina said, if it’s an editor says that they have so much experience, but then they can’t name any of their clients or anything like that. That’s a little suspicious. What you want to do is see if they’ve worked with clients, if they’ve had testimonials, if they do have the testimonials, maybe try reaching out to those people and getting an idea of their experience. Get a sample edit, for sure. Those should be free. I’ve seen a few that weren’t free, but I feel they should be free. 

Sarina: It’s quite weird, I think if they’re paid because it’s a sampler.

Briana: Yeah.

Sarina: When you’re in a supermarket, and they give you a new kind of cheese to try, “By the way, that’s five quid.” “What?” [00:31:00]

Briana: Which you’ve already eaten it. There’s no– 

[laughter] 

Briana: Editing can be quite expensive. If no one’s told you that I’m sorry, it can be. You don’t necessarily want to go with the most expensive option, but you also don’t want to go with the cheapest. If you can find a range and find somebody in that range that you feel comfortable with, that’s what I would advise. You don’t have to spend $4,000 or £4000 pounds on an editor.

Sarina: That’s right. [crosstalk] 

Briana: I’ve seen that quote before. Yes, I’ve seen people with that quote before. Likewise, you also shouldn’t expect to get a full developmental edit and everything for $100. It’s not going to work out. [laughs] 

Sarina: No. The reason for that is that, as you said earlier, there’s a lot of time and skill and nerves and patience [00:32:00] that goes into doing even just one round of edits. Developmental edits take quite a lot of effort because we have to look at the structure and make sure that everything flows together well. We need to make sure that there are no potholes or paradoxes, and any of that fun stuff. With line edits, we literally obsess over every single sentence. I can use literally here because I know that I really do obsess over every sentence, sometimes more than once. If you get a quote from someone who says that they can do what’s basically several months’ work that they can do it in a week and they do for 50 quid, that’s not someone you want to work with. 

Briana: That’s a red flag. 

Sarina: Yeah, they will not do a thorough job. 

Briana: You tend to get what you pay for in publishing, and all the negative aspects.

[chuckles] 

Sarina: Yeah. Again, ask for a sample edit. If you’re looking at more than one editor, ask all of them for a sample, compare, see what [00:33:00] suits you the most because this could be a very long relationship for you. 

Briana: Absolutely.

Sarina: You need to make sure you’re compatible, like we are. 

Briana: Yes. 

Sarina: There you are. This is what you want. You want a Bri and Sarina relationship. [laughs] 

Briana: It’s perfect, basically. [laughs] 

Sarina: Pretty perfect.

Briana: I mean, Sarina and I are also friends, but if there’s something wrong with her book, I can tell her and she understands that I’m a professional, and I know what I’m doing and I’m not telling her because I want her to feel bad or anything like that. I’m telling her because I want the book to be good.

Sarina: Yeah. If you had told me to burn Dreamer [unintelligible [00:33:40], I would have burned it. I’d have been, “All right.”

Briana: I didn’t tell you that though, because I’m not mean.

Sarina: But you did mean it?

[laughter] 

Briana: No. 

Sarina: You just wanted to be nice about it?

Briana: No, I don’t think you should burn it. 

Sarina: Good. Thanks. 

Briana: I think I think it’s promising. 

Sarina: That’s good to hear. [00:34:00] We were client and editor first, that’s how we got to know each other. If you pick your editor right, then you can possibly also get a new friend out of it, which is nice.

Briana: That’s true. I think I’m friends with almost all of my clients. 

Sarina: Yeah, I am. 

Briana: That’s weird, I’ve never really thought about that.

Sarina: No, I haven’t, but you end up working so close together, especially if you end up working with the same editor over several years, and they end up doing your developmental edits and manuscript critiques, and line edits, and all that good stuff, they do work together an awful lot, and you almost can’t help getting to know each other. [crosstalk] 

Briana: Absolutely. 

Sarina: I think we’ll end on that heartwarming note. Thank you very much for coming back and answering all of my questions about editing. Thank you so much.

Briana: Thank you.

Sarina: And have a good night. Bye-bye. 

Briana: Bye.

[music]

[00:35:00]

Sarina: If you enjoyed today’s episode, maybe learned something along the way, hit the subscribe button. You can also connect with me on Twitter @sarina_langer, at Instagram and Facebook @sarinalangerwriter, and of course, on my website at sarinalanger.com. Until next time, bye.


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The Writing Sparrow Episode 17 | Social Media for Authors with Briana Morgan

For this week’s episode, Briana Morgan joined me to talk about social media! Heads up: we focussed on Instagram and Twitter, but TikTok and Facebook also got a few mentions.

We’re tackling questions like:

How much time should we spend on social media, and how often should we post?

How can we please the Instagram algorithm?

What counts as engagement on Instagram, and how can we boost our engagement?

How can you use social media to get beta readers?

And many more!

If you want to see for yourself how well Briana is doing with social media, you can find her on Instagramon Twitteron TikTok, and her website.

Listen to the Episode

Read the Transcript

Sarina Langer  00:08

Hello, and welcome to the Writing Sparrow podcast. I’m Sarina Langer, and this podcast is all about writing, publishing and marketing your book. You can find transcripts on my website at sarinalanger.com. Let’s get started!

Sarina Langer  00:24

Hello again, friends and sparrows, and welcome back. It’s the 11th of January 2021, and this is Episode 17. Today, I’ve got horror author and editor extraordinaire Briana Morgan with me. Briana has been my editor since my first book. She’s a fantastic horror and urban fantasy author, and she knows a thing or two about social media as well, which is what we’ll be discussing today. Welcome to the Writing Sparrow, Bri!

Briana Morgan  00:53

Thank you so much for having me.

Sarina Langer  00:55

Oh, happily, anytime. So I’ve already talked a little bit about social media for marketing specifically with Elisha Belden in last week’s episode. You’re both women who do extremely well with this, I think.

Briana Morgan  01:12

Thank you.

Sarina Langer  01:12

Oh, I can’t think of- oh, you’re welcome. I can’t think of anyone better to learn this from than you. And Elisha, clearly, but that was more incidental because you were genuinely just talking about setting goals anyway. And social media, I think is just in everything these days?

Briana Morgan  01:29

Oh, it is.

Sarina Langer  01:30

So it just, it just happened. But also, you’re an author yourself. So I think your experience will be very valuable indeed to our listeners.

Briana Morgan  01:40

I certainly hope so.

Sarina Langer  01:43

Shall we, um, well, obviously, normally, I have a few questions prepared anyway, but today, I’ve also got a few questions from our listeners on Twitter that we will also get to, and I’m hoping I can still keep this to half an hour. I don’t trust my ability right now. We’ll see.

Sarina Langer  02:00

So let’s dive in with maybe the most common question amongst writers. How much time should we be spending on social media and how often should we post? And speaking of Twitter, Villimey has also seconded this question. So no pressure, but we’re all wondering,

Briana Morgan  02:17

it’s a popular question. So what I usually tell people when it comes to social media is it should serve to augment and enhance your existing writing and your existing book marketing efforts. You should not be spending more time on social media than you spend writing or doing anything else relating to publishing. If you’re a writer, you should write, you shouldn’t just be on Facebook or Pinterest or Twitter or Instagram all the time, which it is hard not to get sucked in. But it should only be a small, a small part of your routine as a writer. And as for how often you would post, it’s gonna vary by network, obviously. Twitter, there are probably rules, but I don’t follow them. I’m on Twitter just whenever.

Sarina Langer  03:08

I mean, Twitter always feels so lenient to me, especially coming from Instagram. Twitter is just so relaxed.

Briana Morgan  03:14

Yes, and Twitter moves pretty fast. So I would keep that in mind when you’re posting there that some people might not see it just due to the nature of the platform. Whereas some place like Instagram, if you post, you can get away with posting once a day, or even a few times a week. If, if you post at the same time and you’re consistent, Instagram will boost your content, and the people who engage with it the most will see it, so you can at least rest easy there that it will be seen by some people.

Sarina Langer  03:45

Eventually.

Briana Morgan  03:46

Eventually.

Sarina Langer  03:47

Hopefully. But the algorithm is something we can come back to later.

Briana Morgan  03:51

Yeah.

Sarina Langer  03:52

So you’ve said that we shouldn’t be spending too much time on social media because obviously the writing and the world building and the editing and all that should still take centre stage. But especially with Instagram, I always feel like I need to spend quite a lot of time there to really get the most out of it. Because as you’ve just said, Twitter’s quite forgiving really and quite relaxed. But Instagram to me is the very opposite. Instagram to me has no chill.

Briana Morgan  04:20

Yeah.

Sarina Langer  04:21

I always feel like if I go on Instagram to just quickly look something up, then it will probably punish me for that.

04:29

Yeah. So the thing with Instagram is, obviously all of these are social networks, but Instagram is probably the one that thrives the most from engagement. So unfortunately, that does mean that the more time you spend on the network, the more it boosts your content. The more you engage with people, the more people engage with your content. And you know, like you were saying, you might just go to check one thing, but then Instagram will notice that you’re not spending as much time on the app, so next time you post it won’t show it to as many people. Whereas, if you’re on there for an hour, an hour and a half, liking and commenting and all that, it’ll boost you. But again, it’s like, do you want to, do you want to spend your time on Instagram making all that happen? Or do you want to spend that time finishing a scene in your work in progress?

Sarina Langer  05:20

That depends entirely on how much tea I’ve had that day. So I think I read somewhere a while ago, and probably you know, this is probably some years ago, to be honest, but roughly the right amount to paste on Twitter or something like six to eight things yourself, like of your own posts, and then have the rest just be comments on other people’s posts and just engaging that way. Would you say that’s roughly a good ratio?

05:51

Yes, it’s a, it’s called the, I think it’s the perrito or the Pareto principle, it’s 80, the 80-20 rule. So 80% of the content you post and share should be about other people, and then the 20% should be about you. I would say regardless of how much you are posting on social media, you should try to make sure that you are not only talking about yourself, because nobody likes that.

Sarina Langer  06:18

No, definitely not. I mean, we’ve, we always see some of that, don’t we?

Briana Morgan  06:23

Yes.

Sarina Langer  06:23

Where authors might just post buy my book, buy my book, buy my book, buy my book, did you know I have a book, go buy my book.

06:32

It’s okay to do some of that. But you, if it’s all the time, people will just tune you out or mute you or unfollow you.

Sarina Langer  06:40

So on Instagram, for example, I’ve noticed that some people post once a week, and other people might post five times a day, so which to me is completely incomprehensible and I have no idea how they do that. I do not have the energy for that. But how often would you say is a good amount to post on Instagram? How often should we be there? Because I think most writers these days are on Instagram.

07:07

So there’s what I believe. And then there’s like the popular advice. So I will, I will give both sides of that. So the popular advice says you should post one to two times per day and around the same times, just for consistency. My advice is you could post maybe one or two times a week if you’re doing it consistently, same days, same time, and if you are providing good content that’s worth waiting for. So if you just take a picture of your food, and then you upload that, and then the next day, you upload a picture of a plastic bag you see out in the road, no one’s, no one’s going to come back for that, no one’s going to want to wait another week for more pictures like that. So if you’re writing, if you’re taking really nice photos and writing long form captions that are thoughtful and creative, and I say you could probably go longer. But it’s kind of up to whatever works for you and whatever you feel like you can maintain.

Sarina Langer  08:13

How long should our captions be on Instagram? Because, you know, some people will say he only use one word, and then the rest is hashtags. And some people write tiny essays, basically. So what’s a good amount to write there?

08:30

I would say it comes down to knowing your audience. If you found through checking your analytics, which you can only do if you have the business account, so if you don’t have a business account, consider getting one so you can get the analytics.

Sarina Langer  08:43

It’s very easy to set up as well. So, it takes maybe two seconds. They don’t need to check anything. It’s literally just one click.

Briana Morgan  08:50

Yes.

Sarina Langer  08:50

And it’s, it’s very easy to do.

08:53

If you check your analytics and you see that your audience is responding better to what seems to be longer more personal captions, like my audience does, then you know that that’s a safe bet.

Briana Morgan  09:05

I will say what tends to not go well that people think will go well, is posting just like a song lyric or a deep quote that they found somewhere with no context and no further, no call to action or anything. Because, you know, people don’t really have a reason to engage with that.

Briana Morgan  09:24

I say the longer the better, as long as you can make it coherent, because you want people to stop and take in your content. And Instagram will see that people are staying on your content for longer, which is wonderful. And the algorithm loves that. So it’s good to do more things that the algorithm loves.

Sarina Langer  09:41

Yeah, the algorithm on Instagram is an interesting beast, isn’t it?

Briana Morgan  09:46

Yes!

Sarina Langer  09:46

So um, oh, well, we can come back to that in a second. But for now, you’ve just used the word that I wanted to come back to, the magic word, which is engagement on Instagram. So not gonna lie, the engagement– what exactly counts as engagement on Instagram? I found it a little bit confusing. And I think some other writers have done as well. So what counts as engagement on Instagram? And how can we boost our engagement?

10:13

So Instagram used to be all about likes. It used to be whoever could get the most likes won, basically. And it’s now changed to where you are more favoured by the algorithm – I hate to keep saying that – ut you’re more favoured by the algorithm if people are commenting, if they’re saving and if they’re sharing your, your photos and your content. So it’s kind of changed. I would say my approach to social media and a lot of other people’s has changed, because now you want to create content that is a lot more useful and more likely to get shared, and more likely for people to come back to later.

Sarina Langer  10:51

I think, especially this year, how we use Instagram has changed quite a lot. So it used to be just all about just posting a picture, but now you can also do short videos, you can upload gifs and stats, and you know, you can upload multiple pictures in just one post. And I think I’ve seen somewhere that videos especially get more, get more engagement or get favoured by Instagram or something like that.

Briana Morgan  11:17

Yes. And then like my, all my book releases this year have been, I’ve done an Instagram Live kind of release party, but I’m going to keep doing that. Because it’s been a lot of fun. I obviously, I couldn’t have done one in person this year, but – or last year, I should say – but it’s, I don’t know. I would say Instagram feels like the most social social media to me, if that makes sense. I don’t know if you would agree with that.

Sarina Langer  11:45

Yeah, definitely. I mean, I think part of that might just because on Instagram, the social aspect is perhaps the most important out of all the social media platforms, like Twitter and Facebook don’t take it anywhere near seriously or as far as Instagram does. So the more social you are over there, the better things will work out for you.

Briana Morgan  12:05

Right, right.

Sarina Langer  12:05

The more it’ll like you. But um, yeah, that probably has something to do with it. But there are also so many different ways I think of engaging with people on there, because they’ve also got Instagram TV, they’ve got reels now, and obviously stories are a thing. So there’s just so many different things you could do.

Briana Morgan  12:24

Yes.

Sarina Langer  12:26

Which brings me back to the word that you’ve just said, that you said you hate saying, the dreaded words: the the algorithm.

Briana Morgan  12:35

Oh.

Sarina Langer  12:35

Let’s talk about the algorithm. Because that thing is confusing, I think. I mean, I have created, erm, what do you call them, collections, groups, on Instagram of people who I want to stay caught up with, because if I don’t, I have no guarantee, I feel, that I’ll actually see what they’re posting.

Briana Morgan  12:57

Right. And it used to be, it used to be that everything on Instagram was just chronological. It was just you would go, you’d log on, and you’d see the oldest to the newest and it was normal, but now…

Sarina Langer  13:11

See, that way around makes perfect sense to me. That will be if I could just see all the things I haven’t seen already. That would be great. That would make it so easy.

Briana Morgan  13:19

But now you might see a post from like October at the top of your feed, and you’ll like it and comment on it and then realise that no one’s off to comment for months. I feel like a creep. That’s what happens to me anyway.

Sarina Langer  13:33

I think what mine does is that it’s more likely to show me the post by people who I engage with more.

Briana Morgan  13:39

Yes.

Sarina Langer  13:40

Which is great. But then it also means that the posts by people who have only just started following or haven’t engaged massively yet, I don’t really get to see, unless I make a note somewhere else who I’ve just followed so that I can then start engaging with those people. Because if I don’t make that effort myself, Instagram may just never show me and I’ll completely forget, which is nothing personal. It’s just people get lost so easily on there.

14:05

And it’s hard because I have a lot of people ask me, How can I get more engagement? And the only thing I can tell you is, you have to give engagement to get engagement. So you have to be reaching out to people and commenting and sharing their posts and things like that if you want them to do that with yours because otherwise the I, the idea of someone finding you organically on Instagram is not very realistic anymore, unfortunately.

Sarina Langer  14:32

No, I mean, I’m not sure really how you go about searching for things on Instagram, but I actually very rarely search for a specific hashtag unless I’m trying to see how well it’s doing or if it’s actually been banned. Sort of. I don’t I don’t tend to search for hashtags specifically at Instagram. I don’t tend to find people that way. Not anymore anyway. So you know I don’t think… I don’t know, maybe it’s just not that realistic now to think that people are going to find you because of your hashtags specifically, unless you get really lucky.

15:08

Yeah, I don’t think it’s as important because like I said, Instagram is more… So the hashtags were more favourable back when you wanted to get as many likes as possible. But now that it’s more, you know, you want more shares and more saves. It’s, you kind of find other people’s content through people sharing them. I feel like I do anyway, like, I’ll tap through someone’s story, and I’ll see a cute post, and then I’ll check out that person’s profile. I never would have seen them if someone else hadn’t shared it.

Sarina Langer  15:42

No, I do quite a lot of that. Now, I feel like I’ve shared some things that are first seen on your stories, for example, or someone else’s story. So I’m gonna go Oh, that looks cute. Oh, that’s funny, and I want to have a look, well see what that is about. And then I might share that as well. And I’ve now made collections as well for various posts that I might want to save. So I’ve got one collection for comic relief that I can come back to the one on a dark, dark day when my work in progress is not playing with me. Or, and I’ve got, you know, I’ve got a collection for pictures of my books specifically that people have shared. So I’ve got lots of little collections going on. Which I think it likes.

Briana Morgan  16:23

Yes.

Sarina Langer  16:24

So maybe one of the more interesting things specifically to writers and authors is, what kind of things should we share on social media as writers? Because I see all kinds of different things. You know, I see some writers who pretty much only share memes. I see some writers who, as we said, literally only share this is my book, please go buy it, this is my book, go buy it. So what, what kinds of things should we share?

16:52

I have a lot to say about this. So I’m going to try not to go off on a tangent. When you are posting, please remember that your content is not for you. Your content is for other people. So every time you post something you should ask yourself, does this entertain? Does this educate? Does this uplift? Any of those? If it does any or all of those, that’s great. If it doesn’t do any of those, maybe consider, reconsider posting it. A common one is food. So many people who don’t write cookbooks, or don’t write anything that has to do with food, they will take pictures of what they had to eat. I don’t think I’ve ever cared what someone else had to eat. I feel really bad saying that. But I don’t look at those posts.

Sarina Langer  17:46

I get the feeling you feel strongly about this.

17:49

Yes. I can’t tell you how many, how many pictures of mediocre, like takeaway pizza I’ve seen in bad lighting. People are just like, here’s my pizza.

Sarina Langer  18:01

It’s, it’s bizarre, isn’t it? I mean, I think what I don’t mind as much where food is concerned as many pictures off, of a cupcake. Or a biscuit. Especially if it’s next to a book because then that’s still on topic?

18:13

Yes, exactly. If you can work it in, if the food is part of, you know, you’re greater niche or whatever, that’s great. But if you’re, if you’re just taking a picture of it just to document it, I don’t think it’s worth it. Especially because you know, you have to think about how can people really engage with that content? The most you can get from that is like a ‘nice pizza’ or like, ‘Hey, I had pizza tonight too’. But that’s not, it’s not gonna result in you getting readers.

Sarina Langer  18:44

No. It might give you a craving for pepperoni, though.

18:47

Yes. So that I would say no food unless you’re writing about, you write a series of cosy mysteries featuring a baker or chef, that would be cute. Or maybe you write cookbooks, that’s fine. But otherwise, maybe if you’re going to post about your meal, post it on your story so it goes away.

Sarina Langer  19:05

Yeah.

Briana Morgan  19:08

That sounds so mean.

Sarina Langer  19:10

No, I get it. I mean, it’s always great to have things that you really want to share with your followers, but that you don’t, you know, they’re not necessarily maybe fit in with your greater vision.

Briana Morgan  19:20

Yes. Some other, some other don’ts. Don’t… I wish I didn’t have to say this, but don’t post yourself making any obscene gestures or saying anything racist or transphobic or anything like that.

Sarina Langer  19:38

It should go without saying.

Briana Morgan  19:40

It should go without saying, but it doesn’t. I’m saying it. Don’t do that. Because even if you don’t think it will affect you, it might down the road. Or you know, you never know who might see that and be very hurt by it.

Sarina Langer  19:55

Yeah, even if you don’t necessarily mean to hurt someone with it, maybe just think before you post it. I mean, you might think that it’s funny in the moment, but nobody else might think it’s funny.

20:06

Yes. And let me think what else… Don’t just post about your book. Obviously post about other people’s books. Post about, I don’t know, movies based on books that you enjoy, post about behind the scenes of your writing process maybe or another writer you admire. You don’t just want to share book promos where the only exception–

Sarina Langer  20:27

Would you say–

Briana Morgan  20:27

I’m sorry.

Sarina Langer  20:28

No, you go.

Briana Morgan  20:30

I was gonna say the only exception would be if it’s your release day or your release week. Just go crazy. It’s fine.

Sarina Langer  20:38

Yeah, I think readers will understand that, because you are about to have a new book out in the world. So, if you can’t spam the internet with pictures of your book or character aesthetics or whatever it is that you’ve got to share, when can you?

20:53

Yes. And an unpopular one that I’m going to say not to post. I always say don’t post memes. Meme accounts by themselves tend to do really well on Instagram, just because people will share the content. But I know for me personally, I don’t like to follow meme accounts, because I can just google funny writing memes if I want them. I don’t want to commit to seeing someone else repost a meme that I could have found for myself. You know, it just feels, it feels almost lazy to me and inauthentic.

Sarina Langer  21:25

Yeah, I know what… I get that. I mean, I think I follow maybe two or three, because we already were friends before their accounts kind of started going in that direction anyway. But I must admit that if someone else follows me, and I then go to see who they are, what kind of things they post, if I see that it’s just memes I’m very unlikely to follow them back based on that.

21:26

I mean, people, people want to see you. They don’t want to see other people’s content. Obviously, there are exceptions to that. Like if you’re reposting a photo that someone took of your book, but I say err on the side of posting little to no memes. Just because it does, it does look like, you know, look like you don’t know how to use the platform maybe.

Sarina Langer  22:14

Which is a shame, because you do want to give people the impression that you do know what you’re doing.

Briana Morgan  22:18

Yes. And I do like memes. I like fun. I’m not… I make it sound like I don’t like fun. But if you’re taking your Instagram seriously, as an author, you have to, you have to, these are the things you have to think about.

Sarina Langer  22:34

It’s basically your new marketing platform. So you’ve got to just treat it as a job basically because, you know, it is. You want to make money from it.

22:42

Yeah, it’s like your CV or resume almost, to potential readers.

Sarina Langer  22:46

Yeah. And to come back to what you said about obviously, you can post some things about your own books, but you should also post about other books, for example, or something else. Just to come back to that ratio, which you say is this 80-20 thing. So like 20% your own stuff, 80% other things?

23:07

Yes. Obviously, you don’t have to be super rigid with that. So you don’t have to count out like, right, okay, here’s my next 10 posts, these posts are going to be other people, these posts are going to be me, but I, if you feel like you’re being too much, you’re probably being too much. If you have to ask yourself if it’s too much, it is.

Sarina Langer  23:28

Probably. So for example, I am now posting about my own progress and generally my own books twice a week on Mondays and Fridays. And I’ve just recently started posting on Thursdays again. So on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, I post about books I’m reading, books I’ve just bought, books by author friends, things like that. What do you say that’s roughly a good ratio?

23:50

Yes. I think that’s fine. I would say no more than, no more than two days a week of your own content.

Sarina Langer  23:58

I think it mostly started that way because on Mondays, I quite like to share my goals for the week, which to be fair can also include things like, I really want to finish reading this book and review it. So that’s not necessarily all about my books. But obviously I do set myself writing goals, so they will be in there as well. But it’s not necessarily entirely that. And on Fridays, I like to just sort of come back to that and point out what I have done that week and it holds me accountable, and quite a few people have told me that they find it really inspiring to see. So that makes me feel pretty good.

Briana Morgan  24:31

And that’s not, I wouldn’t say that’s not the same as being like buy my book.

Sarina Langer  24:36

Oh no, definitely not.

Briana Morgan  24:36

Because you never just post buy my book.

Sarina Langer  24:39

Yes, very rarely. I mean, you know, as you said, when there’s, when you’ve got a release day, then that’s a different thing, because you do need to make people aware that you have a new product out, but apart from that, you should probably limit it.

Sarina Langer  24:54

And speaking of what writers should be posting on social media, that brings me back to the other question that we’ve had on Twitter from @gambit190. He says ‘Beta-readers are crucial to have, so what’s the best way to go about acquiring them?’ Very specific for social media, but I’ve got all of my beta readers through social media. So I do think it fits perfectly.

25:18

That’s where all mine have come from too. It varies, unfortunately, depending on the size of your audience and what platforms they’re most interested in. I find most of my beta readers through Twitter, even though I would say that Instagram is my bigger platform now. So that’s kind of strange. But usually, I just post that I need beta readers, I talk a little bit about the manuscript, if I’ve posted about it before, at least a few times, people will usually comment like, hey, let me know, when you want betas for this. I have a form usually that I have people fill out just so they know what to expect. Trigger warnings and things like that. And then, if people fill out the form, I usually accept them.

Sarina Langer  26:05

There you go. I mean, I must say, that’s pretty much the only thing that I do. I’m afraid I haven’t got a super exciting way of doing it. So I tend to just say, as you said, on Twitter, for example, hey, I’m ready for beta readers for this book. It’s a dark fantasy book. It’s roughly this long, I need it back roughly at this time. If you think you can do it, send me a message, we can talk. And then I pretty much just do the same thing on Instagram as well. And possibly also in my reader group on Facebook. But you know, I don’t… I mean, I know there are various sites that you can go to to get beta readers, but I haven’t used any of them. So I’m afraid I can’t say if they are any good, or they work overly well.

26:49

I used one I can’t remember the name. And I feel terrible because they gave me a free membership and exchange for promotion and I can’t even remember their name.

Sarina Langer  27:02

Was it a while ago?

27:03

Yes, I didn’t use it very much. I used it for the first draft of Unboxed for beta readers. So it’s been a while.

Sarina Langer  27:15

How come you decided not to use them in the end?

27:18

It was just cumbersome because it was another platform that someone else had to sign up for. And when it comes to beta readers, the easier you can make it the better because people are busy, and you don’t want to give them a reason not to read your book.

Sarina Langer  27:34

And I think as writers you’re already, you know, you are already likely to be on Twitter, on Instagram, maybe on one or two other platforms as well. So the easiest thing to do is to literally just say on there, I’m ready for betas, this is what I’m writing. Interested? Let’s talk.

Briana Morgan  27:50

No one wants to have to sign up for a whole new website just for you.

Sarina Langer  27:53

Especially not just to beta read your book. I mean, they already doing you one favour by beta reading your book, so they shouldn’t have to do another favour by signing up to then read your book, which at that point no longer has anything to do with the website they signed up on on the first place.

Briana Morgan  28:09

They might not want to read it at that point, they might be tired.

Sarina Langer  28:12

Yeah, actually, you know what, I can’t be bothered anymore. It’s too much pressure. I mean, yeah, I know, I probably wouldn’t bother signing up for another website, just to beta read someone’s book, but then I’m a slow reader anyway.

Briana Morgan  28:29

Yeah, I will also say, if someone beta reads for you, and then they ask you to beta read for them, do it. Don’t be rude. Again, should go without saying, but don’t be rude. Don’t be the person who is always asking for help and never giving any.

Sarina Langer  28:46

No, I mean, your beta readers have done you a favour, so it’s only fair if you do the same in return that they want it. I mean, not all of your beta readers might be writers as well. So this may well not be relevant for all of them. But if they are writers, and they have written a book, and they ask you specifically if you could beta read, it’s the nice thing to say yes. And to do it. Where are we? Okay, well, speaking of being on Twitter, and Instagram and Facebook, and God knows where, how many sites do you think should we be on as writers? And is there such a thing as a perfect social media site for writers?

Briana Morgan  29:25

No.

Sarina Langer  29:27

All right, moving on.

29:29

No, it all depends on, it depends on your audience. It depends on their age, depends on their interests. You kind of have to know what you’re working with. So let’s say that you are writing young adult fiction, you might want to look into TikTok because that is very popular. And you might want to consider Facebook less because not, I don’t think any teenagers are using Facebook anymore. I don’t know.

Sarina Langer  29:56

I’m a little bit amazed that anyone’s still using Facebook. I mean I also feel a bit bad saying that, because I have my reader group on Facebook, but beyond that I’m not really using it a great deal.

30:10

Yeah, as many networks as you can manage, if you know for a fact that you can only keep up with one or two, and that works for you, stick with that. If you can only keep up with one, that’s fine. Don’t, definitely don’t feel the need to join every social media network, because you’ll burn out. And you also won’t be spending time writing. Consider that.

Sarina Langer  30:34

Yeah, the more time you’ll be spending on social media and not writing, which is the point to all this. So.

30:41

And I’m saying this, as someone with a lot of social media presence. I have to be very strict with myself.

Sarina Langer  30:48

I feel like you’re everywhere.

Briana Morgan  30:50

I am, and I shouldn’t be, but I am. It’s too late to go back and I’m stubborn.

Sarina Langer  30:56

I mean, I know my limits is two, two and a half. Say I’m on Instagram a lot, I’m on Twitter, more or less, a lot, a little less. Maybe they’re on Instagram. And I should be on Facebook a lot more because as I said, my reader group is there, but I’m not very good at being on Facebook consistently. It’s always a bit of an afterthought for me, but again, feel terrible about because my reader group is there and I want to do better. But it’s just, it’s, it’s my limit. I feel like once I’ve been on Instagram for about an hour I’ve, I’ve social-media’d myself out.

31:32

Yeah, and Facebook doesn’t, I mean, for what you use it for, it’s fine. But Facebook doesn’t like posting a lot of outside content. So if you have a Facebook page, and you’re using that to sell your books, it’s going to be a lot harder, because any length that takes people off Facebook, Facebook will drop way down.

Sarina Langer  31:52

Yeah, maybe it’s just me. But I always feel like when I’m on Facebook, and I do peak out of my reader group that most other writers mostly go on Facebook to complain, I feel.

Briana Morgan  32:03

Yes. Yes.

Sarina Langer  32:04

So it’s also not a very uplifting or positive environment, perhaps. So another reason for me to not leave my reader group and I am there.

Briana Morgan  32:14

Yeah, I think you’re better off. If there’s a network that you enjoy, you have a good audience with and you feel like you can be consistent, maintain your presence on that network, that’s great. Definitely don’t join things just because you think you have to. If you don’t want to make a TikTok, you do not have to. I, I’ve had a lot of people ask me that specifically. So if you’re not on Tick tock, you don’t have to be.

Sarina Langer  32:40

Well, there you go. And also, if you do try a new social media platform, thinking it’s going to be great and then it’s just not for you, it’s totally fine to stop using it and to leave it again. You know, no one’s gonna hold it against you. And actually, if someone is holding it against you, then you probably don’t really want them in your reader pool anyway.

Briana Morgan  33:00

Yes.

Sarina Langer  33:01

I think we’ve already touched on this a little bit earlier, but is there a wrong way to use social media?

33:08

We’ve talked about it a little bit. The biggest thing, like I mentioned earlier, is to remember that your posts are not for you. So just because you like something doesn’t mean your audience will, just because you think something is neat or pretty or funny doesn’t mean your audience will. So they are coming to your content to get something you do, to make sure you are giving them what you want to give them.

Sarina Langer  33:35

So I think it really helps with that to have an ideal reader in mind so that when you think about what you may want to post next week, instead of trying to see it as sort of, on a bigger scale, or really just saying, What can I post? I don’t know, there’s a lot of choice. Maybe just ask yourself, what would my ideal reader like? What are they interested in? And then that’s a good starting point maybe.

34:01

Yes, I try to ask myself what I like about other people’s content, like if I see a post I really like I try to analyse why I like it. Is it the caption? Is it the photo itself? Is it both? And then I try to imitate that.

Sarina Langer  34:17

I think that’s also a good starting point. So you know, don’t, I mean, really just don’t overthink, and as we’ve already said, don’t be rude. Just be a good person. And don’t spam people constantly with please buy my book, please buy my book. So yeah, just you know, consider maybe what you like to see as a reader and don’t be rude. Please don’t be rude.

Sarina Langer  34:42

So, we’re nearly done. For the action step for this week, what can we do right now to get more out of social media?

Briana Morgan  34:53

So right now, you can pick one name that you want to use for your books, and make sure that all of your social networks have that name, and that they all match if possible. So for example, my name is Briana Morgan. My website is Briana Morgan Books, almost all of my handles are Briana Morgan books, except for Instagram, which is Bri Morgan Books because Briana wouldn’t fit. But it makes it really easy for people to find me and they know, right, when they look at the username, who it is, they don’t have to question if it’s me or not. Whereas if you have you know, your name on Twitter, and then you go on Instagram, and it’s like, cakelover77, I don’t know who that is.

Sarina Langer  35:42

Oh, that’s me.

35:43

I’m cakelover77 on the inside.

Sarina Langer  35:48

Aren’t we all?

Briana Morgan  35:49

Yeah. Consistency is key, though. You want to go ahead and make sure that your brand is consistent across whatever networks you choose to use. And I would say use the same profile picture too. It should be a picture of yourself even if you don’t like having your picture taken. People are more drawn to faces. Everyone would rather talk to a face than a brand. So I think using your own photo can yield some great results.

Sarina Langer  36:19

Yeah, I mean, your cat or your dog is really adorable and I do want to see pictures, but maybe not so much in your profile picture. You’re not fooling anyone. We know you’re a person.

Briana Morgan  36:30

Yeah.

Sarina Langer  36:32

We know you’re not your book’s cover. And I mean, I always feel more likely to follow someone if they have their profile picture in there… well in the profile picture, if it is their face. I can tell right away who they are or, you know, at least a little bit. There is some connection there that you just don’t get from a picture of some pretty stacked rocks for example. Or a lovely night sky. Which is beautiful, but not…

Briana Morgan  37:03

It doesn’t mean anything really.

Sarina Langer  37:05

No, no, exactly. Could be anything. All right, I think that’s it. Thank you very much. I’ve learned a lot, thank you so much, and I hope our listeners have as well. I always learned so much from you anyway.

Briana Morgan  37:22

Thank you.

Sarina Langer  37:23

And we shall have to do this again very soon.

Briana Morgan  37:26

Yes.

Sarina Langer  37:30

If you enjoyed today’s episode, maybe learn something along the way, hit the subscribe button. You can also connect with me on Twitter @sarina_langer, on Instagram and Facebook @sarinalangerwriter, and of course on my website at sarinalanger.com. Until next time! Bye!


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