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

  • K.Z. – I am a lurker! Trying to come out from behind the wall, though 🙂

    Angelia – Gosh, you have quite a list! I’m too completionistic to handle so much, at least at this point!

    Wren

    Reply
  • I have a website, an LJ, a blog, facebook, a yahoo group, MySpace and Twitter.

    My website is all work and no play.
    My LJ is my everyday space. It might be BPAL reviews or book lists or religion or kid-stuff.
    I tend to forget my blog. 4 people follow it.
    Facebook gets more updates than it used to.
    My yahoo group is very neglected. I can’t seem to get any discussions going.
    MySpace…I just post releases there. I hate the interface.
    Twitter is fast random stuff, not my big networking thing.

    As for what works, I have no idea. I use what I find easy.

    Reply
    • Holy crap, Angelia. I’m exhausted just reading through your list. Do you mind me asking how much time you think you spend on each of these things?

      Reply
  • This is a timely topic for me- as an author! I just contracted for my very first book; it will go into edits next month. And that’s all I know b/c I am so new at this. Lately I’ve been mulling over the idea of self-promo. Have been doing a lot of hopping around the webz – forums, groups, blogs, websites, etc. These have been my questions and first tentative answers:

    – Should I blog or have a website or both?
    Seems kind of silly to have a site with only one published book, yeah? Plus I’ve come to realize that I frequent authors’ blogs more than their websites. I like reading what they have to say about things other than their books, altho’ I like that, too. I like blogs with personality and humor, such as KZ Snow’s and LB Gregg’s, among others. I want to be them when I grow up. Or maybe Kris or Jenre, I can’t decide. But I’m nervous – what if I throw a blog and nobody comes?

    – If I blog, should I use blogger or LJ or wordpress or something other?
    I can read all these, but have no concept of how easy/difficult they are to use or how others perceive them.

    – Use a social site?
    I just can’t imagine the time-suck facebook or myspace or twitter would be. I am the kind of person that enters the internet like a traveler in a labyrinth. I find all sorts of ways to veer off my path, looking at new and interesting things, exploring the different tines of the forks in the road. Heavens, I might get lost in facebook for days!

    – As a writer new to the market, how do I best get people to know me, know my book (besides writing a good one, that is)?
    Cloning seems to be the logical answer at this point.

    I’ve been a reader for a long time now, and still just discovered Google Reader. Love it. I have a zillion (Okay, maybe not that many) sites and blogs I like to visit, but they are not all updated daily. It eats a lot of time to check them out. The Google Reader shows me the new posts and if I want to go to the actual blog, to see the comments, say, it’s a click away.

    I know this is a long comment. Sorry *sheepish grin*. I could go on and on…hmm. Maybe I’ll use this on my blog sometime…

    Wren

    Reply
    • Hey, thank you, Wren. Nice to know I have some lurkers! 😉

      I also find blogs, at least the regularly updated ones, much more personable than websites, which are kind of like static billboards. I truly love the interaction.

      Reply
    • Awww shucks, Wren. You want to be me?? *writes this day down for posterity not to mention proof* LOL.

      Okay, I’m going to attempt to answer your questions. Disclaimer: Don’t kill me though if you do it and it doesn’t work.

      1. I would start with a blog first IMO. I think that will be much easier for you to establish and maintain initially. I’ve also seen – through some sort of technical magic – websites that have blogs so it might be that you can do a website later and attached your blog to it… hopefully.

      2. Thanks to Wave I’ve now got some experience with all 3. Although I’m not sure about the details of setting up a wordpress site, LJ and blogger were both extremely easy to use (sayeth the self-confessed internet idiot). I say go for either of these options.

      3. Re: use a social site – I can’t help you there cos I avoid ’em like the plague.
      4. Writing a good book is definitely gonna be your best promo. Why not make sure it gets out to popular review sites like Wave’s or Jen’s, but at the same time make sure your blog or whatever is up and running as a lot of readers have already mentioned checking out new author’s sites once they’ve finished reading a book. You might also want to mention any other work that you have underway so these peeps know what’s coming up.

      My 2c anyway. 🙂

      Reply
      • Kris – Thanks for your responses! You are so nice, no matter what KZ says *tee hee*

        I had similar thoughts regarding blog first, website second. I have noticed a lot of authors have them linked. Whichever engine (?) I use, I figure now is the time to get it organized and running. I know what you mean about investigating new authors. I do it every time I read someone new, either while I’m in the midst of the book or as soon as I finish. And I am always bummed when there’s no online presence.
        And what is this “mirroring” of which you speak?
        Wren

        Reply
        • K Z loves me. It’s just her version of pulling my piggy tails. 😉

          Mirroring is when you do one post and then upload it to different vehicles/internet tools. For eg, Jen posts the reviews she does for Wave on this site as well as her own blog and I upload the few reviews I’ve done for Wave over at my LJ account so they are all in the one place and link to this from my blog. Does that make sense?

          Reply
          • Hey Wren

            All bloggers have been through the ‘what if no-one reads my blog stage?’. If you put yourself about a bit on other blogs you’ll get curious lurkers who may even start commenting after a while. Plus when your book comes out there will be a lot of people checking you out to find out who this new author is. If you are maintaining a good blog, those people will stay with you.

            Good luck!

            Reply
  • I like this site, Fiction With Friction, Slash and Burn, Nose In A Book, The Naughty Bits, interviews and author sites the best. If I read a new author the first thing I do is look for their website. If there is no independent author site, how do I know what *other* places they publish? A random thought of the day is interesting and I *do* want to know when the next book is out, what progress is being made on a book I’m waiting for and what the author personally likes to read or their favorite sites. I’m likely to buy something from another author and visit the other sites to see if there is something that I’m interested in. I get really frustrated with a site if they only post reviews of a book but no blurb or buy link. A link makes it easier to buy their work, an excerpt makes me more likely to buy the book; teaser freebies make me squee and can get me into a new series or book that I wasn’t considering. If I read a page or two and I like what I read and the story sucks me in, I go buy the book. I don’t need a daily update. Weekly and random posts or newsletters are fantastic. (I have the JCP newsletter and love it) If you *do* have an author site, PLEASE UPDATE when something comes out or is due to come out! If I’m really on edge for a new book I’ll check the author site frequently and check out the bookshelf and the WIP page. I usually pre-select or auto-buy and almost *always* purchase on the day of publication. I almost always buy direct from the publisher.

    I tried LJ and Facebook a couple of times but nobody friended me (sad face) so I couldn’t see a lot of the content if any and decided not to pursue it further. I don’t twitter and I don’t write fan letters in appreciation of a book because I feel like I don’t want to suck up a bunch of the author’s time or be stalker-ish. Stalkers are creepy and if I suck up a bunch of their time reading my letter and possibly writing back, how will they have time to make dinner, do laundry, work at the EDJ and write the book that I breathlessly wait for? On the other hand, I *do* respond to the posts in those sites that I do visit and have a *huge squee* when an author responds to what I said. I try not to gush on them (though sometimes I do) because I don’t want to go back to the stalker behavior or make the author uncomfortable. Personal stuff and opinions are interesting and I’m fascinated by how the author’s mind works and their views on social issues. (I’m thinking of a couple of threads from The Naughty Bits and multi-author sites) Those feel more casual and connected. Mostly it’s about the books though. I might be interested in XYZ but if I don’t get it, I’m not going to pout as I too have an EDJ too. I’m really all about the books and the characters with a side of social issues relating to the books I read and the GLBT community with a splash of personal stuff.

    Mostly I just talk and write too much so… My name is Amie, I’m excessively verbose and a bookaholic. (They tried to make me go to rehab, I said no no no!)

    Reply
    • Amie, that’s some seriously terrific feedback. Thanks for your verbosity! 😉

      I have very similar views to you with regard to what types of things should be included on a site (such as lists, buy links, etc) and in particular about the site’s content. When you said “I’m really all about the books and the characters with a side of social issues relating to the books I read and the GLBT community with a splash of personal stuff”, my immediate reaction was that’s it exactly. I also prefer content that is heavy on the writing end with a large dash of associated topics and a pinch of RL.

      Reply
  • Davina, what you said is very interesting.

    The primary reason I’m averse to Yahoo groups is the overabundance of socializing and silliness. I like having fun, but I just can’t spend my time cyber-waving and LOL’ing day in and day out. You’re one of the few readers I’ve come upon who actually wants to talk books. What a treat!

    Mostly, I’ve heard readers complain that they get sick of authors doing nothing on their blogs and chat loops and Twitter but pimp their work.

    I strive for a happy medium and hope I’m doing the right thing.

    Reply
    • Yours is one of the few author’s sites I visit – if that isn’t already obvious – and I like the mix of topics and promo that I find there as well as things like how often you do up dates, how to contact you and find your books, etc, etc. Keep doing what you’re doing, K Z!

      Reply
  • It really depends. I love author’s blogs- provided they actually write about their writing! I’m not so interested in hearing about their weight loss routine or their sex life… *no, no, no on that last one!*

    And I HATE it when authors disappear- Joely Skye and Jane Seville, where have you gone??

    Yahoo groups can be quite good as well, especially if they’re well managed and stick to the topic at hand. Jordan Castillo Price’s is a good example of this- there are a sufficient number of posts each week for a good conversation, but not many your email inbox gets overloaded. I find JL Langley’s group somewhat frustrating in this regard- it’s generally just a huge party, and it’s only very rarely that her books at mentioned at all! When I first joined the group, I tried to start a conversation about some of the characters- about 3 people responded (including the author herself, lol) out of a group with over 300 people, and then the party carried on, my post completely forgotten. I tried again a few days later with a different character and was similarly brushed aside. Now personally, if I’m joining an AUTHOR’s yahoo group, I want to hear from/about the AUTHOR and their books/characters. This is one of those cases where I think I’m much better off getting information from a blog, or even a publisher’s website…

    Reply
    • God save me from insights into sex lives! Way TMI.

      Interesting that you say that about yahoo groups, Davina, because I only belong to one and that’s been recently set up specifically as a book club where we all read the same book and then discuss different aspects about it. If you are looking for something more serious let me know and I’ll see if I can hook you up with the secret password. 😉

      Reply
  • La KZ is supposed to hurry up and write her next book when she gets threatening emails from Kris of the Psychotic Psynners blog about appearing here today?

    I just gave her more pills. Now go away. Lopez already has his airline ticket to Perth, and, believe me, he is prepared to use it after he rescues Clare London from that hotel lobby and dispatches her sneering fancyman in the big white hat.

    Yours truly,
    Castanet Feldman

    Reply
  • Hi Sean
    I have a Tweetdeck and whenever I open it I’m totally overwhelmed by the number of messages and quickly close it.:)

    Everyone has to choose what works for them in terms of a communication device, whether it’s with friends or customers. Decades ago it was memos and letters (probably before you were born Sean)*g* now it’s email, Twitter , Lj or something else.

    Reply
  • I know that for me, Twitter has become really easy and a ‘go to’ device at the moment. Especially if you have an app like Tweetdeck, which shows you messages as they pop up and you can respond using only a couple of seconds. It’s a great break between trying to compose paragraphs.
    However, a blog post requires thought. It requires more concentrated writing time. You feel like you have to put much more into it, or else you’re cheating people.
    It’s odd, because despite the short length of the messages you compose on Twitter, I feel ‘closer’ to readers through it because you end up being more personal with them.
    I guess because it feels friendlier and more informal, you can slip into it more easily.

    Reply
    • Certainly makes sense to me, Sean. In terms of promo though I *pointed stare* wouldn’t think it wise though to ignore/avoid/whatever updates to your blog. A number of readers have indicated here that they often check out an author’s site to find out more about them and if that person hasn’t updated their site in a while I imagine that it would be extremely off-putting.

      Reply

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