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Social Networking or Stalking

February 12, 2010

This week I’m inspired by Brian Hodge’s post, Scaling the Rat Hole over at the Storytellers Unplugged blog. Go read it if you like, but please come back.

Like Brian, I kept a record of what I wrote, even competed against myself to write more words than the previous day. I changed my motto to, “Networking? Who has time for that?” I was way too busy writing.

Side note. This partially explains why I dropped off the face of the earth for nearly two years. Prior to finally deciding to hit the fiction writing full and hard, I ran a local in-person networking group, specifically to help nonprofits, and became a business and social networking guru of sorts. I was one of the first Facebook users, but I used it to post events, considering my preference has always been networking face to face. Not an easy thing to do when your audience is all across the world though.

When I decided to venture into writing a Twitter novel and entered the Textnovel contest last year, I had to make time for social networking, again. And so, the little “distraction” (as Brian so appropriately calls them) began interfering with my writing, again. My daily totals went down drastically. I realized yesterday, while waiting for my car at the dealership with no WiFi, that Mr. Hodge provides the best solution…unplug the router.

In my opinion, social networking is out of control. For example, imagine my dismay when I opened my Gmail yesterday morning and found Buzz, yet another distraction to discuss with the world what you’re up to. Don’t tell anyone I posted a few messages. I had to try it out.

How different is social networking from stalking, really? Think about how Facebook works. You spy on people, I mean read through personal status, for just the right victims, I mean friend. Then you make your move, the attack, I mean commenting or following their lead. There are also the members you don’t know, who request your friendship. If you let them in, nine times out of ten, they take the next step and send you countless requests to join groups and fan clubs, along with messages to attend their events. Yes, I’m guilty of it too. Oops, forgot the harassment via instant message. We’ve all had to deal with it, yet we keep going back for more. It’s like cold calling for the 21st century, with an actual audience.

My #1 stalking method has been Twitter. Why? It’s quick. Well kinda. And, you can reach more people, theoretically, through search terms and replies. In addition, I love the Ning social networks, where it’s easier to communicate with members, but not much different than the groups over at Yahoo, MSN & Google. Yawn! I also blog on and off, but you have to use all the other social networking tools to get people to read your blog.

Argh! There’s no getting away from it if you’re trying to promote yourself. It’s part of the job. So if you wanna network with me, I suggest you check out the links in the right column of my blog. Adding the links here could take the rest of my morning.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. February 12, 2010 8:14 am

    Great Post Wendy – and good article by Brian. I have to get back on track. But first I have to get my kids back in school. Damn snow.

    I’ve been better lately about staying offline when I edit and revise, but have been waiting for the playdates and screaming to stop before I actually attempt to write new words.

    • February 12, 2010 10:39 am

      I wish I could send mine back to school sometimes. Unfortunately the establishment has failed him. He does better at home with me on his butt to finish his education. And yet another distraction.

  2. February 12, 2010 10:24 am

    Interesting to see this – thanks

  3. February 12, 2010 11:12 am

    Social networking is just another promotional tool. Will it help an author sell books? Maybe. You’d certainly not be strategizing for the long run if you omitted social networking.

    Managing social networking is like managing a financial portfolio. You have to diversify, because every tool has limitations.

    Example: Facebook. Undeniably, people have used FB in creative, powerful ways. I come from a user interface design background. IMHO FB exhibits some of the worst user interface design elements I’ve ever seen. To add insult to injury, the interface changes every so often, sometimes without warning, most of the time without making the experience better. Under such circumstances, it’s difficult for anyone to harness the full potential of the tool.

    So you also have a blog and a website, and you subscribe to discussion lists.

    But none of this cyberspace meet-and-greet is worth diddly if you don’t get out there in person and shake hands. And no amount of personal appearances make up for poorly written fiction. So let’s not forget the *real* foundation for selling lots of books. 🙂

    • February 12, 2010 12:50 pm

      Oh so true about facebook, Suzanne!! It’s my least favorite social networking website, only using it because I feel I have to. I also worked in the software design industry for years and the site just plain annoys me with with all the changes and unfriendly user interface design. Like when we form a habit of clicking on a link in a certain spot to find our messages or groups, they go and move it on us.

      Love the meet-and greet atmosphere, so I can’t agree with you more. Will be interesting to watch the publishing industry change as books turn electronic. Will they continue to send authors on the road if there are less bookstores? Aren’t they already decreasing this cost?

      • February 12, 2010 1:23 pm

        Wendy, re: eBooks, they’re technically a new product with a new customer base. Thus the marketing “Ps” for eBooks are different. We’re going to see some interesting sinking and swimming as the publishing industry adapts.

        Re: fewer bookstores, midlist authors say their publishers usually don’t pick up the tab for their road trips, so the authors plan and pay for their own tours. And many authors are finding that bookstores aren’t the venues where they sell the most books. They sell the most books at locations where they find the largest gatherings of their readers, go figure. Depending on what you write, that could be a museum, an arts and crafts store, a historical battleground, a school, etc. Also, libraries have undergone a sort of “re-imagining” and become the “go-to” places within many communities. Most libraries host book clubs. Club members *love* having authors visit.

        If you cannot adapt your marketing strategies to these industry changes, you aren’t going to succeed.

  4. February 12, 2010 7:44 pm

    Excellent post! Yes, my relatives use facebook to spy on me. I don’t know why, outside of my crazy stories, I’m a dull stick. My sister-in-law is the worst. She always has a pithy comment. We don’t get along, too much alike 😉

  5. maered permalink
    February 13, 2010 7:14 am

    Facebook is a tool but it is just ONE tool. I agree with Suzanne. The product has to be as good as you can make it – and hopefully online buzz will help. In fact, recommendations from various blogs is how I decide to buy new to me authors.

  6. February 16, 2010 10:50 am

    OK, you Facebookophobes …

    Facebook is not Stalkerville, and I take great personal offense at the suggestion. Just because it allows me to keep up with people in my sphere of half-assed interest to the extent that when we do actually get together, I can “yeah yeah yeah” my way past their “did I tell you about that day when I …” stories does not mean that I am a STALKER, it means I am an efficient friend. I am one who is able to absorb updates and images, able to spin tales that fill in the blanks of their lives so that when I do actually see them, I am fairly certain that in many cases, my imaginary world is much more vibrant and interesting – at least to me – than anything they could tell me from their drab and dull real world.

    And, AND, do you know what else? Facebook is fun. I have more followers on Facebook than I do on my personal finance blog, that’s for damn sure. I never would have thought it, but people actually go to my profile on purpose on Facebook to see what I say because they find my posts amusing and interesting – that hardly ever happens on blog. I don’t understand it but I’m not going to knock it.

    So … dis the Facebook if you want, but it’s not going to go away. Twitter sucks ass and Buzz is anything but buzzworthy, but Facebook is here for a while. Deal.

    And for the record, being efficient with your chat time doesn’t apply to Wendy. When I first met her, we almost didn’t get along because we had different dates in our calendars for a first meet-up (mine was right, hers was totally wrong), but when we did hook up for a quick coffee, we didn’t stop talking for three hours. I’ve never blocked off a lunch date for less than two and a half hours with her and would happily double it if I could. So although I like Facebook for efficiency, keep in mind that part of time management is making sure that the people who don’t really matter don’t take much time, but the people who make you smile and think and laugh deserve as much time as you can spare.

    I still gotta write that story. Maybe I’ll do that today. 🙂


  1. Social Networking Our Butts Off « By W. J. Howard

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