Why the hell aren’t you busy writing?!

social networking explained

I’m pretty new to this blogging game and some *okay, a lot* of the sites and thingymebobs everyone talks about make this terrific whooshing sound as they fly right over my head.

To this end, I recently posted on my blog about my complete suckiness at all things to do with the internet and social networking and put out an SOS asking a gazillion stupid questions about what things were, what they were supposed to do and what would they actually do for me.

One of the issues coming out of this was a few authors felt that participating in communities as well as having their own sites was eating up their precious writing time.  My automatic response to this was “Well, what the hell are you thinking? Tell ’em to bugger off and go and write already!”  Later, though, I started to think more deeply about the online presence authors must feel the need to maintain.  I say must deliberately because there is a definite expectation from readers, myself included, authors will have a website or blog or whatever and, in addition to this, they will interact in some way, shape or form with their fans.

Realistically this means in terms of self-promotion and marketing, especially in the epublishing industry, it’s pretty much a given that an author needs to be active online *but NOT an active wanker cos that’s another topic in itself*.  By the same token, there is obviously a fine balance between RL, writing and the ‘author persona’.

It’s in relation to this balance that I’m hoping for feedback which may assist authors – no matter at what stage of their careers they may be – in deciding what internet tools will work the best for them.

So, setting aside the squeeing that results whenever an author and a reader connect online, here are some questions to (hopefully) help stimulate your little grey cells:

Readers , do you visit authors’ sites?  If so, which ones?  Do you prefer websites, blogs, LJ, Facebook, Twitter, whatever?  How often do you like to see updates and what do you want in terms of content?  Do you read joint author or publishers’ sites?  What actually helps – or doesn’t – to promote an author to you?

Authors, what internet tools have actually worked for you?  What are the pros and cons associated with these?  As important as they are to promote and support the m/m romance genre, how difficult is it to commit time to communities like GLBT Bookshelf or publishers’ blogs for example as well as maintain your own sites?  Also, how do you really feel about guest blogging or doing interviews?

I guess the nuts and bolts *nudge, nudge* of what I’m getting at is – what’s the stuff that actually works and what’s the crap that’s just a complete waste of time from both a reader’s and writer’s perspective/s?

From my own POV, although I absolutely ADORE having Sean Kennedy or K Z Snow or Clare London or L B Gregg *such a name dropper ;)* come visit me at my blog and my stalkage of them in return, I’d much prefer them to hurry up and write their next books already.  *g*

What do you mean RL??  Forget that!  Write!  *crack whip*  Write!

55 comments

  • Thanks, Kris and Jordan, for the mirroring info. I’ll add it to my list of important-stuff-to-know-about-living-on-the-webz!

    Reply
  • Fab post, Kris, with some very interesting comments.

    As an author, I use my website as my main promo thing. I used to participate in some GBLT promo Yahoo groups, but as Jordan mentioned, I do wonder how effective those groups are at reaching readers. Authors are readers, too, of course, still, I question the effectivity of yahoo promo groups. Not reader groups, but promo groups. I don’t have a blog or a twitter account, and I’m not on Facebook or MySpace, on purpose. I just know all of those would be a huge time suck, so instead I’ll occasionally mooch off an author friend’s blog and do a guest post. I frequent a few author and friend blogs and a couple GBLT blogs/sites like Wave’s, but that’s about it when it comes to that. I like Goodreads and check in there daily. I’ve found quite a few great books from recommendations from friends on that site.

    The real issue is time. I’ve got a day job, so balancing internet stuff and writing becomes a challenge. I keep going back and forth on whether I should start a blog and limit it to a weekly post. But I’m about as interesting as watching paint dry, so even if I could find the time for it, the issue would be what to write about. Boring blog or no blog at all? I’ve been sticking to no blog for the time being. 😉

    Reply
    • LOL @ boring blog, Ava. Me, I think I’m prob’ly the worst random blogger in the world. I’m sure peeps just lurk to see what the hell is with the crazy chick from Oz today. *g*

      I’m fascinated by your very conscious approach of just having a website and that’s it. Pardon the nosiness, but does that mean you tend to get a lot of emails directly from fans/readers? Or are they still able to interact with you on the website?

      As others have pointed out, the distinction between a promo and a readers yahoo group is an important one. I think I would be extremely disappointed if I joined a discussion or an author’s group to find out that it was just ‘see me, buy me’ stuff. This would be another thing that might end up putting off a reader as opposed to making a good impression.

      Reply
      • Oh no, there’s no interacting on my website. It’s just a static site. I do keep it updated. A lot of fan mail? Um…no. I used to get more mail from readers asking about future books, possible sequels, and then I added a FAQ on my website and now I hardly get any mail. Maybe I should get rid of the FAQ… lol

        I guess Goodreads is the main place where I interact with readers, but I don’t really see myself as an author there. I use the site more to catalog books I’ve read and talk books in general, than to talk about my own books.

        Reply
        • “Maybe I should get rid of the FAQ… lol”

          🙂 In all seriousness, though, this may be an option for those authors who do get a lot of enquiries about their WIPs and future plans. I imagine it would work in a similar way to having a back list on a site.

          Reply
  • I visit very few authors’ web sites with any regularity. I look mainly for what is going to be published and where. For a new-to-me author, I want to see a back list and, hopefully, where to buy it. If I learn a little about the person, fine. If not, that’s fine, too. One major exception is TA Chase – I absolutely love him and read his blog daily. This is the only other book related place I visit daily.

    I don’t and won’t do Twitter, MySpace, Facebook – I just don’t get all the social stuff, I guess – I can’t chatter on about nothing and I’m too much a private person to spill out my life for everyone to read…

    Reply
  • I’m so happy to see a few readers here enjoy my newsletter. It was a huge time commitment to set up. The initial newsletter took about 40 hours. Now it takes 1-2 days/mo. Still, the newsletter is critical. I try to make sure it’s not only a list of BUY MY STUFF, DAMMIT! but a bunch of interesting articles or anecdotes.

    It’s also cool to see praise for my Yahoo group. I try not to bombard or send silly jokes because I hate that stuff myself. I’m too busy, and when items like that appear in my inbox, I delete them.

    I’ve become disillusioned with promo-only Yahoo groups. Maybe some readers lurk there for excerpts, but I know that the digests from those groups usually get trashed by my with hardly a glance. Again, it’s a whole bunch of “Buy me! Buy me!” without anything to really pique my interest.

    I do my best to let all my readers know what’s going on. Like if I post an article to my LJ, mirror post it to MySpace (typically I have different readers on each) and then a quick tweet and note to my Yahoo group so they can come check it out it they want to.

    Reply
    • Hi Jordan, from the feedback here it is obvious that readers really love what you are doing and the effort you put in to make everything interesting. 🙂 I imagine that there will be a number of people checking your site/s out to see exactly what it is you do. LOL.

      I just want to pick up on something you mentioned which I think is really useful advice to authors and that is about mirror posting. I’ve noticed this is something that a few authors do and I think it is an extremely sensible way of updating different sites and also catering to the preferences of readers; for eg, those who prefer LJ and those blogger. I’m so glad you mentioned it.

      Reply
      • I’m loving this topic, Kris, thanks for blogging about it. It’s so cool to hear what does and doesn’t work for everyone.

        With mirror posting, I think it’s important to tailor the post a bit so you don’t seem like a spammer sending the same message to eight million places. Like put the full post on your blog (or your LJ), a mirror of the full post somewhere else where the audience doesn’t have a lot of overlap (Facebook, maybe?) and then a short invite to a few more key places, along the lines of, “What do you think about social networking?” or whatever you’re blogging about.

        (In fact I followed one of Wave’s tweets to the blog today and then realized I hadn’t been here in a few days and poked around some.)

        I have to admit it’s a turnoff for me when authors send a promo email out to every single erotic romance group every single time they make a blog post, because so few people belong to just one of those groups and it becomes a bombardment.

        Reply
        • I’m glad you are enjoying the discussion, Jordan. I think these types of topics can be really useful – especially for something like an author’s online persona and/or promo – in terms of getting feedback from a lot of different perspectives.

          Excellent point about cross postings etc. There is nothing worse, IMO, than getting a gazillion email updates about the same thing. It makes an author – or anyone else for that matter – look desperate. Definitely NOT a good way to promote oneself to readers.

          Reply
  • Jen: I’m with you about an author not underestimating the value of keeping their blog up to date. While my main interest is in their work, I also don’t mind hearing about their daily lives, but I do get really frustrated when an author doesn’t post regularly – even if it’s only once a week that would be something.

    One of the things that I admit does makes me cross is when I see that an author hasn’t responded to comments. A generic ‘thank you all’ would be better than nothing.

    Reply
  • Wow. There’s some really great feedback here and now that I’m awake I’m going to try and get back to you all… except for Senora Feldman cos she’s just a mean old lady who for some unknown reason has it in for me. 🙁

    Reply

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