Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Keep it simple

By R.J. Harlick

My apologies, but I have only just realized I was looking at the wrong date for this week’s question, so I have inadvertently answered next week’s.  Alas it is too late to change, so here goes.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Blogs, Newsletters…what social media do you use and how do you use it? What don’t you use, and why not? Any advice for those in a quandary?

There are a lot, aren’t there? Too many for me.  It’s hard to keep on top of all the latest and greatest ways to tell the online world you exist. But to tell you the truth, I don’t care. I can barely manage the few I do use.

When having a blog was a must-have, I figured I’d better get with it and set one up. I started out in a great flurry of daily postings, then they petered out to weekly, eventually to monthly until I reached a point where I now only post when I have something major to say about a new book release or a book tour. Not only was it a challenge to come up with original and exciting posts, but it was also intruding on my precious writing time. After all I had a book to write. Besides I felt like I was throwing my words into a big black void. With few people commenting, I didn't know how they were being received or whether they were even being read. I learned it takes a lot of time to build up a following to a blog and it needs to be updated daily to maintain interest. I wasn’t prepared to put in the time or effort. 

Yah, but you’re blogging on Criminal Minds, you say. To answer simply, this blog is my kind of blog. Being bi-weekly, it doesn’t intrude on my writing time. I create most of my postings the night before, while watching TV, except today, when I find myself scrambling to get this up this morning. Sorry. It also gives me the topic for my posting. Plus I get a chance to meet and be a part of a terrific group of writers. I find most of my fellow writers now blog mostly through group blogs such as Criminal Minds. Like me, they found maintaining their own consumed too much time.

Aside from this blog, I basically rely on three platforms to keep my readers informed on what’s happening with Meg Harris mysteries: my website, facebook and twitter.

I find my website is key in introducing new readers to my books. I don’t know about you, but when I get interested in a writer I immediately go to their website to find out more about them. Although I don’t have statistics on its usage, I know people are accessing the site because they often get back to me through the listed contact information. I tell you it is a great thrill to receive an email out of nowhere from a reader who just had to tell me how much they enjoyed my book. People wanting me to participate in a reading or literary festival will also use my website to reach me.

Facebook has proven its worth in time and effort many times over. I use it to communicate all that is happening in my writing world. I know it helps to sell books, because I’ve seen the Amazon numbers jump after I’ve made some book announcement. I have occasionally paid for additional boosting of a posting, though the jury is still out on whether it is worth the cost.  But the aspect I like most about facebook is I get to interact with my readers, carry on conversations with them, set up times to meet them at the next conference or book signing.

I was a slow adopter of twitter, too worried that it might take over my life. But recently I felt I should get with the program, so signed up and thankfully have found it hasn’t taken over my life. But how useful it is in spreading the word out into the big black hole that I and my books are alive and well, it is too early to tell. 

I know I should get more involved with Goodreads, but thus far haven’t found the time to figured out how to make the best use of it. Pinterest fails me. I have no idea how to use it nor do I have the desire to learn and the same goes for any of the other social media programs that seem to crop up new everyday.

Though I am a great believer in using social media, I think it is key to focus on two or three and use them as effectively as you can, otherwise the amount of time you spend on your real writing will dwindle to almost nothing. 

By the way if you want to check my links out, here they are, rjharlick.ca, facebook.com/rjharlick @RJHarlick


Anonymous said...

I like to read the blogs that are written by authors I enjoy. My biggest problem is the convoluted steps some sites require to post a comment; (we'll see how this one works out!) I almost always comment as "anonymous" because I don't have an URL or whatever set up. Maybe there are other blog readers with the same dilemma. That said, I love to communicate via Facebook.
I don't know how authors manage to find time for all they do, with the demands put upon them re: publicity, etc. but the actual writing process should never be pre-empted by social media.
Love your books. Enjoy your summer retreat in the woods! Yours, the ever-anonymous Nancy R

RJ Harlick said...

Thanks, Nancy. So glad you enjoy Meg. And Facebook is indeed how we met and keep in touch. One of the main reasons I keep using Facebook. All the wonderful people I meet. You enjoy your summer too. Though I will admit I am currently enjoying the air conditioned retreat of my Ottawa townhouse. The cabin became too hot... Isn't this heat wave something else.

Cathy Ace said...

I agree, it's hard to keep too many balls in the air, and keep the writing going, but it's great to be open to connection with readers, and other writers :-)

Susan C Shea said...

Anonymous Nancy makes a good point. There are several blogs I really enjoy, but whenever I try to comment, it wants me to sign in with Facebook or Google and that means passwords and also, I fear, exposing my FB friends to getting on another list. I better check my own web site....Ah technology, you have us in your grip.

Unknown said...

I've found Twitter and Instagram are most manageable, bite-sized info I can read or skim, engage or ignore. FB is like a big house party, with so many people with so much news, and much of it deserves response - you really can't just step in for a few minutes and leave - you need to stay a couple hours. I know I should set more time aside for it. I can see how great it can be for staying in contact with people. I have much the same confusion as Terry though, with the personal v author pages, and so both remain badly neglected.

You're right too about the importance of websites, and thanks for the reminder, Robin. Mine hasn't been touched in six months. Another thing for the to-do list!