Tuesday, April 20, 2010
FFW: Social Networking
As you may or may not know, I spent three days last week in Grand Rapids, Michigan at the Festival of Faith and Writing. Wow. Words cannot describe... Three days of total immersion into every aspect of writing: creativity, faith, discipline, editing, promotion, networking, and on and on. I'm still reeling, but in a good way. I learned so much. And since I spend every Tuesday focusing on some aspect of writing or the publishing world, I've decided that I'm going to take the next several Tuesdays and share the best of the best of the information I gleaned from these amazing sessions. It'll be like you're there! Minus all the fabulous authors, the face-to-face contact, the buzz of excitement... Sorry about that. Oh, and it will also be minus pictures because I forgot to take my camera! What an idiot.
Today I'm going to talk about the first concurrent session I attended. It was called Facebook Revolution: How Writers Can Use Social Media to Build Their Readership. The panel was absolutely fantastic and consisted of: Jason Boyett (author and blogger), Greg Daniel (agent), Kelly Hughes (publicist), Jana Riess (editor, freelance writer, and reviewer), and Lisa Samson (author). Take a moment to check them out!
As you can tell by the title alone, this session was all about the thing I hate most: publicity. That's why I went. I figured it would be good for me. Why attend an interview with Wally Lamb or enjoy hearing Ed Dobson wax poetic on radical faith when you can learn all about successful strategies for narcissistic self-promotion? Okay, I'm being cheeky. Like I said, the panel and information were great... My publicity hang-ups are my own. The truth is, I learned a lot.
According to Kelly Hughes, social media is all about: presence, engagement, and authenticity. In this technological age, you need to use the tools at your disposal--more importantly, you need to get to know your potential audience and learn what they want and need. According to the panel, if you're not engaging your audience on-line, you've already lost the battle. Though I hate to hear those words, I can attest to their truth. Not too long ago, I heard about a book that really grabbed my attention. I eagerly went on-line to find out more about the book and the author. Much to my dismay, she didn't have a website. I felt cheated, and didn't buy the book. Honestly, if she would have had a website and an entertaining blog, she easily could have turned me into a fan for life. And I'm a fiercely loyal fan...
All the same, I'll admit that after an hour of listening to these bright, engaging people speak, I was tempted to crawl into a hole and stay there. Not that I'm such an introvert. In fact, I'm quite extroverted. But even after all these years I still cringe at the thought of "hawking my wares" (i.e. myself). It's just not something that I can get used to. So, where does this all leave me?
Right back where I started... As much as I enjoyed the session, after several days of mulling it over I've decided that I still need to be true to myself. Maybe I'd get more followers on my blog, friends on my Facebook page, or people who will buy my books if I start a Twitter account. But I'll also have less time with my boys, less time to write, and less respect for myself. Not that there is anything wrong with Twitter. But if I did it, it wouldn't be because I want to or because I feel compelled to do so. It would be because someone once told me that it would help me build a platform. Frankly, I don't want to build a platform. I want to write books. Good books. Books that people will hopefully love. And yes, I realize that no one is going to buy my books if I'm not actively participating in publicity. But I'm comfortable with what I'm doing. I like blogging. I like updating my Facebook page. I like meeting people. And I'd like to think that God is going to have his way with my life and my books--whether or not I turn into the Queen of Self Promotion. Which isn't going to happen. I'm content to live in the balance.
Your Turn: If you write, how do you feel about the prospect of self-promotion? And if you're a reader, how engaged do you like your authors to be? Is it a turn-off when authors seem to constantly be self-promoting?