Navigating the sea of social media


As an indie writer I am faced with the enormous task of building a following for myself, preferably before my first book even hits the virtual shelves. Unlike an author who goes the traditional publishing route I do not have a crack team of marketing professionals at my disposal, or an agent who will go to bat for me. I am just another no-name author in a sea of thousands vying for the attention of readers who have absolutely no obligation to buy my book or even notice me. It is not their job to find me, it is mine to put myself out there where they will see me.

As those of you who are adrift on the same ocean of self-publishing as I am know, this is an arduous, time-consuming, and oftentimes daunting task. Where do I begin? Which social media avenues should I pursue? How often should I blog, or Facebook, or Tweet? What do people want to know about me? There are a thousand questions breaking the surface of this vast ocean like whitecaps. And for every one there are a dozen others lurking beneath the dark waters, circling like some great gliding behemoth of the sea waiting for that first tantalizing drop of blood.

Luckily, what I do have is an amazing support group of friends and family who are happy to pimp me out (I told Mr. Awesome Sauce yesterday that his new nickname should be MacDaddy Awesome Sauce. I don’t think he was too keen on that one!), and you dear readers. Whatever it is that has drawn you to my little corner of the blogosphere I thank you from the bottom of my heart for sticking around, and joining me on this voyage.

The question remains though, how do I continue to attract followers, and what can I do to keep them?

For someone who generally finds it easy to pen a tale, I seem to have an inordinate amount of trouble coming up with engaging topics for this blog. I could simply recycle the same tried and true topics that I have seen several other bloggers touch upon, but I don’t want to feel like I am simply regurgitating the same material that’s been discussed a hundred times already. So, what on earth do I talk about? Do people really want to know that I had oatmeal breakfast for the fifth day in a row? Doubtful. Even I don’t really want to know that. But at the same time I feel like people want to see me in my blog, not just me begging everyone to “Please follow my blog, like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter!” I don’t ever want my blog to feel like a constant barrage of pleas for people to buy my work, but rather a chance for them to get to know the person behind the words, and occasionally get updates on how the books are coming along, and some of the experiences I’ve had while sailing along on this voyage of achieving my dream.

I’m not sure if this post really ended up fitting the title, or if it was just a chance for me to express some of thoughts on what it feels like to be a newbie indie author just trying to stay afloat in an unending sea of fellow authors. In the end all I can do is…


Self Publishing: Giving up on the dream?

I was catching up with a friend the other night, talking about random life stuff and family, and we stumbled across the subject of publishing. My friend was telling me about her older sister who wants to be an author, but believes that to be a “real” writer you have to have a Masters in English and Fine Arts, and have to be published by one of the big publishing houses. If not, then you’re not a “real” author and your creations have no merit. This struck me as such an antiquated point of view, but at the same time I had to wonder, does going the self publishing route as I’ve done mean giving up on a dream?

I’ve known that I wanted to be an author since I was ten years old. I’d envision what it would be like to walk into Barnes and Noble or Tattered Cover, and there, smack dab in the middle of the store, would be a display with my latest release on it. People would gather around it excitedly, snatching up the freshly printed copies of my new masterpiece, jumping up and down and squealing with glee, and I would look on like a Queen surveying her domain. Pretty grandiose dreams, right?

Some people might say that those dreams were a little unrealistic, but to those people I say “Hey! Quit peeing on my parade!” and “Ew, quit doing that you weirdo!”

Truthfully though, I did scale back my dreams a little as I got older. I’d happily settle for simply seeing my book on the shelves rather than having people mob me at the door, begging for my autograph as if I was some Hollywood starlet. Back then, I felt like if my work wasn’t in print I hadn’t really made it. This of course, was all before the explosion of the Kindle and eBooks, before the bookstores started to die off, replaced by digital books that could live on into infinity.

It took me a long time to shift my opinions and realize that being published, being a “real” author as my friend’s sister would say, didn’t depend on being in print anymore, didn’t mean that you had to pimp yourself out to the big publishing houses and pray to whatever powers might be that one of them would deem you worthy of being elevated to the status of author (cue chorus of angels here). The publishing world was revolutionized by the advent of the Kindle and other ereaders, and pioneers like Konrath. But it still took a long time for me to let go of those preconceived ideas of what being an author meant, and realize that being an author isn’t dependent on what medium your story is presented in, all that matters is that you’re telling the story.

Eventually I came to understand that readers don’t care if you’re published by Random House, or if you got your mate Gary to make a cover for you and you did the formatting yourself. All readers care about is the story, and whether or not it’s engaging. (To be fair though, having a professional looking cover and good formatting are a big help too) People like my friend’s sister, who believe that to be successful you have to receive the stamp of approval from a publishing house, are really just doing themselves a great injustice. They are robbing themselves of the opportunity to experience the joy of knowing that others are reading, and hopefully enjoying, the story you have put forth.

So my advice to any burgeoning authors like myself is this: don’t worry about seeking approval from a publishing house, just focus on telling your story and making it the best damn story you can. Published is published, it doesn’t matter how you get there. After all, all eBooks look the same on a screen.