Monday, August 22, 2011

Social Media and The Writer

It's been waaay too long since I posted here, and I blame life, busyness, summer, and my writing (basically, I blame myself). But I've also been busy trying to prioritize and get a handle on the social media part of my life.

Social Media as Addiction
Hi. I'm Sue, and I'm a (recovering) Social Media Addict.

Instant gratification, the incessent pull, the warm, fuzzy connection with real, live human beings who understand your writerlyness ... all without leaving your house? Seriously, it's a wonder more people aren't hooked on the social media drug. But don't get me wrong - I LOVE social media and connecting with people and sharing with other writers. I just love it a little too much. And then there's that whole thing where writers are told You must have a platform and You need to build a network and Who is your tribe? All of which is varying shades of actual importance, but misses the most important thing.

I am a writer.

I did some soul-searching and fear-confronting and found that the most important things to me were: 1) my family and 2) writing. The time for those things needed to be sacred, and everything else had to come after.

Just like losing weight and exercising, this is a lot easier to proclaim your intention than to put into practice.

The E-Revolution
Things are changing quickly in the publishing world, and social media is going to continue to play an important role in people's lives, as well as in the publishing world. (See my Notes from the E-Revolution series for some of the latest goings on). I want to be a part of it, but even more than ever, writing is the thing that makes the difference in a successful author's career - writing quality, writing consistency, writing production. These things are only possible with a singular focus on butt-in-chair time and constantly pushing one's self forward in learning the craft.

Social Media Standard Operating Procedures
I've been reading a lot of non-fiction e-books lately about Author Branding and the Self-Publishing Revolution, but Bob Mayer's Write It Forward finally put all of it in perspective for me. Among many other things (like confronting your fears), he suggested writing a social media Standard Operating Procedure, so that you control your social media usage, rather than the other way around. Of course I didn't have a SOP for social media, so I wrote some. It didn't take too long, but definitely put things in perspective for me. My SOP say things like, Use a Timer, and No Checking During Writing Time, as well as a list of places I want to make sure I visit and participate in (like this one). They also forced me to think about what kind of interactions I was seeking on Twitter, Facebook, Kindle Boards, and all the others. If you find social media adversely impacting your writing time, I highly recommend an SOP to help you focus.

Which is not as easy as it seems.

I have 18 minutes left on my timer. I think I'll stop by Twitter and chat with some tweeps a bit, find a couple cool blog posts to RT, and then pop by Google+ to see what's new and cool there. Plus I need to tweet, facebook, and Google+ my own blog posting today, where I'm recommending a friend's awesome self-published Christmas book (Rick Daley's The Man in the Cinder Clouds).

That will probably use up all my time, after which I will shut down my browser and write. No email checking. No twitter updates. Just a solid chunk of quality time with me and my WiP.

Because I'm a writer.

Do you find your social media usage changing?


  1. Hey - I just found this blog of yours! Very cool post too. ;D I'm doing my morning blogging/tweeting/writing time right now actually. LOL!

  2. I have the opposite problem, which I'm not entirely convinced is a problem. The social media I use most is Goodreads, but I rarely interact there, just use it to find more and more books to read. I blog and tweet and such, but never expect anyone to reply. I'm going to try to get more interactive, but I know from experience that I'll have to really push myself to make the effort.

  3. @LisaGG Hey! We're a fun group of writers here, so I hope you'll stay to check out the other writers as well. :) And now I know your secret time... :)

    @Emily You totally have to do what works for you. Really. It's cliche, but it's true. I like the interaction, but it does take time. :)

  4. Thanks so much for this great post, Sue!

    I'm waiting to dive head-first into the social media as self-promotion thing. Sure I could play the game and do contests and comment on hundreds of blogs hoping to get some more readers for my own, but what's the use when I haven't got anything to sell yet? You, on the other hand, have a book in print. There's a product, something your internet groupies can plunk down money for. That makes it more worth your time. You're trying to find those few thousand true fans who are all you really need to make a living at this.

  5. @Rebecca What you say is true (I have a book to sell) but I started my blog long before that. And it took me some time to find my voice with it. And launching a book is a stressful process - very hard to start a blog at the same time. So, I would recommend starting one well before, or possibly after, when you've got such a fan presence that they are demanding time from you! :) (Yeah. I'm not there yet.) I think there are a lot of authors that are very successful without a major social media presence (in spite of the "common wisdom" on that). I'd caution anyone starting out on social media strictly as a self-promo thing to think about how that will really work - there are a lot of authors out there who start a blog just to sell their books and it doesn't really work. #my2cents Also: this book is a worthy read.

  6. Susan, great post and very timely too. After attending WIFYR and speaking with agents and editors, I decided to cut back on my social-media time and focus more on my writing. I really like your suggestions, though. What a great way to have the best of both worlds! Thanks for sharing.

  7. That's true, Sue, I've seen writers start blogs just to promote their books and watch them dive.

    As for me, I blog to share information. And I do admit, I love comments. I'm absolutely addicted to comments. Maybe someday e-books will come with comment features so the author can get reader feedback. Wait... that's a serious two-edged sword. Okay, I take that back.

  8. @Jonene I've seen many serious writers cut back lately, and I think it's a smart move. Best of luck with all your writing!! :)

    @Rebecca LOL Yes, it's a two edged sword. And it's already here! (On Kindle, readers can "highlight" passages they like and share them with other readers). I love comments on blogs too, but I'll stick with my mantra that reviews (and similar feedback from fans) are for the readers, not the writer. If people want to give feedback to the writer, there are other ways to do that.

  9. That's a good thought, Sue. Once a book is in print it's no use telling the writer what was wrong with it. Maybe that's why I love peer critiquing unpublished manuscripts. It's criticism that might actually do some good!

  10. Such a great post. And a SOP is a great idea.

  11. Sorry I haven't been here in a while. I do use a timer. I have to, sometimes I don't and I get lost in the social media world. I need to get back into writing! *sigy*

    Can Alex save Winter from the darkness that hunts her?
    YA Paranormal Romance, Darkspell coming fall of 2011!

  12. @Elizabeth You're ahead of me with that timer! I'm doing better now...focus,focus,focus.... :)

  13. I agree what a great post! I did start my blog to promote my book but I rarely promote my book on my blog. I now limit my time on social media and keep a strict writing schedule. I think all social media is critical for writers today everyone just has to find their own mojo...

  14. @Doreen I'm finding the strict writing schedule really helps because I can have "guilt free" social media time. :) At least, that's my mojo right now! Best of luck with your book!

  15. This is great advice. I'm just gearing up my use of social media after a year of intense, focussed writing. Now my job will be to figure out how to balance the two. Thanks for this timely post.

  16. @Gail Good on you, for putting writing first! (BTW I love that you write science fantasy!) The social media thing is a work-in-progress for most people, I think! Best of luck!

  17. Yeah, I have to limit my internet time otherwise I just get sucked in. :S
    Love this blog! Mine is at

  18. Excellent post. I love social networking, but it doesn't tend to take over my spare time. Going to look into creating a SOP after reading this.

  19. Great post. I can find it a bit much with all that is out there. I've started doing more, but I control how long and how much.

    I really want to spend time on my writing. i see you're from Chicago. I love that city.


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