Monday, January 16, 2012

Social Media for Writers

I've questioned various forms of social media since starting this blog: why should we use them, what good are they, how do they help, are they just time wasters? I signed up for Twitter after a lot of recommendations on my Twitter post during last year's A-to-Z challenge, because I was told it was valuable for writers. I was already on Facebook, and MySpace was obsolete to me before I joined Facebook. As far as LinkedIn, I only joined because I kept getting requests from people. But what should I be doing with them?

For Twitter, I've followed publishing houses and such, and some have even found me first, which I imagine is for their advertizing purposes, but it works for me, either way. So far, it has not had major use yet, but I imagine its day will come. Also, I would have to spend more time on there to give it a real chance before I complain. I can see how it would be a good source for finding publishers, learning about agents, and hearing about contests, though. And when the day comes that I've got something to advertize, I'm sure it will be helpful there, too. I know that I have valued it when someone has "retweeted" or "RT'd" something I've put on there, and I wonder if some of my readers haven't been discovered that way.

I'm still trying to figure out some of the logistics of Twitter. When someone "tags" me with a "FF" tag, for instance, am I supposed to respond in some way? I don't right now, because I have no idea what I'm supposed to do. Help? I don't respond every time someone thanks me for following them on there, for various reasons. Am I supposed to always respond? Am I supposed to tag everyone who follows me with a thank you message? Do people prefer that, or are they happy without it?

Facebook has a bunch of uses, so while I can see how it can be valuable, I'm not sure how to get a Facebook page out there where everyone knows it's there. For instance, I created one for the Pen Women, but how do I get people to follow it? Of course, I have one for this blog, too, but I figure for right now just having the button on the side of my blog referring people to it is good enough. If someone wants to "like" the Facebook page, they can find it on here. As of right now, though, it is mostly used to notify people of new posts on here. I tried starting conversations on there a few times that were related to what I had posted, but it didn't work. Maybe in the future when I have five trillion followers/readers?

One that I never bothered much with until recently was LinkedIn. Like I said above, I added it because I kept getting requests. I mostly had a couple friends on there and that was that. However, I started getting requests from fellow writers who had found me on here, and then I got recommendations for others to add, and I've started doing a teeny bit more that way, but that was really it. Then, maybe about a week or so ago, I got a nice little form message recommending some groups I could join. I had no idea there were groups! I clicked on the groups and checked them out, and there were some neat groups of writers, so I went ahead and joined.

Lo and behold, a few days ago someone posts in one of the groups that their anthology deadline has been extended. I click on that discussion, it sounds interesting, and I go to the site. Their prompt instantly sparked something, and I immediately wrote a personal essay to submit. I've never submitted an essay for publication (I've hardly submitted anything for publication...), so I have no idea if it's good, but I'm delighted to have done it. In case you're interested, the anthology is Sofas I've Slept on. I believe they're taking submissions until March 20, 2012.

Image courtesy of OCAL at

I'm learning that I maybe shouldn't be so skeptical of social media, and that it has value. The problem is learning how to use it to my advantage without allowing it to suck me in and become a time waster. That's true for every single bit of social media I take part in. Other than the lure of CastleVille, I'm getting better at brief, pertinent visits most of the time.

Quickly, I'd like to mention the Pikes Peak Writer's Write Brain, occurring tomorrow, Tuesday, January 17, 6:30-8:30 at Celebration Place in the Citadel Mall. It sounds like a great program. I'll likely write it up if I get good notes, and share it with everyone, but if you're able to attend, I'm sure personal attendance would be far more valuable than my write up. This Write Brain will be run by Deb Courtney, Robert Spiller and DeAnna Knippling, and concerns New Models in Publishing. Each of these people has been involved with both traditional and self-publishing. For more information, click HERE.

What forms of social media do you use? What do you find most valuable? How do you insure you aren't wasting time?

May you find your Muse.


  1. Beats me. I still haven't tapped into the full potential of any of 'em. Even though I'm on twitter, I still toot much more frequently than I tweet. Still, I keep getting new followers, although I can't figure out for the life of me WHY. Same for facebook. I only got on there to see the latest pictures of my grandkids, so why in the world would I want to "friend" some guy who graduated from high school with me ... who, by the way, I never even knew... and whose "interest", by the way, is "women" ...

  2. I think I've finally figured out Twitter. Everyone keeps adding me to their circles on Google+, but I still not sure what to do there. And I just joined Triberr. NO IDEA what I'm doing there!

  3. I feel like I'm everywhere sometimes. Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Linked In, Goodreads, Jacketfap, and countless others. Personally I like twitter and my Facebook fan page the best.

  4. The only thing I can really speak for is Facebook; although, at this point, I don't see a lot of value in any of these sites. However, when I first released House, I posted about it on FB. Within moments, someone I didn't know bought the very first copy. It was pretty neat. Of course, then, to my knowledge, she never actually read it.

  5. We just started tweeting recently, and are having a lot of fun. Too cool about PPW. Bryan and I are both past members and have gone to three or four of the conferences. We'll both be attending this year, and I'm really looking forward to seeing old friends. And I know Deb too!

  6. I am on a donkey--a slow one at that--riding into the social media race. I know what it is, even the why of it, but I haven't actually made enough time for it. I am use it but not well, but it's on my list to master in February. I wish I had people (people to do things for me so I didn't have to do it) :-)

  7. I'm a blog and Facebook fan. I have Linked In and Google+ accounts, but I rarely use them. I tried Twitter for a short while and I didn't like it. Too much noise on there.

  8. I still struggle with social media as well. As a micro-press with a limited marketing budget, it made sense for me to use it. But It does tend to take up a lot of time, without really showing a bump in any book sales. Now I've decided book sales isn't the point of social media. Information is. There is so much information out there! I have to limit my time on the net these days because I get lost in the overload of ideas and writers and books. So as you see, I'm still struggling to figure out the best way to use social media, other than just hanging with friends.

  9. I have the same questions about Twitter etiquette. I wonder if anyone has written about the do's and don'ts?


  10. Susan, I'm pretty much in the same place. Almost the only thing I tweet is when I have a post up. That, and retweets I happen to catch when I try keeping Twitter open for a little bit.

    Alex, I got an invitation to Triberr, but haven't signed up yet. I didn't completely understand it. Guess I should sign up! I feel the same way about Google+. I haven't even posted anything there, but I probably should.

    Kelly, I hadn't heard of Jacketfap. Ugh! Something else! I will likely be most comfortable on Facebook since I've used it personally for awhile now.

    Andrew, good trick! Was she a "friend" on Facebook, or was it from someone else sharing your posts?

    Brandon, great! Maybe we will actually meet. I usually make it a point to go to the Poor Richard's gathering right before the conference.

    Brenda, I wish I had people, too. I figure when I'm actually making money, I will find some people, most likely related to me.

    Christine, I agree about the noise. I need to find a way to filter it all, and then it might be worthwhile.

    Terena, that's a good point (about social media not being about selling books, but for information). Something to think about, for sure.

    Debbie, you'd think someone would have! I need to look around and try to learn it. That, and some of the hash tags I don't understand yet.

  11. Andrew, oh, I got you. Goes to show you can find a reader anywhere!