Social Media: Brave New World or Dystopian Wasteland?

The fact that I’m here writing this blog post tells you a lot about how I feel about social media. It’s a no brainer, right? I see a lot of benefits of getting myself out there in a way that I’m most comfortable: writing.

Writers write. Writers interact with others through words, so using platforms that allow us, from the comfort of our homes—wearing pajamas, if so desired—to interact pretty much one on one with our friends/fans/networks, is amazing.  To be able to post essays and even one-liners about writing or how we got our book deals or what we had for lunch is not only fun and cathartic (at least for me), but is a great way for potential readers to get to know me. Let’s face it, it’s a very crowded market these days and authors face uphill battles to get their books noticed.  It’s hard to sell a book to a publisher, yes, but it’s even harder to sell a book to a reader.  Especially when that reader doesn’t know you exist.

So my reasons for using social media are basically twofold:

1. I’m making friends (and finding old ones – Hi Carrie!). Seriously. I’m not the most outwardly social creature, so to be able to use my computer to meet people and share in-the-trenches stories is great for me. I’ve met some of my best friends online, and am very thankful for my online network, which, of course, includes my fellow Debs.

2. I’m networking to help find an audience for my book.  I do hope I’m not too promoty, because like I said, I’m out there making friends, too. But the fact is, I need to get the word out about my book.  I just hope I can do it in a non-snake-oil-salesman type way.  If I can make you laugh and convince you that I’m a funny, decent human being (which my mom will tell you I am), then maybe you’ll take a chance on me and my book (which, I should remind you, is now available for pre-order).

But it’s a double-edged sword—there’s a darker side to social media.  A scary side, that comes from a sense of familiarity and entitlement, because of this brave new world where technology has made it SO easy to contact authors. It’s as simple as finding their e-mail on their website or friending them on Facebook or Twitter (or maybe LinkedIn, although I’m the first to admit I have no idea what LinkedIn is for), and sending them a note asking them whatever.  If you want a real eye-opener of what some authors have had to deal with, and surely still do as we get deeper and deeper entrenched in social media, have a look at this illuminating post by Lenore Appelhans , book blogger and author. I’ll wait here while you go read it (the comments are great, too, if you have some time).

Yowza, right?

This doesn’t even talk about the horror that Goodreads can be.  Sure, on the surface it seems like a lovely, friendly place where people talk about books, and most times it is.  But there are times when the reviews can be…er…not so nice.  And I’m not talking critical reviews like one might see in the book pages of your newspaper; I’m talking full-out catty nastiness, accusing authors of not being able to string sentences together and other hateful, awful things that would tear out the heart of even the most thick-skinned author.

I’ve been warned against Goodreads by other authors and have seen some of the nastiness out there, but since my book is not available as an ARC yet (despite being available for pre-order), I have, so far, not been subject to such reviews.  I’m a bit of a masochist, so I figure I’ll stick around unless it gets really awful.  Stay tuned—I expect ARCs to start going out in the new year. Yikes.

And then sometimes, even if it’s not about bad reviews, it just gets awkward for authors. How much is too much interaction? Do you respond to everything or nothing? Do people get upset if you were responsive, but due to becoming busy, just don’t have the time? When is it okay to respond and when is it weird?  Kristin Hubbard posted about this very recently on YA Highway, and I think it’s worth a read as well.  Yup, I’ll wait.

Scary stuff, huh?  Makes you really think, doesn’t it?

I could go on and on about social media and its pros and cons, but I think you get the idea that it’s a wonderful, but scary world out there for us authors.  There are so many amazing tools at our fingertips, but with each new tool, comes a potentially negative side.  The art is finding the balance and doing what you’re comfortable with and no more.  Because I think at the crux of it, we need to be writers first and if we’re spending all of our time and energy on the media stuff, when does the writing get done?

That said, I’m going to take this opportunity to thank you for being here, because you’re proving that social media does work and can be a great way to meet people.  So feel free to comment with your thoughts on social media and if you have links to YOUR blog, Goodreads page, Facebook page, Twitter account, feel free to include those, also.  You can include your LinkedIn, too, although someone needs to explain it to me before I’m going to start adding people over there.

11 thoughts on “Social Media: Brave New World or Dystopian Wasteland?

  1. Great post! I agree — social media is a double-edged sword. Like the real world, there’s good and bad, and the trick is to navigate it without foundering.

    Lenore’s post was really good…and rather frightening…wasn’t it? I haven’t begun to think along those lines yet myself, but I suppose I should start. Eek. *grin*

  2. Great post, Joanne! This post is hitting home hard with me, between the sheer overwhelming number of blogposts I feel I SHOULD read and the number I’m actually able to read and still get my other obligations done. I’m glad I didn’t miss this.

    • Thanks, Gina. Sometimes the sheer volume of stuff out there means it can so easily get away from you, but you have to remind yourself, you are allowed to not do everything.

  3. Good Morning All,
    Well here we are another week and a good post today daughter dear,(yes you are a funny decent human being) and your book is awesome everyone will buy it (yeh I know I will make sure). Social Media yes you need them and then sometimes you feel yuk don’t like them your right Linda a real fine line.
    Than again here is one social media you don’t have to worry about Debs, that’s ME I am out in full force promoting and promoting when and where I can (and only positive never negative). So keep up the writers cramp and work work work. See you all next week.

  4. Oh boy, this subject is a doozy (which is why we picked it, right?) There’s so much to love and yes, even some stuff to fear about social media. Thanks for kicking off the discussion with so many great points, my dear!

    I’m really looking forward to what our readers bring to this as the week progresses…

  5. Love this week’s topic! It’s a hard one to figure out. I love social media, and have made many online friends. Some I’ve since met in real life and it was wonderful, others I’ve never met in person, but 100% count them in my circle of “real” friends. I’ve found it’s a great way to connect on a personal level with other authors, readers, potential readers… it’s terrific.

    The balance thing though… I’m still clueless about it. I feel bad when I don’t blog as much as I’d like, or when I don’t find the time to visit or comment on blogs of my friends (like this blog, for example), or when I don’t get the time to chat on Twitter… Then again, I shouldn’t be surprised by this because I have the same angst/frustration in my face-to-face life, since things often get busy and I don’t find the time to physically connect with non-internet friends.

    And then of course there’s the constant question of how much time to devote to the wide world of social media when there are deadlines to meet and manuscripts to write…

    I have no answers, but there’s always pleasure in the solidarity of others dealing with the same struggle.

    First world problem for sure — it’s all very positive.

    I look forward to the rest of this week’s posts!

  6. It is indeed a tricky one… especially because social media can totally suck up all your time. And it feels like you aren’t getting real “work” done, even though Facebook, Twitter and the like are part of the job now. But I for one am grateful because at least I got to meet my fellow Debs — and some awesome past Debs too!

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