Saturday, 12 February 2011

Guest Post: Karen Mahoney Talks Social Media

Karen Mahoney



How the Internet Saved My Life
by Karen Mahoney


Social Media. The latest ‘buzz’ phrase to hit the Internet, especially in the world of writers and writing and bloggers and reviewers and readers and publishers and agents and… and… (You get the idea. *g*)

Social Media is a term I can't get behind. I’m sorry, I know it’s a popular phrase, but I started blogging before it took off quite to the extent that it has today. I was blogging before Twitter – although I LOVE Twitter and have fully embraced it.

Facebook? Please. Don’t talk to me about Facebook. I know it’s hugely popular, and I swear I’ve tried to love it, but I just don’t ‘get’ it. I can’t explain it better than that, because I really have attempted to throw myself into the Facebook world, but it’s not for me. Maybe I’ll give it another chance one day, but for now it’s over for us. I’m sorry… ;)

I love my blog. I love Twitter.

Jenny asked: As a debut author, has being active online helped me?

Absolutely.

Do I recommend aspiring authors to get online and ‘social network’ to their heart’s content?

Not necessarily.

Let me clarify: I think anyone who wants to become a published author needs some kind of online presence (a basic website would be the minimum), but I think it’s important not to spread yourself too thin. I don’t think it’s possible to have meaningful online presence in half-a-dozen places. (The key word there is ‘meaningful.’)

My advice would be to find the one or two things that work for you – things you actually enjoy – and stick with those. Be good at them. Have some real, meaningful interactions with people on those forums, and don’t try to be ‘all things’ to all social media platforms. You’ll just end up scattered and unable to do any single one of them well. It’s about what you enjoy – what you find genuinely fun and rewarding – not doing something because you feel you ‘should,’ maybe because ‘everyone else is doing it.’ Honestly, you’ll come unstuck that way.

The thing for me as a debut author, is that I suppose I’m quite lucky: when I first set up a blog at the very start of 2007, I didn’t have any notion of ‘networking’ or doing something to further my career. What career? At the beginning of 2007 I was taking my first tentative steps back into writing, having given up for the previous 5 years. (Seriously. Five whole years!) My blog became my way of journaling my journey as a writer – I wanted to make friends, not contacts, which is why I started my blogging life on LiveJournal. LJ is an awesome place for community, and many writers seem to gravitate there – especially when they’re just starting out.

The difficulty some authors have (imho) is starting out online quite ‘late’ – for example, after they have a book deal. Not that I’m saying it’s ever really ‘too late’ (better late than never!); we’re not talking about something of Dire Importance. It’s just blogging. Or tweeting. Or… facebooking. ;) But I think if you start out online when you start taking your writing seriously – or even before then – you’ll find yourself naturally making friends and ‘contacts,’ so that the process is organic and not in any way contrived. That’s what happened for me, I think. I had a wonderful circle of genuine online friends way before I signed with my agent or got a book deal; friends who became critique partners and beta readers, and some who even became actual Real Life friends.

I think the trick is not to let yourself get overwhelmed: start small. Try each thing out and find one you like, then stick with that. I love Twitter now, and I do put a lot of time into it; but that’s honestly because I love chatting to people on there. I find out so much about the publishing industry, too, and people are always tweeting links to cool articles and blog posts that can help you to keep up-to-date with what’s going on. I still blog, though I do let it slip occasionally. With that in mind, I attempted to blog every day of January to coincide with the release of The Iron Witch – just to see if I could manage it. I didn’t quite do all the days… I managed to post 26 days out of 30, but at least it proved to me that I could still make a regular commitment to updating my blog. I won’t be blogging every day for the rest of the year (eek!), but I’ll still make sure to post more consistently because I actually do enjoy it.

Meanwhile, please follow me on Twitter – I’d love to talk to you there. I always try to reply to everyone and would love to hear from you! :)

23 comments:

Leanna (Daisy Chain Book Reviews) said...

I'm with Karen on this one. Love blogs, love twitter, freakin' hate Facebook!!

Beth Kemp said...

I thought it was just me! I have a facebook account, but at this point it's mostly to keep tabs on my eldest's online activity. Yeah, I know, scary controll-y Mum! I love blogging and Twitter and am just starting to dare to 'speak' to people on Twitter - so scary at first!

the story siren said...

awesome post! great to see the authors view on social media. I always think, coming from the readers standpoint, an author need some kind of online presence... even if it's just a website. you don't have to have a twitter or facebook where you can interact with your readers, but just something where your readers "feel" like they can interact with you and get to know you and your books.

Stasia said...

Great post. I started blogging years ago, too--long before I sold a novel. Since then, my blog's focus has evolved as I've shared more of my journey to publication but I still love blogging for the same reasons as when I started--the awesome community. Also, since signing on to Twitter, I've lost a lot of love for FB, too :) Thanks for a great interview.

Karen Mahoney said...

Thanks for the comments, guys.

Also, it's nice to know I'm not alone with the no-love-for-FB vibe. ;)

Cheers,
Kaz

Ailsa said...

Really interesting post, thanks Karen! :-)

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