How One Author Learned to Love Social Media (After Really, Truly Hating It)

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When I published my ebook, The Chick Lit Cookbook: A Guide to Writing Your Novel in 30 Minutes a Day, the thing I dreaded the most was marketing.

Like so many other writers, I longed for the (nonexistent) days when a writer sent her work into the world and retreated to a nice, remote cabin where the royalties would be delivered by carrier pigeon.

I know this is a really bad idea; most writers do not have the luxury of depending on other people to promote their work, and haven’t for a while now. And thanks to social media, it’s no longer necessary to buy expensive print ads and mailers that end up in the recycling bin.

Still, I felt as though the world of social media was asking something of me that I did not want to give: personal details, an “in” to my private life, a nebulous online connection with thousands of strangers. I’m not on Facebook because I don’t like random people seeing photos of me.

I had to join the conversation

After numerous and marketers told me to engage with other people to find my readers, I started a Tumblr and revived my dormant Twitter account. But I couldn’t figure out what to write about.

I tweeted random observations of the weather in Seattle mixed in with announcements about my ebook. I posted haphazard observations about my experience publishing. I didn’t feel enriched or engaged, and I had an overwhelming fear that all of my (two) readers hated me.

Finding my social media voice

My breakthrough came a few weeks in. My publisher and best friend, Kelly Rizzetta of KMR Publishing, helped me make some short videos about topics related to the book just for fun. We chatted about our favorite chick lit books, our fatal flaws as characters in a chick lit novel, our thoughts on chick lit and feminism, and our writing and editing processes.

Making those videos was probably my favorite part of the entire publishing process. I loved talking about myself in them — it felt like being interviewed, only I was being interviewed by my best friend, so I didn’t have to worry about any tricky questions.

Shazam! After posting these videos, I realized that I had found the key: treat all my online interactions as if I were being interviewed. The videos I made were social media, and they were fun to make because I was pretending to be an expert. Of course, I am an expert — in my own personal experience of publishing an ebook for the first time. I decided to treat Twitter and Tumblr as a talk show where I got to make up the questions and the answers.

Suddenly, social media became a lot more fun. It was easy for me to pretend-interview myself!

Making social media work for me

I don’t know about you, but I imagine someone famous, like Terry Gross, interviewing me all the time; I make up questions that she would ask me and then I mentally respond. Sure, it’s a little crazy, but I can spend an entire commute perfecting my answer to: “Where did you get the idea to use cupcake-making as a theme for your ebook?”

Now, I have a place to be my own Terry Gross. Instead of sharing how cloudy it is again out here in the Pacific Northwest, I can share on Tumblr my perfect, polished answer about why I chose a cupcake theme. I can tweet things I wish I’d known going into epublishing. I can share the ups and downs of working with another person on my book.

By keeping in mind the simple mantra “Act as if you’re being interviewed,” I have also stopped feeling guilty about not sharing elements of my personal life that I don’t want everyone to know. No one expects writers to talk too much about their personal lives on NPR, and you don’t have to put your life on the Internet unless you want to.

Personally, I want to live most of my small life in privacy, and I still refuse to join Facebook. But I am more than happy to act the part of a successful author with knowledge to share with my fellow readers and writers. The Internet has leveled the playing field for new writers like me, who, although new to publishing, have plenty of experience that others could benefit from.

After all, if Terry Gross called me tomorrow, I’d definitely say yes.

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Social Media for Writers

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Comments

  1. I really like these suggestions. It’s really neat to see ways people are using social media and having fun with it. Making your own “talk show?” It’s a genius way to have fun AND entertain your audience.

  2. I love using twitter, but I have been meaning to branch out into other social media.

    I agree with you about Facebook not really being my style; but I have thought about setting up an iTunes podcast. Something short (15 mins a time) but sweet.

    • Go for it, Katherine! I had so much fun making videos with my editor. I think it’s all about doing what you like.

    • Jillian DeMarco says:

      BlogTalkRadio is another good platform. I never thought of Tumblr. I think Twitter is just a bunch of people chattering/shouting at one another (who can be loudest game), I can’t really figure it out… Good for sharing quick links maybe? I quit Twitter. Hmm, I think Google Plus is alright. I follow a select people on G+ … When I put out my first book later this year I’ve been afraid of having to join the Facebook world again… I quit and haven’t looked back… FB is just not my thing. Tumblr.. now that’s something I can look into… and “treat it like an interview” GENIUS. Who wants to read about someone’s lunch? lol.. not me!

  3. I go back and forth on social media so much… and hating on it seems so trendy right now that it’s hard not to join in. But what you’ve written here is so spot on. It can be a lot of fun if you do it right! And free marketing? Hard to say no to that!

  4. This is exactly how I feel. I have a twitter, facebook and blog because everyone told me I need one to connect to people. What I have found is that there are a few faithful that interact with me, more out of pity I think than interest and my fan base never grows.

    Maybe I should start to think that I know what I’m talking about and answer some of those questions myself.

    Thanks for the post.

    • Best of luck, HJ — let us know how it goes!

    • Glad you liked it, HJ! It all boils down to positive thinking, in some ways…you have to do what feels right for *you.* I still feel the pressure to have all these social media connections, but if they’re not working–what’s the point? It takes some of the pressure off to think of it this way, I think.

  5. Thanks Alicia. I definitely want to learn to love this and it does sound like more fun than Twitter. Will try. Cheers!

  6. Alicia, I still like the idea of the carrier pigeon and the woods, but not really conducive to success is it? So I too will go the social media route, but only revealing what I want…..we have to retain some mystery don’t we

  7. I’m in the same boat as you were. I’m a private person and don’t really enjoy sharing too much. That’s why I never had a FB page, until recently. I didn’t like it at all and gave up on it. A few years ago I set up a LinkedIn profile but after I left the business, I never went back to it, and now it doesn’t seem a good fit for what I’m doing.

    I’m in the process of creating an author’s platform and have already created my blog. The next step is to incorporate social media so I decided to go with google+ which I’m currently learning to navigate. I’m not having much fun doing it but I know is necessary. I’m sticking with it for a while and see what happens. I figure if I can learn one, other platforms won’t be as difficult to learn.

    Funny, this morning I woke up dreading going back to google+, but after reading your article, I got inspired. Thanks Alicia.

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