Many, many moons ago, my (at the time, soon to be) wife dragged me kicking and screaming into the 21st century and helped me set up a Facebook account. Thus began my “obsession” with social media that began (according to Facebook) roughly a decade ago.
Now, I have a personal Facebook page, an author’s page, a business page for my fitness/martial arts business, an Instagram account, and a Goodreads account. Not to mention this blog and a website that is currently under construction advertising my business.
I’ve come a long way!
As a person who has been constantly deemed “anti-social” (To set the records straight, I don’t consider myself “anti-social”, I’m just very, very selective about with whom I choose to spend my time), many would consider this ironic. However, I would like to take a moment and write about how I use social media and how it has changed me.
Since March of 2009, I have mostly used social media as a tool to do something that I am quite bad at, keeping in touch with friends and family. As of now, I have 430 friends. This is keeping in mind that every few months or so, I try to manage my list.
When I started my author’s Facebook page, I used it to keep in touch with people who have read my work. Mostly my family and friends are following my Author’s Page. Due to writer’s block, the activity mostly consist of writing centered memes and the occasional venting of frustration that my sons won’t let me write. However, I occasionally post pics of the covers of publications that I want to share and certain tips/advice for people who are interested in publishing.
One of the reasons I am enjoying social media is that I am able to keep in touch with other writers. I have gained a lot of insight into the world of self-publishing and using micro-presses to help promote a writer. I have also found a lot of writers are able to get their work out for mass consumption easily (perhaps too easily) by using e-books.
I write “too easily” because I have found that a lot of writers of e-books (especially) do not have the best grammar.
As a college English instructor, I am sure I set the bar quite high for published writers and their grammar. As any person who follows me on social media may already know, I have grammatical typos in my work, as well. So before anyone comes out with “let he who is without typo cast the first stone”, I am not vilifying anyone who errs, or has a lapse in grammatical judgment. However, I would suggest that more writers check their own work (and have someone else check it for them). Or at least buy a copy of Strunk & White’s “Elements of Style”.
In the past two years, I have gotten involved with reading on my Kindle. Bought on a Black Friday, I find that I am highly interested in discovering new writers. Most of the writers whose works wind up on my Kindle will not be found in a Barnes & Noble. These people are lesser known writers who advertise by using grass roots methods and engaging with their readers on social media.
I am proud to count myself among these writers. Where I was lucky to publish my work more conventionally (with a publishing press), not many do this. With Kindle/Nook/etc. e-readers and resources like Amazon, self-publishing and marketing is much easier and the writer can get more direct feedback by engaging with the fans. As a reader/fan of some writers, I find this to be exciting. What reader wouldn’t like to send a message to a writer to let them know they enjoy the work, and for the writer to actually respond!
On a few occasions, I have written to authors and have actually gotten some responses. However, I have written words of praise and words of criticism. With some authors, I have written letters where I have told them about the typos abound in their work. I try to be as tactful as I possibly can (as well as apologetic). In most cases, when I receive a reply, it is usually thanking me for letting them know.
Social media, for me, has allowed a once expansive world to seem a bit more accessible to me. The belief that writing is a “solitary” hobby has been shattered since I can write to writers whose work I respect and chat about publishing experiences and get tips from people who are marketing their work (something I am regrettably bad at).
However, I have found that since starting this blog and being more present on Facebook (and later Instagram), my book sales have improved (albeit slightly). Social media has definitely allowed me to become more interactive with others, as well as look at my own writing style. I have made so many friends on Facebook, people with whom I would never have met otherwise. For that, I am grateful.
Please comment below with your experiences with social media. How do you use it? Do you find it beneficial?