It wasn’t long ago that I railed against Twitter and vowed to remain Twitterless. Now, almost three years later, I have 430 Twitter Followers and am a fairly big Twitter fan. Furthermore, since that little rant, I have purchased an SEO friendly web template, installed a Google Friend Connect box (in my sidebar there), embedded a Twitter widget below every post, a Feedburner widget, joined LinkedIn, joined Goodreads, developed an RSS feed, and expanded my Facebook presence. So what happened? How did I go from being generally resistant to social media, to jumping on the bandwagon?
To put it simply, I just got serious about my writing career.
Call me a sellout or a shill, but I came to realize what most experts are saying: The market is changing and authors need to adapt. Because of the decreased investment of publishers, platform development has become a necessity for the aspiring author. Nowadays, publishers want to know that authors are working the system, using all the tools at their disposal. And really, the market is wide open. The only real obstacle was me. Once this sunk in, I realized I could either rage against the machine or get in line. I chose the latter. And it’s paid off.
But not everyone is so easily swayed.
I spoke via email to an author recently about ways to increase their web traffic and expand their web presence. They did not know basic HTML, were not interested in optimizing their website, did not Tweet, retained a rather small circle of Facebook friends (and liked that), and generally viewed social media with disdain. When I pressed this author about expanding their use of social media, they fell back on four common objections:
- I don’t have the time for social media.
- I’m not computer savvy.
- Social media takes away from actually writing.
- Social media requires marketing skills, which I don’t have.
Okay, if you’re Stephen King or J.K. Rowling, perhaps I can understand using these excuses. (In fact, Rowling’s last tweet, 3 months ago, read: “…you won’t be hearing from me often I’m afraid, as pen and paper are STILL my priority at the moment.”) Apparently, social media is a luxury for some best-selling novelists. But if you’re a new, midlist, or unpublished novelists, believing the above excuses is self-sabotage. And let me be clear: These ARE excuses.
But I’m NOT computer savvy, you object. I’m NOT a marketer, and I really DON’T have time for Tweeting and Facebooking and blogging. I can’t be a writer AND be a social media expert.
And maybe that’s part of the problem: We think we have to be experts, as if only savants can master social media. Listen, I can sympathize with these objections… if they were leveled by your 92 year-old grandmother. However, managing a blog, Tweeting regularly, learning basic HTML or web design, and building your own platform, doesn’t require some unique, high-level skill set. Yes, it involves time. Yes, it involves a certain acumen. But this is not gene research, people. I’ve been married for 31 years and I can assure you, understanding HTML is a lot easier than deciphering female communication. So when I hear authors go on about computer illiteracy and reasons they avoid social networking, all I tend to hear is blah, blah, blah.
Several of my Facebook friends happen to be children of people I know. Not long ago, one of those kids (a 20-something) began posting some risque pictures and saying some disturbing things. Hey, she’s an adult. However, I happened to speak to the parent about this and they shrugged. “I can barely check my email, much less go on Facebook.” As if ignorance is a reasonable rejoinder. Memo to parents: If your child is computer literate (especially a teen living under your roof) and you are not monitoring them on the grounds that you are a computer illiterate, please check yourself. Parents CANNOT afford to be computer illiterates nowadays.
Well, the same is true of authors. Authors cannot afford to be social media illiterates.
If you choose to remain Twitterless, blog irregularly, shrug off platform building, and repeatedly break The 10 Commandments of Social Media, you forfeit the right to bitch about your writing career. Of course, these things are no guarantee of increased sales or a bigger fan base. In fact, the author who is shrill, one-dimensional, insecure, and uncreative, will only amplify their issues with social media (which may be one reason why writers subconsciously avoid social networking). Nevertheless, there are very few legitimate reasons why an aspiring author should not be growing in social networking.
Part of the beauty and power of social media is that it is accessible to the average person. You don’t need a degree, a diploma, a brand name, or tons of money. Yes, it takes time. It takes persistence. It takes creative energy. And I’m guessing you have those things.
But everything else is just an excuse.
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QUESTION: What’s your biggest frustration or obstacle to expanding your use of social media?