Monday, April 30, 2012

Me and Social Networking

Good Morning. I'd like to broach the topic of social networking. Much has been said about this ever-evolving media and I'm not about to rehash every topic, but what I would like to do is share my thoughts with you.

First, I do believe it's a necessary evil. Back when I first started writing, I had no clue about blogging. NONE. A friend at my daughter's then pre-school said, "Oh you should blog if you're writing a book." And I was like, "What is that?" Seriously. Clueless. So I jumped into the fray with my blog and made oh-so-many mistakes, but I found my way, and a few friends, and lo-and-behold, I have a nice blog, a nice smattering of friends and followers, and I'm quite content.

Now some people really get the machine that is Blogger and how to go about building scads of followers, but I'm not one of them. Not that I would mind 1500 followers, but I would have no clue what to do with them. As I put writing at the top of my priority list, right below The Monster, it's impossible to follow the almost 400 blogs I have on two separate blog rolls everyday. I do what I can and hope that's enough.

Now, let's take a look at Twitter. I joined because everyone kept telling me it's a great way to get my books "out there". I have a love/relationship with it. I admit I am inept at it, don't know the "rules", have made mistakes and quite frankly don't care. People follow me, so I try and be polite and follow them back. I hate  that I have to wade through  90000000 bits of information just to find anything remotely interesting. I post once around 6am and find that's about all I can handle. Not much socializing there. (I did make lists, but don't use them.)

Goodreads is meh. I feel like I don't spend as much time there as I should. I want to, but I don't read as many books as I used to. I haven't read anything "new" (published within the last 5 years) unless it was given to me, or won in a contest, or have been asked to write a review. Quite frankly, I don't know what to do with it.

LinkedIn is another social network I have. I do like it, because I don't have to do anything with it. I have it linked to my Twitter account, (and I think it's linked to my blog but I'm not sure) and I rarely check on it, maybe once a month, because it's not something I know what to do with either.

I am NOT on FaceBook, nor will ever be. I know I was on the fence with Twitter and finally caved, but rest assured, I will NEVER join FaceBook, not even with a fan page. I have my reasons and they're private.

As far as Tumblr and Pinterest and whatever else is out there, nope, not doing that either. I might even close my Twitter account because I just hate it so much some days.

Now some people can be social butterflies and are very good at it. Throw me into the midst of a cocktail party, or any other kind of social function and I can chat it up with the best of them. But it's a different atmosphere. This whole other thing that is "media" is just daunting, and quite honestly, exhausting.

The one thing we're told as writers with published books, is that we need to keep writing and keep publishing, whether traditional, small press, or indie. That is a FACT! Follow the big name bloggers and they all say the same thing. Just write. Write the next book, and the next, and the next.

The problem is, without the machine of a publishing house (and sometimes even with it) we're also told to promote, promote, promote. And what better way to do that with social media.

Tell me --  Do you find social networking as daunting as I do? How many sites are you on? Do you use it every day, or just when you find the time? Is it just a promotional tool for you, or are you actually socializing?


Elliot Grace said...

...good morning, Anne ;)

We may in fact be the last two remaining souls on the planet who can not be found on Facebook. And for that, I believe that a toast is an order.

Actually, my son recently started a fan page for "South of Charm," and manages the thing on a regular basis. He's quite the fifteen year old social-ite, after all.

We think alike, my dear. Use the public for promotion, and leave the madness for the masses ;)

Happy Monday!


Anne Gallagher said...

Thank you El. At least I know I'm not the only person NOT on FB. It's funny, I keep telling myself when the Monster gets older, I'll let her manage all my accounts so I can just write.

Laura Pauling said...

I've really enjoyed Twitter. I use it mainly to socialize with friends and new friends and to find articles to read that are helpful to me. But I do have my limits, like you and refuse to just go out and jump on the newest bandwagon. I would overwhelmed with it if I didn't use Tweetdeck and have lists so I could find the tweets I wanted to. If you're not doing that than I completely understand your dislike! :)

Jennifer Shirk said...

I think you're doing it right. You can't be everywhere or you won't have fun or use it in the best way. I'm not on Pinterest or LinkedIn or Tumblr.
I find I'm more socially active on Mondays and Thursdays and Fridays. The other days I'm writing more or doing housework. :)

Yvonne Osborne said...

I stopped worrying about the number of followers I had on blogger a long time ago. I joined Twitter, but like you, I don't find it so wonderful. The problem is retweets from people you follow from people they follow that don't interest you. Thus the wading through scads of filler. Honestly, Anne, I just want to write. How about you?

Justine Dell said...

Yes, I find them daunting. I'm on like a gazillion. (Several my publisher had me join that I had never even heard of). I was SUPER worried about it all. I mean, how do you keep up with all those things?

And then I matter how many "sites" you are one, you need to use the ones that are most beneficial for you. The ones that you are most comfortable with. So that's what I do!


Stina Lindenblatt said...

When I started blogging, I read Blogging for Dummies. I still didn't know much after that. It took me awhile to figure things out and start following non agent blogs. Like you, my goal isn't to get a huge following. Anyone can follow you. It doesn't mean they care about what you have to say.

I'm not on Pinterest or Linkedlin (I'm on this one but I don't use it. I'm just on it because someone friended me and I opened an account) or Tumblr. I occasionally remember to tweet and I'm not into Facebook. I just accept friend requests and my tweets and blog posts are posted on it.

Anne Gallagher said...

Laura -- I know, I should really invest in Tweetdeck, but I keep putting it off. I just really don't want to learn how to use it. Also for Twitter, it all depends on the time I post as well. I've found if I get on between 8-10 am, more of my "friends" are there and I can have "conversation", but usually I'm writing at that time.

Jennifer -- I think I need to set aside a particular time/day to use the social sites, so that I CAN enjoy them and use them for what they're intended. I'm trying to squeeze too much into too many days and it's just not fun.

Yvonne -- I had to laugh. Yes, truly, all I really want to do is write. Unfortunately, now that I'm published, I really do need to promote, at least just a tiny bit, which is all I'm doing right now.

Justine -- Yeah, that's why I pretty much hang out on Blogger. I like to interact with people, and Tweeting doesn't leave me enough room to go on and on about what I want to say. Not that it's important, but I can't do it in 140 characters or less.

Stina -- I'd like to go back to the simplicity of ignorance, and not have to "be" everywhere. But I guess it comes with the territory. I had thought about a FB fan page, but I can't get past the terms and agreement for FB.

Sarah Ahiers said...

I joined FB all those many years ago mostly to keep in touch with my highschool friends. And i do. I like FB, but i don't love it. I try to check in once a day. I haven't joined Twitter. I probably will, probably soonish too, but we'll see.

jbchicoine said...

Social Networking is like a huge bandwagon that us writers are supposed to jump on--and there are lots of other writers extending their hand, saying, "Come on up! You can do it!"

Yeah, It's a tool that we need to avail ourselves of, but I find it overwhelming and difficult to keep up--and keep writing!

If I've learned one thing about myself in my nearly 52 years, it's that whenever I try to jump on a bandwagon (of any kind), I am very likely to get my foot caught in the spokes...

Rick Daley said...

I'm on Facebook, Bloggger, and Twitter.

Facebook I use mainly as a personal tool. I've reconnected with lost childhood friends, and unfortunately found out about the death of a high school friend recently, and while that is sad, Facebook was the communication tool that got the word out, and gave me a chance to post my condolences to the family.

I don't get Twitter. I'm there, but like you all I see is hundreds of absolutely meaningless tweets. Sometimes people tweet about blog posts in which I have been interviewed, and that's awesome (to me) but I don't get much social interaction from the platform.

Blogging makes the most sense, even though it seems it's a fad dying a slow death....but hey, at least I get it!

Bossy Betty said...

I am all signed up for Twitter, have followers and can't figure out how to do it. Really. I am waiting for my kids to come home from college to help me. I like Facebook and blogging? Well, I love blogging and wish I had more time to make it around to people's blogs.

Eric W. Trant said...

Anne, my love, my wonderful mind-reader, my heart and soul and voice of my lungs!

Wow. You said it.

I refuse Twitter as much as you refuse FB, mainly because enough is enough.

I do Linked-in and FB, but only because I have a small business I'm trying to promote, and because I have a smattering of online friends I followed to FB when our chat-sites were overrun. I don't really follow my real-life friends, ironically!

And the only return I've seen from a commercial standpoint is from word-of-mouth of people I interact with only in real-life, and not online at all.

Ouch, right.

Blogging simply does ~not~ sell books. We are writers speaking amongst ourselves -- readers to ~not~ read our blogs. The other sites convince you they have value where there is only value for them and their advertising sales pitches.

I see no correlation between my revenue and my efforts with social/business networking, even with Linked-In.

As you so beautifully put it: "Write the next book, and the next and the next."

There's the key, along with getting into a traditional publishing house with a proven distribution system. There is a clear correlation between success and submitting new work to the market.

For example, I don't follow Neil Gaiman's website, blog, or FB, but I read just about anything of his I can find. Same with King, McCarthy, and with every author I read.

Also, I don't usually purchase books from my fellow bloggers unless their genre/book interests me, nor do I expect or see anything different from my fellow bloggers.

There is no reason to think social or business networking will sell more books or bring you more business. There is still no substitute for shelf-space and a large distribution of retailers, and for going out and finding customers the hard way -- face-to-face.

- Eric

Johanna Garth said...

Social networking is fun for me but I try to set limits. I love writing my blog and don't focus on my follower #s as much as my conversion/hit rate.

My other favorite is twitter. It's my chatty black hole. Come find me @JohannaGarth :)

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

I'm "on" Twitter and Facebook, but Blogger seems to be my only real addiction. I spend way too much time researching and writing my own posts. If I ever hope to get my novel published, that's gonna have to change. As for Facebook, the only reason I joined is to see pictures of my grandchildren. Both of my DILs post pictures there frequently, and if I wanta see 'em, I gotta be a member. As for Twitter, I'm a real hardly-ever-tweets dud there.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Not on Facebook either and don't ever want to be. Blogging is my main focus. I'm on Twitter although it's been a while since I had time to focus on a conversation. And I like Goodreads because I can follow book reviews.

jabblog said...

I'm on FaceBook so that I know what's going on in my extended family. The daughter that encouraged me onto it also persuaded me to Twitter, which I do quite ineffectually and with little response. I looked at Pinterest and decided I'd look at it later - ie: in a couple of years when it's gone out of fashion! I'm not a social animal, really . . .
As for LinkedIn - I'm there but goodness knows why or how - I didn't join it.
Blogging is by far the most enjoyable activity - I've met many, many very nice people that I would otherwise never have known.

February Grace said...

Anne, I have to say that I have changed my mind on Twitter- I have learned to use it instead of letting it overwhelm me, and I really enjoy it now. I meet the most interesting people and I don't even know how sometimes. I mean, this week I was followed by an Australian rock band. I have never heard of them before and don't know how they found me LOL but it's been interesting!

I know that my return to social networking after almost a year's hiatus (from FB and twitter) led to my getting published (in lit magazines) Period. I met people there that I never would have met otherwise, ended up submitting things and things really started happening for me. Gave me the gumption to finally put my own book out there because you know that I don't handle the 'machine' end of it all well at all. So I do things my way.

Before you quit Twitter altogether, I suggest this. Unfollow everyone you don't enjoy reading. I don't care who they are (even if it's me, I'll understand) or who overwhelm your twitter stream. I have to go through now and then and remove people who go on long rants or who just promote promote promote themselves. That's when you find the cream that rises to the top. you DO NOT have to follow everyone who follows you.

I hope you find your comfortable space, wherever that is. It's kind of a necessary evil this social networking thing for us indies, but I have made some amazing friends, you included, through blogging and the rest of it, too.


Linda G. said...

I have my blog, of course, though I take an occasional break from it.

Facebook I mainly use as a place to keep in contact with my extended family--it's great for sharing pictures and random news with those you don't see or speak to every day.

Twitter is great for staying in contact with my writing buddies, and making contacts with potential readers. I like that it's short & sweet--you can do as much or as little as you're comfortable with.

As for Goodreads...alas, I am a Goodreads slacker. I hardly ever update my reading list over there.

Technically, I have a Google+ account, but I never use it.

It's a balancing act, isn't it?

Jamie D. said...

I like social networking...mainly because interacting with real, live people is something I prefer *not* to do. At that party where you're chatting away? I'm the one in the corner checking my watch to see if I can leave yet without being impolite. LOL

Socializing on the web is socializing on *my* terms...I can come and go as I please, without the energy required of "in-person" interactions. If I have time, I jump into a conversation on twitter. If I don't, I comment on FB (which moves slower, so it's easier to have long-running interactions). If I'm looking for cover art or crafty stuff, I pin stuff to Pinterest...or look through other boards I follow for ideas. If I want to share a blog post I really liked with everyone I'm connected to, I share it on Tumblr (which passes it through to FB & Twitter and serves as my digital scrapbook of sorts). LinkedIn serves more as an online resume...aside from accepting connections, I do nothing with it. I'm on Goodreads to catalog my books and because that's where the readers are, but I don't put any energy into it. It's great for giveaways.

My FB "fan/business" pages are to keep writing stuff separate from family/friends stuff...but I'll friend, follow, or connect with virtually anyone, anywhere. I just use lists to keep everyone in their appropriate section, and it all runs rather smoothly without much thought or effort on my part.

My blogs are a mix - I have non-writing blogs for hobbies, and writing blogs for fiction along with other things. And yes, my blogs do sell books...thanks to the sell links at the bottom of each post. The serial chapters almost always correlate with sales.

When I have time, I use social media quite heavily. When I don't, I do what I have time for. It's not primarily a sales tool for me, but a connection tool - meeting and networking with all different sorts (not just writers - collectors, crafters, musicians...whoever, really) simply for the fun of it. Book sales are just a perk when they happen. :-)

If you don't enjoy it, people will know. There's no point in being miserable, and the one thing that consistently sells books is publishing a new one. So while I think having a presence online helps an author's visibility & sales to an extent, I don't actually think it's necessary. There are plenty of authors out there (self and trad published) who don't blog or any of the rest, yet still manage to sell books. A big backlist is worth far more in the long run, IMO.

Stacy McKitrick said...

I'm on Facebook, rarely. It gives me a connection to some family and friends (and even friends I met on a cruise). I don't know if I'll ever use is as a selling tool, though. And I'll never play games on it (huge time suck).

I like Goodreads because it keeps track of what I read - no other reason.

I'm on Linked-In, but don't use it. Have absolutely no idea how to use it and only signed up because of my aunt (who is also a writer).

I blog. Thought it might be a necessary evil whenever I get published. I find it more fun as time goes by.

Doubt I'll ever use Twitter. I think you'd need a smart phone for that, and I don't have one (don't want one). I also see it as a huge time suck. My time is precious. I want to write!

Donna Hole said...

I feel the same about twitter as you do about FB Anne. I have a FB account, mostly to keep up with my family members since we're all so scattered; but I also have a Linked in and Goodreads account that I rarely look at.

Blogging in my form of social networking, and that is more for like-minded companionship and insights into the industry. But I've bought many of my blogging friends books, and written a number of reviews. I am falling woefully behind on my reading lately, and my own novel writing.

Write the next book is the best advice any writer can receive. Keep up the forward motion Anne.


Anne Gallagher said...

Sarah -- I didn't stay in touch with anyone from high school. And Twitter isn't all that. Just my two cents.

Bridget -- You're a very wise woman. Just stay grounded.

Rick -- I'm with you. Twitter is just stupid, but sometimes it's good for something. Yeah, blogging is a dying art form I think.

Betty -- I wish I had borrowed one of your sons when I started Twitter. It probably would have made more sense to me.

Eric -- Oh love from another life.
You absolutely nailed it your last paragraph. We bloggers are only blogging to other writers. I've never even looked at a "big name" author website. Word of mouth, and another book is the key.

Johanna -- You're lucky that you still find the medium fun. It's more like work for me now. But I still love blogging.

Susan -- Everything is moderation. Including blogging. Writing should come first.

Anne Gallagher said...

Alex -- You seemed to have nailed the machine that is Blogger. And good for you! It's paid off in ways I can't even count.

Janice -- I think Pinterest could be interesting, but not now. Maybe after I've written everything I need to write.

Bru -- I like your suggestion about Twitter. I have unfollowed some people. I don't know how I get those crazy followers if I only Tweet once a day. And when I say, crazy, I mean crazy.

Linda -- I think Twitter would be better if I spent more time there, but I don't. I'm not on Google + either. Don't know why they even made such a thing.

Jaime -- There's no point in being miserable. How very true. And I get the whole we-should-be-social-networking-sites-to-be-seen but I've learned that the only thing that truly sells books is word of mouth, which is why I have business cards.

Stacey -- Yeah, time is precious. And if you losing in a time suck somewhere else you can't make it up. As me, I know.

Donna -- I think you said it best, blogging is for like minded companionship and insights into the industry. Bloggins has stuff you can't get anywhere else.

Liza said...

Sigh. Blogger, because, well, I have to write...and it got me going. LinkedIn, because I used to recruit for a living and I recognize its potential for networking. Some day it may help me again. FB? I keep that for family and close friends. Will I use it to market if I ever have a published book? Probably. I do let my FB F&F know when I've got an article out there. As for Twitter...well, I have an account and two followers. But have never posted anything. I just can't figure out why I need it right now. All the others, well, there isn't enough time in the world.

Al said...

Time is the issue for me.
I manage a few posts each week on my blog and that is about it!