Last week I declared my intention to engage our community in a discussion: Where To, She Writes?
and raised a series of issues
I wanted to share my thoughts on, and get your feedback about.
The first had to do with what I often hear referred to on the site (in grumbling terms) as "self-promotion," which means different things to different people, but generally seems to refer to the act of pushing one's wares onto the members here without contributing much in return. Since our launch, many questions have been raised about where the line is between "self-promotion" (aka BAD) and sharing (aka GOOD), so I decided to compose a quiz that will test your self-promotion-sensitivity IQ.
DISCLAIMER: I have never written a quiz before so forgive me if this one stinks. However I am quite confident that if you take this quiz, you will learn quite a bit along the way about what I think constitutes the best possible community behavior on She Writes, because (as you will see) it will be screamingly obvious.
POP QUIZ: Are You A Self-Promoter or A She Writer Extraordinaire? Take This Quiz and Find Out!
1) How would you tell people about your blog on She Writes?:
a) By cutting and pasting a generic message about it onto as many She Writes' members pages as possible, without spending enough time on any of them to recall a single one of their names.
b) By joining the Blogging Group
and participating in active discussion threads, linking to your blog there.
c) By browsing the SEE WHO'S BLOGGING
page, taking the time to read a few of your fellow She Writers blogs and commenting on them, and, better yet, by volunteering to be the Guest Curator of the Week for the Bloggers, Let's Make It Work!
group, highlighting fellow She Writers' blogs and yours along the way.
2) If you had a writing workshop you wanted to let She Writers know about, would you:
a) Upload the details to every possible place you can find on the network, including forums, discussion threads and group pages, without contributing anything other than your big ole ad to any of the above.
b) Start blogging on your She Writes page and establish a reputation as a generous, committed teacher of writing, sharing what you know about writing with the group, and list your workshop in our new Listings
c) Invite existing participants in your workshop to join you on She Writes, and put this platform to work by starting a private group
for your students where you can share news, events and direct messages with She Writers who have opted-in to your updates. Invite other She Writers to join the group if they wish to find out more.
3) Somebody sends you a friend request on She Writes and later, in your She Writes inbox, you get a message from your "friend" about a recent publication of hers. Would you:
a) Write back that you don't want to be "spammed" and unfriend the offending party.
b) Open the e-mail, or not, with the understanding that She Writes is a professional network and you should expect to get news like this from your "friends," who are like Facebook friends, who will send you messages you can read or not read because you are a grownup and you can make decisions like that.
c) Open the e-mail and follow the link, because lord knows it will soon be you who needs a little help from your friends.
4) If you have news to share on She Writes, would you:
a) Send an e-mail to all your "friends" just like you did yesterday and the day before that and the day before that, solidifying your reputation as the She Writer who cried "news."
b) Do a quick status update and leave a comment in our handy Member News section, to be included in the weekly Member News Roundup
, organized and shared every Friday with the entire network by Julie Jeffs
c) Scan the "latest activity" feed and last week's Member News and reach out to fellow She Writers who have had news to share, take the time to read it, and then share your news with them, too.
: Scoring is simple. If you answered a) every time, you are a self-promoter. Big time. If you answered b) every time, you get it. If you answered c) every time, I love you. Seriously. (Now you can see why I started She Writes—I could never have gotten the lucrative pop-quiz-writing gig at a women's magazine.) And I bet everyone else on She Writes loves you too.
I chose to approach this with a bit of tongue-in-cheek because it's a sensitive subject, and I think it's a particularly vexed one for women, who are often deeply uncomfortable with the very notion of promoting themselves, and, I believe, suffer for their aversion. So let me be clear—She Writes is ABOUT empowering its members to connect, share their news, and widen their networks and audiences. Everyone here SHOULD promote their writing—but they should also share their support, their encouragement, their knowledge, their attention and their time, certainly if they expect anyone to grant a portion of those same precious things to them. There are no rules for behavior here aside from the obvious: namely, don't be abusive. There are no rules largely because I think that the members who give the most to this community are the members who will get the most from it, and that those who don't, won't. Crazy little thing called karma. It packs a powerful punch in this new, hyper-linked world. And I kinda like it.
Just think: less than a year ago, I was a midlist writer with one book to her name who had a case of writer's block so bad she couldn't write a short story and was seriously contemplating white wine at nine o'clock in the morning. And now here I am writing to all of you, nearly 8000 of you
, because I decided that the best possible kind of platform wasn't the kind publishers wanted me to build for my first book, the kind that says BUY MY BOOK and little else, the kind that is
all about self-promotion. Instead I decided to build a new kind of platform, based on one true thing: the more I give, the more I get.