Social Media –What the hell is that all about?
This may come as a surprise to some of you, seeing the inordinate amount of time I spend on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere, but I have to confess that until I had my first book published less than a year ago, I had NEVER been interested in social media. In fact, I thought it was a crock of old s***.
There. I’ve said it. I have outed myself and I don’t care. Gather the townsfolk, pick up those pitchforks, light up those kerosene soaked thingamajigs and burn me at the stake. Just make sure I’m really dead and passed over or else I will come back to haunt you. Malevolent poltergeists have nothing on me if I decide to make your life a misery. In fact, from some of the comments I’ve heard and eye rolling I’ve seen lately, I have the ability to do this when I’m still alive...Hell, I digress. Back to the wonders of social media.
I was a bit of a Mother Grundy when this topic came up. “What? Go online and talk to people I don’t know? Are you kidding me? Why the hell would I want to waste time doing that? I’d rather poke my eyes out with a blunt stick. ” Yes. *Sighs*. I’m afraid I did say that. And you know what? It’s because I didn’t understand the attraction and the power this medium has to offer in a world that is increasingly heading towards cyber space. One has to keep up with the times.
So when my publisher said to me, ‘Sue, you need to develop an author platform, an author community so readers can find you,’ I gulped, hitched up my trousers and took it like a man. I had no idea even where to start. Sure, I’d had a LinkedIn account, which I managed with some hesitancy, afraid to poke it in case it turned on me like a bear with a sore paw. The few friends I had in there hardly saw me post anything new. I just invited people, built up contacts and did nothing with them.
However- if I hadn’t done this, I would never have found my current publisher. There is a kooky karma to this particular story. I’ll zip through it a little in short sentences and hope you get the drift. Every word is true.
-Had a fan girl crush on a certain British actor. (Everyone in the world knows who it is, so if you don’t, you’ve been out of touch. But if you really want to know, head over to my website.)
-Stalked (I use that term loosely people, don’t go getting me arrested) the internet and found a few people who were connected loosely to him.
-One of them just happened to be a very talented composer, who’d worked in theatre and as I was writing about film and theatre I thought he would be well placed to help with my research.
-I invited him to ‘LinkIn’ with me. He did –silly blighter.
-We shared a few emails and conversations and he was really supportive of my writing efforts.
-Then lo and behold, via this connection, suddenly I get a ‘LinkedIn’ invite from a company called Boroughs Publishing Group.
-I accept said invite with alacrity –they want to be linked in with me? Wow. All my dreams have been realised.
-When it came time to submit to a publisher, I immediately thought of them. I did some research, saw they were into what I was writing, sent my MS off- and the rest is now history.
So – it worked. And this I think is the essence of what it’s all about. You need to build connections, network, reach people no matter who or what they are, because one day, who knows what you could do for each other. And that’s another very important part of this equation –it’s a two way street. What you take you need to give back. And that’s hard work. If you keep taking and not giving back, they are all going to finally get really pissed off with you and you’ll find yourself alone.
I like to think I do this. I try and promote and share the work of the people who do it for me. Those who just take, after a while, I ignore them completely. My theory is, if I can the time to do it, so can you. Excuses of no time, sick parrots, cakes flopping in the oven and the plumber coming to visit (I think there’s a real story in that one *winks* J) are no excuse.
And in becoming what my publisher now calls with pride ‘a social networking guru’ and being asked to give talks to my local writing circle around the topic, I feel proud of what I’ve achieved. I have made some wonderful cyber friends, too many and too special to mention them all. From two wonderful best- selling US authors, a few inspirational men dealing with demons the rest of us can’t even imagine, a lady who kindly proof read one of my books for the psychology aspects, fellow authors who acted as beta readers, a crazy NZ author and a gal who I recently had the pleasure of meeting for the first time and just random human beings out there who support and guide me every day – I now realise what social networking and media is all about, especially when you are trying to accomplish something like sell your books and get your work out there.
And I do all this without any guarantees of book sales or any specific proof that what I’m doing is working at all (I have my theories but that’s another blog post). The inherent truth is that I don’t think anyone knows whether it works. I like this snippet-
Man praying: ‘God, I want to win the lotto. Please, I need a break.
I have no food, no job, my family have left me and if I could win the lotto, that
would make such a difference to my life. Please can you hear my prayer?”
Booming voice from on high: “You silly man, if you want to win the lotto,
you have to buy a bloody ticket!!’
And that’s the crux. If as an author, you don’t do it, you will never have the chance to know if it works. A little like the butterfly in China flapping its wings and affecting global events- the more you’re out there, the better the chances. Randomness is the answer. Sorry if that sounds a bit Zen but I’m a firm believer that the more seeds you sow, the more chance you have reaping something one day when it’s your time.
I’m doing it because without it, I wouldn’t have the experiences mentioned above and made some wonderful contacts and friends. I wouldn’t be writing a book with someone at the moment who has had a life that is stranger than any fiction I could have written. I wouldn’t have become embroiled in worthy causes like helping sex abuse victims, rape victims and championing gay rights.
So – Facebook, Tweet, Pinterest, Goodreads, Instagram, Flickr, tumblr, Wordpress, Google+, LinkIn away and have fun doing it without expecting your sales to soar overnight. It takes time.
Time is what prevents everything from happening at once. ~John Archibald Wheeler
Find Susan's books on AMAZON
Twitter - @SusanMacnicol7