Friday, February 15, 2013

Social Media and the Bashful Author

After a conversation over lunch with my publisher's marketing and social media pros, I am convinced that I should give social media a chance. I have to do my part as a good author to help them promote me. However, you see before you a bashful author. I'm a teacher. I'm accustomed to standing up in front of people and talking. I don't mind at all chatting with readers and other writers at conferences. In fact, I usually enjoy it.

But I am not looking forward to sending out tweets. Anything I can say in so few characters would probably be much better said in half a page or even two. I worry about stripping what I am writing about of "context". This may have something to do with my areas of research as an academic. I study crime and mass media/ popular culture, and crime history. I spend a lot of my time telling students and anyone else who will listen about the importance of examining crime-related issues and events in larger social and historical context. My tagline on my website is "Every Crime Deserves Context."

And then there is the question of whether I have anything interesting to say. I know from conversations and research that I am not required to tweet about myself. That's fortunate because my day-to-day life is not exciting. No red carpet events. No late breaking news. Just me at my desk in front of my computer or in the library or in the classroom. Or, getting out and about now and then to do some research. Hey, last weekend I did go to an archery store to find out about bows. I'm even going to take some lessons. But I don't think I want to tweet about my lousy form which will require some practice to correct.

I am going to tweet about whatever I can say in very short form about crime, culture, and history. Particularly if it is relevant to my new series and my new book - set in Albany, New York in 2019, with Alice in Wonderland, the yellow brick road, Abraham Lincoln, John Wilkes Booth, climate change, and my own university all playing some role in my parallel universe. I'm hoping there will be enough there to keep me going for a while. And I understand that I can pre-load my tweets. So maybe I can manage one or two a day -- forget that four or five that I saw recommended. But maybe that includes reading other people's tweets and responding. I understand that is a part of the process.

And, of course, there is Facebook. I believe I have a Facebook account because I needed to see someone else's page. My theory about Facebook is that it will be a lot easier than Twitter for me to master. I intend to do an "author's photo essay" of places in Albany, New York. I have no talent at all with a camera. I use disposable cameras. So my first step -- this weekend -- is to go out and buy a camera and get someone to explain how I upload photos to Facebook. The other thing I have to do is go out and take some photos. Since these photos are going to be in keeping wirh my Alice in Wonderland theme, I'm not too worried -- distortions and odd perspectives will work.

So I have a mission -- become a bashful author who uses social media. And I have a game plan -- don't make it about me -- make it about crime, history, the book, and the place.

We'll see how it goes -- and, of course, if you communicate with me on Twitter or Facebook, I will overcome my bashfulness and reply. If I can figure out how to do that.


j welling said...

I'm so sorry for you. I've had this very discussion.

Butterflies and kittens. That's it, I'm going to make my next detective named "Summer" and he'll have a butterfly garden and a thing for abandoned kittens that now fill his barn. Tweet that.

You write crime. You have dinner out and think that the supply closet by the restroom is a great place to have a murderer stash a body. A number ten Stanley awl, a generous apron, latex gloves. The "new guy" waiter just walked out the back on break and the blonde at table 12 wonders if her date is OK and why he's taking so long.

You think all this before the salad arrives.

Kittens and butterflies, I tell you. You write fiction. Lie. Oh, and photos of locations of crimes like in this month's _American Reader_ are right out...

I'd love to hear how this goes. I'd love to hear how you use techniques to appeal. It is so hard when the "joy" part of the gig isn't what you can talk about. I mean - it's a date with your significant other and she asks "what are you thinking" ... can you really say that you're wondering how using beef fat as an accelerent for an arson staged in a commercial kitchen might work?

I can't imaging tweeting that stuff.

(Oh, I always answer the bride that I'm thinking of a piece of jewelry I saw in the _WSJ_ this week. )

Frankie Y. Bailey said...

Thanks J for the sympathy -- or empathy. I'm hoping I'm going to get into it once I start. I'm always the person who drags her feet a bit about trying something new. I'll just remind myself about how I felt about e-mail in the beginning :)

Good response about the jewelry.

j welling said...

Well - I am quite serious that I would love to know how it goes. Please - please, update us in the future.

Wishing you 'the joy of your victory." I just love the Romans (inventors of plumbing ...not unlike email).

Frankie Y. Bailey said...

I will definitely update. My experience may be helpful to other writers who have been watching from the sidelines :)

Charlotte Hinger said...

Frankie--we're on the same track as usual. This is our year! We are going to shine at social media.

Frankie Y. Bailey said...


And we can get each other off to a good start by "following" on Twitter and "liking" on Facebook.