The theme this month is “Back to Basics” and I was having trouble thinking of something to write about it. Until I saw this article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/15/pam-van-hylckama-vlieg-attack-agent-author_n_1886696.html
The article is about a literary agent who was attacked by an author after she rejected his manuscript. How did this author know where the agent would be? The agent used a social media site called Foursquare. which enables a person to check-in at different locations and is broadcast to the person’s followers.
I’ve wanted to write about social media usage for a while now. It seems to be one of the hottest building blocks in an author’s online presence. I’ve been on Facebook for three or four years now. It started off with just personal friends. Then I found Holly Black and Cassandra Clare on there. I held my breath and sent them a friend request. When they accepted, I clapped like an idiot and went on the hunt for more of my favorite authors, then YA authors in general, followed by other authors, agents, editors, publishers, bloggers and anyone else who had anything to do with the literary world. When I had a couple of hundred friends, I started getting friend requests from others who were starting out on their writing career. It was exciting.
However, I read an interview with an agent. She said the first thing she does when she’s interested in an unpublished author is Google them. In my mind, that meant I needed to have a platform. I needed to get my name out there. I added more friends on Facebook until I started receiving more requests than I sent. I was one of the first on Google+. I restarted my personal blog (don’t look for it, it hasn’t been updated in a while). I joined Twitter (though I never got totally into it, partly because I’m not crazy about cell phones. Ask Courtney how often I know where my phone is, the battery is charged and I’ve got it turned it on.). I loved Pinterest (until the whole thing with the copyrighted pictures came up). I joined LinkedIn ( and connected with most of the same people I’m connected with on Facebook.). I’m on something called Triberr (though I don’t honestly know what it is – I’m just in a tribe, I know that.). I’ve got a Tumblr account (not sure I like it. I feel old there). I’ve guest posted on blogs and have written regularly for several. I was pretty proud of myself. I had a platform. But, I didn’t have a book.
Social media can be a wonderful thing. I’ve met a lot of truly talented, smart and lovely people online. Yes, you know there’s a big “but” coming in soon, don’t you? Here it is: But, how much are you out there showcasing your talents versus how much of the time personal expression comes first? I’ll give an example of what I’m talking about. I’m very, very outspoken when it comes to politics and religion among other things. It’s exquisitely hard to suppress what I want to say versus what I think should say. There was a period of months where I was posting political things on a daily basis. I lost “friends” over some of the posts, but I eagerly defended my position. I got drawn into long, barely civil arguments with people I’ve never met. I spoke my mind. But, I didn’t have a book.
So, what does this have to do with getting “Back to the Basics?” I’m going to share with you some tips that I’ve learned along the way. Everyone who reads this has a goal: to write a book. Here’s my advice on how to get that done:
- Social media can be your friend or your enemy. It’s up to you to decide how to use it. If you want to be political, religious or post only game scores or pictures of fuzzy kittens every five minutes, that’s your choice, but know that what you’re putting out there is how the online world perceives you. Am I a hypocrite? Absolutely, but I’m getting better at it (perception not hypocrisy, that is). Have fun and bring on the kitten pictures, just use common sense.
- Do what you’re comfortable with, as in, don’t let social media take up your writing time. If you find that you’ve got 3000 friends and can’t remember the passwords to all the sites you’ve joined and you still don’t have a book – then you may want to consider a social media diet. I’m on one right now. It’s tough, but you can do it! Let me know and we can start a support group. I’ve heard Google Groups is a great place to meet!
- Be professional. Share the good news in your life, share anecdotes, show who you are. However, if you’re going to use social media as a non-stop commercial advertising your books, with a link to your book released every hour on the hour – you’re alienating people, not getting them interested in your book. Everyone you come in contact with is a potential fan – treat them that way.
What would you add to this list?
Whew! You made it through that long post. Here’s a reward for those of you who had the patience to make it to the end. This is from agent Jill Corcoran’s website. http://jillcorcoran.blogspot.com/2011/06/before-you-query-me-watch-these-free.html
Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lobo235/75085378/