Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Do You Feel Completely Bombarded by Social Media?

Hello everyone! I really haven't been around here much, have I? I haven't even commented much and that's just lame. Still, I have a large stack of excuses to shell out, but I won't. My question today is how bombarded do all of you feel by social media? We're repeatedly told that it's important, but is that true? I was talking with a good friend the other night about this and he said something along the lines of, "It's cute that all the writers are supporting each other in this little social media circle, but that can push sales only so far when it's only writers buying other writer's stuff."

I do agree with that, but I have friends who self-publish and do quite well with Internet-only advertising. Somehow they've reached beyond the social-media circle and into main readership circle. I'm not sure that works for all books these days, though, and I'm thoroughly convinced that nothing sells books more than more books. I know when I've finished reading something I love, I always go look for more stuff by the author. If there isn't any, it's a bit of a letdown.

So maybe a social network platform is a great springboard, but I'm not sure it should be the main focus. I've made some really great friends by networking, and I love blogging and sharing my thoughts, but I think I'm about ready to step back a bit and stop worrying so much about where I stand in the circle - if it's even a circle. Sometimes it feels more like a ladder and I'm not even sure where it leads. It's just that the more I expand my "circle" the more there is to keep up with and it gets pretty overwhelming.

So what about you? How important is it to stay right on top of networking? How much time is it worth and how much time do you throw into it? And why? Here at the Literary Lab we like to keep things real and focused on things that turn your intellectual wheels. We certainly don't blog here for networking purposes because we adore literary fiction and reading and writing and we love to share it with others, even if it seems unpopular. Is that what networking is really about? Maybe it should be!


  1. I think it's worth whatever you deem it to be.

    I stay on social media because it's a great way of keeping up with my friends that I've made that I don't get to see regularly (or won't get to see after I move).

    Google+ isn't worth anything to me right now because no one's on it and it feels messy at the moment.

    Twitter's worth something because it's a quick way to keep up with people, if they're there.

    Facebook is worth something because it helps me stay in touch with more than just my writer circle.

    Blogging right now isn't worth much more than a fancy place for words. It's why I went on hiatus. I've got so much on my plate at the moment with a move, a job hunt, the dreaded q word (with the associated sad r words), etcetera, that it's the last thing on the table of back burner items.

  2. It's a double-edged sword. On one hand, I met the majority of my critique partners through online social networking, and without them my book would not have made it to a publishable state. So yeah, it's important...or at least it can be.

    On the other hand, it's a time-sink. It's worse now that there are so many options, and each new one Demands! Immediate! Participation!

    For the record, I have never looked into Google+ and have no intentions of doing so in the near future. I'm on Facebook and Twitter, and I have my own blog and blogs I visit regularly (like this one) and I'm not looking to dedicate more time in pursuit of what may very well be a short-term fad.

  3. Stephanie: Yeah, it's what you make it, that's for sure. Right now blogging is getting increasingly harder for me, too. I think I need a nice long break or something. I just don't know. Too hard, though, because my book's coming out and I kind of need to be around. Hmmm.

    Rick: Yes! It's that Immediate Participation thing that kills me most of the time. My daughter is also Immediate Participation, and she has to come first, so I'm often behind on the networking thing. Oh well. Priorities. :)

  4. Bombarded, yes. Is it worth it? I'm beginning to question that. Writers need to connect with readers who will appreciate their work, but I agree with your friend that what most of us do is connect with other writers.

    There's value in that connecting certainly, and I will always support my writer friends in any way I can, but yes our little writers' circles "can push sales only so far".

    Like you, I've begun pulling back from all the "socialization" to concentrate on writing. More books are what my readers want, they couldn't care less how many Twitter followers I have.

  5. I feel completely bombarded by this post!

    Okay, not. You know me: I mostly just ignore social media. I check facebook for 10 minutes about every other night. I don't Twitter. I look at a handful of blogs and only comment on about three of them. It's notoriously difficult to get me to Skype or talk on the phone.

    Part of it is that, you know, I really don't believe that these immense online communities are really communities. I have nothing to do with most of my facebook "friends" and I am aware that if I never posted to blogs or fb or any of that ever again, I wouldn't be missed by most of the people in my virtual community. So the value of it, in real terms, is very very low. So I treat it as something of very low value. The junkmail I get every day is likely more important to me.

    The people I do keep up with are almost all people you see on the Literary Lab, posting (yay, us!) and commenting (yay, you all!) and the rest of the people who really matter to me are people I see in real life. I don't care about platform or marketing or any of that. Obvs. Maybe if I get a book deal that will change? But more importantly, I think, I'm just not a social person. I'd rather spend all my time with, say, just three people than a little bit of time with a whole lot of people.

  6. I like reading blogs. I like commenting. But I really hate writing them. I'd rather use what little free time I have to work on my WIP.

    Yes, I feel a bit bombarded by it and I completely twink out on social media several times a week. My eyes go glassy and I have to turn my laptop off and go and sit somewhere where no information can possibly reach me.

  7. Great thoughts, Michelle. I agree with you. It often feels ladder-ish and it can be a waste of time. (I know that I spend an awful lot of time browsing and playing and chatting and doing anything else but writing.) I am also looking at stepping back from social media for a bit, so I hear you there. I need a break from all the doing, but I'll probably take it when my husband returns. I'm just glad that we are friends! Enjoy your break, if and when you choose to take it :)

  8. I've been thinking the same thing lately. It's so easy to be caught up in needing to keep up with EVERYTHING. I mean, facebook, blogger, twitter, forums, etc. There's so much you COULD do, and so much everyone else is doing, but is it right for you? For me, it often takes away from my actual writing time to be so involved online and it also messes with the quality of what I write. I'm the kind of person that needs everything organized, and wants to do everything all at once, so social media can be a bad thing for me. But it is nice to have that support group of writers and know that there is someone else out there who knows what you're going through, and also that you can build your platform up through social media.

  9. I think the idea that every writer should work the social media wasn't thought out very well. It works for some people, but not for everyone. When I started blogging, networking was an important motivating factor, more in an experimental way. At this point, though, I don't see it helping me that much. I do it now mostly because I want to. I don't spend as much time at it. I think, no matter what, authenticity comes through, so I try to be more authentic.

  10. I discovered an incredible option through my day job: there are companies that keep up with social media for you, and some of them aren't that expensive. This way, we can concentrate on writing while still reaching out to readers and maintaining a strong online presence.

    Personally, I think it's genius. But if you do go this route, make sure you hire someone who call spell and use proper punctuation. The guy we hired can't, and it drives me crazy! Lesson learned.

  11. Scott said pretty much the same things I'd say. I just got home from a 4-day jaunt to visit my mother, and the only portable digital device I took along was a cell phone, which I used once. I got on mom's computer once, to put up a post on my blog that sounded as if I were still home, because I don't like The World to know when I'm not.

    When I got home, I checked up to see what was happening in the virtual world, and of course it was the same stuff as always -- people I don't know on Facebook were drinking lattes and telling me about it, writers were talking to other writers on various blogs about writing, and I got yet another invitation to play some interactive online game where apparently you collect farm animals.

    Meanwhile, back in the real world, I sold a copy of my fantasy novel by lending it to my massage therapist, who loved it so much she wanted to buy it so her partner could read it, too.

    That was swell.

    -Alex MacKenzie

  12. I've been thinking about this a lot lately. For me, I enjoy blogging a few times a week and enjoy connecting with others. I do those things at night, when my creative brain goes blank. But it can never interfere with my writing time...

  13. If you try and do too much you won't be on top of anything but a pile of valium.

    Choose your profile carefully and stick to what you know you can do. I can't manage twitter on top of everything else, so I avoid it.

  14. Tyring to find that happy medium... I find myself going in waves on the intenet, based on whether I am anticipating communciations or not. If I've messaged someone on FB, I'll check it several times a day. Otherwise, I'll go a couple days without visiting. And I'm a fair-weather twitterer.

    I only blog post 1-2 times a week. Partly because of time restraints and partly because I doubt I have more than that to say that anyone wants to read.

    I skim blog titles for ones that pertain specifically to me at that time and post on them randomly -rationing my participation to one hour unless I'm having a light day on my projects.

    Overall, I consider the people I associate with through the internet people I enjoy being friendly with -not just network advantages -even if some of them started out that way.

  15. Boy do I ever feel overwhelmed. Everyone always preaches 'Build a platform! Build a platform!'

    Not only is doing so supremely difficult, but it feels so terribly disingenuous!

    I blog regularly, and I'm on Facebook, Twitter and Google + (also on Goodreads, but I've let that one slide recently). That's far more than I want to be. Frankly, it's a time-consuming pain in my rear. There are better things to spend my time on!

    I've been careful, though, to put my writing first. That helps ease the pressure of keeping up with social media.

  16. You can stand at bus stop with a placard and, because it’s odd to see some bugger standing at a bus stop with a placard, you get a few people looking at you and elbowing the person next to them: “Here, look at that.” A few might tell their mates when they get to work: “Hey, there was some bugger standing at the bus stop this morning with a placard,” and there mates’ll say, “So what was on the placard?” and you’ll go, “Dunno. I was too busy looking at the guy.” Marketing, self-promotion, call it what you will, is the hardest thing in the world especially if, like so many writers are, you’re an introvert perfectly-built for sitting for hours and hours on end on your own clattering away on a computer keyboard. My problem with social networks is that it gives us quite often the illusion that we’re actively promoting our writing when all people are doing is looking at us because who wants to keep company with someone who only talks about themselves all day long? So we put the placard to the side and just stand at the bus stop hoping that we might be able to strike up a conversation with the bloke next to us or that nice girl in the collarless coat who’s always there and pray that we might be able to wangle the conversation around to the fact we’re a writer and just happen to have a new book out that they really, really ought to read. But that rarely happens because, as it happens, they’re all writers too and all they want to talk about are the books they’re hoping you might buy and it’s not that they don’t care about you – you seem like a dead nice guy and all that – but they have so much to do promoting their own stuff that they hardly have any time to read anything by anyone anyway. That said I have ‘overheard’ things while hanging around at bus stops that have come in handy so I’m not saying don’t hang out at bus stops but I can’t see the point spending all day there. The ‘bus stops’ are social networking sites, you got that, right?

    Bus stops are great places. (I’m talking about literally bus stops now.) But a bus stop is never the end of your journey irrespective of what the name implies. Too many people treat social networks as the goal and they’re not, not anywhere near it. I spend far too much time on them trying to drum up business and it is happening but I’m not sure I like the ratio of time and effort to worthwhile encounters. But when there isn’t a train station or an airport for miles you take the bus or you walk and you can decide for yourself what they might be metaphors in your own time.

  17. Linda: Good points! Yes, nobody cares much how many followers you really have. It doesn't matter in the long run. Blogging, for me, is only wonderful when it stays fun. :)

    Scott: I love your comment, and it makes me jealous because I wish I didn't care as much as I do. It seems, though, that I'm caring less and less as time goes by, which is a good feeling. I just want this networking to be more professional and less of an emotional roller-coaster, I guess.

    Cynthia: You're smart to want to use your time writing! I'm about to do that very, very soon as I head into revisions.

    Leah: I'm glad we're friends, too! I've made some really great friends through networking, and I don't ever want that part to end.

    Amber: Yeah, good point because everyone's paths and needs are different. So true. I love that we can have support here online, but I think the problem comes in thinking that it's necessary 100% of the time.

    Davin: I'm glad you only do it because you want to. That's the key right there.

    Story: Oh, that's interesting! The thing is that would take away the personal aspect of the networking that I actually love, so I'm not sure that would work very well for me. I'm not sure.

    Alex: Yeah, I figured you and Scott were on the same wavelength there, absolutely. How freeing to be part of this networking, but not too involved. Sidelines are great!

    Christine: Sounds like you have a good schedule going! I need to work on that. :)

    Martin: Hehe, yes, where is my valium? Hehe, kidding. Twitter frustrates me to no end, but I haven't pulled away. I just keep it low-priority.

    Lynette: You sound very well balanced! I go in cycles with blogging. Sometimes every day, sometimes only once a weeks, so it depends on where I'm at in a project in my writing, usually.

    S.M.: Always keep your writing first, yes! I'm constantly working on that, but since I have not written anything for a month, I'm not doing so great. I blame my vacation.

    Jim: Your comment made me smile, hehe. Good points! I don't think I'll look at bus stops the same again, lol. :)

  18. I have to say that I've only recently started appreciating social media more (perhaps I'm just a long way behind you guys). I have had a blog for a while now and am now starting to write content that I think readers will like (though I would never compromise by not believing everything I write) and I try hard not to be focused on the writing. I'm not just a writer - I'm a crafter, a student (well, I was), disabled and so many other things that I want to include all of that.

    I do follow writing blogs but I also follow scrapbooking, stitching, family-orientated, business, fashion and probably more blogs. And I comment on them. I think the problem is when we are too afraid to branch out into something else 'but I'm a writer, I should write about writing' is where the problem is. Only other writers want to read about writing. Most published writers (I'm guessing here) actually spend that time writing (I'm somewhere between reading about writing and actually writing).

    I use social media to connect to people. I don't do it to sell myself (though I'd be lying if I said I never thought about the day I publish a book), I do it because I enjoy it and I enjoy being part of many different types of communities.

    I'm sure I probably haven't made much sense here as I've begun to ramble. Let me know if any of this makes sense or if I've just dug myself a hole!

  19. Thanks for your thoughts on social media. I have a Facebook account because my editor said I had to have an internet presence if/when my novel gets published. I keep forgetting it's there, rarely check it or update my profile. How much good is it doing me?

    Blogging, on the other hand, is a way of sharing inspiration, sharing the creative process (mine and others). I love getting comments--it means I've actually touched someone in some way.

    Maybe someday I'll see the value in Facebook, if I remember to check it.

  20. Tamara: Oh, it makes sense! In fact, I think I've followed that same train of thought many times. I've been trying more and more to write more than I blog. :)

    Jo: The value in FB for me is feeling connected to other people since I'm pretty much a hermit and have no car to go anywhere hardly ever. :)


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