Why Social Networks are the Keys to Good Networking
by Alexandra Sokoloff
I don’t suppose it’s any secret that networking and promotion is half the job of writing. Whether you’re traditionally published or indie published, a strong Internet presence is absolutely mandatory for an author. It is if you want to make a living at it, anyway. I’ve been a published author for six years now, with nine crime, supernatural and paranormal thrillers out, as well as two non-fiction workbooks on writing. Before that I was a screenwriter for eleven years. I’ve been a professional writer since I was twenty-five years old. I don’t know how to do anything else, so making a living at it is not optional for me.
When I switched from screenwriting to writing books I really knew nothing at all about the book business, and even less about book promotion. I’m a pretty quick study, though, in general, and I jumped into the Internet research. And in 2006 it was pretty clear that blogging was the thing for authors to do.
Blogging used to be the primary method of getting yourself out there, and if you had a personal blog and participated in a group blog, or several group blogs, well, even better. I did five years on the popular group mystery blog Murderati.com, and I know I benefitted from the professional exposure as well as the lively dialogue and companionship.
But lately so many group blogs have shut down, including Murderati, now, and authors seem to be burned out on personal blogging. You no longer hear agents and editors pushing blogging to their authors.
It seems the conversation has moved to Facebook.
The truth is, writers don’t seem to have enough time to blog any more. It feels like diminishing returns, when there’s a fast and easy alternative conversation on Facebook. The technology has changed. We’re having to reinvent.
I hear from a lot of people that Facebook is on the decline but it seems to me that those conversations that used to be had in the comments of blogs, and the large communities of “backbloggers” – a lion’s share of that action has moved to Facebook, and that that aspect of Facebook is growing.
When I e-published my crime thriller Huntress Moon last July, it hit the top of all the Amazon mystery/suspense lists and brought me a deluge of new readers. Suddenly my Facebook subscribers jumped from a few thousand to twenty thousand. I have over 78,000 subscribers at this writing. It was clear to me that my readers wanted to engage with me there and I’d better figure out how to do that. But I’d been busy blogging and had spent next to no time with other social media. Again, I had to do some quick catch-up.
Blogs are in-depth entities. The joy of a blog is that you can really explore a topic (as well as sometimes do some virtuoso writing), and the comments that follow deepen the conversation, and there’s something compelling about the feeling of that closed, fixed space that a blog is that makes it a sort of virtual salon. People return to their favorite blogs. They’re really like places where you can always find people you know and where other people can drop by and join the party. I love that virtual reality aspect of it.
But blogging takes a lot of time, not just for the blogger. It takes actual effort to read a blog, in that you have to go to a particular place to get to the conversation. If the conversation there isn’t what you were looking for, you have to look elsewhere.
Facebook is a different kind of experience. It’s all right there in front of you. You throw a topic up there and whoever happens to be passing by on the endless river of “feed” may or may not jump in. You never know who or what you’re going to get.
Facebook has tailored a social media experience that is either still a novelty, or possibly more suited to the kind of social media experience that we are looking for – quick, fun, convenient interaction that gives you a buzz of relevance without much work.
But I do notice a base of regular commenters coming back to my Facebook page over and over, so there is an aspect of place to it as well, and I try to provide content and conversation for those regulars as well. Some of my posts are funny, random comments or pictures or memes, but I also write longer posts that I often also link to my Screenwriting Tricks for Authors blog (http://www.screenwritingtricks.com) for an even more in-depth discussion for those who want it.
I’ve heard that referred to as “microblogging” and I think that’s a perfect description.
My Screenwriting Tricks for Authors blog is getting more traffic than ever (though far fewer comments these days), and a great deal of that traffic is for much older posts that are constantly reposted and linked to as people discover the blog and read the accompanying workbooks. It’s a hugely important selling tool for my nonfiction books.
But I feel like I’m casting a far wider net with FB than I can with blogging. Any post I make I get comments from people I don’t know at all. It’s a quick interaction that introduces me to a huge number of people who may remember me and the fact that I’m an author, which is the groundwork of all promotion – name recognition. And I enjoy the format of Facebook. It’s so visual – which puts it light years ahead of Twitter, in my opinion. There’s an aspect of improv to it, in that I can always find something fun to say about something someone else has posted. I am, for better or worse, a social butterfly, and I love to have random conversations with large groups of random people.
I know, I know, it’s sounding like I’ve just discovered Facebook (“Where exactly has she BEEN for six years?” you’re asking). But it’s only recently that I’ve felt that I can use it properly and that it’s at least for the moment being a form of social media promotion that gives me the most bang for my time. Time being always of the essence – not just for writers, but for everyone who reads them.
And that’s why I also think that as an author you have to choose one or two of the social media that you actually enjoy, and don’t worry about the others. We can’t possibly do it all. It took me a while to learn to love Facebook, but now I honestly do. It’s my reward for my hard writing work. And when work is play, you’ve got the best of all world.
So today, I’d love to hear what you others to say about it. Do you think blogging has moved to Facebook? Authors, have you had luck microblogging over there? Readers, what are your personal preferences in social media and interaction with authors?
And while we’re on it, where does Twitter figure in? If people ARE leaving Facebook, where are they going? I’m really interested in what you all have to say about it.
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Mystery / Thriller
Rating – PG13