Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Great Moments in Social Media (in my own life)

1990: I am given a computer for Christmas. With my 2400 baud modem (that's bits per second), I connect to the St. Louis Bulletin Board Systems. You dialed up a phone number with your 'modem' and, if no one else was connected to that computer at the time, you could leave and read messages by other people. People you didn't even know! My classmates thought I was kind of mega nerd from the future, my mother was certain I was breaking the law (how else could I be talking to people in other states without it appearing on the phone bill?), and my sister was furious at how often I tied up the phone lines.

I quickly learn I am more popular with girls 'online' than I am in real life. I get more dates that way then any other time in my life. Back then, when someone said they were a fifteen-year-old girl, they actually were. More innocent times.

1994: My college goes online. I spend an evening with my friend, looking at these strange new 'websites.' My quest for more information about the 1980s cop sitcom Sledgehammer! is finally quenched.

1996: I get my first piece of spam e-mail from a guy at the university about a furniture sale. I e-mail him to ask how he did it, but he says the university cut off his computer access for a week.

1998: I move to Mexico. My only link with home is Mexican internet service. Fifteen years ago.

2002: Stop sending me goddamn forwards! Do you know how many pesos it costs me to read those?

2002: I'm forced to abandon my hotmail account when I receive over fifty penis enlargement ads in one day (this is pre-spam filter era).

2006: I break down and get a Myspace page.

2006: I don't care about your stupid Mafia Wars thing!

2008: My first book is published. I'm forced to join Facebook. Also, my website goes online. I get my first piece of fan mail. She hits on me and my wife is not happy.

2009: Second book is published. I begin to compulsively google myself.

2012: I begin blogging for Forever Young Adult. 

2013: I write this post.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Social networking: thinking ahead (Jennifer R. Hubbard)

A lot of the encouragement writers get to participate in social media is based on the success of other people. Everyone can hold up examples of writers who shine online, whose followers are plentiful and enthusiastic.

But vlogging doesn’t make you John Green, and tweeting doesn’t make you Maureen Johnson. We all end up having to find our own voices in these networks, the same way that we find our YA-novel voices, our school-presentation voices, and our critique-partner voices.

Grappling with a new platform requires us to figure out how (and who) we want to be. When I first started participating in social networks, I wasn’t sure how to approach them. I figured out my voice, topics, and level of participation by trial and error. By the time I started Twitter, I was able to foresee many of the decisions I would have to make, so that I could plan from the beginning how to build my presence there. I had developed a set of questions that helps me frame a personal online policy for any new network.

Here are the questions I use:

--How much time will I spend on this? How frequently will I log in?
--What will be my policy on accepting friends and followers?
--Whom will I follow and why?
--Will I respond to comments and messages?
--What will I talk about here? Will I do promotional messages—if so, what fraction of my messages will be promotional? How much private info will I share? What areas of my life will be off limits? Will I post any of my original creative work here? Will I just duplicate the same info across all my social networks, or will I post something different on each one?
--What’s my attitude and tone? Am I being educational or entertaining? Formal or more relaxed? Zany or serious? G-rated, PG, or R?

There isn’t one set of Right Answers to these questions: there’s only what is right for me. If I network within my comfort zone, other people are more likely to be comfortable with me. And if I’ve thought about these questions ahead of time, it’s easier to make all the spur-of-moment decisions that will come later: Should I block that person? Will I answer that message? Do I want to get into those politics? Should I retweet that even though it has a cussword? How many times am I going to mention my new book? How much time am I really going to spend here today?

Saturday, May 25, 2013

hello, from social media wasteland - Alisa M. Libby

It is ironic that I am finally posting today, after months of silence (sorry about that), considering our current theme. I have been in non-blogging mode lately. I have been in writing mode, and life mode, and work mode, and somehow there has not been extra me to spread to social media. I'm sure there has been time, I'll be honest about that much - I could have blogged instead of listening to "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me" or eating yet another bowl of strawberries, but I just didn't have it in me. But I'll get back to it, I will, when I know I have something to say.

Today, I will leave that something to others. I know it's off-topic, but I'm offering a little poetry break from the lovely and talented Naomi Shihab Nye.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Skyping into the future!

After my first YA novel was published, I spent a lot of time on the road, traveling to libraries and schools.

Some of my favorite book tour memories include:

—painting t-shirts with the graffiti-loving kids at the Chicago Public Library (I still remember the girl who wrote "Adam Levine" with a heart on the back of her shirt!)

–during school visits, I always have a blast talking to the students at lunch....especially when it's prepared by the future chefs at Capuchino High School in San Francisco. Also: their book club has the most awesome name, "You Say Books...We Say Party!"

–taught a creative writing workshop at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. I was blown away by the raw, honest poems that the teens shared. And I really loved the zombie comic book that a boy doodled in his notebook!

Recently, my school visits have taken a new shape with the magic of Skype. A virtual school visit is an inexpensive, easy way for teachers to bring conversations with an author into their classroom. We can even share our computer screens (I like to show "behind the scenes" pictures of the settings of my books, the handwritten notes on the pages of my revisions, and of course, the office where I spend long days hunched at my desk.

As much as I love to pack my bags and jump on a plane, it takes time away from writing. Now that I've been chatting with schools online, I can pop open a window on my laptop and magically travel across the planet.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

What the Heck is Twitter, Anyway?

Twitter is the Internet-equivalent of a cocktail party.

Imagine a large venue with people clustered in little groups, discussing everything from politics to the latest publishing trends. By the bar, there’s that famous author whose work you adore. Near the stereo, there’s another group talking about Abercrombie & Fitch. Oh, and in the corner, there’s three people from a writer’s group you want to join. There are people clustered around videos and pictures, people chatting about specific subjects, and even people from professional organizations in attendance. 

You make your way across the crowded room and suddenly, somebody grabs your arm and shouts, “I wrote this book! Go buy it.” You wrestle your arm free and politely decline. A few minutes later, he shouts again. “It’s about unicorns! Please buy it.” Now you scan the room, lock eyes with the bouncer and jerk your head at this guy. He’s a spammer and you just blocked him. Good job.

You continue heading across the room. That famous author? She’s saying a lot of things.You listen for a few minutes. They’re witty. The people circled around her repeat every statement she makes. You watch for a moment but you’d rather talk with her, so you suck in a deep, bracing breath to gather your courage and ask her a question about her latest work, tell her how much you enjoyed it. She utters a few more pithy axioms; doesn’t make eye contact. You wonder if maybe she hasn’t heard you. You really want to talk to her and decide to try again.

“I really loved Ted. He’s my favorite character.”

Still no response.

You sigh and try not to take her rudeness personally. She’s a Big Deal Author and you’re not. You ease your way through clusters of people and someone mentions query letters. You need to know how to write a query letter, so you listen. The group says agent Janet Reid is the authority on query-letter writing. “Click this link.” You do, and find the Query Shark website is an amazing resource.

“Hey, thanks for sharing that link. It really helped me,” you say. To your surprise, the person turns to you and says, “No problem.” You spend a delightful half hour discussing each other’s work, what point you’ve each reached in the process, and what agents you’re considering. She tells you about another resource that could help called YALitChat. You’ve just made a friend.

YALitChat introduces you to more friends. Somewhere, you can’t quite remember where, you meet a fantastic person named Kimmie Poppins. She invites you to her group and later, to blog at YA Outside the Lines. You’re so damn honored, you can’t find the words.

On your way to the bar, you stop short and gasp. Here’s another big shot author, one of your favorites. His debut novel was on the best seller list for months. You tell him about the review your son and you wrote together and – swoon – learn he’s not only read it, he’s shared it. You can’t believe this famous author is talking to you and knows your name. You chat for several minutes about his book. 

You hear a loud laugh in another corner and discover Janet Reid is here with some of her clients. Wow, you were just talking about her! You angle sideways, ducking under arms and behind backs to get closer and hear Janet talking about whiskey with Jeff Somers and Sean Ferrell and Bill Cameron. Should you interrupt? Would that be rude? You take another deep breath and risk it, telling Janet how helpful her website is. She turns and thanks you. You introduce yourself to her clients. You learn that Jeff has a lot of cats and Bill worships bacon. You learn Sean’s first book is coming out in a few months. You congratulate him. He thanks you. You find out Jeff writes a sci-fi series you’ve never heard of. He’s got the next book in the series coming out later that year. You make a note to read it; he seems so nice and is really funny. You don’t know what Bill writes and are too shy to ask. But they’re nice to you and make you feel welcome, so you decide to repay their kindness by checking out their books.

You buy books 1 and 2 in Jeff’s series and love them, even though they’re far outside what you usually read. In fact, you’re addicted. You tell him so and he thanks you. You mention in passing you tried to find book 3 but the store didn’t have it. He sends it to you, autographed. You’re now his biggest fan. You buy one of Bill’s books, love it so much, you buy all of them. When Sean’s book comes out, you attend the launch and he signs a bookmark for you. You still have it.

Your new friends introduce you to their friends and soon, it feels like you know most of the people at this party. You don’t feel so nervous anymore. You start drafting your query letter based on everything you’ve learned from Janet and from the YALitChat group. It works! You sign with an agent. You announce it and Jeff suggests taking you to dinner with Sean to celebrate. You hug yourself because that was almost as cool as signing with an agent.

Someone taps your shoulder. It’s Jeannie Moon, the writer from that group you’re thinking of joining. She invites you to their next meeting and you love it, become a member of the Long Island Romance Writers soon after. The LIRW group critiques your debut novel, helps you get it in pitch-shape. At their annual luncheon, you pitch it to an editor who loves it – sort of. She invites you to revise and resubmit but you have no idea what that means so you ask Bill Cameron for help.

He sends you a ten-page email so helpful, you keep it in your purse for years to remind you how nice people can be. You revise the manuscript and the editor loves it. The book will be published the next year! You’re giddy with pride. People congratulate you. Jeff does your first book trailer and you’re honored – it’s the best book trailer ever produced. Brooks Sherman invites you to speak on a YA panel with two other authors and you’re so excited, you can’t sleep the night before.

Soon, you learn you need something called a blurb. You ask people and a few respond with suggestions on how to get one. You decide to ask that Famous Author who loved your review of his book. He says yes! Oh, my God! You hand him the manuscript and thank him. You email him to remind him of the deadline, but he doesn’t respond. You email him again and he still doesn’t reply. You tweet him and even send a direct message, but, sadly… no reply. Being ignored really sucks, and even though you know he’s busy you can’t excuse his rudeness. His next book comes out, and while it feels childish, you don’t bother reading it. You’re busy too now and you’d rather fill your precious free time reading books written by people who respect you back.

The book is released and you meet bloggers and librarians and best of all – fans. Actual, real-life teenage fans who comprise your target audience and who like your work and can’t wait for more and you still can’t believe it. You wander around the party and every time you hear someone mention your name, you stop to thank them for reading your book. They’re so happy you’re talking to them, because now, you’re the Author and you’re busy, but never too busy to make people feel like they matter. 

‘Cause, you know, they do.

You smile to yourself and know it all began at a party called Twitter.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Addicted to Pinterest

When it comes to social media, I always have the best intentions. As an author, I'm supposed to use social media to network, making meaningful connections with readers and other writers. The motto is: Go forth and get yourself known.

But when I visit a site, I usually end up goofing around. Take Pinterest, my latest love. Essentially Pinterest lets you create virtual bulletin boards. Instead of decorating them with photos and tacks, you “pin” your favorite pictures on the board with links from the internet.

Then you spend countless hours perusing other people’s boards, commenting, liking, or repinning anything and everything you see.

But when you decide to repin a picture, suddenly you realize you don’t have the right board, so you have to create another. And another.

In one dizzying afternoon I created seven boards. Only two were related to writing and books. Stuff I want has 21 pins. Many of them involve miniature animals.

I’m in awe has cool pix, too.

 As does Tee Hee.

I put up at least a hundred photos in one day before cutting myself off. From the looks of things over at Pinterest, others are behaving far worse.

At least I’m having fun.

Care to join me? We can waste time together.

Friday, May 17, 2013

My take on social media, by Wendy Delsol

My online voice has dialed back lately. This has been a choice. And I’m happier for the decision. It has afforded me perspective. With the benefit of overview, I’ve made a few important self-observations.
I’m a novelist. I love to write books. My time is, therefore, best spent writing novels.
I do not enjoy writing blogs. Blogs, for the most part, are personal observations about one’s life and experiences. Thus non-fiction. I don’t write non-fiction.
A website is a must have. I should be better about updating mine. My personal blog is woefully neglected. In fact, I intend very soon to change the “Blog” tab/page to “News.” It would more accurately reflect the way I post. And blogging once a month for our cooperative YA Outside the Lines site is a better outreach.
Facebook, for me, is a way to connect with friends and family. I now only initiate a friend request with individuals I’ve met personally. I do accept friend requests from readers/fans. Quite frankly, my posts are pretty benign. Lately, my high-school age sons have been the stars of my news feed with spring’s busy calendar of  prom, tennis season, and now graduation. When my books were releasing, I did include some news of events, etc. Not as much as other authors do, however.
Facebook fan page. I have one. I do not update it often. And I have mixed feelings about it in general. I was advised that teens prefer to “like” a page rather than have a reciprocal relationship with an author. This made sense. Some teens are candid and brash in their posts. They don’t necessarily want an adult eavesdropping. I can therefore see how a separate, one-way page could work. I never did actively promote mine, however. If it were a simple process, I’d probably dissolve it. It’s on my to-do list. That said, it’s a long list.
Now Twitter I kind of like. It’s fast. Mindless. My Twitter followers are an entirely different crowd than my Facebook friends, so I don’t feel like there’s much repetition between the two. I often tweet about professional tennis, Survivor, local events, other authors, or something that comes up in the news. I generally follow back other book people. I’m @wendydelsol if you want to chat about the French Open. Andy Murray’s injured and likely out. Bummer. He’s my second fave, behind Federer, of course.
Linked In. I’m officially Linked out now. Didn’t understand its value. I spent more time endorsing other people than anything else. I’m out with a big cleansing sigh of relief.
Google Plus. I may have half a circle floating out there somewhere in the ether. This one’s not worth the time it would take to opt out.
Pinterest, Instagram, and the rest…I politely decline.
So there it is, my tiny tour of the social-media world. There’s a commercial out there (for Toyota Venza, I’m pretty sure) in which a twenty-something woman reflects how sad it is that her parents have so few Facebook friends. Meanwhile, they’re out on some adventure while she’s alone at her computer. That spot is both funny and wise. As a writer, I find it particularly meaningful. Writing novels is a solitary endeavor, one I enjoy immensely. It is, thus, how my computer time is best spent. The rest of my day is allocated to research, aka eavesdropping on life.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Be Yourself Online (Unless Yourself is a Jerkwad) by Jody Casella

One of the things I like about interacting on social media is how I don't have to leave the house to participate. I can sit on the couch in my pajamas blearily holding my coffee while I tap out all my sparkly and thoughtful and insightful comments.

Of course, I could just as easily spew idiotic, offensive, or boring blah blah blah kinds of things too.

Authors are encouraged, even expected, to use social media to promote their books. It should go without saying that if you are a writer, representing a book you poured your heart and soul into, and you'd like for readers to find it, and possibly read it, you should be careful not to come off like a Jerkwad.

But here are a few examples of people who did not get this memo (and I am leaving out names and identifying characteristics to protect these poor saps):

  • A writer wrote a blog post mocking book reviewers. A book reviewer discovered the post and tweeted the link to all of her book reviewing friends.
  • A blogger wrote a "meh" review of a new book. The author's agent called the blogger a curse word in the comment section.
  • A writer upset about a negative review bad mouthed the reviewer on a popular book review site prompting the book reviewer to create an Authors Behaving Badly list. 


Be kind, dear writers. Don't say things in the heat of the moment that you might regret later. Of course this applies in the real world too, but it's so much easier to offend a larger number of people in the social media world. Break the rules and the consequences can trail after you forever.

Or maybe not. I was talking about this with my husband the other day and he assured me that at some point, all of this data floating around--silly but adorable kitty pictures and snarky tweets and random photos of you and your dippy ex boyfriend--will be deleted to make room for more recent insulting and/or inane stuff.

I don't believe him.
(I suspect that this kitty will be floating around forever)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Who Am I in the World of Social Media Marketing (Cheryl Renée Herbsman)

I'm not Ashton Kutcher. Or a Kardashian.  I was never the kid who played class clown. Had no desire to draw all the attention my way. I'm a quieter being, who prefers talking about big topics with small groups of people to small talk with big groups. So when my debut was about to come out and everyone said I needed to use social media to get the word out, I was a little freaked out. I couldn't imagine standing on my little twitter hilltop shouting out into the wide world of twitterdom, "Hey out there! Look at me! I wrote a book!" The thought gave me hives.

But what I learned over time is that you gotta do it your own way. If you're into all sorts of pop culture and TV shows or even politics, you've got plenty of material to get conversations going and that's great. But I've also found that there are other people out there who prefer to talk about the things I like to talk about -- the struggles of the creative life, the real life angst of the teens for whom we write, offering support when a fellow writer is having a freak out or when another is sharing good news.

I think my fear was that I suddenly had to be entertaining all the time. But what I found is that if I'm just willing to reach out and share a bit of myself, it works just as well for making connections and keeping myself available to readers and to networking opportunities. It's so easy to lose ourselves in the big, complex world of publishing. And I think it's okay to decide to not get so pulled apart trying to do and be everything that we have nothing left. I think it's okay to take a breath and remember who we are and let the marketing spring from there.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

On Social Media, Self-Identity, and the "Share" Button In Our Brains (Jennifer Castle)

There's a lot I'm uncertain about when it comes to social media and how it connects to my life as an author, so I prefer to focus on the few things I do know. Like, the fact that I hate the word “platform.” And how much I love being able to easily connect with readers, bloggers, librarians, booksellers, educators, and other authors. And that these three rules seem to work for me:
  1. Only do it if it’s fun.
  2. Only do it if I'm truly compelled to put something out there.
  3. Only do it if it feels organic to who I am.
The last one is the most challenging, and, as it happens, one that ties in with the book I’m about to release in a few weeks.

My new novel “You Look Different in Real Life” is about a group of teens who are the subjects of a documentary film series that checks in on their lives every five years. I got to explore many themes with this juicy (and challenging) premise, but the biggest was self-identity. The documentary film element was a way for me to draw parallels to social media and how it lets us essentially make ourselves the “stars” of our own movies, about our own lives, which we then broadcast to the world. It also lets us choose which of our many changing roles we want to perform at any given moment.

In “Playing Keira,” the digital-original companion novella to the new book, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to articulate some of these notions in the narrative itself:

Garrett looks intensely at me for a moment, his head tilted, as if seeing something he hadn't noticed before. "You're comfortable with who you are, aren't you? You don't post things online, trying to impress friends from high school with how fabulous your college life is. You don't share a status update every time you eat a burrito or wake up exhausted from a late night. Am I correct?"

How should I answer here? I don't know Rayanne well enough to make a call on that. As for me, however. It's complicated. I don't do these things he's mentioned. But that doesn't mean I don't think carefully about everything I share with the world, especially after "Five at Eleven."

There's always something to think about, isn't there? I feel like we’ve been redesigned with a tiny “Share” button in the upper right hand corner of our brains. We experience something in life. There’s a moment of, “Do I click that button?” And then for many of us, there’s the follow-up moment of, “Do I click it for Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest or Tumblr?” (Usually in my case, by then the shareable thing has passed and I’m too mentally exhausted to bother.)

Sometimes I want to post a hilarious quote from one of my kids, but then I’m like, “Do people really want to hear this? Will I sound like a cloying mom? Oh God, am I a cloying mom?” If I upload a Hipstamatic picture of snarled tree roots because I think they're beautiful, is that idiotic? Because the Web is filled with fake-vintage pictures of snarled tree roots, and why should anyone give a flip about this one? Why do I like snarled tree roots in the first place?

Yeah, I know. BFD.

Instead of sharing, I often find myself overthinking: What does this say about me, and do I actually want to say it? In other words, that impulse to show my take on the world has lead me to doubt my take on the world. Was that supposed to happen?

Then there’s this phenomenon: Some people are lovely in person but not-so-much online. Others are shy in the real world but totally come alive in a social media setting. Which environment brings out their truest nature?

I have no answers, really. I just like asking these questions because I think they inspire good discussion and make social media entertaining on a whole extra level. It’s a living, evolving thing, and for better or worse, it's ours now. We'll have a wild ride figuring it out together.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Everything Marketing Jan Blazanin

Since publishers don’t have the funds to get behind every book they produce, we authors have to do a lot of the hard lifting when it comes to marketing. This is a list of my marketing efforts during the past four years: 

(An S means the results were worth it--for whatever reason. An F means forget about it next time. DK means I just don't know!)

DK 1.    Bookmarks and business cards--Gotta have them whether they work or not. 
Adding the tassels was a waste of time.

S  2.    Blog tours, guest blogging, and my regular gig at YA Outside the Lines--An excellent way to reach out to fans and potential readers.

S  3.    Book giveaways/donating my books to local libraries--Spreading goodwill and helping libraries can't be wrong.

S  4.    Book launch parties in libraries and book stores--I never pass up a chance to spend time with fans and friends!
Love my writing group!

S/F 5.    Book signings—solo, with my writing group, for charity--These can go either way, but you have to suit up every time.
We didn't sell many books but we had fun!

S/F 6.    Book fairs and festivals—The success of this depends on the organizers. Talk with authors who've participated in previous years.
Panel discussion with other authors at Adel Book Festival

S 7.    This book trailer is courtesy of Jill MM at was thrilled when she put this together.

S 8.    Guest speaking at book clubs and writing groups is a great way to connect with people who love books!

F 9.    Necklace with charms representing characters from A & L DO SUMMER and little stuffed animals to put on my signing table--A complete waste of time and money.

S 10. Critiquing manuscripts at writing conferences hones my editing skills, makes connections, and gives back to the writing community.

S 11. Library presentations--If they ask me, I will come. 

I didn't charge a fee for the local library.

S 12. School visits with large and small groups are especially successful if the students are familiar with your books!
My first school visit

S 13. Volunteered to mentor an aspiring YA author--Increases visibility in the writing community and gives another writer needed help and encouragement.

DK 14. Radio interview--Don't know if anyone was listening, but we had a great time!
Cheryl Fusco Johnson and Sharelle Byars Moranville

S 15. Gave interviews for print and on-line newspapers--Publicity is publicity.

S 16.  Taught writing classes for seniors, gifted and talented students, and community education--A definite yes in terms of PR and meeting potential readers, parents, and grandparents of readers.

S 17. Presented at an SCBWI conference--I've been asked to give the same presentation to several groups since. It made me feel like a rock star!

DK 18. Presented to an alumni group at a local university--Publicity and PR.

S   19. ICN broadcast to several schools across Iowa--This is like a Skype visit only unique to Iowa.

S  20. Facebook  Must have.

S  21.  Twitter  Must have.

DK 22. Linked In  Okay to have.

S  23. Website  Must have.

Get out there. Be seen and heard. Make friends. Give back. Have a blast!

Friday, May 10, 2013

When It Doesn't Work... (Sydney Salter)

Sometimes all the guest blogging, mailed ARCS, and social media networking doesn't translate into big sales, but extra boxes of books in the publisher's warehouse.

I admit to feeling quite a bit of disappointment when my publisher offered me a huge discount on a hefty number of my most recent title, Swoon At Your Own Risk. Bummer. The book didn't match my hopes--or my publisher's expectations. *sad sigh*

But, I bought the maximum number of copies--not because my basement needed more boxes, or I planned to create a coffee table-o-failure, and I certainly didn't think I'd suddenly start selling dozens and dozens of books at author events. No, I decided to turn my negative into a positive--for disadvantaged teens.

Summer reading programs and book mobiles all over the country need good books, especially for older readers. I created a flyer with the book cover, a short synopsis, author bio, professional reviews, and mailed books in every direction: west, south, northeast, southwest, midwest.

The lovely thank you letters that soon filled my mailbox reminded me that I'm not writing for material reasons, as nice as that would be, but to reach readers. And even though Swoon At Your Own Risk wasn't a marketing success, I did get my book to teens--many of whom had never owned a book before. That feels pretty great!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Of Tweeting, Instagraming, Snapchatting and Vine - Jenny O'Connell

This month's topic is not exactly one for me. First of all, I remember "the old days" (which means just a few years ago) when authors had book signings and interviews were conducted on TV or for *gasp* printed publications!

The other day my daughter (who has a zillion Twitter followers, snapchats her friends as often as I blink and thinks a photograph that shows up for five seconds and disappears is an actual form of communication) said to me, "Mom, you have to tweet more often or your followers will get mad." Really? The concept is lost on me. Does anyone really care what I have to say? The two kids I live with don't care, why should a stranger named 'pantzonfire32' care?

Well, I actually took my daughter's advice to heart and tweeted the following: My daughter says I have to tweet more often or my followers will get mad. And you know what? My followers liked my tweet. Huh?

Now, I get social media as a "conversation," that it's a way to "engage" with readers and create a "brand." Whatever. When readers email me, I get back to them. The same day. Most of the time within hours. That's a conversation. Me tweeting that the crust of my macaroni and cheese eerily resembled the image of an upside down kangaroo? Not so much.

I get social media as a means to reach a broad audience, that today everyone and their mother (well, not my mother) has a blog. And I always answer the questions those bloggers send to me for their blogs and I'm flattered they cared enough to email me and invite me to play. My blog? Well, I used to be incredibly diligent until... well, even I was sick of me. Do I really have that much to say? Sometimes I do but sometimes I don't. Mostly I don't.

There is a saying: we have two ears and one mouth for a reason - we are supposed to listen twice as much as we talk. Well, we have ten fingers: are we supposed to type blogs and tweets and facebook posts ten times as much as we talk? If so, are you really telling me that when we type these things we actually have ten times as much worthwhile stuff to share? Or are we just coming up with stuff to say because it's so easy and those fingers are dying to be put to use (I type pretty damn fast, even faster than I talk and I'm a very fast talker).

So I am a poor example of the social-media-author. Perhaps when my next book comes out I'll have contests (which I have done in the past and that was fun, I even gave away t-shirts and winners got them the old fashioned way... in the mail!). Maybe once my next book is done my brain will be free to retweet other author's posts (which I actually enjoy when I remember to read them) rather than write, or even come up with my own.

Until then, I'll remain a solid C in the social media department. And let my son post the awesome Vine videos, he is freaking hilarious and way better at them than I would ever be.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Kimberly Sabatini's Guide to Social Media

Very often social media feels like this... 

We all have those moments, but that means we're doing it wrong.

It's supposed to feel like this...

Isn't that better?

Now go have some chocolate or some Skittles to celebrate the brain fart we just had.

What's the best and worst part of your social media experience? Have you been doing it "wrong?" What would it take to make it feel good? BTW--hanging with you feels fabulous! :o)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Of Blogs, Goats, and Bookscan Numbers (Joy Preble)

As I write this post, I’m just over a week away from the launch of THE SWEET DEAD LIFE-- the angel book gets a Texas makeover!-- from Soho Press. So social media is key on my mind right now, among other things.

I just read April Henry’s post about her take on the topic, and how she uses for her website, in large part because she can update her website as frequently as she wants. I’m intrigued, particularly because I’m updating my own website right now. I’ve had a solid web presence since I sold my first book in late 2007, but I’ve got a new series starting with a different publisher and I’ve decided it’s time for a new look.

Everyone of us has our take on the topic, that’s for sure! Blog. Don’t blog. Tweet. Don’t tweet. Blogger. Tumblr. Facebook. Oh wait. Instagram. Snapchat.

One of my other author friends, a woman who writes mostly science-oriented non-fiction, has a detailed, to the minute plan for her online promotion. She ponders those analytics more frequently than anyone else I know, and it works for her.  Another friend who writes romance has a smaller web presence and feels that her job is to write. She has worried very little about the rest of it. But she’s changing genres right now and suddenly social media concerns loom larger.

Truth? I’m never totally sure what sells books and what doesn’t.  Contests? Guest posts? Craft of Writing series? Posting the play I wrote in 2nd grade? Talking about Real Housewives and guacamole recipes and how it’s a good thing they call what I do in yoga ‘practice’ because it’s going to take me a long time to get it right? Live tweeting while watching Game of Thrones? (Which I can’t do because we are too cheap to pay for HBO but you get the idea) Once in awhile I see those Book Scan numbers change and I think, “Wahoo! It’s because I just (fill in blank here with something theoretically brilliant).” But I could be totally wrong.

Full disclosure, I’m also writing this while watching Mad Men—which one can do even if one HBO-less because it’s on AMC. They pretend they know which ads promote their products, too. Plus they drink like fish and smoke like chimneys and rarely wear seatbelts and seem wildly unhappy most of the time.

I’ve watched Maggie Stiefvater’s posted video on fainting goats like three times now. Do Maggie’s fainting goats – and the video cameos of other fainting goats—help her sell books? Maybe. What I mostly think is that she already sells lots of her amazing books and because we love her writing we also read her blog because we want more of her voice and her sense of the universe. Which in this case includes letting us know that it’s a good thing that the fainting goats don’t actually lose consciousness when one surprises them because otherwise she’d surprise them every time she had company. Will I buy the next Raven Boys book because of that post? Possibly. Mostly I want to find out what happens with Blue and Gansey. Maggie Stiefvater is supremely brilliant. She could never post another goat video and I’d buy every book she writes. Likewise John and Hank Green's vlog posts. I'll buy John Green's books because I love John Green. Listening to his views of the world encourages me to do so. But that would only work so long if the books weren't good. At least for me. 

My friend who until recently believed that she needs to write the best books that she can, reflecting in the best ways possible, her view of the world and life and what it feels like to kiss the love of your life for the first time and that she has no obligation to promote on social media is both right and wrong, in my humble opinion. People have to know where to find you. But they also have to want to.

What do you think?