fionabayrock (fionabayrock) wrote in bubblestampede,
fionabayrock
fionabayrock
bubblestampede

Social Networking Sites...just how social does an author have to be?


Laura is blue. Fiona is green.
 

Things are rolling along on the marketing front.  My publisher recently sent me the "Self Promotion: A How-to Guide" they send to all their new authors. I've been going through it like a checklist.  Right after "fill out the author questionnaire" (done!) is a long section on web presence, so I've been thinking about my "presence" lately. 

  

It used to be that web presence = website and then later that morphed into web presence = website + blog  but in the last few years a myriad of other social networking sites have popped onto the scene: MySpace, Facebook, JacketFlap, Twitter, Goodreads, etc.  Do we need them to have a decent web presence? 

  

Laura, I think you and I are in pretty good shape.  We have established websites and blogs and we get involved in online book communities in a number of ways (Poetry Friday, Cybils, Nonfiction Monday, listservs etc).  Do we really need to expand that to include all these social networking sites, too?  I confess the idea of spending even more time online makes me twitchy, but if it's an effective marketing tool maybe it's worth a look. 

 

I'm twitching right along with you! But...I think it's a good idea, if at all possible, to be in some of these networks. Especially if you don't plan to be a reclusive author but want to get out there and talk to other authors, to editors, educators, conference organizers, and just plain people who might buy your book.

 

I guess the question I have is how much more will these sites do for me than my website and blog and other web presences are already doing? 

 

Let's look at a few...

  

JacketFlap –

I have a JacketFlap ID, but haven't taken it any further than that.  I don't use it in any meaningful way.  How about you, Laura? 

 

I'm a member, and I use its resources occasionally to look up publishers, etc. But I don't use it to network. I occasionally get friended there, but I don't manually check messages or anything, so I'm probably rudely ignoring people? Not really sure how it works! But at a minimum, I know I need to go in and update my profile, make sure all my poetry books are there, add a link to my microsite, etc.

  

Good idea. It's been a while since I joined. My profile's probably in need of updating, too. 

 

MySpace and Facebook -

The authors I know who think Facebook and MySpace are worth it, are overwhelmingly young adult novelists, whose teen audience frequents those sites, so spending time in Facebook and MySpace puts them in touch with their readers. I'm not sure picture book writers would realize that same connection.  Have you heard anything to support this?

 

I agree. We're not going to reach our readers here. But...perhaps the teachers and parents that might be sharing our books with their kids? I know from reading the NCTE Inbox blog that teachers use tons of these kinds of social networking tools, and they sometimes use them to find material. Here's a link that will show some of its recent posts on social networking sites/tools.

  

Excellent point.  I keep thinking of kids as my audience, but I really need to keep in mind that it's the parents, teachers and other adults who will be buying the book.  Marketing and connections need to be aimed at them, too. 

 

I don't really understand *how* they use these sites, because my eyes start to glaze over eventually. But they are apparently using them.

 

LOL!  I hear ya.  I think I'm going to conduct an informal poll among the educators and parents at my upcoming school visits and talks to see how much they use these sites and which ones.  Hopefully that'll give an idea as to which sites are worth putting effort into.

 

I'll give MySpace a pass, though, just because I can't get over the garish graphics that assault the eyes.  

 

Ditto. I go in to check my daughters' pages every so often, and I stagger away from the computer after.

  

For Facebook, I understand you can set up a public "fan page" that gets information out, but keeps your privacy.   I'm really conscious about keeping my private life and connections private.   

 

That's what I've heard, too. And it's what I meant when I made a comment in the past about a "billboard" presence. I'm probably not even using the term correctly! But I just meant a fairly static page that tells about my work and whatever I care to share. I wonder if MySpace lets you do that too. If I could set up something fairly static that I would truly only change when I announce new books, I'd be up for that. It would still be a way for a few folks to find me.

 

Now, that I could do, too...set up a fairly static "billboard" type presence that would act like a poster or promo postcard, as well as be a vector for people to contact me if they found me there.  Another way to get one's name "out there".  All it would cost is the initial set-up time---which shouldn't be too heavy---and minimal updating and follow-up from time to time.  I really want to avoid adding more "internet things to check daily". ...and [grin] I could probably stand the garishness of MySpace to set up something, as long as I wouldn't have to see it on a daily basis.

 

Yes! That contact thing is key. So, what I need are things that create a presence that's fairly static, but that I can get email notifications of whenever someone leaves me a message. Without that, I couldn't even keep up with my blog! So I need to find out if that option's available for the various things I wouldn't mind trying.

  

GoodReads

I don't have time to write about everything I read. I just don't. And, I might be unusual, but I don't need software to tell me what good books my friends have read lately.  My friends are the sort who gush about good reads, so I hear about them the old-fashioned way---via word of mouth.  Hmm...I guess I just don't see the promotion possibilities of this site.   

 

I actually probably should use this just to keep track! Since I don't remember the books I read well enough. But who has time to enter 30 books a week? Not me! I'm passing on this one, too. 

  

Twitter –
Microblogging, they call it.  Sending short "tweets" to those who "follow you". I don't think my every move is interesting enough to warrant minute by minute updates. Seems kind of urgent to me, and sometimes instant isn't always better, ya know?  I could see Twittering for special events such as a book tour or something, but I have enough trouble keeping up with regular blogging, so I can't see Twittering on a regular basis. 
 
Me neither. Call me crotchety, but I have no desire to communicate constantly. This just isn't my thing.
 
Can you think of others, Laura?
 
LinkedIn -
I have an account, fairly new, on LinkedIn. But I haven't used it at all or set up my profile or anything. It's a business networking site, mainly. Not a way to reach fans, but perhaps a good online presence for a professional writer. For many of these, as you said, they're not going to reach readers themselves, because our audience is so young. But when reporters are writing about something and looking for experts, they might hit these kind of sites. Or when conference organizers want speakers. Or...or...or...

  

That's a new one on me. I'll check it out.

 

I don't know...  the more I think about these social networking sites the more "Time Sucker" flashes before my eyes.  I think I'm going to look into the fan pages of Facebook, and a fairly static page on MySpace as you suggested, and see if I can make those work for me in a limited way, but otherwise, I think I'm pretty happy with my web presence as is. It's pretty solid. We can't do *everything*. 

 

That is so true. And there's nothing sadder than an out-of-date, neglected online presence. So much worse than no presence at all!

 

Here's what appeals to me about using these in a limited way. It's a way to market to people beyond other writers. It's a chance to create a page that everyday people might see, not just other writers or people entrenched in the children's literature world.  

 

[Nodding]

 

I'll be taking this very slowly. I don't want to get in over my head. My first step will be to update my JacketFlap profile and books. That's my goal this coming (extremely hectic) week.

 

Yeah, slowly's the way for me, too.  And, ahem, my dear..."extremely hectic" is a bit of an understatement.  Folks, Laura has four books due this week!  Let's schedule this for an update in a few weeks. 

 

Ack. If nobody hears from me in 5 days, send rescuers in after me:>)

 

Will do! :^D

 

So, dear readers, (hee hee, I've always wanted to say that ;^)  what are your experiences with social networking sites?  We hope you'll share your successes, tragedies and lessons learned. We'd love to see examples of authors---picture book authors in particular---with successful social networking presences, so be sure to include links. 
 

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