Cristian Mihai wrote an excellent post today on social media, in which he discusses a topic near and dear to my heart–being genuine online (as in, not being a frantic buy-my-book-please-please-please promoter).
Lately when I attend meetings and workshops where other writers are present and the subject of social media comes up, there seem to be three primary camps: the haters, the promoters, and the bewildered.
The Haters: These disenchanted souls literally groan when anyone mentions having a platform on a blog, Twitter, Facebook, or Tumblr. Throw in Pinterest and Instagram and you’d better duck the flying objects they are likely to hurl at you. I can’t say I blame them, because maintaining much of a presence online is likely to steal most or all of the time and energy we have for writing. As social media options proliferate, the haters are likely to become more disgruntled. Either that or they’ll switch games and join our next category…
The Promoters: You’ve met these sales-oriented types. Likely you’ve got a bag full of their business cards and bookmarks from the last conference you’ve attended, and you get five posts a day from them on Twitter reminding you of their latest book and the contest for their latest book and the free offer for their latest book. Oh and did they mention about the two-for-one deal for their latest book?
The Bewildered: If someone would just tell these authors what the heck an Instagram is, they’d be happy to try it. Problem is, they are still trying to figure out how to connect their Facebook to their Twitter, and what the heck is a hashtag? They’d like to use one, because they’ve heard they help sell books.
I’d like to propose that if you recognize yourself in any of the above descriptions (I’ve been all three at various times), you carefully put down your iPhone and take at least twenty steps away from it. Take a deep breath. Go get yourself a cup of chamomile tea, and while you’re doing so, recall the reasons you want to connect with readers in the first place. You have stories to tell, right? You want people to read them.
How much time do you realistically have each day for writing? One hour? Two? More? Less? Whatever it is, you should obey the 90% rule (which I just made up). Spend 90% of your time on writing and 10% of your time on all other things writing-related, which can include doing whatever makes you happy in the realm of social media, whether that be blogging, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, whatever. Go read Cristian’s post about how best to use all that social media at your disposal, but whatever you do, don’t let it get in the way of your writing.
If you only have an hour a day for writing, that leaves you 6 minutes for anything you might like to do on Twitter or Facebook. This requires you to make some tough but worthwhile choices. Where is your time best spent? Probably not gathering recipes on Pinterest for things your characters cooked in your last book.