Writing has often been referred to as a solitary sport. With the Internet becoming more and more prevalent in our society this stereotype is no longer accurate. The fact that you are reading this blog proves my point.
In the past centuries, authors had to write their stories and find a publisher, usually through the mail. The publisher had to decide whether or not to accept the manuscript, and once they printed the book they controlled how it was marketed. If an author wanted to talk about the writing process with another author, it usually involved travelling to the other writer’s home or to a convention. But authors today can decide to publish their books themselves, they can do their marketing on their own, and they can communicate instantly with other authors using social networking applications like Twitter. We’ll discuss self-publishing and marketing in other blogs. For today I want to discuss communications.
The Internet gives so many ways for modern authors to communicate it can sometimes interfere with the writing process. But there are so many reasons to use the social networking tools available that you would be foolish NOT to use them. I’ll go over some of the tools that I use to keep me connected.
First: Twitter. This can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, it allows writers to connect with each other and with their fans. It can be useful when a writer wants to ask a question from someone who also writes in their genre. You can get instant responses to your questions. It can also be used to help market your books, by announcing new releases, interviews, and special offers. I have recently received several copies of e-books for free through offers I saw on Twitter. You can also get an idea of how popular your books are by how many followers you have.
On the other hand, Twitter allows writers to connect with each other and with their fans. The danger with this is that a popular author can end up spending so much time Tweeting that they don’t have time to write. There is also the issue of cyber-stalking. I recommend that everyone be careful about what they Tweet. You shouldn’t post anything online that you wouldn’t mind seeing on the front page of a national newspaper.
Second: Facebook. One of the biggest social networking sites, it even had a movie made about it. Successful businesses are now finding it necessary to build a Facebook page along with their normal website. Like with Twitter, getting a Facebook page can give you access to millions of people, and the number of Likes you get can give you an idea of the popularity of your work. The main problem that I have with Facebook is that the easy availability of their games and other applications can quickly suck up my writing time.
Third: Blogs. Sites like WordPress and Blogspot, along with others, can give an author the opportunity to share more of their life and their work than they can do with Twitter or Facebook. It lets them use tools like polls and comments to get feedback on their work. You can also find blogs (like this one) that may help with advice on the writing and publishing process. But every minute spent writing or reading blogs is a minute that you aren’t writing.
Fourth: E-mails. This is probably the safest way to help communicate with other authors. It lets you get rapid response from the person you e-mail. While most e-mail isn’t secure, you usually don’t have to worry about the whole world seeing what you write. The problem is that you first need to have a relationship with those other authors in order to get their e-mail address. You can do this the old fashioned way, through conventions or personal visits. Or you can develop a relationship through Twitter, Facebook, or blogs.
I use all of these methods to help me build my writing skills, connect with other authors, and to share what I have learned. But I have to be very careful about how much I use them, because as I said, every minute I spend on these tools is time that I am not writing. Each of these options probably deserve a more detailed examination. Look for more posts in the weeks to come.
Leave a comment to let me know if there are other tools or websites that you use that you feel strongly about. And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter!