Friday, March 4, 2011

My Social Networking Rules

I suppose that title could be interpreted in two different ways. I'll leave it up to the reader to determine. Ha!

Recently I've been attending conferences, and I have a few more sprinkled throughout the spring/early summer months. I also participate in the WriteOnCon monthly chats. I see a question come up all the time: What social networking sites should I be on? Will you take on clients who don't have a blog/who don't tweet?

I sat on a marketing and publicity panel at one of the conferences. I've been stewing over my social networking efforts and I've realized that I have rules for myself. I'm going to pass them along in the hopes that it will help someone who has questions about social networking.

Agents and editors WILL take you on if you don't A) blog B) tweet or C) Facebook. They may ask you to do something, but they're looking for great stories, not the best blog on the planet. (Though, in my personal opinion, I think having a good blog/website is beneficial. It won't secure an agent or a book deal--only good writing/storytelling can do that--but I think it's beneficial on the marketing/publicity side of publishing.)

Self-promotion. It's like a beast with fifteen heads, and when you chop one off, two more grow back. My policy? If I say something on my blog/Facebook/twitter about POSSESSION, I have to talk about/promote another book and/or another author before I can say anything else about my book.

I cannot take credit for this. I stole this policy from Lisa and Laura Roecker, who are fexcellent marketers. (See what I did there? Ha!)

Twitter. Everyone likes to say stuff about themselves. Humans are pretty self-centered. To avoid what I believe is a pitfall on Twitter about talking about ourselves/our books too much, I've adopted a tweeting policy. When someone does something amazing for me, I tweet about how amazing they are.

If I say something about what's going on in my life, I have to scroll through my twitter feed and @-message three other people who've said something about theirs. This creates a new conversation between me and them, and only takes me a few minutes. Then I don't feel like I'm hogging the twitter feed.

These are not the be-all, end-all rules of social networking. In fact, they're only "rules" in Elana-land. But I think it gets very tiresome to read someone's blog where ALL they do is promote their book. Same with the twitter feed. I mean, how many of you had no idea I have a book coming out?

So yeah. Some social networking rules that hopefully make self-promotion non-annoying.

What do you think? What annoys you re: social networking? What do you wish more authors would do? What do you wish they'd STOP doing? Lay it on me.

Self-promotion is such a fine line, sometimes I think it's hard for authors to know which side they're on.

83 comments:

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Mentioning someone else is a great idea. I send out a newsletter to the fans of my YA series, and I always do a feature on another author. Otherwise, online I don't mention my book often unless one's about to be released.

Misha said...

Hmm... I'm trying to think of things that annoy me, but I don't bump into them that often...

Hmm... I can say I that I love that people at my favorite blogs head back to my blog and take part. It annoys me when they always did and then stop. Illogical? Maybe. But I also understand the issue of time constraints, so I get over it pretty fast.

Your rules are pretty good! Maybe I should adopt some of them.

:-)

Anita Saxena said...

These are great rules Elana because you're right, it does grow boring to read a blog where all they talk about is their book. Sometimes I like to read particular blogs because I like that writer's voice and I don't care what they blog about it (within reason, of course).

Alison Stevens said...

Those are terrific rules. I think I may have to implement them myself (I will credit you, of course). :) Have a great weekend!

Len Lambert said...

Great post, Elana! There's nothing that annoys me, except haters who post nasty remarks on line. Also my Facebook account has always been a personal one and now it's also become my connection to other writers and authors. So currently, since I am not published yet, I promote other people's books that I like and give support to author friends launching their books by promoting them on my wall. I think you have the right rules.

Have a nice weekend!

Jess of All Trades said...

Neato skeato.

I've just dipped my toe into Twitter and I love the way you 'start a conversation.' I think I'll take that up :D I've taken a lot of people off my Twitter who literally fill it with nothing but themselves.

Anyway. Thanks for this! Great ideas as always.

Natalie Aguirre said...

You have great rules. I'm going to follow it as I embark on blogging. The one thing that I hate on blogs is when the posts, especially non interviews, are too long. I like your 350 word rule. We're all busy and want to read lots of posts not a really long one.

I'm debating about Twitter. Should I do it? Can I handle more social networking? Have a great weekend.

Theresa Milstein said...

You must be doing something right, but I feel just the right amount of looking forward to Possession without gagging from the publicity. Talli Roland had good marketing without overdoing it too. And LiLa have my hair pinkified - 'nuff said.

Have a happy weekend!

Trisha Wolfe said...

Well, I don't have a book published yet, but I do have published short stories. Although for some reason I don't promote them on Twitter. I may mention them to a friend. (Maybe that's promotion lol). I do follow a few people who all they do is talk about themselves. I tend to roll my eyes, and have become tired of congratulating them. Not because I"m envious, I'm truly happy for them, but there's just only so many times in a day that you can say, "Congrats! Good for you!" I like it when authors are real people. They don't have to tweet all day or blog, but just be themselves. I think these are wonderful rules! I believe that people just need to be self-aware. Try to look at themselves from an outside perspective, then they should get it. Thanks! awesome post =)

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I love these rules. If I'm ever published, my rule is to not follow someone on twitter and when they follow me back, send them a DM telling them to buy my book. Whenever people do that to me, I unfollow them in an instant. Funny thing is, YA authors don't do this (at least not to me). Only genres I don't read do it. Obviously they don't read the part where I state I'm a YA writer. ;)

Lydia Sharp said...

You nailed it, Elana. Social networking requires a game plan.

Liza said...

It is social, and it is a network, which implies a give and take. Sounds like you've got it figured out just right.

Jonathon Arntson said...

Twitter made me selfish, and way into promoting myself. I had to hack that connection back in the fall.

It made me sad though; I had made many great connections via Twitter. For a little while I thought I had made a mistake and abruptly ended those relationships before they had started. But then many of the same people began commenting on my blog and I realized I had made a good decision to quit Twitter. I'll rejoin one day, I am sure.

I'll admit, I really miss getting responses from Maureen Johnson, but you're still my favorite Johnson.

Claire Dawn said...

Yes, I was following an author at one point, whose every tweet was 'Read my book' or 'Get me to 2000 followers'. It was like is there nothing else of interest in your life.

NB, I WAS following an author...

Rachele Alpine said...

Lisa and Laura's advice is great...I really like that and I can see it in action on their blog because I've always thought they were super supportive!

Jen Daiker said...

I think you have some great networking ideas. I love to be on twitter with the live connection with buddies. You can have quick conversations and I think it teaches me to shorten my words (less run-ons). I also adore blogging, it's become one of my passions and I think that's what makes it a great blog. That being said if you don't love it you won't succeed at it!

Love all that you do!

Megan said...

Great rules. When you think about it, these are also rules socially adept people apply to real life socialization. I think people often forget that although they are communicating online, they should still use appropriate social skills. Your rules do a great job of reinforcing this need.

Roberta Walker said...

I am a Twitter infant! I find it all so time consuming - obviously I'm doing it wrong. I like your rules...But how many hours per day do most authors spend/need to spend social networking? This is what I find overwhelming.

Matthew Rush said...

I rarely get annoyed, but I supposed when it becomes clear that the interaction with another person was never genuine in the first place, that pisses me off.

That's one of the things I love so much about LiLa, and you. I met you all after you were agented, but before you were published, and our relationships, and your behavior, has not changed one iota.

I love you for that.

Icy Sedgwick said...

I @ people and RT people to my heart's content on Twitter, but what really annoys me is when a follower who has never spoken to me previously then sends me a DM asking me to buy their ebook and leave them a review!

lynnrush said...

Great post. Very helpful. Yeah, I'm not a fan of people constantly saying, "buy my book." Once in a while is cool, sure, but every day? A few times a day? Not so much.

I love reading tweets that are humorous. Short. Quirky. I'm not the most witty person, so I like to see that. I can't banter worth a darn, but I follow a few people who can, and it's fun to watch.

Happy Friday. Have a great weekend.

Michelle McLean said...

Awesome rules :) I need to get into Twitter more. I have it set up so links to my daily blog posts are automatically posted, but that's about all I do with it. I'm working on it though :)

Kelly said...

I like to be a cheerleader for other authors because one, I know how incredibly hard it is to get something published so two, I am sincerely proud of their accomplishment and three, I'm spreading the word about great books and four, many bloggers I feel like they are my cyberfriends so I want to support them. And if one day someone does the same for me, that's icing on the cake. Yum. Cake!
I like your Twitter rules too. I'm still a little intimidated by Twitter, I still feel like an outsider, but I'll get there.
I also love to read witty Twitter posts (and blog posts for that matter). I love to giggle.

Phoenix said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paul Greci said...

Great rules, Elana!! You nailed this!

Audrey said...

Those sound like great rules! I know I wouldn't have started following you on Twitter if you'd done nothing but self-promote. Thanks for sharing your rules with us!

Melissa Sarno said...

I like your rules. I don't like reading blogs where people continuously promote their books. I don't feel that's what a blog is for. I read writing blogs because I want to know who the writer is. Some of that is wanting to know where they are on their writing journey and some of it is just wondering what they're reading or doing that day. Of course, it would be silly to have a blog and never once mention you have a book coming out, but a nice balance is good. I think your blog is the perfect balance!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I was lucky with that first one, although I got online quickly. And I rarely mention my book anymore. Guess I should once in a while.

T C Mckee said...

Self promoting is important but I also think that it just happens. If you be yourself and act like a human, I think people with follow you and enjoy it. A sense of humor is very important too that's what we love about you.

Right now Twitter is annoying me. I don't think I really get it and it makes me feel stupid. But I will get it gosh darn it.

Happy Weekend.

Meredith said...

Such great rules! Especially the self-promotion mixed with paying it forward. If I ever publish a book (fingers crossed), I'm definitely adopting that policy!

Amie B said...

it's kind of like critiqing. for every negative comment, add three positive ones. so for every time you mention your book or talk about yourself, mention three other people :)

it kind of works for everything in life.

for each vegetable i have to eat, i'll wash it down with three pieces of chocolate.

works perfectly :)

Lola Sharp said...

I love these rules. :)

Have a lovely weekend, E.

Hugs,
Lola

Michael Di Gesu said...

Elana,

These are great. I think it's important to give back while promoting oneself.

Beginners like me to a certain extent... only blogging since October, should be aware and promote others. If their book is ready then toot a bit about it.

Most of us are fine tuning or writing our ms' so there really is no reason to self promote until you have SOMETHING to promote.

I hope to be there soon and I certainly will be giving back....

Michael

Nicole Zoltack said...

I need to spend more time on Twitter. I must make better use of that resource!

Patti said...

Self promotion all the time is definitely a turn off. I've stopped following a few blogs for that very reason.

Kristine Asselin said...

Elana--you are made of awesome and you are everywhere on the web! You're my hero when it comes to self promo. Believe me I'm taking notes!

And thanks so much for the great query crit a few weeks ago--things have been a bit crazy lately so I don't think I thanked you properly.

I signed with an agent this week!

Laura Pauling said...

Those are great rules. I end up disappointed when a blogger I love changes his/her blog and it's always about their book. Their humor, their wit is gone. And usually, I end up not reading their blog anymore. That's probably my biggest pet peeve. fortunately, it doesn't happen very often. And your rules pretty much make sure it won't.

Kathryn Packer Roberts said...

You know, I was just noticing that about you the other day. I rarely hear you talking about yourself, and you are always befriending other. Don't think we aren't watching! =)You are a great example to me. But really, since we love you so much, it wouldn't hurt to share more about how excited you are about your book =). I love to hear about it, and other authors' experiences, actually. But you couldn't possibly go overbaord because you DO mention other people, which is very great of you.

Stasia said...

This is well thought out. Definitely agree that, as an author, it's hard to find the right balance in the cyber-world. Was up at 3 AM this morning rewriting a blog post because I thought it felt too buy-my-book-ish and didn't deliver the real message I wanted to share. This is a helpful post for thinking about social networking etiquette. Thanks!

Sara B. Larson said...

Great thoughts and rules to think about (and follow). I do get irritated when all someone does is promote themselves nonstop. If it's in moderation, it doesn't bug me. You and LiLa both do an awesome job in all your social networking.

Shari said...

I love all of your rules, but especially the one about self-promotion. It's a great way to make friends and not lose them! I hadn't even thought about these things before. (Yes, I'm kind of a loser.) I'm going to have to hang out on Twitter more. I never know what to say except for things like, "It's been fun reading your tweets, but I have to go change the laundry now."

IanBontems said...

Great set of rules, Elana.

melissa said...

Great rules!

Even though I've been on twitter for awhile, I find it kind of hard to keep up with everything. The one thing that annoys me on there is "over-promotion". One or two tweets for a #followfriday or #writerwednesday are nice, but when they're filling up my entire feed, I get frustrated. The person should at least spread those out during throughout the day.

Heather said...

I love your social networking rules, awesome! I make it a point to pay forward and to always give more than I ask.

Lydia K said...

I really like the giving-back part of the self-promotion. Makes a lot of sense, and a great way to support our fellow writers!

Catherine Denton said...

From a bumbling twitter-er, thank you! I love rules and these are easy but good ones.
My Blog

Melissa said...

I love your idea of @replying three others when you tweet about something in your life. I'll have to try that.

It annoys me when I @reply an author after I've read their book and they ignore me. Fortunately not many have done that - most authors send back a quick thanks and that really means a lot to me.

Jennifer Hoffine said...

Those are karma-rific rules! So smart! Social networking should be more about connections than personal platforms.

Buffy Andrews said...

Thoughtful post, Elana. And some good rules to share. Have a super weekend.

Hannah Kincade said...

I'm rarely annoyed by something and if something does, I just stop reading/following/commenting...whatever but that is very very rare.

To each their own and all that jazz.

Ishta Mercurio said...

Blogs that are just about promoting the book all the time are a little annoying - they feel self-centred. Ranting too much is annoying, too. A little rant once in a while is okay, but more than once a month or so gets to feel too negative, and what's the point in that?

I love it when writers who blog take the time to respond to comments, and when they promote each other: through book reviews, shout-outs, etc. I wish everyone would do that.

Melissa said...

I actually really like your rules. Especially the one for marketing. I'm more likely to respect and buy a book from an author who takes time to promote other books as well as their own. It makes me see them as respectable and I want to be that kind of author as well.

VR Barkowski said...

IMO, your rules RULE! While, it's perfectly natural for a writer to promote his or her book. To a large extent, these folks are repeating the same message to the same people over and over. There's no point in it.

On the other side of the coin, I think the #liarsociety promo is awesome for several reasons. 1. It's not just L&L. Pinkification is everywhere. :) 2. Instead of repeating the same message, the participant tweets are inventive and fun to read, plus they reach far more tweeters than L&L could on their own. 3. And finally, when am i ever going to get the chance to have long pink hair again?

L.T. Elliot said...

excellent rules! (I also love the new word: fexcellent)

I'm going to start doing that thing: commenting or @ting 3x whenever I say something about myself. I guess I just love all the positivity in this post, E. You're awesome!

Katie Ganshert said...

Whoa. I know this was super simple. But for some reason, this really hit home with me, Elana. It is SO important to be other-focused instead of self-focused. Marketing 101. Somehow, it works.

Jennie Englund said...

That's a super great rule about self-promotion!!!

Donea Lee said...

Good to know that blogging is more on the "plus" side than the "must" side for considering agents. I don't tweet, am rarely on FB - but, I do believe I need to put myself out there somewhere. I love your rule about promoting other's works. I'd almost rather do that exclusively than "pimp" myself! :)

ali said...

I love your rules and have pretty much tried to follow your lead on all counts.

Stephsco said...

I was an early adopter of Twitter but after my initial sign-up I barely used it; didn't have much to say, and it seemed redundant w/ facebook and a separate blog. But, now that I have a smart phone, and more and more people are getting them, I have the right TOOL for twitter, and I follow Publisher's Weekly, The Onion AV Club, Writer's Digest, plus a mix of authors and personal friends. It's more of a news feed, and this gives me a springboard of sorts on what to comment on. I barely talk about myself, I'm usually commenting in response to others. I think this can help if you're afraid twitter is all about posting what you did today; not the case. think of it as a really easy way to get and share information, fast.

Elle Strauss said...

I LOVE your rules--you rock!

Marsha Sigman said...

I like your rules. It's a balance and I think you do it so well!

Twitter is so new to me that I am still trying to figure out what some of the tabs are for.lol

But when it comes to author blogs, I love the mix of personal and professional. I want to feel like I know you but I don't need a daily list of what you had for dinner the night before, how Uncle Bob is not feeling well, or a blow by blow of the last fight you had with your husband over who ate the last cherry popsicle (it was me). If you are going to do that, then it better be funny.

Almost all of the blogs I follow mix it up perfectly. You of course, Lisa and Laura, Shannon, and Carrie Harris, just to name a few.

Personally if I had a book coming out...it would be a struggle not to crow about it every day. That's not self promotion, that's just spreadin' my happy rainbow.lol

Carrie said...

I love these tips. I don't tweet but if I ever decide to I'm going to keep this in mind. I really like the idea of promoting other people. That is a great policy.

Patty said...

Those are just great rules for life...sort of a giving back policy...not hogging compliments and pay one back...I love your rules and your fresh outlook...you could not possibly annoy anyone...but I think that about me and I annoy everyone...

Nichole Giles said...

I actually agree with the interaction thing, and not always talking about yourself. I generally try to scroll through my Twitter feed and comment on other tweets before I jump in, unless I'm on my phone and just have to tweet something--but that's pretty rare.

I don't know about blogs. I try not to talk just about books, mine or others, or just about writing, since it's not the only part of my life. But I also try to not get too personal, either.

It really is a fine line. I think it comes back to the advice you've given in the past about being yourself. Yes? Well, that's how I see it anyway.

Jemi Fraser said...

Great rules - sometimes an author can go overboard with promotion, but I find most people are pretty good. I'm still not always comfortable on Twitter, but I'm getting better!

Carolyn Abiad said...

Makes sense - you're a virtual hugger too. :)

Elaine AM Smith said...

This is great advice :D I'm adopting it.

Krispy said...

I like your rules. I think it's a good balance of give and take. :)

All my social networking accounts are kind of less about networking and more about being social. The reason I got on those sites was to connect and keep up better with my friends. So I try to keep that in mind and not turn my twitter feed into ME party.

Libby said...

Good rules. I'm just starting the blogging/self promotion self-obsessive writer thing so these are good rules to absorb. :)

Jessica Love said...

These are such great rules!

I have had to unfollow several authors on Twitter because every single tweet from them was a RT from someone who posted a review or a RT of someone who said a nice thing about them or a reminder to buy their book. I wanted to yell YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG.

You do it right, though. :-)

Kari Marie said...

I like your one for you, one for someone else.

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

Hey, great social networking rules to live by!

I realized just now I tend to always tweet/RT usually about 3 or more people before I will promote a blog post (which is, at the moment, about all I have to promote). Aaaaan most of the time I forget to promote my blog posts at all. That's probably not a good rule to live by, though.

Gracie said...

Those are some awesome rules... I love how you're making sure you're not just thinking about yourself when promoting etc. What would we do without help and advice from everyone else in this awesome writing community?

lexcade said...

This is why you're awesome. Fantastic rules to live by.

Lois D. Brown said...

I've been making rules for me in a different way. I give myself a certain amount of time to just comment on others blog. Just getting to know people better. I set the timer and when the timer rings, I'm done. If not, I could spend my entire morning just reading. However, I don't want to start to feel overwhelmed and quit being a real contributor to the write-o-sphere. I like your ideas. I think I"ll have to incorporate some like that.

jbchicoine said...

Nice guidelines. I've noticed how well you implement them, so when I see you around (a lot) I don't find you annoying, lol. You've set a good standard.

Lisa Potts said...

It still amazes me that you find time to sleep. I think that somehow you've managed to tack an extra couple of hours onto every day by some mystical arrangement with fairies.

erica m. chapman said...

Love this!

Yes, that is a great rule of thumb ;o) Elana I still don't know how you do it all... I think there are two of you ;o)

Taffy said...

I like your self promotion idea! Pay it forward.
On twitter, if I say something about myself, I find a really great article about writing or a book review or something positive and I twitt one or more before I can talk about me, me, me, again.
So off I go to add this post to twitter!

Carol Riggs said...

GREAT ideas. I try not to say too much stuff about myself on Twitter (now that I've caved in and gotten a profile there), and I love your ideas how to balance the give and take of all that! I DO heave a big sigh (or roll the proverbial eyeballs) when all I see are tweets about people and and their own books (not you, my dear)!

Lisa_Gibson said...

I like your rules and I think that you're just plain awesome. Stay well. Talk to you soon. :)

Jenn Johansson said...

I love your social networking rules and seeings as how you are a social networking Diva. I think I'm going to follow them as well. Great post and thank you for making the world less annoying! ;)

Melanie Hooyenga said...

I like the balance that you've struck between self-promotion and talking to and about others. I try to avoid spewing things into the interwebs without interacting with others, and some days I'm more successful than others.

I especially like the Twitter rule. I try to do the same, although I hadn't expressed it that way. Thanks for the tips!

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