Saturday, August 2, 2014

On The Social Media, The Sharing of The Reviews, and The Author Self-Promotion

Here's a blog I kept going back and forth about writing. Should I bother, or no? Is it a worthwhile topic, or is this just more navel-gazing? Is this important to anyone else besides me, and will anyone care? Maybe I shouldn't even touch it, and go about my business.

However, much as I kept trying to push the thought away, it kept springing back up, which - following my intention of this blog, to thresh out whatever's on my mind - meant it's obviously something that bugs me, hence, should be blogged about. Problem is, my thoughts on the matter are so diffuse and rambling, I'm not sure how coherent this whole blog will be.

So.

Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Instagram). Sharing reviews and author self-promotion?

Where's the line?

What's considered spamming? When is it all too much? Of course, if you can get around the impossibility of that statement - taking in all the varied and diverse opinions of all the folks on the interwebz everywhere - here's another one: should authors feel bad about sharing reviews and promoting their own work?

Here's my rather clumsy, uncoordinated views on the matter: 

Take Author A: who posts every single day, every single update about their book, where to buy their book, reviews of their book, random passages from their book, sends PMs to other social media users about their book, and posts about nothing but their book. If you scroll down their FB wall for a few days, all you'll see is endless posts related to their book. They belong to an infinite number of Facebook Book Groups, and will post two dozen updates about their book in each group all in one day, so that's all you see in your feed. In the extreme? That Author Whose Facebook Profile Picture Is Of Them Reading Their Own Book.

Nobody wants to be that author. I think most authors are definitely afraid of being that author.  But, I've noticed another extreme on the opposite end of the spectrum.

Author C: who doesn't feel like they should ever post about their work, ever. They also don't think other authors should post about their work, ever. Maybe they're veterans who've built up enough of a readership, they don't need to post much about their work.  Maybe they've got a solid pool of reliable readers who are already looking out for their next book, social media regardless. Either way, when they have a new book coming out, or a short story in an anthology, they will at most offer one post about it, and that's all.

Let's also name another group of authors which I've observed (and granted, these are my flawed, subjective observations and nothing more), which I'll tag Author C-1: those who feel very stridently that other authors promoting their work are nothing but spammers or shills, or, on the flipside, often lament about how they don't feel comfortable sharing their own work for fear of being Author A,  and that's probably why their sales are low, or they don't have readers, but they've just accepted that fact (or, maybe not so much) because they just don't feel comfortable talking about their work or themselves at all.

I'm definitely not Author C. In many ways, I don't get that position at all. I mean, no one wants to be Author A, (and I sometimes, like many others I'm sure, feel like I dance on the edge of that one) but I don't see anything noble or especially worthy about never saying anything about your work, or a review, or something positive like that.

So, can there be an Author B: who is not at all shy about sharing their work or where it can be purchased, definitely shares good reviews and news when they come in, maybe posts once a month "updates" for new followers about where to find their work....but when it's all said and done, they know when to stop and move on to Other Things?

I hope so. I hope that's where I fall. I do worry sometimes I tread near being Author A, but at the same time, I don't see anything wrong with sharing good news. I mean - it's exciting. Maybe I'm a little insecure and in constant need of reassurance that I don't suck, but when a good review comes in, I do a little leap, a fist pump, a "Yay!" and it brightens my day. 

So, I then share it on The Social Media. Which seems very natural. My bios for all these networks lists me as a: father, husband, teacher, writer and reader.  It follows that I'm going to share stuff about ALL these things on a fairly regularly basis. For instance: I shared a new review for Devourer of Souls this morning. The next status update may be about something funny my kids did, or something the dog or cat did, or maybe a picture of the dog or cat doing something.

I post updates about my family. My thoughts and inspirations about teaching and writing. The ups and downs of both. I avoid politics and religion, but I' m often whimsical and philosophical. Facebook can be SUCH a well-sink of negativity, I try to be as positive as I possibly can (not hard, because I'm generally an easy-going, optimistic guy).

And then, in there: you will hear about my book. Or a short story I sold, and where to buy it. Or a self-publishing project, or a new review, a new contract, a new project, or maybe - during sales and stuff - cool screen shots of sales rankings. And then, when the hub-ub dies down, there'll be more silly posts about my cats, something my wife said, something dumb I did, or pictures of me reading on the beach.

Maybe I'm alone in feeling guilty about posting stuff about reviews and all. Maybe it's my own complex. But I really shouldn't feel guilty. I post about my life on social media (at least, stuff I wouldn't consider immensely private. Some things definitely SHOULDN'T go on Facebook and Twitter), writing and publishing and reviews and reader reactions and, yes, I won't shy away from it -  SALES  - make up a substantial part of that life. So why not share?

And yet, I still feel a twinge of guilt whenever I post a review or a link or something. When I lose a follower for whatever random reason that probably has nothing to do with me at all, I automatically think: "Crap. They probably got annoyed with me posting about my writing so much."

So, anyway: I try not to spam or overpost about my work, reviews and such. Mostly, I'm just like an excited kid, holding up that crayon-doodled stick figure and saying, "Lookit what I did!" I'm pumped and I want to share, and sometimes, I need to share, to help me keep going.

I'm not trying to spam, nor am I on a mission to try and sell as many copies of my work as possible. And yet - I do want to sell copies of my work. I want new readers. I'm not going to deny that.

Is there some middle ground? Can I be Author B without slipping over into Author A? 

I hope so. And if I get too spammy on The Social Media, please forgive me. I'm just excited to be doing what I've wanted to do since the 8th grade, and sometimes, my excitement gets the best of me.

Now.

Let's go see what those persnickety cats of mine are up to...