Sunday, November 2, 2008

Guest blogger Courtney Summers on social networking sites & self-promotion.

I guess I can only write about agents and Jeff Probst for so long before that gets pretty tired, huh? Even though they're both fascinating subjects. Jeff Probst did not contact me, in case you're all wondering, even though I had it on good authority he reads The Swivet. Whatevers, Probst! I'm moving on. Phil Keoghan 4-EVA!

Today I am going to share with you some stuff I've learned about self-promotion on the internets.

So my name is ~*Courtney*~ and I heart the internets. This is a good thing, seeing as it's my primary way of putting myself out there as an author with a book coming out. The world is at my fingertips, and I've chosen to take advantage of that in as many ways as I can without annoying the frick out of people. Most people. Ideally, I hope I'm entertaining readers whilst simultaneously reminding them at perfectly timed intervals my book is available for purchase on...

Oh, what was that date again*...

I had a website and blog before I had an agent or a book coming out because I guess I'm just one of those people who chooses to believe THE INTERNET CARES WHAT I HAVE TO SAY, so when it came time to start waving my book around, I had that ground covered. My online self-promo journey began in earnest when my editor suggested I get a MySpace. It all kind of snowballed from there. At the time of my writing this, I'm on five bajillion social networking sites. It's been a learn-as-I-go type experience, and in the end, I think it'll have been worth it, especially in terms of 'meeting' some pretty darn awesome people and knowing that I did what I could when the opportunity arose. Both of these things are very important to me.

Lately, I've been seeing a few incredibly helpful blog posts about self-promotion and marketing your novels. They are absolutely fabulous and everyone should read them. I decided I wanted to give back a little as well, and that this guestblog entry would be my contribution to the topic. I can't and won't even pretend to be in the same league of helpfulness of Michelle Moran and M.J. Rose, but I humbly offer this social networking site guide up to you guys and hope you all get something out of it.

with which to promote yourself

by ~*Courtney*~
01. MySpace

Why you don't want to do it: it's MySpace.

How it can be fun: It's awesome featuring your favourite song of the moment on your profile, which will give you an inflated sense of self-importance, at least so far as your musical taste is concerned. Also, it will take hours upon hours to pick the perfect song--which also has to match your MySpace layout perfectly, of course--so by the time you do, you'll feel pretty accomplished. MySpace = learning to foster a sense of accomplishment in yourself and we could ALL learn to pat ourselves on the backs way more often, let's face it.

What you'll get out of it: It's a good way of getting on other author's radars because apparently all authors have MySpaces. Connecting with readers? Uhm. I'll let you know after December...

Tips: MySpace isn't as interactive as you'd think, what with all the adding people and thanking them for the adds and stuff. Bulletins are good for important news updates, but for the love of God, do not SOLEY blog on MySpace. Not enough people will see it because they are drowning in profiles. Cross-posting is the best way to go.

Cheat: If you friend lots of bands, you look way more MySpace Popular than you actually are.

Something you may never understand, but that's okay: Why people thank you for the add.

02. Facebook

Why you don't want to do it: Well, you actually did until it became The New Facebook. And now it sucks. You also run the risk of being found by your old 'friends' from high school.

How it can be fun: ... I guess trying to figure out where the hell everything is since The New Facebook was implemented could constitute as a type of fun?

What you'll get out of it: If you're MySpace wary, I've found Facebook is--or should I say was--a less overwhelming version of it. I guess it still can be! There are many opportunities for interaction. You can comment on everything. Status updates, posted items, walls. You can join groups, create groups, message lots of people in one go. Communication ease is not a problem on Facebook. It's a great way of making your presence known without being totally obnoxious.

Tips: But it's way easy to be totally obnoxious on Facebook. Do not message people every single minute about your book. It's okay if you don't pimp yourself out for 24 hours. Do not blindly send people flower growing applications and zombie bites and things like that. Save the attention grabbing for the stuff that needs attention (like your release date). I personally keep the flowers and zombie bites for close friends and even they tell me to back off sometimes. Now, I'm not saying to cut out the stuff you enjoy from the sites you're on (because you should enjoy them), but I am advising you to send your zombie bites wisely. And whatever you do, DO NOT mix your personal Facebook with your professional one or you will likely end up crying at some point.

Cheat: I don't really have a Facebook cheat, but I feel like if you got drunk before you logged onto The New Facebook, you could have a super easier time understanding it?

Something you may never understand, but that's okay: WE WEREN'T FRIENDS IN HIGH SCHOOL. WE HATED EACH OTHER. WHY ARE YOU ADDING ME?

03. GoodReads

Why you don't want to do it: What! Someone doesn't want to be on GoodReads? WHAT?

How it can be fun: GoodReads is so awesome, you guys. It's a social networking site about books! You can share what you're currently reading, what you've read, give opinions on it and connect with authors. I heart GoodReads. It's so classy. I wish there was a GoodMovies exactly like it. Somebody get on that.

What you'll get out of it: Book talk!

Tips: Do not just blindly add people on GoodReads. It's not a social networking site about accumulating as many names on your friends list as possible (indeed, you can be booted off of it for doing just that). Reading is fun, reading is intimate and sharing a good book with people is like sharing a secret. It's not a place to be LOUD, basically. Don't be MySpace Loud on GoodReads. You know what I mean.

Cheat: I also do not have a cheat for GoodReads, but get all of your friends reading Twilight at the same time. It is guaranteed fun, I promise.

04. Tumblr

Why you don't want to do it: You don't know what it is. And it sounds scary.

How it can be fun: From the website: "If blogs are journals, tumblelogs are scrapbooks. You can also look at tumblelogs as slightly more structured blogs that make it easier, faster and more fun to post and share stuff you find or create." This is all true. Tumblr is a GREAT solution for those who want an internet presence but can't keep up with the demands of a regular blog, and it's a fun supplement for those who DO blog and don't want to clutter their blogs with more scrap-booky type stuff (youtube videos, LOLcats, quotes, etc). Re-blogging might be one of the best things that happened to the internets, in my opinion. Oh, the time I have saved!

What you'll get out of it: The satisfaction of doing the blogging thing in a few quick clicks while being able to connect with people at the same time just can't be beat.

Tips: If you are writing for younger audiences, you might want to reconsider re-blogging that R-rated LOLcat. Maybe.

05. Twitter

Why you don't want to do it: IS there a world in which people do not want to tweet?

How it can be fun: How do I tell thee? Let me count the ways! I love Twitter. Every tweet is like a punchline in 140 characters or less and I know some pretty hilarious people, so my Twitter account keeps me very entertained. It's like IMing people without feeling guilty for hanging around on an IM program. You know. When you should be writing.

What you'll get out of it: EVERYTHING. My life is richer for having a Twitter account (I can't be objective about this one, you guys). News travels fast on Twitter. That's a good thing, mostly. Especially if it's good news and it's about you.

Tips: You can use your Twitter as a career update feed, but I think it's a thousand times more fun if you're using it to interact with people. I think it must be nearly impossible to follow over 100 people though, so if you want to stay on top of things, keep your Following list to a manageable amount.

Cheat: If you do follow a lot of people, double-check the @ Replies on the Notice setting. You can select whether you want all @ replies, no @ replies or @ replies to the people you're following. This can cut out some of the clutter and prevent you from overlooking the important things.

Something you may never understand, but that's okay: Why people hate Twitter. WTF is up with that.

06. Friendfeed

Friendfeed is what you need when you are on five bajillion social networking sites like I am and you want to make sure people have a one stop shop to find out what you're doing at any given moment EVERYWHERE. If you're a busy bee, go Friendfeed. You'll be so glad you met.

So there you have it. In closing, I would like to say that in a perfect world, books would ~*sparkle*~ for themselves, but as I am sadly reminded every day I wake up and Jeff Phil is NOT MY HUSBAND, this is not a perfect world. My book is not going to ~*sparkle*~ for me.

But I am totally going to use the internet to ~*sparkle*~ for my book.

And so should we all.

(~*sparkle sparkle*~)



Pamala Knight said...

It's like *sparkle* Courtney is also a MIND READER in addition to being a totaly awesome writer because I've been haranguing some of my friends who want me to join either MySpace or Facebook, to give me the pros and/or cons of both sites. And here you've wrapped it up in one neat and tidy guest post. You've done a great job of it too, Sparkle C. You rock.

Thanks to Colleen too.

Joya said...

Your guest blogs are such ~*~sparkly~*~ additions to my day. :)

Thanks for the list with the pros and cons! I think I may need to check out Friendfeed...

Little Willow said...

"My name is ~*Courtney*~ and I heart the internets."

Response from the audience: "Hi, Courtney!"

Due to your use of the term "internets," I 'heard' most of this post in the voice of Stephen Colbert.

In all seriousness, this is a very fun and true guide to social networking. Brava.

Emily said...

Omg, someone else called you ~*Sparkle-C*~. WHAT HAVE I STARTED???

Honestly, I read it as sparkle-words, sparkle-words, sparkle-words, sparkle-words...TWITTER!!!!!

But you NAILED it - it's ALL about the PUNCHLINE. I will never understand the people who tweet, "Went for jog, taking shower." They make my twitter ~cry~!


C.K. said...

Thanks for breaking the various social networking sites down! I'm in awe of your ability to keep up with it all.

Anonymous said...

Nice post. Seeing as that there are now so many social networks catering to such a wide range of niches, my biggest problem is finding ones relevant to me and related to my specific interests or product niches. Google seems to be inefficient and returns alot of irrelevant results. A cool resource that I use is this search engine designed specifically to find social networking sites.

ChristaCarol said...

Some really great stuff! I try to stay on top of all the internet-ty stuff, but really haven't been as well informed on what everything is (like Twitter, OMG so going to get on it now) and FriendFeed. I don't know how you find the time, nor when I will, to keep everything updated, but I guess that's the fun of the battle! Thanks Colleen for letting Courtney be a guest blogger, it was much enjoyable to read. :-)

Deaf Brown Trash Punk said...

i just stick to using myspace and blogspot, but i also joined authonomy and it's a great way to promote yourself, too.

so far, nobody has taken interest in me... *SIGH*

lol, thanks anyway for sharing your tips with us

Sex Mahoney for President said...

Myspace has been very kind to me, but I had to write for about a year before I had any kind of a decent readership. Facebook is nice because you can link your blogs on other sites to your facebook account. Apart from not making any money by it, writing on the internet is as rewarding as it gets. It's exposed me to a wider audience, and now there are actually people who are not afraid to say...

Sex Mahoney for President

Briony said...

New Facebook = created by 3 llamas with a crack habit. It took me a week to find Scrabble again. ANGRY!

But I'm with you on the whole profile song on myspace - that is just far too addictive.

52 Faces said...

lolol: "You also run the risk of being found by your old 'friends' from high school."

They are the single largest reason for me turning my privacy on like crazy on facebook. Well, that and all the old white guys who friended me because I'm an Asian girl. Classy.

courtney summers said...

Pamala: Aw, shuck! I have ALWAYS wanted to be a mind reader! You have made my whole day. I hope this post gave you the info that you needed. Oh, social networking. It gets us all at some point or another. I have yet to meet a person who hasn't been harangued about it! :)

Joya: Your comments are ~*sparkles*~ on top of ~*sparkles*~! ;) Friendfeed is GREAT. You can either step away and let it do its thing or have fun with the community aspect of it.

Little Willow: Oh my gosh. That you heard most of this post in Stephen Colbert's voice--my work here is done. Thank you.

Emily: YOU HAVE STARTED THE ~*SPARKLEPOCALYPSE!*~ Seriously, I want my Twitter to be full of funnay. Thank God we follow each other.

C.K.: thanks, C.K.! I've been doing a bad job of it lately. ;)

turbochargeman: thanks! One of the most important thing is to find the social networking site that 'fits' you best.

ChristaCarol: thank you! Twitter is AWESOME, let me tell you. And horribly addictive--just a warning. And keeping track of it all is half the battle, but if you have fun doing it, it's not too bad. Glad you enjoyed the post!

Deaf Brown Trash Punk: you're welcome! I should've mentioned the most important thing about social networking is it takes a heck of a lot of time.

Sex: yeah, it really does take a while to build an audience. You have to stick with it and eventually (hopefully) it pays off. I like all the linking Facebook allows too.


52 Faces: the privacy features on Facebook ROCK. because, yeah. gotta 'love' the more suspect adds!!!

A Paperback Writer said...

Holy Crap! Do you have time to sleep?!
I am impressed. You must be an amazing person to do all this.

pseudosu said...

Courtney (and La Gringa of course)-- you rock!

Thanks for this informative post. I can vouch for the Myspace weirdo factor. Of all the people in all the world some guy half my age contacted my from very very own small hometown wanting to basically get it on w/ me. Ewe.

Did I mention that nowhere in my profile does it say where I'm from, but does state my approx age, and the fact that I'm married, and only there to network w/ publishing and creative types?

Ok, off to firgure out twitter and new facebook. Thanks!