Thursday, July 21, 2011

Social Media: Publicity, Exposure, and Devourer of Time

Exposure is everything for an author.  Always has been and always will be.  If no one knows about your books, no one will read them.  Whether good or bad, that is a simple fact of life in the business of writing.

In today's digital world, this is even more the case.  Today we tweet, we blog, we socialize, we surf, and we connect.  The digital world out there is gargantuan, and yet we usually only come in contact with a small fraction of it.  Even before Google+ came up with circles, they appeared as indigenous elements of the Internet.  Sites would attract like sites, which would in turn link back to the original sites.

The problem this poses for authors is how to gain further publicity and exposure of their work.  Word of mouth is still the best source for viral growth, but it usually takes a tremendous amount of time and effort to accomplish this.  Nearly identical websites or blogs can have very different results with regard to growth and popularity.  One may take off at a tremendous pace, while the other does not.  And while some reasons are apparent, the exact causes and their effects on virility could be material for a PhD thesis.  This is where social media can make all the difference in the world.

It's official.  I am completely immersed in the world of social media.  Since you're reading this, you obviously know I blog.  I also post from time to time on sites like Absolute Write and the Kindle Boards.  And I'm on Facebook, and Google+, and now - finally - Twitter.  Yep, I've taken the plunge.  I'm all in.

This is great for exposure.  It's great to build a following of people that will (hopefully) buy my books.  Regardless, it's great to have a large support system out there comprised of others who write, who are trying to get published, or who just share my love of fiction.

The problem is, it's a time sink.  I don't have the ability to travel time like some of the characters in my latest science fiction project do.  Like they say, time is money, and even someone without a nine-to-five job eating away at it, time is pretty precious.  It slips away from you before you know it.

By the time I put out a blog here, and update the various social media outlets I have, it's time to keep up with what's happening in the world of writing and publishing, and lately, that's been an awful lot.  Then there has to be some time allocated for frequenting some of the forums I do, and commenting on topics I find interesting or at least in need of my two cents.  I have a list of blogs I follow, and I try to do that with some sort of regularity.  Then it's on to the various household and garden chores that need to be done, as well as busing kids back and forth to their daily summer activities.  And I'm in the process of putting the final (and this time I mean final!) edits on Separate Worlds, the novella I'm readying for e-publication.  Doing it right takes time, lots of it.  And by then, the day is usually winding up, and it's time for supper and a little relaxation with the family before bedtime.

Oh, and I almost forgot.  Writing.  There has to be time for that, and therein lies the problem we've run into with social media.  With so much to do and so much to keep up with, a writer has to prioritize time to effectively be able to socialize for needed exposure and still find quality time for writing.  After all, that's the whole point of being an author.  An author, by definition isn't someone who chats on social media or frequents blogs and forums.  An author is someone who writes.

It'll get easier.  Setting things up is the hard part.  Figuring out how to steer Twitter without crashing over the handlebars is harder than throwing a quick tweet out for the world to see.  Once everything is running great, it's not nearly as time consuming, or at least it doesn't have to be.  And as long as I remember that, I can effectively do both.  And of course, here I am, pouring my thoughts into blogging instead of my latest work in progress.  Heh.  Back to the ol' word document for me!

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