Thursday, March 14, 2013

Author Blog Challenge - A Flock of Seagull

I am pre-writing this post as I will be on the road today, returning to my home in upstate New York from a vacation in Florida and Georgia.

I was part of a 15 Day Author Blog Challenge during this time, but didn't have time for much participation.  But, I did learn some lessons.  One didn't come from the Challenge.

Yesterday a new Pope was elected.  Before that happened, a seagull that perched on the chimney where the ballot smoke would appear became famous.  The gull was caught on "camera" - the voting-smoke cam, to be exact.

Reporters speculated on the symbolism.  Fake Twitter accounts were set up.

And then, white smoke flowed out of the chimney, and the seagull was forgotten.  Old news.

How did this relate to the Author Blog Challenge?

The 15 Day Author Blog Challenge asked us to explore types of social media most of us we are familiar with:  Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, GoodReads, Pinterest - and less well known sites - FourSquare, Quora, and Ning, among others.

It could be because most of my life took place before the Internet came into its current state of being, but I find social media to be a huge time-suck.  In other words, there are only so many hours in a day, and using social media is like falling into a hole - a hole without a bottom.  

Authors can use social media - but, if they are not careful, social media will use them.

Anyone who uses social media for business (in my opinion) needs to be strong, needs to stay focused and to ignore (literary expression) the siren call of the Internet.  Authors need to weigh carefully the time spent vs. the return in time.

Some users hit the big time:  the founders of the Huffington Post and Boing Boing, the woman who founded the blog Bakerella,  and the people whose blogs have led to book contracts and even movies.  But for too many of us, we will never hit that big time. Not that we shouldn't try, but we should be aware of the risks.

I'm still trying to analyze how to use social media but, thanks to this Challenge, I now have the experiences of different authors and others to guide me.  Thank you, all participants in the WABC!

Social media is not "bad". But, it should just be another tool in the utility belt of the author.

Otherwise, authors may end up like a certain seagull living in the Vatican - finding that the world has moved on, and wondering what the heck happened.

Have you had success with your writing or business, and use of social media?


  1. Honestly, I haven't found much use for it, though I'll admit to loving Twitter. The authors who successfully use it for promotion put a TON of time into it. I follow Neil Gaiman, for instance, and the man is a writing machine. He's also very focused with it. I think social media is often overrated in terms of getting one exposure.

  2. I agree with much of what you say - social media is often a time drain. It takes willpower to use the internet in moderation and it is something I'm always working on. Some days I don't get on the internet until 9:00pm (after the kids are in bed). And I usually haven't missed anything important.

  3. I don't want to be a seagull either :-)

  4. Social media can be a trap, there is no question about that, but a cretin amount is needed to help build a following for your books. I really enjoyed the tie in of the seagull at then end of your article

  5. I've used social media to promote my books heavily. So far, it's worked rather well. Most of the sales I've had have gone to people I know or met through social media. I gave a lovely tool tip on the blog about how to manage it all. Come on over and check it out. :) WRITE ON!


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