Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Being Social

Social media has revolutionized our world.  As such, it has revolutionized writing in ways we all need to be cognizant of.  For starters, and most obviously, it has given authors a platform to speak directly to readers.  In the past, the way to interact with readers was slow at best - via the written letter.  Sure, there were the occasional events like a conference or book signing, but many folks sent their favorite writers letters.  I still remember being in 5th grade in writing to Donald Sobol(for those who don't know who he is, google him....he was BIG).  Most of my class got form letters back(like I said he was BIG), but I felt special because he included a rare personalized note on my form letter in red pen(he told me I was the first person to ever inquire about Encyclopedia Brown's IQ, but he couldn't tell me because it was a secret).  Lost in this excitement was that it took six weeks for our letters to get to him and for him to send most of us a form letter in return.

Now, however, most of us have Facebook and/or Twitter pages.  We can interact with the audience in real time.  Readers get to know us and our quirks, and we can seem more relatable.  Of course, this has drawbacks when writers very stupidly stray from talking about their work to talking about controversial subjects, but it has been an overall positive.  People are more drawn to those they find accessible, and these platforms definitely provide that.

The other big advantage of social media is that it provides a no cost advertising platform.  Facebook is free(it's never going to charge you to sign up, no matter what other folks may tell you), and so is Twitter.  Have a new novel or a book signing coming soon?  Put that information out and see what response you get.  You no longer have to take out half page ads in the New York Times to garner attention.  Obviously make sure you don't overdo it - I've seen people actually lose audience because they don't know when to give it a rest - but don't be afraid to test the waters.

Further, if you catch lightning in a bottle, these platforms let you gain momentum much more quickly.  One person liking you can lead to hundreds or thousands of others doing do.  In the olden day, back before all these fancy electronic gadgets(just kidding...I'm not that old), you had to find some even more elusive way to get others to take notice.  Social media, trap though it may be sometimes, can let fans fan you(yes, that was intentional...I know, I know...I'm a dork).

Just be careful with this stuff.  Used properly and with restraint, social media can be a fantastic platform for promotion.  Used poorly, without keeping your eye on the ball, and your career can sink more quickly than the Titanic.

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