Alice going down the rabbit hole, Dorothy being swept away from Kansas, the Pevensie children walking through a wardrobe… Today one just needs to click an icon and we too are swept away to a magical land. Yes, we’re talking about you, Social Media.
It offers a world of promise, of answers, of beautiful pictures and hours of time-wasting fun.
This month the Upcoming Famous and Fabulous Romance Writers share their stories about different forms of social media.
Hello. My name is Marianne Bayliss and I am technologically challenged.
I work at overcoming my panic-inducing technology inabilities with multiple instruction lists and I find I can manoeuvre through my days quite fine. But when it comes to technology combined with social media, I come close to apoplexy. A mistake I make on my laptop affects me but a mistake I make on the internet affects THE WHOLE WORLD. Or more than just me.
BUT one of the amazing things about social media is that it connects me to the glitterati of the writing world. Author postings make me feel like I’m invited into that author’s life. I can look at their Insta pages and see their cat; I can look at their Facebook page and see what causes they’re supporting; I can look at their twitter handle and… well not much because I haven’t got a clue how twitter works! (Must make instruction list for Twitter and take notes on Megan Mayfair’s suggestions below).
Because of social media I even get to hang out with some writing legends via Facebook groups, though I’m the one in the corner trying not to spill something on my shiny new frock while I work up the courage to approach the punch bowl. Valerie Parv once liked a post of mine! Anne Gracie commented on a post I wrote! Maisey Yates replied that she remembered me from Conference last year! OMG! I’m, like, famous! Oops! Just dropped my crab stick!
Actually, what being in these groups does for an aspiring author like me is make me lift my game. If an author, with great skill and limited time, takes a second to acknowledge something I’ve posted then I feel it’s my duty to uphold the author-ness of the interaction. My part is to stay focussed on my writing and make it good, if not to match these writers’ abilities then to at least not drag them down. So when Anne Gracie posts a link to an article she thinks is noteworthy, I read it and learn. When Maisey says she remembers me I take three (okay, five) seconds to fangirl then think, I’ve got to make my writing of a standard that she would approve of.
So, thank you everyone for your social media contributions – this virtual proximity inspires me in a way that no other avenue can.
…now how do I put this article on Google Drive?
In late December, I started a Twitter account for my writing. At first I was somewhat loathe to do so. Twitter can seem very ‘shouty’ at times and I wondered how I could use it to help my writing.
To learn who did it well, I first set about following others. My fellow authors at Crooked Cat Books, RWA members, favourite authors, book bloggers and industry professionals. By following a large number of people, I watched how they used Twitter as a platform. I found the ‘tweeters’ I admire in the writing world post often, are full of useful tips, retweet and support other authors, and engage and have fun with their followers. A few favourites:
- Maisey Yates (@maiseyyates) posts wonderful writing tips and for someone like me who is starting out, I’ve devoured her sage writing advice.
- Jackie Ashenden (@JackieAshenden) chats with her fans and I love her posts highlighting how romance is an empowering genre for strong characters.
- Isabella May (@IsabellaMayBks) posts about cake – that’s always good but importantly, lots of great tips for emerging authors on handling reviews and marketing.
- Lizzie Chantree (@Lizzie_Chantree) founded a wonderful Twitter initiative called #creativebizhour – an hour each week where writers, artists and anyone creative can promote themselves using the hashtag.
- Clare Connelly (@clarewriteslove) posts regularly about writing, her current projects but also starts great, fun conversations about books, television and pop culture.
If you’re looking to get started with Twitter, make sure you look me up: @MayfairMegan and we can learn together how to make this platform seem less intimidating and a good opportunity for those seeking a writing career.
It is a dark and stormy night in 1994.
Four American college students huddle indoors whiling away their snowbound hours watching a television rerun of Footloose. They chat, they laugh, they horse around, but then … inspiration strikes.
They gather tools: string; a whiteboard; permanent markers; an extensive communal knowledge of movie trivia. And a game is born: the six degrees of Kevin Bacon.
The challenge of the game is to prove that anyone in the Hollywood film industry can be connected though film roles to Kevin Bacon in just six steps.
But how does this relate to Facebook? I hear you ask.
For a time, I found Facebook a drag – it was needy, it devoured hours of my time, trolls lurked beneath the comments sections. But then I learned how to footloose my way through Facebook, and suddenly social media became fun.
Here’s an example from last week:
Step 1: I clicked on the Facebook app on my phone.
Step 2: I saw a post in the RWA Facebook Community Group commenting on the predatory practices of a UK Publishing Group.
Step 3: I read the comments under the post: RWA member Catherine Bilsen recommended David Gaughran’s book Let’s Get Digital.
Step 4: I clicked on the Amazon link she had included in her post.
Step 5: I bought the book and read it.
Step 6: (And this is the Kevin Bacon moment) In the final section of the book, among the self-publishing success stories, I read an entry by US author Kenneth Rosenberg, and I thought hmmm. I know that name. I met Kenneth Rosenberg in about 1984, one dark and stormy afternoon, on a school oval in Toowoomba. He was an international exchange student, and I was friends with his host.
So why not be footloose and fancy free on Facebook? You never know what connections you can make in just six steps.
When first informed our next blog was on social media my natural reaction was, oh great, that fills me with about as much joy as a trip to the dentist. These days, as an aspiring author, it doesn’t seem wise to admit that the idea of social media fills you with horror, but if truth be known, for me it’s rather like being a mother with a pathological dislike of children’s parties, and throwing a party for a child (aka novel) that is yet to be born… Because you have high hopes you swallow any misgivings and decide to throw a baby shower (or the writer’s equivalent)… only you don’t have much money or time to give to it, the decorations are a bit home-made, you suspect the cake may be half-baked, the rest of the food looks like a dog’s dinner and the clown is sulking in the corner refusing to be jolly…
To make matters worse, you fear no-one may turn up. It’s a tough gig.
Having some background in public relations, I totally get the value of social media and marketing, and I’m endeavouring to get myself more immersed in the festive spirit. Lately I’ve spent a lot of time checking out other authors’ websites, trying to pin down what it is that I like about them, what works effectively and what gems I can stash away for future use. It’s been rather awe-inspiring, particularly when focusing on wonderful RWA authors’ websites of which there are many. However, if I had to pick just one that I’d recommend you check out at this moment in time it would be Vanessa Carnevale’s. Not only are her blogs chock full of useful information, everything about her website looks fresh and appealing. Like freshly cut flowers on a sunny day. Like a light breeze, a hammock and a good book…
As of yet, my own website is still a bit of a bun in the oven, but you’re welcome to my party and I’d love any feedback, as would any of the other aspiring authors contributing to this blog (see website addresses at the end of this piece and no of course that wasn’t a plug!).
At last years conference, I had the pleasure of meeting some of the people I’d been stalking on Instagram. I say stalking, but I mean that in the nicest possible way. The way you start liking and commenting on someone’s images, inviting yourself into their world, when you’ve never actually met them. But their images are so appealing, and they write stories you like, and you’ve commented on similar things. It’s funny when you think about it. I turned up feeling like I ‘knew’ some of the people, when in actual fact I had no idea if that was even their real name.
I use Instagram, and Pinterest, quite a lot as an aspiring writer. I prefer them to Facebook and well I have no idea how to use Twitter (ahem… Megan help please!) I love the visual aspect of them – telling my story in pictures. Doesn’t seem right does it, an aspiring writer who prefers images? (insert giant shocked smiley face here) But images can be so much fun. Like this one below.
I use Instagram because it’s my visual representation of me, as an aspiring writer. I use pinterest, because I can hoard images of my story ideas in one place, using them as prompts. Clicking one button on Instagram I can flick my posts over to Facebook. I’m led to believe you can do similar things with Twitter but… Oh gosh is that the time? I have to go cook dinner. Social media, you’ve stolen half my day again.
So how do you use Social Media? Do you allocate it portions of your day or just let it sneak in whenever it calls you to the dark side? We’d love to hear your social media stories – #youknowyouwantto!
The Upcoming Famous and Fabulous Romance Writers
The Upcoming Famous and Fabulous Romance Writers are five aspiring and emerging RWA members. Like many new RWA members, we worry about our skills, we have pride in our growing accomplishments, and we are nervous about whether we can ‘make it’. We share our journey from newbies to (fingers crossed, hearts wildly beating) accomplished writers.
We connected at the RWA Conference 2017 in Brisbane, and formed a support group that has become an important step in our writing journey.
We can be found on various social media below. We’d love you to come visit.