Sunday, March 30, 2008

How Much is Enough?

I belong to several online writing forums and the subject of promoting one 's work comes up often enough for me to post a blog about it. Writers can sometimes become obsessive about finding as many avenues to promote, market and otherwise, expose ourselves and our books online.

My question is, how many web pages, blogs, forums and online activities can an author indulge in without seriously injuring their ability to work on our actual books? At what point do you realize that keeping sites like MySpace, Facebook, and other "friends" type sites become a burden and full of people that aren't going to buy or promote your book at all and merely want to post pictures and converse? And do you think all the web pages and web exposure actually do anything to sell your book or draw more readers to you?

Are readers really spending their time online to find authors and visit author web sites? I sometimes get the feeling that the only ones who are joining forums, checking out web sites and communicating with authors online are other authors. Pitching your book to other authors isn't necessarily what I'm interested in. If we are really honest, author-ego is present within all of us and we are most interested in mainly our own books. Be honest. And how many of us have so much time, with work and life, to really read as much as we'd like? I know I can't.

How do you reach the non-writing reader online?

5 comments:

Dorien/Roger said...

"How do you reach the non-writing reader on line?" Ah, Patty, you have asked a question on the level of "How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?"

As soon as you get a definitive answer, please advise.

I belong to far more groups, sites, clubs, etc. than I can possibly manage right now, yet when a new one comes along I'm right there, hitting the "Join this group" button.

There is absolutely no way to know if all this networking really produces the result of getting more readers. But it does get our name out there, and there is always the chance that after having seen a writer's name 347 times, a potential reader might check a bit further into what all the fuss is about, and perhaps even read a book.

I have found that of all the places to which I belong, most are almost totally low maintenance. I put my name there, put my books there, put my bio there, beg, plead, and grovel for the attention of anyone who might wander by, then go on to bait the next hook. (Honesty ain't always pretty, kid.)

Best,

Dorien

MJ said...

What an excellent question, Patty. How much time can one spend talking and posting about writing that's worth the time away from actually writing.

I have joined several groups and was at one point very active in all of them. Now I'm mostly on the fringe.

My MySpace page seemed very popular. I posted several short stories there and received very positive feedback.

But this takes me to my next question - how much does it hurt an author to be out there, to get recognized in groups, MySpace, etc and then disappear? Is it my overactive ego to worry? Perhaps they didn't really recognize my name at the time, although they seemed to. But what if they did? What if they did enjoy my stories and look for more and then I suddenly vanished?

What are your thoughts on that?

Patty G. Henderson said...

MJ,

If you're using places like MySpace to showcase your short fiction and seeing a positive return and useful feedback, then I certainly wouldn't just "disappear." Have you considered trying to sell your short stories online? There are many webzines (although not sure how many erotica ones) that actually pay for short fiction. I don't want to sound mercenary and propose you only sell your fiction, but it might be worth some thought on your end. Also, if you ever wanted to publish your short stories in anthologies, some may not take previously published stories and some do consider the Internet publication (an entirely different topic for another blog post down the line, LOL). You might very well be getting the most from your MySpace space. Those who are reading your fiction there might turn into readers that will support you and buy your book. This is the kind of dialogue I wanted to see. If an author can use MySpace for his/her fiction and feels comfortable doing it, will it translate to future book sales? Could MySpace and others like it be a good place to pick up readers? I trust you will keep us posted once your book comes out.

protocolinpractice said...

I should have my first novel published by the last quarter of this year. I'm already thinking of how I'll promote it on the net. I have a website development company and do some web marketing and SEO.

I think it is a good idea to draw up an e-marketing strategy so that you don't disperse your energy all over the place.

It may even be worth it to get some help from a good e-marketing company with a solid strategy, someone that understands your target market.

Steve Pierce said...

I recall reading an editorial on Slate or MSN about this very topic several months ago--wished I'd saved the link for you! It was a message from an author letting the web world know she was taking a hiatus from blogging to work on another book, since the internet had become too much of distraction for her to get any "real" writing done. When I was working on my first novel I set my on-line profiles to "hidden" wherever possible so I wouldn't be disturbed, either. What surprised me was how many people contacted me once I reactivated those profiles to see where I'd been, which gave me an opportunity to tell them about my book. I had feared I might lose touch with my on-line acquaintances--and I did with some--but most welcomed me back almost immediately. It seems that ducking in and out of the web world can actually draw more attention than trying to keep up with it constantly. That's become an increasingly impossible task as the number and variety of social networking sites continues to expand. Try to remember that they're there for you to use--not vice versa. I do think blogging has its place as a promotional tool as well, especially if a blog is linked to a networking site. I've found that are polite ways to let people who discover you on-line know that you may be too busy to respond right away, or maybe not at all. Most people are pretty understanding, and those that aren't are usually so young they don't yet have a career eating up their free time. You need to be selective both in terms of who you engage on-line and where you reach out to find readers. The time I spend on-line becomes bothersome to me as well sometimes, but just when I begin to think it's a total waste I'll discover someone who has found me that way that wouldn't have otherwise. It's a balance each one of us has to strike, and if the ratio of "real" writing vs. on-line changes over time that's okay. It sounds like you've found that out already--or you wouldn't have started this blog.