Social Networking

This will be my last post for the summer on my marketing journey, and it seems to be an ever-changing, hot topic ~ Social Networking!

Should an author participate in social networking, and if so, how often? How many networks? What if it interferes with your writing? Does it really gain readership? Do I need an author page? Do I really need to join Twitter? 

Oh, little engine. I don't know if I can make it up this last hill. It's so big, and I'm so tired. I'm not sure I have enough energy. What am I going to do?

Ah, little engine, I don't have the answers. But I can offer you my experience. When my first book released from Zondervan, my editor encouraged me to join Facebook and then my agent suggested I get a Twitter account. Until that time, I'd been reluctant to join the Networking Bandwagon. But I heeded their advice and decided to give it a try.

I joined Facebook, Shoutlife, and eventually Twitter. I also have profiles at a handful of other places such as LinkedIn, Goodreads, SheWrites, etc. but for learning purposes, I'll only comment on these three.

Facebook is by far, my favorite. I'm able to share more information with ease and do it in a visual way. I can post pictures of my books, writing events, recipes, family life, and interesting tidbits that hopefully interest people. I love it when people leave feedback, either by liking a post or by commenting. It's a great way to interact with possible readers.

Twitter is a network based on small "tweets" of information, and I'm not too involved with it. I've set up both accounts to receive my blog posts and also a daily scripture, and these go over well. But I don't spend much time "tweeting" about my daily events. You can also gain readers by "retweeting" interesting posts, and I do this on occasion.

Shoutlife is a Christian social network, and it's a great way to interact with other Christians. However, it is not as easily accessible nor is it as easy to leave posts. This past year, I haven't actively participated in this network as I find it too time-consuming. 

So, back to Facebook. I'm nearing the 3,000 member mark on my profile and will one day be forced to set up an Author Page. I have mixed feelings about this. When that time comes, I plan to switch over my profile to a page so as not to lose my friends. My posts will stay the same, but my interaction with them may be more limited. In order to interact with them on their profiles, I'll have to set up a "personal profile" that will be for family and close friends only. I'm not sure if this will be a good thing or not.

Some more Pros & Cons:

Con - Facebook is constantly changing their rules. In order to stay on top of those changes, you must check your settings regularly. This can be aggravating. 

Pro - I've met many people on Facebook who have gone to book signings and have purchased my books after "friending" me. This is worth the networking. And it's free promotion! 

Con - Networking can be time-consuming, especially if you allow yourself to click on your friends' profiles to see what they have been up to. Obviously, this is part of the exchange, but if you're not careful, it can waste not mere minutes, but hours. 

Pro - I've met people from high school, long-lost family members, and new friends on Facebook. It's a great tool to help get the word out about a new book or event. 

Con - There's a fine line between networking just enough to let people into your world and share your life with them, yet conservative enough not to let it take over your world. Discipline is key. 

In the end, should an author join a Social Network? - Yes! Just be careful of the time you spend there, so it doesn't interfere with your writing time. 

Join as many networks as you feel you can keep up with. I would suggest 2 or 3. If you find it's getting in the way of your writing, then it's probably time to drop one of them or more. Or just spend less time there. When life is especially busy, I may only check in once a day. Sometimes, I give myself a time-limit, which is a healthy thing to do all the time. 

Now it's your turn. What do you like about Social Networking? Has it helped you gain readership? What words of advice do you have to offer? Share with us in the comments below.