It’s my great pleasure to host @writevent creator, curator, author and Elusive Press head Mica Scotti Kole. Not only does Mica organize all our #WritingCommunity writer games into one convenient go-to place on Twitter, but she also curates and features writing and poetry contests from around the world. And if that isn’t enough, she also writes and promotes others through her own imprint Elusive Press.
Today, Mica discusses her journey from game organizer to writer, publisher and promoter and what it takes to build a mighty platform.
It’s a lot of work. Mica asks: Is it worth it?
26,000 Followers: Was It Worth It?
I started Free Writing Events about three years ago (it’s kinda fuzzy in my head… has it been longer?) after attending a conference that insisted I needed a platform to be a successful writer. The arguments were sound, and so I hopped onto Twitter and got started. At another conference, I received great advice from author Chuck Sambuchino: if you want to build an audience, then appeal to that audience. Writing a book isn’t enough. You have to provide something.
Well, after cruising through the Twitter writing community, I made a discovery: there were tons of writing games, but no definitive place to find all the day’s themes in one place. Some people might have lists, but they were always out of date (I’m guilty of this sometimes too), and no one was very consistent about posting or tracking themes. Yet these games were popular—so I saw an opportunity. And my theme list, and theme posts, were born.
From there, I expanded to cover free contests (this mostly came from the excitement, demand, and general confusion surrounding pitch events like #PitMad)—and today, I’ve got over 24,000 non-bot author/reader followers on Twitter, and a newsletter with about 2,100 people on it. I’m a little bit of a household name in the Twitter writing community, and I’m proud of that.
But was it worth it?
Pro: It Got My Business Off The Ground
I am staunchly against spamming, and I post about my own books and services only twice a day or less. While I’ve yet to see what these posts do for my book sales, it is the only place where I have ever advertised my editing services. And it got my editorial business off the ground, ultimately providing me a way to make a living off editing (albeit at about a half or a third of my husband’s income). Having followers in the tens of thousands is the only reason this worked. Now, however, my clients are coming in from referrals and repeats, and I don’t really need @writevent for advertising my services any longer. Here’s hoping it makes a difference in my book release!
Pro: It Put My Finger on the Pulse.
I’ve made over $2,000 from winning some of the contests I’ve posted about. Searching the contests each month led to my first traditional publication, and to winning the biggest award of my life: Writers of the Future. I would have never met Orson Scott Card (and many other big names) in person, or walked a red carpet, or created Elusive Press, if I hadn’t created @writevent first. The connections I have made as an editor, author, and social media “maven” have created crazy opportunities for me.
Pro: It’s Been So Gratifying
Being a freelance editor has been a true honor. Seeing my clients succeed, and cheering for them—I wouldn’t trade that for the world. And being @writevent has made me feel so useful, which is great for someone with anxiety. You can really find a tribe and a purpose on social media. However….
Con: It Saps You
I used to enjoy Twitter on my personal account. Now, I never really play Twitter games, or scroll the feeds, or get involved with my friends and build meaningful relationships. I’ve made Twitter into a chore for myself. Every day, posting the themes—and every month, compiling events—it is so draining. When you make a job out of something you love, and don’t actually get paid (directly) for doing that job, it can sap all the fun out of it. I had to stop running #FriDare because of this, and the thought of ever doing #Write4Life again makes me want to cry. I want the enjoyment back—but there just aren’t enough hours in the day.
Con: It Distracts You
What is my life goal? To have 30,000 followers and a successful editing business? Nope. My goal is to be an author, making a living off my words. And the three years I’ve spent on @writevent has only really distracted from that goal. Yes, I made so many connections that will be vital to me (I wouldn’t trade my journey for the world), but the whole idea of “needing a platform” is dangerous. Would your time be better spent honing your craft and producing loads and loads of work—or by getting more followers?
Con: The ROI Is Not Great
My advice: if you are building an audience, build one with a newsletter, in your genre and age category. I may have 24,000 followers, but my theme posts still only get 35 retweets each day; and I may have 2,100 newsletter subscribers, but when I asked them to subscribe to my press’s newsletter, guess how many did it? Ten. This happened because I cast too wide a net, and I have all authors as my followers—not just fantasy authors, or readers (this is my genre). Of course, I got the wide net of followers because of my subject matter (free contests), and that’s what got me all the other stuff I mentioned. In short: you’d be very surprised at how few followers/subscribers actually turn into buyers. And I don’t recommend ever having high hopes for a Patreon, Ko-Fi, Kickstarter, or similar things. They sound too good to be true because they are.
What I mean to say with all this, is that there is always a trade-off. Never lose sight of your TRUE goal, whatever that may be. It needs to come first. Social media and “platforms” are nebulous and fickle, and your own time (especially your writing time) is valuable. Don’t get sucked into anything that you can’t see having a return. But even if you do, you’ll get value out of it. Mine was ultimately worth it. Will yours be?
“Time to get up, lazy-drake,” he ground out, trying to rise.
But she held him against her. “The storm is still raging, scaredy cat,” she whispered.
“I have to go,” he said. “If I stay, I won’t be able to stop.”
She tightened her arms around him. “I don’t want you to stop.”
They clung to one another, her words lingering. In some distant corner of her mind, she understood what she had offered. She would trade her entire future, just to feel more of this….
Then he jerked away, staggering backward onto his feet. She cried out at the suddenness of his leaving. Lightning flashed across her stone walls. She hadn’t even heard the thunder that preceded it.
But Jorr was perfectly aware of the storm, now that they weren’t touching, now that her magic had gone out of him. He cringed into the corner of her quarters, and she rose to her feet on unsteady legs. After a wobbly step, she reached toward him.
“No,” he said. She stopped.
“Jorr,” she said, crying now. “Oh, Jorr. I’m sorry. Please let me help.”
He shook his head. “I’ve been weak long enough.” The sky rumbled, and he winced against it. “Please, don’t touch me, Raena. Don’t let me ruin your dream.”
She opened her mouth, and a thousand words filled it. I love you. I need you. Be with me.
But none of the words managed to escape her, and Jorr fled like a ghost in the rain.
Free Writing Events (aka @writevent on Twitter) compiles and posts about all free-to-enter online writing contests and pitch events for authors, poets, and essayists. During the business week, FWE also pins a list of that day’s writing game themes to Mica’s profile. You can get her contest newsletter here or visit the Free Writing Events website here. In real life, she goes by Mica. She started Elusive Press on the first of the year, and their first book, The Rose Contract, is free this week–with the entire series releasing at once!
The book should be free from March 14th to the 20th.