23 July, 2012

Guest Post by Angela Ackerman: What To Do . . . If You Believe Social Media Isn't For You

Hello, blogosphere. Today I have Angela Ackerman from The Bookshelf Muse (and co-author of The Emotional Thesaurus) here to talk about social networking. Take it away, Angela!


Everywhere you look there are blog posts, webinars, online courses and websites all shouting the same message: Join Social Media! Engage! Connect! Network! Build Your Audience! Everyone says that in this new world of publishing, authors have to navigate the social waters to be successful. Is this true?
   Unless you happen to be a celebrity or are gifted with a giant promotional push from a publisher...then yes.
   And herein lies the problem. Many writers are introverts. They like having the computer screen between them and the world, thank you very much. They don’t want to get involved in every newfangled social media platform, or blog with no idea what to say, or try to find an 'in' on a site when it seems like everyone knows each other already.
   When it’s been decades since you’ve hadto walk the playground and make friends, the idea of entering a giant onlinecocktail party can be hive inducing. So what is a writer to do when they feel they are not suited for social networking or are simply terrified by the idea of it?

Stay In Your Comfort Zone
If the idea of social networking is overwhelming, pick something contained and more likely to be in your comfort zone. Writing Forums are much less intimidating than the biggies of socialization like Twitter, Google+ or Facebook. In a forum, rather than being bombarded by hundreds of people, interaction is more intimate. Joining conversations in a forum will put you together with only a few people at once, and the topic is focused. You can learn, share and make friends at a slower pace. Some incredibly friendly writing forums are The Critique Circle, My Writer’s Circle, and if you write for Children or Young Adults, Verla Kay’s Blueboard.

Become a Lurker
Rather than be pressured into jumping into the fray, do some lurking. Visit writing blogs (I have a great list here) and blogs on topics that tie into your books. Read the comments so you can understand how people engage. Check out how other writers interact on Twitter by searching up some hashtags like #writersroad #amwriting or #writechat. See what they share and click on some profiles to find people who interest you. Run searches for your interests. If you like cycling, you’re not alone. If your book is for dragon lovers, search for Dragons and you’re sure to find fans. Hang out on Google+ and run a search for writing or writers. Or again, choose a keyword that ties into your book. Put a few people that have interesting profiles in a circle--remember, you can follow them without engaging if you chose to. Or, if you have a Face Book account, check out a few groups! Writer’s Support 4U is one of the most active and friendly ones, but there are many others.

Dip Your Toe In...On A Trial Basis
If you did some lurking and found a social networking medium that seemed like it could be within your comfort zone, then step in, slowly. Reach out and share a bit--it can be things that inspire you, what you find funny or something about writing if you want to connect with other writers. Friend or follow a few people and comment on what they share. If you’re looking to connect with your direct novel audience, then share content that you know they will enjoy that ties right in with your books. Soon, conversations will start and you’ll be off to the races. If you find you enjoy it, great! And if not, then you can walk away, wiser for trying.
There’s a new place for all artisic types that I really would like to give a shout out to, and that is WANA Tribe. This new space is not only for writers, but all Creatives. The mission is collaboration and knowledge sharing and is part of WANA International, the brainchild of Kristen Lamb and Ingrid Schaffenburg.
   Social Networking can seem intimidating at first. Some worry it will chew up all their writing time and that they need to be everywhere to be successful--Twitter, Blogs, Facebook, Google+, Tumblr and more. Know right out the gate that it is much better for you to choose one or two of these and do them well than scatter yourself across all networks! And if you do find you enjoy it and are worried about your writing time, just remember YOU are in control. Engage as much or as little as time allows. Writing always must come first!

Are you leery of Social Networking, trying to decide whether (and how) to jump in? Or have you decided to give it a try? I would love to hear your experiences, good or bad, and whether social networking has changed things for you as a writer or author!

About Angela:
Angela Ackerman is a Canadian who writes on the darker side of Middle Grade and Young Adult. A strong believer in writers helping writers, she blogs at the award winning resource, The Bookshelf Muse and is co-author of The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide To Character Expression. Angela is represented by Jill Corcoran of The Herman Agency.  
   The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression is a writer’s best friend, helping to navigate the challenging terrain of showing character emotion. This brainstorming tool explores seventy-five emotions and provides a large selection of body language, internal sensations, actions and thoughts associated with each. Written in an easy-to-navigate list format, readers can draw inspiration from character cues that range in intensity to match any emotional moment. 

-----The Golden Eagle


Shelly said...

My heart belongs to Facebook. I understand it. I can see what people are saying and interact. Twitter is like looking inside my breain. Lines and lines of stuff. It makes my heart palpitate when I go on. Lindekin. I'm still trying to figure it out.

Like you say, take it slow and do what's comfy for you. I definitely do. And yes, writing time is at the top of my list.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

My publisher told me to get my butt online and I started with a blog. Took me a few months to figure out what I was doing but now I can't imagine my life without it.

Pat Hatt said...

Yeah one needs to get their in my case little rhyming rear end online, in a few forms and doors start to open.

Charles Gramlich said...

Good advice. I would only add that one should be aware that as they enter social media, there will be, and it is guaranteed, at least one point where you will be soundly attacked and hounded by someone over something. respond to that or not, but don't let it consume you because such exchanges are huge time wasters.

J. A. Bennett said...

Awesome tips here, I think every write can a platform that works for them :)

M Pax said...

Great advice, Angela. Twitter and the blogs are my favorites.

Carrie Butler said...

Great advice, Angela! It's always best to wade into social media. :)

Michael Offutt, Tebow Cult Initiate said...

Social media is a great way to get to know others so that when you need support or help, there are people there to assist with that. I would encourage every writer to at least try and network with others. There's just so much to be gained by doing so.

Anonymous said...

I was a lurker, then I dipped my toes in, and then I was in the swing of things. I agree with choosing a few networks, rather than doing them all. I have accounts all over the place, but the ones I'm focused on are Blogger, Twitter, and Facebook in that order.

....Petty Witter said...

Such an informative post, Angela offers some really worthwhile advice.

laughingwolf said...

good stuff, angela [feller canuck]

take to heart what charles sez, too!

thx ge :)

Angela Ackerman said...

Shelly, Facebook is where I started too. :) I gradually got into other Social media platforms, but there is a connectedness you can find at Facebook more so than elsewhere, I think.

Alex, I love blogging as well! I have made so many wonderful friends through it. I don't know what I would do without it, either!

Pat, door do open, this is true. But for networking to work, a person needs to be comfortable with it. So, it's worth taking it slow and finding the perfect fit :)

Charles, yes, there can be attacks, but spam is more likely. This is why though forming genuine relationships online is so important...it helps a person stand out and not be taken as spam.

J.A., Thank you! Wishing you luck and success online!

M, Thanks so much. Twitter can be a lot of fun, and a great way to stay up to date with industry news.

Carrie, Thanks!

Michael, I couldn't agree more. So many writers start out thinking it's a lonely solitary business, but it doesn't have to be that way at all. There is a wealth of knowledge, friendship and support waiting online. :)

Medeia, I'm glad lurking worked for you. There's nothing wrong with watching, assessing and then deciding whether to join in. :)

Petty, thanks for the visit--glad you enjoyed the post!

Laughingwolf, nice to meet you! All hail Canada!

Thanks everyone for weighing in and sharing your experiences! Hope everyone has a great writing week!

Liz said...

I agree, lurking is a good place to start.

I'll have to check out WANA tribe.

Old Kitty said...

Hi lovely Angela, hi lovely Golden Eagle! When I first started my blog I really enjoyed the design side of it and had such fun! It was when I placed my blog in the public arena that I started to panic. I was like - who on god's green earth will ever read my blog!??! It was hard work starting - but once I got my foot in the door - the hard bit now is keeping up with others' blogs and knowing when to step back from the internet and get down to actual writing of stories!

Take care

Natalie Aguirre said...

Great tips Angela. I spend a lot of time on blogs, which I enjoy. I know I probably need to get on Twitter but I'm reluctant to get involved with something else that will suck away my time. I may take your advice and just lurk for awhile.

Brinda said...

This is some great advice, Angela. I think lurking is the best way to learn how things work. Some people think that they have to jump right in and feel overwhelmed when that's not true.

Jemi Fraser said...

Great advice! I lurked for a LONG time before I started contributing to Agent Query Connect (which I would reccomend to all aspiring writers!) and twitter :)

Malinda Johnson said...

You are absolutely right that it is important to only be active on one or two social networks at any one time.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I pop into facebook nearly everyday, twitter once in a while, and a few minutes on Pinterest, but any other time I spend on the computer other than writing is with blogging.
Appreciated your good advice.

Alleged Author said...

I definitely love this. I'm not so much into Twitter because I can't follow it all the time due to work. Too much catching up once I get home. Blah.

Checking out the Blue Boards though. :)

Julie Musil said...

This is such excellent advice! I was totally intimidated at first, but now I blog and tweet, and love it. I've met so many awesome folks like you!

mshatch said...

Blogging is definitely my thing since it's basically writing so it feels pretty comfortable. I'm on FB, too, but I spend very little time there, don't have a cell so no twitter and anyway, there's just not enough time to do everything AND write. Thank you Angela for the links and btw, I love your book The Emotion Thesaurus!

Ciara said...

Love blogging. FB is sometimes fun and sometimes a little overwhelming, but Twitter still confuses me. LOL I think I'm getting old.

Clarissa Draper said...

I'm one of those writers who shys away from social media. Although I belong to most sites, I prefer smaller ones like my blog and goodreads. I spend very little time on Facebook and Twitter.

Carol Kilgore said...

I blog mostly, but I'm facebooking more and more. Twitter is sometimes.

Char Newcomb said...

Great post! Lurking before you leap, especially on twitter and forums. It can be highly annoying when a newbie jumps in and claims to know everything. Watch social media to determine what you like and don't like - you don't want to be one of those spammer-types who promote their books every 10 minutes.

Jamie Gibbs said...

Some excellent tips there. The comfort zone point is very useful, though I would add that it helps to combine it with "Dip your toe in" so you don't get too comfortable and become complacent.

Lynda R Young said...

I started as a lurker to get a feel for it all. Great post!

Becca Puglisi said...

Awesome advice, as usual. This is definitely a post for me. Every time I hear about a new possible social networking site, I get the twitches. For now, I love blogging, and Twitter is growing on me. I tried Facebook, but I really enjoy using that to connect with family and friends and haven't quite figured out how to make the business connection there, so I don't think I'll be very active there.

Thanks for giving us permission to be cautious, Angela!

Marla M said...

Excellent post! It'll also work for someone weary of the usual methods!

Anonymous said...

Great advice. It's nice to hear it's okay to lurk.
Do you consider Pinterest Social Media? I read Roni story and wonder if Pinterest will be crippled by copywrite infringement.
BTW, love The Emotion Thesaurus. Have shown & recommended it to many writer friends.

Sia Huff

Deniz Bevan said...

Great tips, Angela! I feel comfortable with most media but haven't gotten sucked into Twitter yet. I like your idea of lurking for a while...

Traci Kenworth said...

Great advice, Angela!!

Angela Ackerman said...

Liz, do check it out. Very friendly people!

Old Kitty, you are so sweet. I love your blog and your success is that people feel a genuine bond with you and we all love your cat pics!

Natalie, definitely twitter can be a time stealer. But, in addition to forging some personal relationships, it can also be a great way to find out what's happening in the industry, gain leads and discover great content. I think the fact that your wary of your time being stolen means you'll be vigilant if you do join :)

Brinda, Yes! Some people do feel they have to do it all now, now now or be left behind. This is not true at all.

Jemi, that's great. And yes to the recommendation of Agent Query Connect!

Malinda, those who try to do too much end up doing none very well. I have almost abandoned my Google+ because something has to give, and that platform isn't what I hoped it would be for me.

Susan, sounds like you've found a method that works, congrats!

Alledged, the Blue Boards is the number one place I recommend at SCBWI conferences. It is the biggest and best site for kidlit & YA writers out there.

*hugs Julie* And I am so glad we met!

MsHatch--thank you! I'm so glad the ET is helping you as you write. :)

Ciara, I feel that way too some days. It can be hard to keep up, which is why concentrating on doing one thing well is better than doing all forms of social media poorly. ;)

Clarissa, sounds like you've found a comfortable spot and that's great!

Carol, they all have their pros and cons, and I find at different times, depending on my goals, I'll use one more than the other.

Char, yes to spammers. Some people get blinded by the shininess of Social media and think blasting promo all the time will mean they will reach more people. But when people see the same tweets over and over...it has the opposite sometimes too and they tune out. I know one person that every time he engages me on FB, he will at some point plug his book. It drives me bonkers!

Jamie, Yes, definitely the goal should be to push oneself to try and connect within the social media platform. Knowledge can be gained by watching and lurking, but the connections won't happen.

Lynda, hooray for lurking!

Becca, I find I use Facebook more for personal than business as well, so you aren't alone.

Marla, Glad this post helped!

Anon, I would say Pinterest is, but a person has to work hard to connect because they need to comment, not just like or repin. Pinterest can be a great way to show who you are and what you like, and it can add a personal touch to compliment other social media interactions. Doing it alone however--I don't think a person could be as successful, not without a lot of work.

Re: copyright...I think this is a real concern. I know I will be pulling down some of my boards because of this, and posting only things that I am sure are safe to post. It's a shame, but better than getting sued.

And thanks for the kind words about The ET! I'm so glad you're finding it a useful resource!

Deniz, lurking is such a great way to get a feel for a social media site. Good luck!

Thanks Traci--nice to see you here!

Happy networking, everyone!

SA Larsenッ said...

Aw...Angela, you mentioned WS4U! You are too sweet. I'm so thankful that the group is meeting the supportive needs of our writing community. Major HEARTS to U!! ;D (I'm still on vacation, but I heard about this post and just had to stop by!)

Angela Ackerman said...

SA, many groups on FB start out strong and then go defunct, or turn into promo machines. Your group stays strong and sticks to the core mission--offering support! :)

Matthew MacNish said...

I'm fed up with my blog right now, but still, I know I'll be back eventually. I love it too much to stop forever.

Angela Ackerman said...

Matt, I know sometimes blogging can take a high toll. I can only imagine how much work goes into each query you critique, but you are doing a great thing for all writers and we love you for it! :)

Rachel Morgan said...

Although there's some social media I've never used, I still sometimes feel like I'm "signed up" for too much!

Kyle Smith said...

All of us may have started as a Lurker. Snooping information that we think is important to us. Lurking is actually very important, sharing ideas in 2 to 8 lines because that is where everything starts. But it would be wise if you have the talents to write and be followed with what you share.

@Angela Ackerman,

Is it ok to invite you join our site? We are also looking for some contributors who have great experience with blogging. You can check us out at Semphi.com (Sorry for the Link)

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