Some people collect cards, books, old records, stamps, rocks, seashells, ex-boyfriends; but there is a new trend.
Or maybe not so new…
Social media is one of my favorite places to talk with readers and other authors. It’s a great platform to get your work out there while finding what others have to offer. The exchange is almost always pleasant for me because I have no problem telling negative Newman’s to take a hike. (And thanks to the Block and mute functions we can all get along with the people who know how to be cool).
This is all awesome. I’ve expanded my reach, sold more books, won a couple of awards, and met a few of you in person on my book tour. Writing may be a solitary practice but publishing is collaborative.
The publishing industry has what I see as tiers.
I see self-publishing as one tier. If don’t right it takes just as much feedback and work as the others but has less prestige. I cannot deny my own bias against self-published material, not because it doesn’t have potential but because that specific market is flooded with unpolished unprofessional work.
Self-publishing is part of the indie publishing word and the authors who take it seriously deserve respect. Inside the indie world is also the realm of small presses and independent publishers. This is where I am most versed.
Instead of funding my own book and trying to find a team that deserves more pay than I can give, or trying to mistakenly do everything myself, I prefer to submit to a small publisher with the resources to edit my work, design the cover, and fund the production process. Some small publishers also help out with marketing, but that depends on who you sign with.
It’s still a battle.
And then you have the top tier which is the big 5. I have only had the pleasure of my work being included in a compilation with others through these publishing giants, but I do have to say, there is nothing like walking into any Barnes & Noble, Target, Walmart, or other major chain with books and finding your work on the shelves.
I want more of that and to do so I need an agent. I know this and the hunt has been on.
It’s important to be realistic about these tiers and how to move within them.
Connecting with authors and editors is a great way to learn more about the different aspects. Exchanging information and supporting each other is important. I love nothing more than finding new authors to love and respect.
Some authors take this to another level though. It’s as if there is a multitude of budding authors who “collect” other writers. These are the people who will friend you on Facebook just because you list “writer,” “author,” “wordsmith,” “word addict,” or however it’s put in a bio.
This never bother me. It seemed like good business. I know I enjoy the company of other thinkers so it seemed harmless.
But over time you lose track of everyone. I have thousands of twitter followers and I have a circle that I regularly converse with. I do my best to respond to people who comment at me or message me. That’s one thing. Likes on an author page and you tube followers are usually loyal and harmless.
I had a scare over a year ago that could have put my children in danger and since then I’ve been much more careful about keeping them away from my public pages, but a personal Facebook page is different.
When you have as big of an extended family as I do, Facebook is the best tool to keep everybody up to date on your life and what’s going on. It’s fun for friends and maybe some cool writers who genuinely appreciate conversing with you. People you have a sense of trust with.
Media Literacy and Social Media Safety should become more popular classes in high school and colleges over the next decade or so because as much as we all enjoy having friends and being good friends, you cannot keep up with thousands of people at once. It’s impossible!
I’ve become most weary of “collectors.” The indie authors who spend their days friending every author they can find to boost their numbers. Thanks to Facebook there is a limit. At one point I started accepting friend requests from anyone who was a “writer” and got up to about 2k friends. It was pandemonium.
Unfortunately some of these so-called-authors wanted nothing more than an “in” so they could hit on me. Some constantly messaged for advice or tips. Then there were a couple of people who outright begged me for money. As if writers are known for having lots of money…ha!
I have always been apt to share the tricks of the trade and give any advice I can, but strangers friending you so they can get favors or hit on you is exceptionally unprofessional. So I started checking out what my trusted author friends did.
It seemed that the self-published and lesser known indie authors were friending anyone they could find who writes. They had little actual interaction on their page and not great book stats.
The small press and indie published authors like me had a few thousand friends and a steady flow of activity on their personal page but often not as much on their professional pages. This baffled me. Social media strategies are confusing and whatever works for one person doesn’t work for another, but wow.
What was even more intriguing was that the few New York Times Best Selling authors that I have been lucky enough to meet and stay in contact with not only had minimal friends on their personal pages (maybe 400 or so), they didn’t even list that they were a “writer,” “author,” “wordsmith,” “word addict,” etc in their bio.
I’m finding that the people who desperately collect other authors are amateurs. Maybe they’re just starting or they haven’t figured out the best way to market themselves. Hell, we all struggle with the business at some point. But I am NOT a trading card. I am NOT a picture in a deck to be stacked.
My professional pages are all about connecting with my readers and sharing experiences with other authors. My personal page is now just that, PERSONAL.
The longer I do this the more I have to separate the two. I once had to separate my personal and professional life from the public, now I’ve had to do it with others inside the business. (Regardless of how far they straggle from the center of publishing)
I don’t mind joking around or answering a question or two. I will always be up for that. Keeping it light is what keeps me sane in a world where a lot of others always wanna make everything so damn heavy.
I’m working as much as I can and doing my best to always listen to others to be a better writer. Making sure that I keep some personal time for myself, even on social media is a new prospect that I never imagined.
Never be afraid to message me with real questions and conversation. I’ll always be happy to answer people who understand mutual respect.