I recently attended a full-day workshop in which expert presenters made their cases for writers getting more up-to-speed on opportunities for publishing and promoting their work. Gone, they said, are the days of publisher-sponsored cross-country reading tours and ad campaigns for new books, if you’re lucky enough to get a publishing contract to begin with.One presenter, especially able and interesting, unveiled a social network schematic that rivaled the Pentagon for shape and intimidation. At the hub would be your personal website. Surrounding it were dozens of social networking sites you can (and, by implication, should) join. Provided, however, you “engage” with the members of these sites in a “meaningful,” not “superficial” way.
Do You Tweet?
I have a website and am a member of three social networking sites, all of which require more time than I have and cause me to walk around in a continual miasma of lack-of-meaningful-engagement guilt. Yet, my schematic looks malnourished compared to the presenter’s. My biggest sin is that I don’t tweet. (“You’ve gotta be on Twitter.”) Would Hemingway have tweeted? Margaret Atwood does.
You Blog, Of Course
Other presenters spoke of blogging a minimum of twice weekly, using “keyword rich” post titles to become more searchable, of gathering as many “followers” as possible anyway you can. One person boasted of over a thousand Facebook friends. How can you meaningfully engage with over a thousand people?
As we broke for lunch I was slipping into despondency. When’s a writer to actually write? A friend whose book will be published next spring has a schematic way behind mine; it’s non-existent, in fact. Her publisher is urging her to, at the very least, build a website and join Facebook. “It takes me an hour a day just to get through my email,” she wailed. “How much more time to I have to spend online?”
I dunno. All day?
Here’s a video an author named Dennis Cass made a few years ago that illustrates the modern-day writer’s challenge.
It’s pretty funny to boot. (Thanks to fellow writer Mary Akers for passing it along.)