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Monday, August 9, 2010

Social Media: Friend or Foe?

Lately I’ve been getting a lot of questions on how important social media is to an aspiring author.  And the answer, unfortunately, isn’t as simply as the question.

It really depends on what kind of person you are and where you are in the publishing game.

Are you willing to spend several hours a week blogging?  Do you barely have the time to write as is and don't know where you'd find the time to blog?  Are you still learning the craft?  Or do you have a book coming out next spring?

Social media is a huge time suck.  So the key is to find something that you like and keep doing it.  In the beginning, you don’t really want to spend a whole lot of time on social media.  It’s not important. When you’re aspiring, an editor or agent isn’t going to pick—or not pick—your book because you have thousands of followers.  They don’t care.  It’s a bonus if you do, but it won’t make or break your book.

It’s better to focus on the craft of writing; that’s what’s going to land you your agent and editor. How great your book is. Not how many followers you have.

If an editor wants those things as part of their marketing strategy, they'll let you know.  And will help you set it up.  

If you feel you want to have a blog, and know you can keep up with it, great! Go for it.  If not, then maybe just have a website.  You can buy a domain name pretty cheap now days.  I only spend $10/year.  And you can use blogger, wordpress, or any of the other blogging sites to host it.  For free.

If you're going to do facebook, I do suggest getting a facebook FANPAGE, not a separate account for your author persona.  Accounts limit you to 2,000 “friends,” while there is no limit to the amount of “fans” you can have.  And it’s extremely easy to attach your facebook updates to twitter.  Which means you can update both with the touch of a button.  Two birds.  One stone.

But if you do facebook and twitter, make sure you interact with your “Fans.”  If you’re only using it for promoting purposes, it gets old.  Fast.  Make sure to “update” with something other than self-promotion.  Though it’s okay to do that, too.  As long as it’s within moderation.

Youtube is great for uploading book trailers and vlogs, but as with all social media it's important not to spend too much time and money on it.  Book trailers don't win you an editor and it's been questioned whether they really draw in a readership, but if you want one, go for it.  Just make sure not to spend a ton of money on it.  Book trailers can be made inexpensively at home.  The only usual cost is time.

So,what do you think?  Is social media necessary for today’s author?  Or is it just a waste of time since publishers do they’re own marketing?