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The curse of social media

I have been a bit off the webosphere radar lately. And ironically, it's because I've been busy organizing the various outlets I am using to increase my internet presence. Website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, GoodReads.... You know, I know I'm not the first person to say this--it's one of the blogging topics du jour--but the demands of social media to promote yourself as a writer (or artist, or any other creative type) interfere Big Time with the actual creative process.

Yesterday, my plan was to spend the day working on the second-to-last chapter of the current draft of my new novel. I want it done by the end of the month. Instead, I found myself on my WordPress mirror blog (yes, I have a mirror blog) playing with themes and features. I'm trying to find the best design and layout for my public writer's blog, in order to get the most out of having one.

But jeez, there is such a thing as too many options. And chipper support page explanations that miss the point of your question could make you pop a blood vessel. I ended up spinning my wheels trying something out, not being able to get it to work properly, and then struggling for an hour searching for documentation to help me out. Then lather, rinse, repeat for many of the other widgets and themes I wanted to try.

FYI, this is not my first day on the internet, or my first year, or my first blog. And I am a computer programmer for a living. This should not be this hard, or this time-consuming.

I suppose I could hire someone to redo my WordPress design for me, but since I am still working out my "concept" for it, I hesitate to do so. I stumbled into that quandary with my new website. I hired a professional designer/web hosting service precisely so they could design it and program it rather than me. But since I haven't quite nailed down the exact way in which I want to market myself and my books, I fear that fuzziness will reflect itself in the design.

But it's catch-22, because you want the website up, now, and you want to be updating Facebook and Twitter, now, and you want to be doing all the things that enable social media to help you, now. You can't wait until your marketing concept has finally, completely gelled. You can't wait until you've figured out the most effective way to use Facebook, or Twitter. You can't wait until you've learned all the tricks that could help you design a snazzy, effective blog.

Everything has to evolve over time. Because that's the only way you can also find time to write fiction. And that's really hard for obsessive-compulsive perfectionists like myself to wrap their over-firing neurons around.


( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 27th, 2012 08:08 pm (UTC)
OMG, yes. There should be a support group.
Which I suppose would be another group to join and try to follow.

I spent much of my weekend doing the same. Just the sheer amount of wading for small fixes is crazy making. And crazy making is not condusive to writing the thing you're trying to promote.
Aug. 27th, 2012 08:16 pm (UTC)
Re: OMG, yes. There should be a support group.
Glad to know I'm not the only creative soul trying to tackle the Probably Insane task of managing my own social media outlets and blog.

Where are you doing your promos where you need to dig for fixes?
Aug. 28th, 2012 02:58 am (UTC)
Re: OMG, yes. There should be a support group.
Right now I'm looking at doing promos on Library Thing and Goodreads, and possibly here: http://blog.booksontheknob.org/p/about-this-blog-and-contact-info.html

Also, you can apparently do free press releases here: PRlog.com

However, my troubleshooting has been entirely website and preparing to sync up various social media. Yeesh, with the time consuming.
Aug. 28th, 2012 03:01 am (UTC)
Re: OMG, yes. There should be a support group.
Thanks for the links. I'm collecting "marketing venues." Have yet to start seriously using Good Reads and LT because there's a looong list of venues.
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 28th, 2012 02:19 am (UTC)
What Color is My Parachute?
Creative writers and marketing are unmixy things. By their very nature, the two endeavors are on opposite sides of the personality chart.
Aug. 28th, 2012 02:30 am (UTC)
I'm having much the same problem. I think I would be fine if I could figure out something simple and easy for the website. It doesn't need to be splashy. It does need to be something I can control at a moment's notice like when a blog hop or a publisher wants to do a freebie weekend or something
Aug. 28th, 2012 02:53 am (UTC)
I had to trade "update at a moment's notice/every other friggin' day 'cause I'm a perfectionist" on my website for "someone else does my updates for me, chill out Nancy."

Not an ideal tradeoff, but I know where I'm obsessive-compulsive, because my choice to retain control of my author's blog design is putting my right back in internet time-suck land.
Aug. 28th, 2012 04:04 am (UTC)
I would agree, that is the correct choice for you.
Aug. 28th, 2012 05:19 am (UTC)
Honestly, if writers I like update to twitter or facebook more than once a day with "my book, let me tell you about my book" I won't follow them.

The writers I do follow tend to some stuff about their books, especially in lead ups to release dates and links to reviews, but more often it occasional snippets about the writing/publishing process, and mostly up date with stuff they find interesting, or current internetty discussions they are taking part in (e.g. a lot of the SFF writers posted about readercon), or pictures of their cats.
Aug. 28th, 2012 12:29 pm (UTC)
I recently took a seminar in how to work Twitter and Facebook if you're a writer, and the piece of advice I came away with was that it was a way to network--*not* promote your book. You join discussions on common topics of interest, you do book reviews on other people's work, you link to interesting articles, you in short make yourself interesting and useful to other people (without spamming them all day long).

It's about creating name recognition and community presence, and it's about the same things the internet's been about for me for ten years, making like-minded friends.

Pretty common sense stuff, really, because who could possibly want to follow an endless stream of "buy my book" posts?
Aug. 28th, 2012 01:36 pm (UTC)
it's about the same things the internet's been about for me for ten years, making like-minded friends.

Yep, and while you might not use the space to do things like bitch about day job, etc. it does help if you come across as a person, with you know, an actual personality.

I don't know if you read seanan_mcguire, but as an author with 10 books out so far, she recently wrote a list of how to do self-promotion: Promotion is Hard, Let's Eat Donuts.
Aug. 28th, 2012 02:45 pm (UTC)
I have been following a lot of blogs that talk about self-promotion, and nothing she says here is particularly novel (except the donuts bit...), but she's not wrong, either.

Esp about the limited shelf-life of making a first (and lasting) impression.
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )