Sharing What You Read by Brad Windhauser
Sage advice: Writers Need to Read—And Read Often
I’ve blogged about the importance reading has in the role of developing a writer’s understanding and appreciation of the craft. But what you do with this experience should not be restricted to the work you produce: given the wealth of social media outlets, you should strongly consider sharing your thoughts about what you read. By articulating your take on a particular story you’ll process your understanding in a way that will likely be useful to your own work down the road. Sharing your impressions with others can also help a fellow reader/writer understand a book from a different perspective. This also opens you up to the opinions of others, which can widen your understanding of a book or story. Broadcasting your approach to story can also garner interest in your own work.
But where do you share? Sure, you can use Facebook, but consider casting a wider, more useful net.
Twitter offers a compact way to express your opinions. To maximize the reach of your ideas, research useful hashtags that will connect you to like-minded individuals. #FridayReads is a good one. You might especially consider exploring hashtags that connect you to a particular genre, such as science fiction or LGBT fiction. This will help you reach people you might not otherwise.
To dig deeper, use Goodreads.
Goodreads is a compact way to track what you read and to record your thoughts—a hefty paragraph can mention the elements/parts of a book you found effective (or weak) for your own future reference. Later, you can revisit what spoke to you and review the story if you’re trying to examine the use of a particular writing tool, like voice or point of view. Your thoughts can also encourage fellow users to recommend books you may have missed. These same people, through their reviews, can also impart a different take on the work, which can enhance your appreciation and understanding of it. Beyond that, the various reading groups offer a big opportunity to tap into like-minded readers, ones categorized by interest or genre, or by location—like fellow readers in your city. The few I am active in discuss a few books each month. Think of this like an online book club that allows you to promote a healthy discussion of a book. If people develop a good sense of your general outlook, they might look up your profile, on which you can promote your work. Aside from that, you’re building a community, which is useful in its own right.
Reddit is also useful for very similar reasons. You do, however, have to work harder to find the types of groups that will prove useful for your interests. Once you locate them, join, and then be a conscientious community member and engage in conversations—not just ones you start. You’ll reap similar benefits as those using Goodreads; however, in my experience, you’ll reach people who don’t use other platforms; therefore, it’s a good idea to take advantage of as many opportunities as possible. Careful about blatant self-promotion, however. This will earn you a bad name. Your first goal should be to engage in a public discussion about books, not one centered on you. If you develop an engaging persona, people will seek you out without being asked.
At the end of the day, engaging in these types of outreaches positions you as the type of reader you would want to read your work—think of it as paying it forward. Don’t wait until you have something to promote. Create the foundation first.