Monday, April 19, 2010

Me = Social Networking Fail...or Not?

I topped 20K in Borrowed Saints this weekend--big news in my world because I'm aiming for 50-60K for the final book. With all luck, I'll crest halfway this week. My minimum word count/day has been over 1K . I saw 2K on a few occasions (3K on that glorious Tuesday). I know Brendan...word count race and all that.

But I mention the word counts simply because it's what I can do when I make writing the first focus. When I sit down in front of the monitor, I open the Borrowed Saints file and start working. I don't sit down at the computer and check my email, blogs, forums, Twitter...

Of course, I feel like I've missed something. An opportunity. A social occasion. Something. I feel like I should work harder drumming up readers, followers, whatever. I feel like I'm failing, not because of my writing, but because I'm not spending enough time building my "platform". And I don't like that feeling. I hate it. This race feels like it goes to the best salesperson. Exposing people to your product without annoying them and pushing too hard is a tricky proposal, especially in writing because you are the brand. The product. Love it or hate it, it's true. (There's a reason I label these posts "shameful self-promotion"...I'm just not comfortable...)

I know what I should do as an author (writing is the prime directive), but how do I chase away the demon of doubt? How do you make your "product" accessible without alienating an audience?


Jamie Eyberg said...

I think you have it correct. writing first, promoting writing second (Or maybe third). good writing will find its own audience.

Brendan said...

I'm becoming more convinced that all the self-promotion and social networking in the world will only get you so far, and that's not far at all.

If you haven't, read the link on the bottom of my current post detailing the trials of last week's Pulitzer in fiction, which sat in a drawer for three years unwanted by anyone, until a chance cocktail party conversation.

There are lots of roads that take us where we wanna go, and there's always chance or luck, but the surest way there is to hit that home run, write that thing that captures the zeitgeist of the day or whatever, and that catches someone important's eye.

And the only way to right that . . . is to keep on writing. My two cents, anyway.

Kara McElhinny said...

Wow. Aaron, it's funny because I feel like I do the complete opposite. I feel like I sprinkle myself over the net and I get distracted and then I feel badly about myself bc I didn't get as much done as I could have.

I think it's all about balance really. Don't beat yourself up because you think you're failing. Thoughts are wicked little beasts that love to kick us when we are down. If we give them the power, that is when the crazy panic sets in.

If you feel that you are lacking in some area just set aside a wee bit of time, when you figure you can a couple of times a week. We all like you and the net isn't as complicated as those little beasts in our mind think they are. Everyone has jobs, a life, they have to be with their families and friends. I think most understand.

Do what you can, when you can. And flick those bad thoughts off your shoulder. You're an amazing writer.

Happy writing.

Aaron Polson said...

Jamie - That's what I want to believe. That's what feels right.

Brendan - Great. Now I have to attend more cocktail parties. ;) (I'll keep writing in the meantime)

Hinny - Thanks. Keep. On. Writing.

Jeremy D Brooks said...

I'm a terrible self-promoter. I try, off and on, but it takes so long to pump out a book that I feel like I'm talking about next year's weather forecast. I'm even worse in meatspace than on the internet.

Barry Napier said...


"How do you make your "product" accessible without alienating an audience? "

That's possible?

Robert said...

This is like Goldilocks and her porridge -- sometimes it's too much, sometimes it's too little, but what you have to decide is what it's just right for you. Sometimes I think writers over-promote themselves to the point that they do in fact alienate their audience. It's trying to find that balance that's the key, and honestly, it's impossible to figure out. That's why you always have to put the work first, then the self-promotion second.

Erin Cole said...

The blog 'platform' is definitely a juggling act, between posting, reading, catching up, and crafting your own stuff.

I remind myself that life is a roller coaster, as is writing and blogging. I just try to abide by the ¾ writing to ¼ blogging rule.

Aaron Polson said...

Jeremy - "Meatspace" is about the best new phrase I've seen in the last year.

Barry - *doffs hat* Touche.

Robert - I've appreciated your insight/ranting on this particular subject in the past. Always insightful.

Erin - I hate roller coasters, but I love life. 50/50 isn't so bad, right?

Cate Gardner said...

The writing should always come first.*

*However, I need to attach a note with those words on to my computer screen.

Michael Stone said...

I'm coming around to Brendan's way of thinking. Social networking may increase your audience, but only on a small scale. And that is why I'm slowly retreating from the give me more time for the important things in life (whatever they may be).

Cathy Olliffe-Webster said...

Do what you feel most comfortable with.
Full time work, children, relationships, LIFE gets in the way. With whatever time you have left over, do what makes you happiest. If it's writing, write. If it's blogging, blog.
Your writing is really, really good. Thank god you promote it or I never would have discovered it nor you.
And if I, in the middle of nowhere, can appreciate your work, maybe someone in a publishing position can appreciate it, too.
I know, sounds naive.
But you never know.

K.C. Shaw said...

Write first, promote later. At least, that makes sense to me. I happen to be lazy and inadequate when it comes to promotion, though, so take my tiny advice with a tiny spoonful of salt too.

Aaron Polson said...

Cate - I need to tatoo them across my forehead.

Michael - I think you both have something. I don't plan to pull away from the blog-o-sphere, but it might not have the significance I once thought.

Cathy - I'll keep living that dream, naive or not. And I'll keep writing. Thanks.

K.C. - I prefer sugar. ;)

Andrea Allison said...

You have a better social standing on here than some people. I always feel like there's more that I should be doing that I'm not. Then I realize...oh duh, it's writing. hehe...

Writing should be the first priority. Mingle second.

Fox Lee said...

I argue with myself all the time over how to self promote. Half of me says "Yes! Pimp like crazy!" while the other half is painfully shy.

Katey said...

Well, like everyone else already said, I think we all feel this to one extreme or another. I tend in the direction you're talking about-- I don't have a problem reading OTHER peoples' blogs, but sometimes I'm using everything I have to, you know, write.

For what it's worth, I think you do a great job on the networking front. It is what it is, and people can find you and connect.