Friday, September 25, 2009

Social Media

Charles here.

John’s post on technology came at an interesting time for me. Although it’s still a year away, my editor at Harper-Collins has already begun to lay the foundation for the book’s launch and has asked me to revise (scrap) my current website and to reassess (do something) my social media outreach. The website change makes sense – not very appropriate to have a YA author’s website littered with images of martinis, no matter how beautifully photographed – but what, you may be asking, is social media outreach? While you may in fact not be asking that, if you are an author (published or pre-published) its something you need to get savvy with quick since without it you’ll be as accessible to the next generation of readers as a fifty-drawer card catalog at school library.

To be clear from the start, you have to write a damn good first. No amount of social media will make a flat, cliché-ridden story a better book. It may make it more popular (did someone say teen vampires?), but it will still suck (intended).

I sat down with the social media expert here at the ad agency where I work (the mege-smart Interactive designer and strategist, Deana Varble) and I asked her to rattle off as many social media portals as she could in 15 seconds: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, My Space, Instant Messenger, Hate Book, Linkedin, Vimeo, blogs, Digg, feeds, family-tree/

I only didn’t recognize three. Not bad.

While all can be useful, Deana felt that I should focus my efforts on just a few: Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Vimeo.

Facebook – As one of the last people on the planet without an account, this will be a big move for me.
YouTube – I have a few up now and want to do more. But that said, one of mine up there has to come down, the one that suggests that authors learn to drink heavily. Too bad, it was good stuff.
Twitter – I know what it is, I know how it works, I understand the benefits and the opportunities it provides. Still, I will never have a Twitter account. Ever.
Vimeo – This was one of the ones I didn’t know. But after a quick tour I can see that it will be a big outlet for me.

Okay authors (pub and pre), what forms of social media outreach do you currently use?


Jared said...

I'm on Facebook and have found it useful, although I'm not on it all the time like some other people.

And I'm with you, Charles. I'll never have a Twitter account. It sorta sounds like a good idea until you take a car ride of any length with a 5-year-old. I get constant updates on a myriad of subjects. Here is an average sampling:

-I'm hungry.

-Cow is spelled C-O-W.

-Why are we not going to the restaurant?

-Tucker's bugging me!

-My best-buddy Alex has Wolverine sneakers.


-I'm still hungry!

I have enough problems processing the new information in my own life, let alone the constant influx of every detail of someone else's life, even if it is my son.

Vicki Delany said...

I'm on Facebook and Twitter. Although really, I do wonder if I'm preaching to the (very tiny) choir. I am not getting any NEW readers through those things. I have a new video up on Youtube, created totally by me myself for 0 dollars, which I will be speaking about on Monday, so stay tuned.

Vicki Delany said...

Smugmug! I store my photographs on smugmug and link to there from my web page. It costs though.

Rick Blechta said...

You can have all the photos you want on Facebook, Vicki, and not pay one thin dime. Here's a link to some of mine that were posted from my brother's birthday party last year: Ted's Amazing Party

You can post anything (photos from your next book launch?) on Facebook and then just link the photo album to your website. It's easy, as I just proved here. You can even have captions, identify people with mouse rollovers, all kinds of neat things.

But the long and short of it is: author's need to use these tools -- especially when they're free!

Donis Casey said...

That's good photo information about Facebook for us technologically unsophisticated types.

Hannah Dennison said...

It's been a real effort to drag myself into the 21st century but I've given in to pressure from my editor who INSISTS that I have more of a "social media presence." Arrgh. It is overwhelming out there and it's a complete time drain because does this sell more books? I am on Facebook and have a Vicky fanpage (with 3 fans - 2 of which are my daughter and her friend); I twitter but only when it relates to something about an event/book. I am attempting to blog more (which is why I am here today!) So there you have it.