Sunday, January 23, 2011

I Wanna be a Tweeting Hermit

Before I dived back into writing full-time, I wasn’t involved with any social media. I had a blog that I posted on far too sporadically, usually only when someone or something pissed me off. I didn’t tweet, I wasn’t on Facebook, I didn't do MySpace. I belonged to a few Yahoo groups and that was about it.

But I noticed a trend during the Muse Online Writer's Conference: there were several classes on social media and author platforms. The prior year, there had been only a class or two on author websites and nothing on social media or platforms. Being the highly-deductive person I am, lol, I knew something was going on. I signed up.

Although I was skeptical about the value of social media to author promotion, some of it did make sense. I've heard that publisher's don't have the marketing budget for a lot of author promotion and that authors are expected to do more (if not most) of their own marketing.

And the way marketing via social media works looked good, too: not that awful hard sale I hate so much, but a simple matter of getting my name out there, letting people get to know me, and mentioning the book regularly without cramming it down their throats. I hate being on the receiving end of heavy-handed sales tactics almost as much as I hate doing heavy-handed sales tactics.

At best, even if it worked for marketing, I assumed I'd hate it. It would be some chore to be dreaded on my list (like revision). I'm not much of a socializer. I don't have a posse of friends. I have a few close friends and a lot of acquaintances that I see on a chance basis. My idea of spending quality time with my close friends usually involves going out to a bar and having a few drinks. I don't do dinner parties, I don't do "let's go to the movies" or "let's have a block party/barbecue." I have been considering starting a poker night with some of my friends, but I hardly think that would qualify me as a "social butterfly."

In other words, people who know me best figured I was going to be one of those hermit writers who would (knock on wood) have a successful book and then retire to some cabin in an out-of-the-way place and continue writing hidden away from the world.
Not so.

I actually like social media. Especially Twitter--particularly ironic because I thought it would be the one I'd like the least. "You mean it's NOT all about what Ashton Kutcher had for breakfast?" Who knew!

However, there has been a huge learning curve. Some of it has been technical ("What the hell is a hashtag?"), some of it has been social standards for the new media (Miss Manners could write columns on the politeness rules of social media, especially Twitter), and some of it has just been dealing with the inevitable . . . uh, quirks and eccentricities . . . of people.

For example, a writer's group I belonged to decided that we should all post our Twitter IDs so we can follow each other. Awesome idea. However, one person who posted their ID on that "hey, follow me" list has very specific rules on who they will follow back. So it's a "follow me, please; but I'll only follow you if you meet my very specific criteria . . . but still, follow me."

Then, of course, there's the spam. I tweeted about my woes over my furnace breaking down and suddenly I had several followers that were heating companies. I tweeted about looking forward to date night and suddenly I had a bunch of . . . um . . . adult recreation companies following me.

And then there are just the plain old unusual folks. I had one follower who tweeted every two minutes about deer hunting. That's okay with me, because I love deer hunting. But the tweet at 7 pm would be about "I'm deer hunting in Alabama;" the 7:05 tweet would be "I'm deer hunting in Jersey." So I began to wonder if maybe I was missing something. It wouldn't be the first time I've been naive and misunderstood; for a long time, I thought a Dirty Sanchez was a bar-drink (thank god I never walked into a bar and ordered one). Maybe this Twitter person wasn't hunting the same kind of deer that I do.

Although I still have a lot to learn, I'm having a lot of fun with social media. If you are a writer and you haven't tried it yet, I recommend it.

Now excuse me while I get to work finding a reclusive cabin in the woods with high-speed Internet access.

Brenda on Twitter

Brenda on Facebook

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