Thursday, December 10, 2009

Navigating Social Networking with "Friends" and Friends

When I first started this publication journey, I had no idea what social networking even was. Facebook? Twitter? I just thought they were places where college students hung out, and being 30ish myself, I’d always deemed myself too old. But I began to notice a lot of other writers were on MySpace, and then Facebook, and then Twitter, and once I dove in, just a little over a year ago now, I realized all the plusses to social networking. My favorite is being able to meet and “talk to” other writers and readers.

Like Maureen said, social networking makes writing a lot less lonely profession. I find myself chatting online with other writers that I’ve met, through e-mails or Facebook responses or tweets, daily. There are, in fact, many writers that I feel like I “know” well, though, I’ve actually never met them face to face. There are even a few local authors who I first “met” on Facebook, and then later in person, that I now consider close friends. We see each other in person a few times a year, but of course, we keep in touch regularly through Facebook.

Another really amazing thing about social networking is the way it can connect me to readers, readers I know I’d never hear from otherwise. For instance, I got a Facebook friend request a few months ago from a girl in Denmark who’d read the Danish version of The September Sisters. I was thrilled to hear she loved the book and also that she was doing a book report on it! How cool is that, that Facebook enabled me to connect with her, in a way I otherwise wouldn’t ever have been able to? I love that social networking makes me accessible in this way, and lets me converse with readers, all over the world.

And then there is the downside. Facebook is sometimes hard for me to navigate because I don’t completely use it just as a writing social networking tool. I also have Facebook friends that are real-life friends, close friends even, some that live far away, that I would like to share pictures of my kids and sometimes, snarky comments with, but I also have a lot of “friends” that I don’t know at all, readers, writers, fans. And, as I said above, I love that I can connect with them this way, but I’m also generally, a really private person. I don’t want people I don’t actually “know” to know about or see my kids or even, be offended by something I might say. So I often find myself thinking twice before updating my Facebook status or tweeting and try to keep things general, light, and book-related. I often have to remind myself that Facebook and Twitter are great networking/promotional tools for my writing career, and to keep more distance than I might want to. Before I post something, I find myself thinking about all the different people that will see it, and, as a result, I’ve deleted many a tweet/status update before I’ve actually posted it.

So I’m curious, how do you navigate between your "friends" and your friends with your social networking?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

On Running From The Social Networking Police

First of all, sorry to be so late in posting. I have had a huge ordeal at work and am finding myself with even less time than I had during the launch of Whistlin' Dixie. I suppose the Christmas holidays aren't helping but when I mix that time-zap in with everything else, I'm on life overload. I have officially entered into a recession - with my time that is.

Hence the problem with this week's topic.

I stink at social networking. I hope it gets better but for now I can't see myself as ever becoming a pro-Facebooker, not to mention a first-class Twitterer. I just don't see how y'all do it. I'll confess (as I have many times before here at the NG grog) that I'm not the best at time management. Or maybe it just comes down to distractibility. If I were to tweet all day about everything that's on my mind or what I'm doing, I'd be so aflutter that nothing would get done in my life. As it is, I'm lucky to ever get by the grocery store to buy cream for my coffee.

I often find myself cringing at the thought of the S.N. PoPo coming to arrest me. I'd tell you my hair is standing on end but it does that naturally anyway.

So, this is the deal. I'm trying as hard as I can to keep up with 3 email accounts (personal, author, & real job), three voice mails, facebook, twitter, blog, WORK, trim the tree, shop for presents, pay bills, clean house, manage two HM sons and one little dog, write another novel, promote first novel, bathe, launder my clothes, iron, make sure tires are rotated and oil is changed, AND try to squeeze in a little bit of a social life here and there. I'm in multi-task hell.

Oh, and I just remembered one more mandatory task for a girl my age . . . EXERCISE! More power to all y'all who have got this figured out. I'm telling you right now, I'm very jealous!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Time Well Spent

With all of the outlets for social networking these days--Facebook, blogs, group blogs, Twitter--I often wonder what it was like to have a debut book published five years ago, back in the era where MySpace was really the only option. Of course, MySpace lost popularity due to all of the strange people that infiltrated the site, but it does make me wonder. Was it easier or harder?

On one hand, now that I'm writing full-time, social networking is a must for me. It keeps me connected to readers, to the "real world" and has truly helped foster wonderful relationship with other authors. I can't imagine how lonely writing life would be without my daily dose of friendship via the internet.

On the other hand, however, I know I would be so, so much more productive if I wasn't constantly distracted by all of the fascinating things posted on Twitter, Facebook and the like. So, for me, I've found the best way to balance all of the demands is to take mini vacations. Periodically, I'll ignore Facebook, only glance occasionally at Twitter, let my personal blog collect dust, and only post here at The Novel Girls.

For me, when I'm in the middle of a book, it feels like too much of a distraction to continually talk about it. I need to get lost in my own head for awhile. And when I'm writing, well, there's little else that I do. Or, I should say, there's little else that I do that would be deemed blog-worthy. I mean, trips to Trader Joe's and letting my house deteriorate into crack-den-status aren't exactly great blog topics. So, I often feel like my blogging is sporadic, with lots of gaps and a post that says, "Sorry! I've been doing XYZ."

With that said, I feel that social networking is absolutely essential for building buzz about a debut book. Thing about it--how many books have you heard about, that you never would've known existed, if you didn't read Twitter, Facebook or blogs? For me, it's nearly every book I've bought this year. And that, my friends, makes being pulled in a million different directions totally Worth It.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Social Networking and Me

I know a lot about social networking. I've even ghost-written a few books on the topic. I know the ins and outs, I know what you're supposed to do to achieve maximum results, and I know all the do's and don'ts. Yep, I'm pretty much an intellectual expert on social networking.

But in reality and in actual practice--I'm a newbie with a capital "N." See, it doesn't seem to matter that I *know* what I'm supposed to do, that I've done countless hours of research on the topic and the different forms (for the aforementioned ghost-written books), or that I can preach the benefits of social networking with the best of them...because when you get right down to it, I am NOT a social networking success story.

I get it. I really do. Take Twitter, for instance. I understand the appeal. I know WHY Twitter works (when it works). I even enjoy using a certain extent. But I'm lucky if I even remember to tweet ONCE a day, let alone find the time to use Twitter the way it should be used (which is, at the base, all about entering into conversations with other folks).

The same goes with Facebook...though, I will admit I enjoy Facebook a bit more than Twitter. I think that's because conversations happen SO FAST on Twitter, that I'm always behind the flow of information. But Facebook seems to operate at a slower pace (at least for me), and that pace seems to match my ideal social networking pace.

Blogging is another animal all together. Here at TNG, I'm good about keeping my Monday slot filled with some type of a post, probably because the other TNGs are counting on me so I don't want to let anyone down, but every time I try to get organized at my personal blog, I last a couple of weeks and then...well, a few weeks will pass before I even realize I've fallen behind--again.

So every week I'm on a new mission to update my blog at least three times in a seven day time frame (come on, it shouldn't be THAT difficult!), to update Twitter and Facebook at least once a day (Monday through Friday), and try to become more active in the social networking world.

But I continue to fail at this. It's not that I don't want to reach out and talk to folks. Heck, I LOVE talking to people! It's more that I have so much to do every day that the hours rush by and suddenly, I'm exhausted and it's bed time.

I'm going to try something new at my blog beginning in January. Somehow (ha!) I'm going to try to find time to pre-write about a dozen posts sometime this month. And then, on the days I just am too busy to come up with something new, I'll grab one of the pre-written posts. Of course, supposing this works, I'll then have to take time to replace whatever pre-written ones I use.

The weird thing is that I LOVE reading other folks blogs. There are a dozen I check on a fairly regular basis, and the majority of these folks have blogging down to a science. Their posts are interesting, timely, and I always learn something...or they make me laugh...or they make me think. Because they're so good at blogging, I always come back.

And that's where I"m failing on my blog. I think I come up with some good posts, but I'm not consistent enough to keep people coming back. My goal is to become as strong in practice at social networking as I am in knowledge...or heck, even half as strong!

For all of you social networking gurus out do you do it? Where do you find the time? Or what tricks do you use to keep on target? I'd love a few pointers!