Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Social Medium

The two of you that have been following this blog since its inception know that I jumped into this whole writing/self publishing venture with almost no real thought.  For the rest of you, I shall recap.  I spent a year writing the first three installments of the Song of Solstice, and during that time I should have been researching my target market, I should have started this blog, I should have built relationships with online reviewers.  Lets face it, there were a million things I should have been doing.

But if I had done those things, would my story be as good?  I think not, I think that my story would have been informed somewhat by that research.  For instance, I might have rethought the whole damned thing in light of the trend towards Young Adult literature with vampires and tones of angst.  Oh, I'm so sorry young adults of today, but Buffy the Vampire Slayer was over a decade ago.  Keep up with the times, and don't give me that "I wasn't born yet crap".

And really, still with the vampires??  I'm so over vampires.

Unless it is Spike, if loving Spike is wrong, I don't want to be right.

But the book series is well established (for me, soon to be the whole world) and the first book is published, so now here I am doing all those things I should have started a year ago.  Mostly I'm glad that I didn't go down any traditional publishing paths, even self publishing already has traditions that I am largely ignoring.

What I do regret is not giving time to was my online social presence, but not to begin farming an audience for the upcoming books.  Well mostly not.  Primarily, I should have been educating myself about how social media works, just so I could navigate it with more ease.

If you are now like I was just bare months ago, bewildered by the many venues for online social interactions and how they work, let me assure you of this.  Online communities are exactly the same as real life communities, the same rules apply and the same bullshit occurs.  There are good people, there are jerks, there are Samaritans and misers, there are liars and painfully honest truth-tellers; in short, there are real people behind all those clever handles.

The difference between online socializing and real life socializing is the numbers.  In real life we do not tally the number of friends or followers in our lives and tack that tally up on the community bulletin board for all to see.  But somehow that is the yardstick for popularity in the virtual world.

It is the weight, not numbers of experiments that is to be regarded....Isaac Newton

Sir Isaac was a pretty smart guy and his ancient commentary about current social media is spot on.  It is the weight, not the numbers.  I have less than 75 Facebook friends, seriously, and even fewer Twitter followers. I'm the first to say that I don't get Twitter, I hate being inundated with stuff from people who won't have a simple conversation with me.  Oh, plus there's only 140 characters per tweet and I use big words.

I used to look at my pathetic numbers and wonder what was wrong with me, by 'used to' I mean up until last week.  But I realize now that sociability is not a numbers game, I do not want numbers, I want friends.  My handful of FB friends are quality people, people that I get and who get me.  While they are an excitable bunch, they are not at all hateful and my wall never sees those intolerant posts that I hear about from my friends with thousands of FB friends.

Facebook is the most obvious example, but the same is true of any online social group.  I've joined several online writers groups in the last month, groups that claimed to offer support, feedback and advice for struggling authors.  I have left all but one of the groups - and amazingly left them all without a parting shot, because they just were not worth the expense of my ire.  All those groups wanted was the numbers and - pay attention here because this is important - I AM NOT A NUMBER.

Those numbers will tell you exactly nothing about how people really feel about you, the numbers are artificially telling you that you are loved.  Is artificial love good enough for you?  It isn't for me.  I need the real stuff, the kind where one of my few FB friends posts a picture of a Tardis on my timeline just so I will smile.

That is so much better than a number.


  1. It depends on your goals, whether or not you'll be satisfied with whatever results you get. And, expect your goals to change as well. At first, I was just happy to be published and share that accomplishment with friends and family. Then I wanted more sales, which meant reaching out to more people.

    Morgan Mandel

  2. I completely agree Morgan, I'm a goal setting gal and I firmly believe that you get out of something what you put into it. My goals have changed radically over the last couple of months, and they are still evolving, but now I am just more careful where I place my energies. And YA literature is not something that I look at in a bad light, just the omnipresence of it in the book world.

  3. I know what you mean about reaching the YA market with vampires etc. My books are suitable for YA and they are stories of the west--a young woman's dream, which can be translated across genres. But...I run into kids who are into fantasy. Oh well. We just have to keep trying, keep putting ourselves out there!

  4. One of the greatest things about books is their timelessness. Even after we are dead and gone, the possibility still exists that our work will be found by the right eyes. I doubt that Sinclair Lewis thought that some punk 13 year old kid in the 70's would have fallen in love with his work. Who knows what the future brings? It's pretty exciting to be a possible contributor to some kid's growing experience.