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I asked HM&B multi-published author Natalie Anderson on a previous post, her views on Social Networking for pre-published authors and published authors, and here are her thoughts:
Firstly, thanks so much to Nas for putting me in her spotlight! I’m thrilled to be here :)
She asked me to give a few thoughts on that big ole’ beast known as social media in relation to pre-published and post-published. Now I’m really sorry because I’m just going to spout the obvious here – but it really is what I think about this. Yep, my thoughts for either camp are the same – it’s all about BALANCE.
There is no denying social media – or the advantages of it. It’s here, to stay, and only going to grow. So yes you need to be onboard (in some form or other) - but you need to manage what you put out there and of course how much time you put into it.
Nothing but nothing can come before the writing. At the end of the day we’re all in this because we have stories we want to share, we want to entertain, and yes, it’d be great to make some money doing that. No product means nothing to sell, no matter how cute your website. So you have to concentrate the best of your effort into your writing. And the most of your time.
So if you’re time pressured, then perhaps you only want to exist as a ‘writer’ on Facebook say – it’s free, its very easy to network and you can build relationships etc by commenting more on other peoples essays and pithy statements rather than having to come up with extended fantastic content yourself.
That’s the hard thing about blogging – it’s a big effort to attract readers and to keep them coming back. It can be a huge time-suck – time that perhaps could be better invested in your WIP. Of course, some people are great bloggers and all power to them. But be sure to think through what the benefits truly are to putting all that time into it.
The other thing that you have to be so very careful about, is what you put out there. Do not, under any circumstances, bite the hand that you want to feed you. Don’t moan about your dream publisher – or any other publisher or agent. What goes up, stays up and anybody can access it. I know this is obvious, but people do it all the time. Think, breathe, think again before pressing the ‘publish’ button. Now I’m not saying you can’t be honest, but just think about the face you’re presenting to the world. You must be professional, so when that potential editor or agent checks your blog/website/twitter/FB account, you want them to see you as someone they’d want to work with. Sure, show your personality but perhaps not the moments of craziness we all have. I’m also wary of putting anything political up there- you know the old saying about not talking politics, religion or sex? Well, depending on what you’re writing, it still holds – you don’t want to put prospective readers off by grumbling about the new law they adore...
It’s very difficult isn’t it? Because I guess it’s a kind of self-censorship... But your online presence is a persona – yes be honest, because honesty draws people, but perhaps not about everything. You have to define the lines for yourselves.
The internet has reduced the loneliness of the writer to a degree. It’s been fantastic in making all kinds of information accessible – we all know how to format manuscripts and how we’re supposed to write query letters and synopses – just Google it and you get a ton of great examples. We get to ‘meet’ people striving for the same thing as ourselves. But there’s something to be said for some isolation time as well. I remember in Donald Maas’ book, The Career Novelist (available as a free download here: http://www.maassagency.com/books.html#career ), he talked about some break-out writers and the one thing they had in common was that they were writing in their own little caves off the network. Now I know this book is coming up 15 years old, but I think there’s still heaps to learn from it. And I do think there is a lot to be said for hanging out in your own cave, ploughing your own furrow. Have some time out where you don’t pay attention to what anyone else is doing, don’t get sucked into checking your blog visitor stats every two hours, don’t worry about how fast someone else has just finished their wip or how fast they heard back from an ed. All of that info is irrelevant to you and your journey. Filter all the garbage that’s on the social networks (‘cos there is garbage, just as there’s a lot of gold and a lot of fun). So yes, try to find the balance – somehow!!!
Of course, I’m still trying to find that balance thing. I blog sporadically – although I do contribute regularly to group blogs and find that great fun. I am much more regular on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/authornataliea and sometimes Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/authornataliea – but I find around deadline time, I drop everything and zone into book world. My time is very pressured – I still have two preschoolers (plus the two school age kids) and the bulk of my writing is done in the evenings and on the weekends. Perhaps when they go to school towards the end of the year I’ll be able to pick up on the social media thing a little more. For now, actually for always, the writing must come first.
So what do you think? Do you prefer to blog over Facebook say? Have you reserved your domain name for when you sell or do you have a full website up and running already? And do you tend to follow favourite authors on social media???
Natalie Anderson USA TODAY bestselling author
UNFINISHED BUSINESS – M&B Special Releases, Jan 2011 UK
WALK ON THE WILD SIDE – M&B Riva, Feb 2011, UK ; Harlequin Presents Extra, Apr 2011 USA
REBEL WITH A CAUSE – Harlequin Presents Extra, Feb 2011 USA
IN BED WITH HER TALL, SEXY, HANDSOME BOSS – M&B By Request, Mar 2011 UK
THE END OF FAKING IT – M&B Riva, Apr 2011 UK ; Jul 2011 US