Monday, May 17, 2010

Facebook, Twitter, and Blogs...Oh, My!

"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?"

When I first learned the topic of this week’s discussion, I thought of a wonderful quote from Peter de Vries: “I love being a writer. What I can't stand is the paperwork.”

Oh, how well he summed up the irony of modern publishing.

Gone are the days when writers were allowed to do precisely what they were expected to do -– write.

Today many of us are expected to maintain/participate in one or more of the following:
1. A personal website
2. A webpage linked to our publisher or other site such as
3. Facebook (often personal as well as a “fan page” and maybe a fan group)
4. MySpace
5. Personal blog and guest blog appearances (especially as our release dates approach)
6. Twitter
7. Skype
8. Interviews
9. Goodreads, LibraryThing, Shelfari, or other book cataloging site
10. A newsletter
11. A fan forum
12. Group blogs
13. Attend conferences
14. Host book launch parties
15. In-store book signings/tours
And these are just a few of the most prevalent social networking and/or marketing obligations. I’m certain there are others. Plus, these are in addition to researching our next book/series as well as actually writing that next book or starting that next series. Throw in the day jobs that many writers keep for various reasons, spouses/partners, kids, pets, extended family, and friends and it’s a wonder any books are written at all.

Now, as to answering the question from my personal perspective, I have a serious love/hate relationship with the obligations we face from modern publishing. While I don’t participate in all of the above, I do have a website and enjoy hanging out on Twitter and Facebook, posting to Criminal Minds and another group blog as well as my own (when I have something interesting to say) and a few other items from the list.

But, I’m the new kid on the block and debut authors often feel the most pressure to perform and participate in all of these outlets. It’s my theory this intense pressure is often a contributor to the dreaded “sophomore slump,” a second novel that doesn’t stand up to the expectations met or exceeded by the first. We become blinded by the need to market and promote our book that we don’t spend as much care and time with the second one.

Would I prefer to sit in my darkened room and write? YES! (There is a reason my husband gave me a T-shirt that reads "Keep Out of Direct Sunlight" for my birthday one year.)

Is that going to happen? NO!

Will I learn to suck it up and deal with it? Yep.

Will I like it? Not really, but give me coffee and a supply of Tootsie Roll pops, and I’ll at least be happy until the next book is ready for promotion.

- Jeannie


Gabi said...

Just keep telling yourself that your next blockbuster can be fueled by caffeine and candy and written in a cave between morning show interviews. If they're radio interviews, you can even do them in your 'jammies.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Oh, I feel your pain! With my first book debuting this month, I am in the trenches of guest posting on blogs and book signing in person -- not to mention, yes, that pesky day job. I'm a teacher, so I'm facing report cards and a slew of end-of-year activities. Throw into the mix a new job for the husband that has him on the other side of the continent for 2 weeks, and it's no wonder my stomach is in knots.

But when I CAN find an hour or so to work on my second book ... well, that's the most blissful and relaxing part of the week. Ahh! I certainly hope book 2 won't be a sophomore slump, because the time I spend working on it is the most focused and rewarding time I've got right now! (Unless I'm delusional from lack of sleep ...)

Jeannie Holmes said...

LOL, Gabi! I like the idea of the radio interview. I hate cameras. (Not that I've actually had TV interviews.)

Meredith Cole said...

Here, here! The expectations on new authors are pretty mind-boggling. I'm just off of week 1 of my "tour" where I've had 1 TV interview, 2 radio interviews, 3 book events, and 5+ blogs so far. I hope to go back to book #3 (ah, bliss) sometime in June...

Jeannie Holmes said...

Dianne -- Congrats on your debut! :)

It was so much easier when all I had to do was write, go to class (I wrote my first book while in working on my BA English degree.), and figure out what to cook for dinner. Now, even though Blood Law isn't being released until July 6 (Notice how cleverly I inserted that little tidbit...), I'm already receiving guest blog and online interview requests that will begin in Mid-June and carry through all of July and even early August. I don't mind them so much since it doesn't require travel (or changing out of my jammies, as Gabi pointed out) but I'll also be attending three conferences in July with book signings in between.

While I don't have a pesky day job, I do have family obligations that keep me busy...and I'm going back to school this fall for a second BA degree. (Classes start end of August and yes, I've completely lost my mind.)

Jeannie Holmes said...

Meredith -- What debuts are expected to do is insanity, but it's an unfortunate necessary evil of modern publishing. *sigh*

Graham Brown said...

Jeannie - I was going to reply to this with a witty comment, but first I had to answer 27 e-mails, respond to 9 friend requests - including someone asking me to help build a virtual barn and/or join their online Mafia family, (how much time do these people have on thier hands?) then I got something from linked in and then I had to tweet and now... I forgot what the heck I was going to say.

Oh yeah - maybe I'm old school or something but I prefer any event that is in-person because unlike the virtual/internet stuff you actually get to make a real connection with a fan/friend.

All the best,


Rebecca Cantrell said...

Sending you some virtual Tootsie Pops! And if you ever discover how many licks it takes to get to the center, let us know.

It is crazy, crazy, crazy! I actually do all 14 things on your list and feel like a total underachiever.

There's always more to be done...

Terry Stonecrop said...

I know just what you mean. I'm not even finished writing my first ms and the pressure is on. The industry advice blogs tell you to get a "platform" before you even finish and join all the stuff you joined. I have a weekly blog and that's enough for now.

Recently, I actually read that the ability to market your book may be more important than the writing. I'm thinking of going back to school to take more marketing courses.

Maybe I'll stop writing (who has time?)and just start marketing. Maybe no one will notice I don't have anything to sell and buy it anyway.

Joshua Corin said...

Gabi's advice is absolutely correct. It's what gets me through the night, and as John Lennon said, 's all right.

Shane Gericke said...

Platforms, shmatforms. It should suffice to say, Here's a @#$#@-ing good book. I wrote it. You read it or not, your decision. Now I will write the next one.

Course, writers who say that don't get published, do they? Or, they have staff to do that stuff for them :-)

Kelli Stanley said...

Hang in there, Jeannie!!! :)

Java will get you in ... and java will get you out. :)

And yes, the sophomore slump is an all too real bogeyman over my back, as I race to complete my deadline for the second book, second series. Second book, first series is already done, thank God.

I use garlic and bourbon to keep the bogeyman at bay ...