Getting sucked into social media? When to say no. When to say yes.

Knowing my book would be out in the big wide world caused me to really analyze and think about what I was doing. What worked? What was effective? There seems to be two different ways of thinking and of course everything in between.

On one side, there is the author who spends maybe 50% of her time promoting. The writer feels the pressure to join the latest thing (Pinterest anyone?) and to be current with all things social media.

On the other side, there is the author who chooses here and there what to join. I’m not saying one way is more right than the other. It’s a personal decision.

Before I decided to self publish, before I took this on as a business, I might have jumped on any one of the social media wagons. Because finding success in blogging and watching my numbers grow gave me that feeling of moving forward.

I thought for sure once I was on the publishing path, I’d feel the desire to promote more. But it’s almost had the opposite effect. I’ve realized that writing is king. And now that also means formatting, organizing blog series, writing guest blog posts. But I still want to spend as much time writing too. So I went down to blogging two days a week. I had to be selective.

I joined Google + but so far not really getting into it. I don’t see a lot of interaction. It’s like a different Google reader.

I created a Facebook Fan page.

But that’s it. I haven’t joined Triberr or Pinterest. Not because I don’t want to. I just don’t have time. Maybe after this first book is out? Maybe?

One thing I see to be true. Promotion doesn’t mean much without great product. And I’ve seen authors shoot through the charts and barely touch social media. So though I want to do my share of it and be available, I will be putting much more focus on the writing.

What do you think? Has your opinion on social media evolved at all?

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32 Responses to Getting sucked into social media? When to say no. When to say yes.

  1. India Drummond April 5, 2012 at 11:14 am #

    Yeah, I used to think I had to blog daily and join memes and blog-hops and co-ops where people would agree to tweet each other’s links. It drove me crazy and sucked up all my energy.

    So I decided to go without blogging for a week and took a hiatus from all social networking. And guess what? No dip in sales. When I came back, I decided to only do what I wanted, so I blog once or twice a week. It’s had no negative effect on my sales but it’s had a huge positive effect on my mental well-being. I enjoy social networking again, and I never comment on a blog because I feel pressured to or because I think it will sell a book. I do it because I want to and feel better about the whole process.

    I saw an article on a rather large collective indie blog the other week and it basically boiled down to “promo-spam… we all hate it, but we have to do it.” I wanted to reply by shouting “BS!” but I didn’t. Blog posts and tweets don’t sell books, but being friendly, accessable, and real may make a few friends and make a few existing readers into true fans.

    • Laura April 5, 2012 at 12:56 pm #

      I have to say, India, the more I see about this the more I agree with you!

  2. Jemi Fraser April 5, 2012 at 11:31 am #

    Good post Laura. I’ve avoided FB and Pinterest (& I really think I’d like that!) because of the time factor too. I think we have to find what’s comfortable for us and fits in the schedule – as you say, writing is king!

  3. Christina Lee April 5, 2012 at 11:40 am #

    Good for you, Laura!!!! I think when you first start out you are on fire and have a lot of energy for it, but as time goes on something changes! And you’re right, stepping away helps my mental health and my writing! Good luck!

    • Laura April 5, 2012 at 12:57 pm #

      And I don’t think it always sells books either. A book’s success is usually due to the writing and an author’s likeability but mostly the writing!

  4. Natalie Aguirre April 5, 2012 at 11:51 am #

    Great post. I think we all have to do what we’re comfortable with. I only blog once or twice a week because it’s all I can handle with working, reading other people’s blogs, and a family. I do think the connections help with marketing when you release a book and it’s great to support each other.

    I’m debating on Twitter. So many people are on it and it seems like a faster way to connect. But I’m trying to set some limits so I have time for that important thing called writing and family.

    • Laura April 5, 2012 at 12:58 pm #

      Twitter is nice to connect and be friendly. I tweet blog posts I find helpful but I don’t like the spam aspect.

  5. Alex J. Cavanaugh April 5, 2012 at 11:53 am #

    Other than when a book actually launches, I really don’t say much about it on my blog and I almost never mention it on Twitter.
    My publisher told me to get my butt online so I could promote. I really had no idea what to expect. I’ve found that interacting and making friends is the most powerful form of promotion though.

    • Laura April 5, 2012 at 12:58 pm #

      Yes, I totally agree!

  6. Laurel G April 5, 2012 at 12:24 pm #

    I love your analytic approach to the question of what to do and not do. I think how well the particular social media tool fits your style/temperament is another factor. I am a slower, deeper thinker who likes to concentrate, and the very idea of Twitter makes me practically break out in hives. Too much speed, too much noise. It’s a bad fit for me. Blogging is a good fit, and I do make use of Facebook to a degree, because it can be approached slow (as well as fast–the feed in the right corner for example).

    • Laura April 5, 2012 at 12:59 pm #

      Yes, we have to find what works for us instead of doing everything out of a sense of obligation or desperation. And that’s never a place I want to be.

  7. Melissa Maygrove April 5, 2012 at 12:44 pm #

    Having just gotten into to social media *bigtime* over the last month or so, I’d say ‘getting sucked in’ is a good description. It’s hard not to venture off on cyber bunny trails when I should be writing. I’m going to have to figure out some guidelines for myself and stick to them. Anyhow, great post. I needed to hear this today.

  8. Lydia K April 5, 2012 at 2:08 pm #

    I think you’re so right (so write!) that writing has to be king first. Queen, I mean.

    Without a good product, there’s no point in promoting anything. The best promotion is word of mouth.

    Congrats on cutting down to two times a week. I hope you get lots more writing time out of it. 🙂

  9. Karen Lange April 5, 2012 at 5:41 pm #

    Just thinking about social media makes me tired sometimes. I see the value in it in the right balance, but even that can be tricky. I agree, writing is the most important thing – that’s what has to take priority. I am on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, and Pinterest, but only really spend any time I have on Facebook. Perhaps someday I’ll get in to the others.

  10. Leslie Rose April 5, 2012 at 6:10 pm #

    I’ve learned so much and met such wonderful people through social media, but I do feel its pressure weighing me down. Blogging and Twitter are what fit into my “doable” zone.

  11. Donna K. Weaver April 5, 2012 at 6:15 pm #

    Yup. If you want to keep writing, you’ve got to, you know . . . write!

    Choose wisely.

  12. mooderino April 5, 2012 at 7:33 pm #

    It can really suck up time, which isn’t much use. But i do like feeling I’m part of a community.

    Moody Writing

  13. Pam Torres April 5, 2012 at 7:53 pm #

    Right On, Laura! Just returned from a social media hiatus and I’m being very selective about which ones. I’m even doing research about each one to see what may be the best ones for me to use. It is a very individual decision but I’m with you…writing is what I’m about so that has to be my focus. Congratulations on your book. I look forward to reading it!

  14. Anna Staniszewski April 6, 2012 at 2:34 pm #

    So, so true. I did much more promoting before my book came out. I still do some now, but like you, I’ve realized that writing is my priority. I don’t want to neglect the connections I’ve made with people online, but I also don’t want my writing to slip down my list of priorities. It definitely is a balance.

  15. Elizabeth Fais April 6, 2012 at 4:28 pm #

    Content is King! Writing is by far the MOST important thing. If you don’t have a great book, all the blogging and social media in the world won’t help. My $0.02. 🙂

  16. Catherine Johnson April 6, 2012 at 4:36 pm #

    Choose wisely is great advice. I think play around with what is out there and see what you enjoy doing, what works, what is a time suck and don’t be afraid to change it if necessary. I used to be all over Twitter and almost quit my blog now I’m swinging the other way. Luckily I can afford to experiment before I have deadlines.

  17. Tony April 6, 2012 at 4:38 pm #

    I agree – twitter and fb are not a great way to promote your own work but it is nice to be able to help other authors so easily by tweeting about their new books. I’ve always been happy to have guest posts on my blog and book launches always have a lot of hits.

    Google+ came into its own on NaNoWriMo last year – it was a great forum and I am still in touch with many writers there.

    I’d also put in a work for Goodreads – its good value for the amount of time and links you to a huge number of readers.

    As with everything in life moderation is the key – the warning sign is when you find yourself tweeting INSTEAD of writing!

  18. Stacy April 6, 2012 at 5:22 pm #

    I think Twitter and FB are a great way to connect with readers – if you use the right hashtag – and simply talk about things you enjoy. And they’re a great way to promote others books, who will hopefully do the same for you.

    However, while Triberr is great for organizing social media, it’s also making it a lot more spammy. I’m seeing less conversation on Twitter and more and more links.

    I do think Pinterest has the potential of reaching past the writing blogosphere and touching readers who wouldn’t normally hear of you, but again, you have to just be yourself.

    I only blog a couple of days a week, but keeping up with everything still takes time, and I do wonder if it will make any difference when the book comes out. I’m trying to limit myself to a handful of blog comments, Twitter, and FB, but it’s tough.

    • Laura April 7, 2012 at 5:26 pm #

      I would like to join Pinterest. That’s going to have to wait a tiny bit longer though. 🙂

  19. Julie Musil April 6, 2012 at 8:45 pm #

    I have to be SO careful with this. I notice I turn to social media when I’m stuck on something and can’t figure out a solution. It’s like a really fun, cool distraction. But beyond that, I really value the relationships we’ve formed here on blogs and Twitter.

    • Laura April 7, 2012 at 5:24 pm #

      I also love the friendships and connections I’ve made. I wouldn’t trade it for anything!

  20. richard p hughes April 6, 2012 at 10:26 pm #

    You’ve just got to find a balance between everything you have to do. But writing is king.

  21. Karen Strong April 6, 2012 at 10:55 pm #

    It can be tricky. There is just SO much out there to be involved in that you can easily spread yourself thin.

    I’ve always thought having a good quality space (website, facebook) where you can be seen and reached is important. Not too sure yet about how much “interaction” you need.

    It’s probably more of a “try and see”.

    But I do agree that writing should definitely stay king of all things. Writing should come first.

  22. Traci Kenworth April 7, 2012 at 12:06 pm #

    I’m not published yet, but I decided on–thanks to studying a lot of what other authors were doing–blogging two time a week, with an occasional third day a week, once a month as part of my critique group’s Muse series. It works well for me. I usually get my blogs done on the weekends and can concentrate on my writing, the rest.

  23. Angela April 8, 2012 at 4:58 am #

    You’re being smart about it,Laura! I spend too much time on social media. It is a lot of fun tho. I really enjoy it, but I have to make sure there’s time for writing too…that’s the most important!

  24. Stina Lindenblatt April 9, 2012 at 1:01 pm #

    I don’t get Google + either. I’ve done nada on my page. I guess I should fix that at least.

    I have to get back to Facebook, but other than that, blogging, and Twitter, I don’t feel like doing anything else. I prefer writing novels. Like you said, you can’t sell anything if you have nothing of quality to sell.

  25. Marcia April 11, 2012 at 7:50 pm #

    Yes, yes, writing is king!

    Blogging fits me best, but I post only once a week, and set aside some time usually Fri-Sun to visit other blogs. Verla’s also fits me: a genuine community where real discussions happen.

    I like Twitter because I feel like I can “get in and get out.” I do click on links sometimes, but I don’t look up and suddenly wonder where 3 hours went.

    I never joined FB because that seems to me more like personal connection than professional. I don’t want to get sucked into hunting for a bunch of HS classmates online just for curiosity’s sake. And I keep up with my family in other ways. When I publish again, I’ll probably put up a fan page.

    I’m also on Google+, but never spend any time there. LinkedIn, pretty much ditto. I also belong to a few specialized yahoo groups. My overall strategy on social media is to “be a writer, with glimpses of the personal.”

    There’ll always be something new, but the number of hours in the day won’t increase, so we’ll have to keep finding and adjusting the mix that works best for us. But writing has to stay on top. I’m so glad it is STILL true that our best promo is to write another good book.

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