Social networking has evolved into a process that literally includes the act of "working the Net," especially for up-and-coming/unknown authors like me. It's a lot of work, but it's necessary. I know most of the writers here have day jobs and families that take up a lot of time, but in order to make a real go of marketing, publicizing and selling our novels, networking must be done.
At least this is what I believe.
I shared some of these thoughts on another discussion board, and more extensively on my blog, and I'd like to offer them here.
Social networking is not just "collecting" friends, and then spam-blasting them with updates about where to find your latest book. It's not just exposure, but how you expose yourself. NOT just your book. Yourself.
It's making true connections with people, whether you've met them in real life or not. Potential customers, and not just those buying books, like to feel valued. Yes, everyone is short on time, but the truth is that people need to feel connected to you in order to care about you.
If they don't care about you, then they won't have an interest in you or your work. It's a challenge, but it's necessary for up-and-coming unknowns to build a network first, and a fan base second. If the only time you heard from someone is when he/she wanted you to buy something, would you feel valued or appreciated? I wouldn't.Please share your thoughts! Do you feel like social networking is a valuable tool?
It's interesting to see the way 'social network' has evolved readers' image of authors. In fact, I feel a blog coming on about this topic in comparing by-gone days (20 years ago) to the present. It is so different, in some ways it is frightening and intrusive.
Frightening, in the fact we have to become vulnerable and transparent to encourage readers to 'like' our books. Intrusive, in having to give up a measure of our privacy, which in the past, was shielded from the public, creating a comfort zone in which writers could safely work.
Hi, Shawn! I'll look forward to reading your blog and seeing the comparisons and contrasts. I feel lucky to have come along and finally commit to my craft at this time, rather than pushing through what I think of as the hard, pre-Internet years. I've always wanted to author books, but the opportunities then were so much more elusive than now. For that, I'm grateful.
I agree with your sentiments about it being frightening and intrusive. I am super vulnerable on the Internet, but I suppose the adjustment seems less intimidating, because I've always been vulnerable when it comes to my writing. I cringe at bad reviews and try not to take them as personal attacks, and I find myself wondering how much influence that person who doesn't seem to like me have on other potential readers. when I think of how the writers of the old days had no such problem and needing to be some kind of transparent to get folks to like their work, and no worries of personal intrusion into their lives, I guess I'm a little envious. Folks read it and liked it or not, and they never met the authors. Can you imagine Poe or Faulkner or even Hemingway on the social networking sites? Poe was a reputed drug addict, Faulkner a bigot, and Hemingway a total recluse. And Steven King? I believe he was considered the outsider/weird kid type. And nobody had influence over them to be anything otherwise. They wrote. People read, and their lives were always their own.
Conversely, I noticed that today, writers make more of an effort to show their readers a glimpse of who they are, just so those readers can relate and care and maybe buy. Poor Terry McMillan got practically attacked on her FB fan page a while back because she wrote on a status message that she doesn't accept friend requests from people she doesn't actually know, that she appreciates her readers, but not everyone of them have a place in her personal circle.
Geez Louise! I felt so bad for her when so-called loyal readers responded with stuff like, "Well, since we're not friends, I guess I won't be buying your next book!" and "If you don't want people to get to know you, then why do you have a page in the first place?" and worst, "You owe your career to your readers, so be nice to us, or you won't have a career." Yes, on her fan page. Folks felt like they had a right to be all up in her post-Internet comfort zone, such that it is, just because they bought her books.
I was like, "Get over yourselves! She deserves personal life, too. You don't stop buying Air Jordans for your kids because Michael Jordan doesn't accept you as a friend. You don't stop buying Beyonce's music because you're not in her circle. Give her a break! You are fans. Not her friends." My comment basically got ignored.
Okay, enough rambling.
In the past I would say that I agree with you. Infact I still do to a certain extent. However, my experience here on She Writes is/has been overwhelming in one way because suddenly I have thirty more contacts in my email list and that means 30 more emails to look at, think about, respond to and I seriously want to do this. The interactions have been positive and given me a lot of insights, useful insights I might add. Yet, I really really want to write my book and need all the precious time I can gather to do that and not be on the internet doing other things. My sense of propriety and politeness make me read them all and answer those that are pertinent to my situation and still it is taking from the time I could be writing.
So there you have it. Thanks for sharing. I do like this site. a lot.
I shouldn't have implied/said that we all have to be friends with everyone, because for some folks, those of you with lives, it will be nearly impossible to engage regularly, and write. But when we do engage them, make it sincere and thoughtful, not like so many of those FW: FW: FW emails we get from our college friends and family members, who can't even be bothered to type a greeting with that spammy nonsense.
I have a college friend who email blasts me on a regular basis with some joke/prayer/photo of the day crap, and when I do bother to say something back, like, "Thanks. That was really funny/thoughtful/cute. How's the family? Are you guys going to Homecoming this year?" this heffa doesn't even reply. Do I want to see EVERY photo her child ever took? Do I care what Beyonce's pregnancy photos look like? Do I give a crap that Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon have cute Halloween outfits on that match their kids'? No. But to her, that's how she engages her throng of friends and family to let us know she cares. (I digress.)
Your sense of propriety and politeness, in my opinion, are already making you do what needs to be done to build and maintain a network. You care enough to engage people as much as you can, and be polite enough to offer thoughtful responses. That's plenty. You are carving out some time from your already full life/schedule/agenda, and I know people appreciate that. Some of that will translate into book sales and book buzz.
Thoughtless, empty, spammy "All About Me/Or Someone Else Who Doesn't Care Anything About You" bulletins are fine for long lost friends and family you haven't spoken to in years; but not for people with whom we want to actually build a reader/fan base.
What I'm saying is that we shouldn't make our social networking interaction with our readers all about us. "Here's an excerpt from my book!" "My book is published. Go here to find it!" "My book signing is here! Come see me!" "Me, me, ME!" Then they never hear from you until the next, "Me Stuff" blast. Shucks. That's what you have a website and a Twitter page for.
On social networking sites, (and maybe even on our websites and Twitter) I think we should be a little more personable, when time allows, and friendly. Or friendly-ish. Not saying interact with everyone on every day, but at least some days, say something that lets them know that they matter. The contact is going to be limited as is, but now and then, let someone else feel like their getting a word in.
And I like this site a lot, too. Thanks for reading and commenting.
Regina, I couldn't agree with you more on your thoughts concerning the impersonal stuff that some people send in lieu of real thought provoking ideas/concerns/feelings/thoughts. I like She Writes because the people here are concerned about writing, have a zillion and one good- useful ideas and I want to be connected to people like that as well as my friends and family on FB. that being said I am finding it hard to sit and concentrate on writing when there are so many conversations going on ABOUT writing that interest me on this site. Hence my problem, I need to write, I own and run a Bed and Breakfast in Costa Rica where I live a good portion of the year and I steal hours away from all that to write. My book might be done in another five years at this pace. :)
anyway. i appreciated your input and will look forward to reading more from you as time allows.
Thanks and can you add me to your list of friends on She Writes?
it is my dream come true. Truly. Ever since I was a young girl I have wanted to live by the ocean, have a bunch of horses, cows and chickens, and own a Bed and Breakfast , write a book and be in love. Guess what? I have all the of the above and am working on the book. :) Check out the website rather than have me gush all about it here...and our new POOL is almost completely done and that will be a real boost to our little business here. Come on down! Maybe I should host a Writers Retreat here. Thanks for asking and nice to be in touch. So what is your published work and What do you do besides write in life? I was a single mom, raised six kids and they are all off on their life pursuits and happy and I am a grandmother of three delightfully cute grandaughters.
Wow! You are terribly busy. And I understand how you feel. I joined She Writes a couple of months ago, while I was deployed. We got back a couple of weeks ago, and been given a good bit of down time to readjust and reintegrate. I've tons of time to read and comment on different threads; but even THAT is not enough time. There are so many I want to read, because most of them are so thoughtful and chock full of useful info; but life calls. I can't imagine doing this and trying to run a business. And I have the nerve to want to publish my own books, soon. Geez!
Here's hoping that you'll finish your book in fewer than 5 years. For my first book, it took almost 10 years from writing it, finishing it, dusting it off and finally publishing it. I POD-published, not traditional. I tried traditional publishing, agents, and whatnot. Just didn't work out. No takers. But that's all water under the bridge, and I digress again.
And to be fair, although I was pleased to get my book published, it wasn't ready, but at the 10 year mark, I was just anxious to see my work out there. I'm having it revised now for a better 2nd Edition release, hopefully early next year. But a lot of that 10 years was nerves (fear of being rejected) and procrastination.
That said, I too, will continue to read and interact with everyone as much as time allows. I'm finding it hard to tear myself away. It's like when I first joined my writing circle on MySpace (years ago). The buzz of energy was amazing. I called it the "New Renaissance" because there was so much talent out there.
Since that fizzled out, I've been looking/hoping for a place like this to help me stay motivated and nurture my creativity. Many of my writing circle migrated over to Facebook, but they don't do a lot of writing like the old days. So yaaaay for She Writes.
Okay, done babbling for now. Sending you a friend request now. :)
I'm glad you started this chat. I completely agree with you. It seems the definition of 'friend' has been redefined by technology. My local news station asks in their commercial for their viewers to "like us" on Facebook. Really? It's news, and not usually good news. Sure, it's dished out in different ways but it's all pretty much the same. If I really like something I've read or heard, I'll definitely pass it on--whether someone "friends me" or "likes me". It's not about me.
Terry or any author is entitled to her personal space/life. If someone buys an author's book and likes it enough to become a 'fan', then it's because that author was a good writer and you the buyer, found a connection. Period. That is a winning situation for the buyer as much as it is for the author--if you like to read (and isn't that why someone bought the book in the first place?) Isn't that as far as that relationship should go? Why does an author owe anyone more than a good book? And certainly not her personal space, unless she chooses it. To your point about Michael Jordan, I like Nora Roberts, and I would buy her books even if she didn't spend extra time meeting with her fans during a signing, when she'd probably like to be elsewhere. It's a nice part of her personality, but I'm not needing this to feel like I'm a "friend". I'm a fan, she's an author--works for both of us.
I also agree with Gwendolyn. I like having the connections with others and want to reply or help where and when I'm able. But I also feel the pull away from the the already limited writing time, and understand why others shut e-mail out during time designated just for writing. As someone who appreciated the assistance from others as I was starting out (and still do), I want to pay it forward. If someone wants to ride the fan train with me and be a 'friend' (technology definition of), let's go have fun--whew heww! But understand when you step aboard, as an author all I owe you is a good read and a hearty 'thank you' for your interest. Nothing personal. :)
Thanks for this chat. I love this site because of all of the support for each other, valid information and of course interesting and lively discussions. :)