Monday, March 18, 2013

The Shoulds and Should Nots

Good Morning. Today I'd like to discuss things we should and should not do when we're writer/authors. I've been around the blogs for a couple of years now. I've followed agents and big name writers, read blogs followed by thousands of people. These people know what they're talking about. I guess. But as with everything, I take what they say with a grain of salt.

We SHOULD blog with captivating content no less than 500 words no more than 800. We SHOULD Tweet and be friendly and engaging. We SHOULD have a Face Book author page and update it once a day. We SHOULD do blog tours when we publish. We SHOULD do this, that, and the other, so our name will be seen and heard and we will sell millions and millions of copies.

Uh, no. We don't. What we SHOULD do is find a place where we are comfortable.

I blog because I like it. I started my blog to meet people, like minded writers who I could engage with. Some of you who have been around with me from the beginning know me. I've written whatever the heck I want. Some days it's about writing, some days it's about romance, some days it's about my daughter, or the fact I'm building another fence. Some days I'm captivating, others I fall flat on my face. But I'm not blogging with specific content because I SHOULD. I'm blogging because I want to.

I've been reading forever about how to do a blog tour when you have a book coming out. You SHOULD set up no less than 15 stops, guests posts mixed with interviews, make sure you reply to every person in the comments etc. etc. I personally, don't do blog tours. Yes, I may do a cozy interview or two when my book comes out, but that's about it. And you know, there have been a couple of books I've released and only mentioned it once on my blog. (One story I never mentioned at all.) But that's me.  I don't have time for all that fuss and bother. Sure I might be missing a whole lot of sales, but you know,  I'm of the old school where word of mouth sells books. The writing should speak for itself.

I read a big name blogger a few weeks ago who said you SHOULD NOT reply to every single comment on your blog -- she said, it's padding the comments. Makes you look like you have 50 comments when you really only have 25. Now I had a "block comment" system in place for years. It's a pain in the butt sometimes. So I decided to go with "reply" comments instead. But you know, that turned into a pain as well, so I'm back to block comments. I'm making life easier on myself.

I also read over and over how I need to be on Twitter 3 or 4 times a day. I need to "engage" with people. I should be friendly and retweet. Then I also read that I should not retweet anything. Makes me look like a brown nose. I should have a schedule for Tweeting, 15 minutes morning, noon, and night. Uh, no. I don't have time to be sociable. I'm a writer. And personally, I don't think people give a fig what I had for lunch, or if Monster is home from school. I get on Twitter when I feel like it. I retweet interesting stuff if I think someone I know might like it. I Tweet because I want to and when I have the time.

And I've also read over and over how I need to get on Face Book so my "fans" can find me. As I've said before, I will never get on Face Book. In the back of every one of my books is my blog link to my Anne Gallagher Regency Romance Writer blog. I update every Sunday. I share what I'm doing in my books so my readers will know what's coming out next, what I'm doing, what's happening in my little writing world. My readers don't give a flying fig what page line edits I'm on, updating my status every 15 minutes. They just want to know when the damn thing will be finished.

I SHOULD do blog hops to find new followers. I SHOULD NOT do blog hops just to find new followers. I SHOULD follow every single person who follows me. I SHOULD NOT just follow someone blindly because they follow me. I SHOULD do memes and writing themes. I SHOULD NOT put my writing on my blog. I SHOULD use pictures. I SHOULD NOT use pictures. On and on and on.

Let me tell you what I have learned from the SHOULD and SHOULD NOT list. I SHOULD be true to myself and do whatever I feel comfortable doing. I WILL NOT do what every one else is doing. I mean, fish all swim upstream together. Why SHOULD I? I can zig zag if I want to. I'll still get to the same place. Maybe not as fast as the other fish, but I'll get there eventually.

Tell me -- What's on your SHOULD and SHOULD NOT list? What else have you seen on the blogs that you SHOULD be doing but don't? Or are not doing, but SHOULD?

Anne Gallagher (c) 2013


Yvonne Osborne said...

Your last paragraph summed it up for me. It's like grammar rules: you don't have to follow them as long as you know what they are. Happy Monday,Anne!

SA Larsenッ said...

I'm really agreeing with your list. It's a hard balance to find, when talking about following and followers. Should I return a follow just because? I've found this a major issue on Twitter. I don't ever follow someone there, who I don't have an interest in. Of course that interest is not personal, but professional. Blogging is a little different for me. There are those bloggers who I follow because I've developed a personal friendship with over time. They may not be a children's author, but I still find value in their wisdom and friendship.

Linda G. said...

Amen. My only "should" is that everyone should do what works for them.

Anne Gallagher said...

Yvonne -- Exactly! As long as you know the rules, you can play the game any way you want.

Sherrie -- Blogging follows are a little easier, I think compared to Twitter. I follow all kinds of bloggers because I can get to "see" them on a page and know (more or less) what they're about. Twitter is 140 characters. How can you base a "friendship" on that? I, too, have an eclectic blogroll, but blogs are where friends meet.

Linda -- Yup. You SHOULD do what you're comfortable with.

Em-Musing said...

I should find a way to clone myself so I can do all that's necessary for social networking. All this takes so much time...away from writing.

February Grace said...

Once when I was a teen I wrote up a list of everything people said I "should" do to/with my hair.

Bleach it, dye it. Perm it, iron it flatter. Cut it, grow it, braid it or put it in a bun.

I came to the conclusion rapidly that I'd go bald if I did everything to my hair people said I 'should'. So I did what the hell I wanted to with it (as is evidenced by the years of pictures of me sporting a Lady Di layered bob)

You can't do it all. So you just have to do what works for you and leave the rest.

No one can do it all perfectly, no matter what 'they' say.


J.B. Chicoine said...

I think you SHOULD have some objective in mind and aim for that. My objective has evolved over the past 5 years, and my life has changed radically in the recent past. I guess the only SHOULD I can manage is not to let my blog sit dormant for longer than a month and to post something about my writing projects so that if a reader is curious, they can find out what I'm up to.

Bottom line is, I simply can't keep up with the whole blogging life, and write, and care for my parents, AND worry about other peoples expectations (in all honestly, I find it hard to imagine that anyone in the blog-o-sphere has any expectations of me one way or the other--I truly feel like an inconsequential little fish in the big sea, and I'm fine with that).

Anne Gallagher said...

Leigh -- yeah, that seems to be the only solution these days. clones. I don't truly think that we of a certain age had ever thought about what might happen after we wrote a book. At least I know I didn't. Writing is the easy part I think. Social media is hard.

Bru -- I know, what is it with hair? And I've kept the same plain hang down my back style since I was a teenager. I don't care how grey I get. I don't care what "they" say.

Bridget -- I think my objective was to just get published, first traditionally, and then when that fell through, to self-publish. I think now that I've weeded through the last couple of years, the only thing I absolutely SHOULD do is just keep writing. NO ONE argues with that.

And you are not an inconsequential little fish. You are my great blue whale. (I don't mean that the way it sounds.) I mean, where would I be without you?

Johanna Garth said...

I feel like it's so easy to get carried away with the shoulds and shouldn'ts. For me blogging is partly about the relationships I make and partly my way of forcing myself to write a little blurb of content even when I'm in editing mode. As for the rest of social media, I do what I enjoy and try not to worry too much about it.

Bish Denham said...

I speak to me oh guru Anne of Piedmont. I do the bloghops I want to do. I blog about what I want to. I visit other blogs when I can. Mostly I write.

Heck, Steinbeck didn't have fb and neither did L. Frank Baum and I don't see their books going out of print!

Linda Cassidy Lewis said...

I don't have any thing to add to your post. I just want to say AMEN!

DL Hammons said...

This should be printed on parchment paper!!! :)

Liza said...

I SHOULD NOT let social media rule my writing life. Write first. Social media second. That's why there's less of me out there these days. I'm running out of time for both, so I'm prioritizing.

Coleen Patrick said...

Love this. Seems like the last week there have been dozens of conflicting posts on what "shoulds" I need to be doing. After reading your post, I feel like I can take a breath!

Nicki Elson said...

I totally agree that doing what you're comfortable with is the best way to go. Readers can smell fear & awkwardness a mile away. Sometimes we've got to fumble through lots of different things to find what's comfortable for us, but once we do, stick to that and don't worry about all the other stuff we "should" be doing - because as you point out, for everyone who recommends doing it that way, there will be someone else who recommends against it.

Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

Oh, gosh, AMEN. I get so, so sick of the YOU SHOULD DO THIS attitude. You have to do what is right for you and that is IT. I've found, honestly, that blog tours actually slow my sales down, and I'm not sure why. After four books, though, I'm not sure I want to do blog tours anymore. Blogging, for me, has finally become something I do only for me. I love it now. Used to hate it when it felt like a SHOULD thing.