Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Joys of Social Networking?

"Do you like doing all the marketing, social networking and other obligations of modern book publishing? Or would you prefer to just sit in your room writing, with no business-side duties?"

by Rebecca Cantrell


Not counting being a mother, what I love most of all writing in a room all by myself without anyone bothering me. Since I am a mother, I only write during school hours and after bedtime. And now that my son is getting older bedtime is getting later. The social networking and promotional stuff drives me nuts. Every morning I read my email on my old personal account, my Rebecca Cantrell account, and my Bekka Black account. Then I check my messages on Facebook and Twitter. I’ve abandoned MySpace, so if you’re trying to contact me there go to another portal.


After I deal with all of those messages that are so urgent they can’t wait until just before bedtime, then I’m allowed to write. Except not really. There are a ton of other promotional details: book giveaways, blogging, mailing copies to bloggers and reviewers (I can go through that automatic mailer machine at the post office so quickly people have been known to line up to watch me), getting those book trailers in shape, booking a blog tour. And every one of those things that I don’t get to make me feel horribly guilty because I’m clearly not doing all I can to sell my books. And if they don’t sell, I don’t get to write more.

I have met some wonderful people online and at conferences and made friendships that I treasure so it’s not like I hate every minute of it. I am completely humbled every time I meet someone who chose to spend $25 hard-earned dollars and at least eight nonrefundable hours of their lives reading my book. As sappy as it sounds, every time someone says “I read your book and I loved it!” I actually get tears in my eyes. It is so amazing.

But I’ve discovered one thing since I sold A TRACE OF SMOKE a few years ago: it’s really all about what I do in that room all by myself with no interruptions. It’s all about words on the page, words that will turn into a book if I just give them the time and the care that they need. So, I’ve cut back everywhere that I dare so that I can do the part of the job that I love best, and the part that readers treasure most: listen to the characters tell me a story.

26 comments:

Richard R. said...

This old fuddy-duddy thinks things were better in the simpler times, when the publishers promoted the books they bought and were trying to sell, and the writers did the writing, with an occasional interview thrown in. But the publishers used leverage to shift the burden of promotion onto the already burdened writers. You want your book to sell? Go do a dog-and-pony show!

These days, with the internet gobbling up everything like the biggest fish in the classic cartoon sequence, if there ANY many book readers out there they certainly are not reading the NY Times Book Review, Kirkus or book reviews in the local paper (though there probably are none there anyway).

Good luck with the reaching out and pinging someone business.

Hard Boiled Mysti said...

Thank you for a gorgeous reminder of what it is I'm really trying to do.

Write things that people read.

The good news? My niece just wrote me and said even with a full college load and grad school staring her in the face, she reads TWO BOOKS A WEEK!

There's hope :)

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Richard: I miss those days too. But I sometimes wonder if they really existed or are just golden recollections of the past.

I can't imagine Faulkner twittering!

And I wonder how many books will never get written because of the sheer amount of time required for marketing.

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Thanks, Mysti! I'm always heartened to hear of readers under 30. My son reads quite a bit and so do a lot of his friends, so I think it's not completely bleak.

Words on a page. Every day. That's my mantra.
(won't get it done today though, darn it!)

Terry Stonecrop said...

Thank you for saying, it's all about the words on the page. I'm going to hold onto that thought.:)

I find my blog and chatting with commenters and emailers, fun, so that's fine. But I'm not ready to Twitter and Tweet and all the other stuff.

I just read MySpace is still one of the best places for a writer to be. I have to stop reading writer advice...

Rebecca Cantrell said...

I'm putting my fingers in my ears and going "la la la," Terry. I did not hear what you said about MySpace. I can't do one more...

I think all of them are very useful and DO get the word out. That's the infernal part. If they were a real waste of time we could write them off. Facebook seems to work best for me, but some people swear by MySpace or Twitter.

Words. On. The. Page.

Graham Brown said...

Hey Becks - good point on the guilt - its kind of a damned if you do - damned if you don't type of thing. But I read something Michael Douglass said recently - he said the best advice he ever got was from his father Kirk Douglass - and it was - "do the best you can and then (screw) it". Bottom line is can't beat ourselves up for what we can't get to - just do the best we can and then don't even think about it anymore.

Rebecca Cantrell said...

I like the guilt-free theory, Graham, even if I can't ever pull it off. It does seem like the Zen way to go.

Or, as Edna Mode says in The Incredibles, "I never look back, dahling. It distracts from the now."

And she was a very brilliant artist. So, there you go.

Joshua Corin said...

When MySpace turned into MyClutter, I too abandoned ship for Facebook...which has now become Personalsecretsrevealedbook, and I just think that name is too unwieldy.

Sigh. Makes me almost yearn for Friendster.

Sophie Littlefield said...

you know becky - that wouldn't make a bad Working Writer's Credo: "Cut back everywhere you dare"....I might have to adopt that.

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Heya Josh,

Maybe you could make it shorter by putting the word "Galileo" right in the middle...

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Sophie: When I use the word "dare" it feels like I am being brave and adventurous instead of lazy. :) And I always worry that I dare to leave too much promotion undone...

But: Words on the page. Dare to cut back wherever you can. Maybe there are some bumper stickers there.

Shane Gericke said...

A most excellent post. Marketing has become the unending migraine of our writing heads.

Rebecca Cantrell said...

There's a bumper sticker, Shane:

Marketing - the undending migraine of our writing heads.

I like it.

Gabi said...

You can't imagine Faulkner twittering? I'm thinking about Ernest Hemingway looking for a bar in Key West with WiFi so he can catch up with his Facebook fans during happy hour.

If you still get that shiver when someone reads what you write and says, "you told my story," let me give you another one hear. It was like you were writing from inside my head. Great post.

Kelli Stanley said...

Loved the post, Becks--and I think Edna must be obeyed always. :)

But lest we think that things were once rosy in those freezing garrets, with chapped, cold-burned writing fingers clutching a stiff quill pen ...

Charles Dickens had to go on lecture tours, too.

Alas--while there is a decided imbalance these days, leading to frustration, guilt, exhaustion, ill health and the rending of hair and the gnashing of teeth (at least in my house) ... self-promotion has always been necessary those of us not fortunate enough to have patrons.

No Pope Julius II for us, no Earl of Southampton.

Hmm ... you think we could find one on Craig's list? ;)

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Aww, thanks, Gabi!

Re: Faulkner. I just can't imagine him communicating in 120 character segments.

Hemingway I can TOTALLY see with a fan page on Facebook.

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Kelli, you don't want the kind of "patron" you can find on Craigslist. Trust me. :)

There were never any good old days? Nothing to even YEARN for? *sigh* Now you've taken away even my illusions of a better time.

Kelli Stanley said...

Nope, babe, sorry to disillusion you. But as a historical noir writer, you know ...

there never were any good ol' days. ;)

Not even a small, discreet ad on Craig's List? You know, "Writer Seeks Patron for Support--will dedicate next novel" ??

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Thanks, Miss Noir!

You can give that patron thing a shot. If it worked for Michaelangelo...

But only meet in a well-lit public place.

Shane Gericke said...

I can't see Faulkner even clearing his throat with 120 characters. Maybe 120 paragraphs ...

Shane Gericke said...

Oh, and feel free to use that unending migraine thingy. I can't cause I got a headache ...

Cheating Spouse said...

Very inspired with your post. but my interest is in reading not in writing. well nice blog.

Audrey said...

Thank you for your thoughts on writing and marketing. I would rather get the writing done first and not get too focused on the marketing until the right moment. One thing I like to do is meet other writers, make professional connections, ect. I would like to develop this more and plan to get the new book, "Fast Track Networking," to help me achieve this goal. All the best to you in your writing career.

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Lol, Shane!

Cheating Spouse: It's a great time to be a reader. And we writers love you for it.

Audrey: Good luck with your writing too!

Audrey said...

Thanks, Rebecca! It's great to be in the company of such great writers :}.