When I started out as an author, social media was simple – Type up a newsletter, make copies and tuck it into an envelope. If you wanted to get fancy, you’d include grainy photocopied images of yourself and your cover. Contact with your readers was through those scrawled fan letters or face-to-face at local bookstore signings. And, if you were lucky, the local paper would do an article on you, usually with the slant “Housewife (or Stay-at-home Mom) Pens Happily-Ever-After Love Stories.” Isn’t that cute? Then Romantic Times(RIP!) and Affaire de Coeur coaxed me to spend my hard-earned royalties on magazine ads which quickly spiraled into the bookmark and romance trading card crazes for collectors.
Then, socializing with your reading public went electronic. And time management hopes went to hell in a hurry!
I fought it tooth and nail – first the writing loops (on Prodigy!), then the social groups, springing up like weeds everywhere you looked where you were expected to join and post and chat and still, somehow write those books you had to promote. There were conferences (both professional and fan) where you had to giveaway clever attention getters (my vampire teeth were always a hit!) and smile until your face ached worse than your feet.
Then, suddenly, you never had to leave your laptop. It was all right there with a click of the mouse. My Space, Facebook, chapter and genre loops and groups, Pintrest, LinkedIn, Instragram, Twitter, Wattpad, Snapchat, YouTube . . . and on and on and on. A website wasn’t good enough. You had to blog, and Hop and do events. You couldn’t just write a book, you had to promote it with SWAG and tours and booktrailers and playlists and banners and excerpts and Street Teams. You had to learn about alga rhythms and click-throughs and GDRPs. You had to not only write the book but pitch it, produce it, advertise it, hand sell it, design it, find editors and BETA readers and learn about tag lines and pull quotes . . . And still have time -and the energy- to write.
I confess, some of all the hoopla is really fun! I’ll never, ever enjoy hand selling my books to the public. I’d rather conceive and create in the privacy of my own office. That aspect of social media I adore. From my first bootlegged copy of Photoshop to my subscriptions to Deposit Photo, Neo Sounds, QuotesCover and Canva, I’ve become a graphics whore. An artist by no means, I still love to play with details of text and color and images and sound. Even though I have a Virtual Assistant, I find myself doing much of the leg-work myself because . . . I enjoy that creative aspect of my writing (and I’m somewhat of a control-freak!). I’ll devote my lunch hour to designing banners like this one, endlessly tweaking with text and tone:
I’ll browse graphics for hours, hunt for book trailer music clips and pace the text and images over and over in my mind. I’ve even become addicted to creating YouTube music video playlists for each title.
I could be writing . . . but I’m having too much fun.
You have to draw the line somewhere or you’ll have no product to promote. Creating one flashy bit of text with a buy link and graphic that you can use over multiple medias in a planned approach seems the smart way to go. I’m still learning. Now I know what I can do, what I can tolerate, what I can farm out, and what I’ll let pass without regret.
But I never forget . . . it’s all about the writing. And if nothing’s written, there’s nothing to promote.
What are your favorite media outlets (or distractions)? Best bang for your buck or suck on your time?
Happy Loooong Weekend (with a birthday thrown in for me – Yay!)!