Another step into the dizzying world of social networking

I woke up this morning and the first thing I did (after starting the coffee, of course) was pick up my laptop. I clicked the icon for my email, and more than a hundred messages were waiting for me to respond to them, even if that response is only to delete it. I’m finding that I have to spend a solid hour responding to emails in the morning before I can get down to what I really do: write. And limiting it to an hour means that ALL I can do is respond to emails; I don’t have time to read blogs or follow up on other interesting links that have found their way to me.

This morning, though, when I saw I had a hundred messages, all demanding attention, I just scrolled up and down the list and then closed my laptop and set it on the table. I’m a recluse by nature, even though I’m very loquacious in written forms of communication, like fiction, journalism, or just plain Facebooking.

But I’ve become more and more immersed in social media as I try to build some kind of presence among writers and readers in anticipation of my first novel coming out within a few months—or at least have the means to promote it to a large (currently very small) number of people.

So, I’ve been networking like a fiend, spending almost every waking hour on it (except for the time I spend writing). The social network monster is no longer the cute puppy it once was. I have a growing sense that social media is like an enormous cloud hovering head-level filled with millions, if not billions, of faces, all talking, singing, performing, ranting, educating, spreading hate, organizing protests, and everything else that so many different kinds of people do and say all around the world.

This morning, that cloud seemed to be pressing me down into the couch, threatening to slide down my throat and suffocate me.

So I closed the computer and did other things—fed the horse and the dogs, cleaned up the kitchen (I hate cleaning the kitchen after dinner. I always feel the house fairy should take care of that, but she never does), contemplated working on my novel all day and just ignoring all things social media today.

Then, I can’t remember exactly what happened, but my computer was open on my lap and I was looking at a blog site that apparently gets you lots of blog followers (and, as you can tell, I need them). Here’s the link, if you’re interested: http://sooozsaysstuff.blogspot.com.au/2011/12/write-on-wednesdays-wow-book-blog-hop.html. Let me warn you to read the whole set of instructions and then start over at the top and do things exactly in the order they recommend. Unfortunately, before writing this blog (should have done that first), I was filling in the form that would get people to come to my blog, so I did this all backwards. I hope they’ll forgive me.

Unfortunately, to take part in this, your blog is practically written for you. (So I’m rebelling by writing my own stuff first and then getting to the thing I’m SUPPOSED to write.)

To take part in this, you’re required to find eight evocative sentences in a book you’re reading right now. You then go to Amazon or someplace to find the image of that book and the copy that appears on the book’s back cover. You note the link that would get a reader to a place where he or she could buy the book. The goal is to help promote other writers’ work.

After writing out this information, you then do the same thing for a book of your own. Problem for me is that my book is almost, but not quite, complete. It should be out in a few months.

But, honestly, would this turn my readers off, my doing these kinds of blogs (interspersed with blogs on my original plan to examine ancient literary criticism to see what I, and maybe you too, can learn about the building blocks of fiction), or would they appreciate being turned onto a book they may not have read yet? I mean, I wouldn’t want to give space to a book that I didn’t honestly want to recommend.

I’d most love to help the promotion of some of the scores of writers I’ve gotten to know recently, but I’ve only read a few of their ebooks so far, and the ebooks I’ve read have either been riddled with typos or formatted improperly in a way that really messes with your ability to understand what’s going on. But I plan to read lots of ebooks and when I find one I really like, I’ll do one of these blogs on it.

Okay, enough explaining why I’m doing this. Please, please let me know if it turns you off. That’s the last thing I want to do.

What I’m reading now is, well, I’m reading several books. The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama and Howard Cutler, The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing, The Girl Who Played With Fire (yes, I know I’m very behind times reading that one), and a book on Hypatia (one of  my all-time heroes) that so far is not good enough to recommend.

I’m also reading an ebook on how to develop a really popular blog (as I said, I’m not doing so well figuring that out on my own). Be forwarned that blogging success for this person seems to be successfully monetizing the blog, which means having ads on it, and doing product reviews, which I guess is what this is except that the product is not subsidizing my writing by placing an ad on my page, as this writer recommends in the book.  I don’t know that I want ads on my page. How is that perceived on a writer’s blog, I wonder?

Let’s do the ebook. Okay, here goes:

Teaser #1: Blogging for Pleasure and Money: A Shortcut to Blogging Profits for Beginners, by Lambert Klein

This being an ebook, it doesn’t have copy on the back cover. However, the product description reads as follows:

“Are you new to blogging and want to get off to a fast start? Been blogging for a while but haven’t found the audience and money you were hoping for? Stop trying to learn by trial and error. There is a better way to get up to speed quickly.

“Skip Right to the Good Stuff

“You can spend years figuring out what works and what doesn’t. Some testing and research is unavoidable, but why do more than you have to? Author Lambert Klein poured years of experience into “Blogging for Pleasure and Money” so you can avoid the pitfalls and go straight to profits.

“Increase Visitors, Visibility, and Earn More Profits

“The report is easy to understand and follow. Step-by-step instructions show you how to set up a blog and the critical steps that are commonly overlooked. With the tips and tricks included, you will quickly understand how to turn any blog into a highly profitable, money making machine!”

That’s not the whole product description, but you get the idea (it was too long to include the whole thing).

Sentences shared from page…well, this ebook doesn’t have page numbers. It’s 49% of the way through under the header “Just a Quick Review” (which you can find in the table of contents).

“You will need to find a domain name that is pertinent to your niche and that includes a key term. Consider the use of sub-domains for ease and cost-effectiveness. Choose a blog title that also uses the key terms or key phrase. As you post to your blog you will want to use the key terms in your headlines and sprinkle them throughout the content. But be careful not to overuse them. Your content should be reader-friendly and it should contain useful information. Keep in mind that you are establishing a relationship with your readers. The stronger a bond they feel with you the more likely they will be to trust you.”

Purchase for $2.99 on Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/Blogging-Pleasure-Money-Successful-ebook/dp/B004C44ONY/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1328118393&sr=1-1#_.

Teaser #2: I have no book out yet to promote, so I’ll promote two short stories and two journalism articles free on my website kathleenlourde.com. Actually, for the sake of space, I’ll just review one of the two short stories: “Cow Chip Queen.”

“Cow Chip Queen” is the coming-of-age story of an over-protected small-town Oklahoma teenager who, after throwing cow patties in a competition, has won the title of Cow Chip Queen. She meets what the town considers a dangerous influence, is indeed influenced and likely changed forever.

The eight sentences (oh, dear; this story has long sentences) I’ll share are from the beginning:

I was Cow Chip Queen of 1981.

The Coweta Courier put a three-column picture of me on the front page, and my mother bought fifty copies and sent one to all our relatives, she was so proud, and as soon as she got me home she launched into plans for the Miss Oklahoma Pageant, and it didn’t matter how often I told her a beauty pageant is a sexist exploitation of the female body and I never would have run for Cow Chip Queen only Danny Childers put my name up and everybody called me chicken when I threw a fit, and, besides, I really didn’t think I’d win. And anyway, the Cow Chip pageant is different, not so sexist, seeing as how the contestants have to have a skill—tossing cow chips—and that’s my strong point. I just wrap my finger around the edge, twirl around a few times for show, and throw it like a frisbee.

But no matter how loudly I told her this, she never stopped saying how Miss America had to start somewhere and using words like strategy and career opportunities and scholarships; and somehow even though I’m so much against the male institution of beauty pageants, I couldn’t help catching Mom’s enthusiasm, falling into the excitement of winning and going up on stage in the frilly virginal dress my mother picked out to accept my crown and roses and seeing Dad in the hooting and hollering crowd with that soggy sweet look in his eyes that daddies get when their daughters do them proud.

Up there on that stage with everyone looking at me and my friends yelling and the crown slipping and my arm holding the roses trembling, I couldn’t help dreaming about a great destiny, a life always like that. And when we got home Dad brought out a bottle of champagne and a store-bought cake with The Most Beautiful Girl in the World written across it in pink icing, and yellow and pink roses all around the edges, and he said he bought it yesterday he was so sure I’d win. We all sat on the floor in the living room in front of the fireplace and drank the champagne out of the bottle and ate the cake right out of the box with our fingers

Available for free at www.kathleenlourde.com. Click on “Fiction.”

Thank you all for bearing with me as I try this experiment. If it works, I promise to do a much better job of finding good ebooks for people to read. I may have to resort to hardcopy books from time to time simply because I won’t have found an ebook I want to promote.

Please let me know your reactions to this blog. If it leaves a bad taste in your mouth, I won’t do it again. Talking with you is the reason I blog, so if you stop reading it I’ll just be talking to myself, and I do enough of that already. 😉

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14 Comments

Filed under writers, writing

14 responses to “Another step into the dizzying world of social networking

  1. Pingback: Social Media Takes Over The World « applesvsbananas

  2. Pingback: Social Media Takes Over The World « applesvsbananas

  3. Be yourself. It’s your blog and you can do what you want with it 🙂 I see too many writer’s incorporating their “writer/private” thoughts into the mix with their upcoming titles – instead of getting an official domain and then linking it to the blog, so your reading audience can find your book(s), updates and the like – and then if they do choose – move on to get to know you. So one “technical” and one “personal”. Soon as I figure out how this network blog thing works again (I use blogger) I’ll follow ya!
    RL.Treadway (from FB)

  4. I have a blog, and I like watching the counter as people visit it, but damn, it’s really hard to post more than once a week. I’d like to post two or three times a week, but between writing and reading and trying to figure out Linked-In and –oh, yeah — working at my day job, there’s only so much time.

    • I know; someone was just debating with me whether blogs bring enough followers that will purchase your books to outweigh the disadvantage of considerable time spent away from your novel or short stories or whatever. I’m having a really hard time keeping up and this is my day job! I don’t know how you manage to do a blog. I started the blog when I was still working a full-time job and it took most of the time that I had for any kind of writing at all. How do you do it?

  5. Kathleen, thank you for taking part in my Write On Wednesday book blog hop. This is an experiment for me as well as the people who pop in and have a shot at doing it. The formula isn’t rigid for promoting work other than your own. I have only done one of these before and folks were confused about how to proceed. Consequently, the list of guidelines sounds a little formal, I will change that. The promoting of other work is something I do regularly on my blog anyway, as I know from first hand experience just how difficult it is to get newly published or soon to be published work out there in the netherworld where it can be seen.

    I promote newly released work…however if you have not read something that you are comfortable promoting then please by all means simply join in with a teaser on work of your own published or not.
    I will change the guidelines to ensure that folks understand that A book cover, and back cover blurb are not essential … but optional.

    Meanwhile I love your teaser on your own work, and I look forward to reading more.
    Can I interest you in doing a guest blog on the minefield of learning about the blogging world? Seriously. my email is suzieb4burke@hotmail.com I hope to hear from you.

    • Suzannah, how very gracious you are! Thank you for coming to my blog to read about my experience trying to participate in a blog-related program. Obviously, you picked up that I was a little overwhelmed and felt fustrated in my attempts to follow the rules. I will absolutely email you, and thank you again for coming here and for your kind wods.

  6. Congratulations for taking the big first step into blogdom! Ditto, Susan, about the need for balance (try wading through–deleting most–300+ emails every morning! All but maybe 25-30 are junk. Don’t know how to get rid of it and don’t want to change my e-mail address). It all takes time.

    I loved your description of your story “Cow Chip Queen” and your personal story about it–wonderful! I too, glossed over the promo about the blogging book, although it would probably be a good one to read. (Maybe a shorter blurb would be better.)

    As an editor, I despair at the quick-publish world of e-books and all their mistakes and typos and poor writing. How does that promote the writer? When I read a book like that, I often don’t finish it, and I’m sure not going to read another one by that author!

    Keep up the good work, Kathleen!
    Heidi M. Thomas
    http://www.heidimthomas.com
    http://www.heidiwriter.wordpress.com

    • Thanks, Heidi, for the welcome to the blogosphere! And I’m so glad you liked my description of Cow Chip Queen. 🙂 That makes me happy. I’ll definitely do a shorter book promo next time, and I’ll write it myself instead of using their formula. Hopefully that won’t get me into trouble! But if it does, oh well, right? No point in writing that gets glossed over. Thank you very much, Heidi! I’ll go look at your blog now.

  7. Kathleen, I loved reading your thoughts/frustrations with social media (I share those, and like you, struggle to balance the needs of blog/FB/Twitter with the really important stuff: my writing), and I was totally sucked in reading your short story. In between, I have to admit to pretty much skipping over the book you were promoting, because it didn’t interest me, and the format seemed “canned,” which is to say, not your funny, rueful, wise, and thoughtful voice. I review books on my blog periodically, but only if they’re something I feel really strongly about. I keep it short, usually excerpting from the longer reviews I write for Story Circle Book Reviews, the largest site reviewing books for and by women. (No, it doesn’t pay. But it’s such a great project!) Here’s an example of how I handle that on my blog, in case you’re interested: http://susanjtweit.typepad.com/walkingnaturehome/2012/01/books-and-an-anniversary.html

    • Oh, I’m so glad you liked my short story. 🙂 Looks like I didn’t do a very good job of promoting that book, though. I was following their formula, but if it doesn’t work I’ll just make up my own formula. Thanks so much for the link to your blog. I’ll go there now!

  8. Jeana Johnson

    It makes me grin to see how jumpy and nervous you are while you are trying this new thing–the blog. But it makes me proud to see that you are doing it anyway. I hope others will see your honesty and talent shining through and will have the good sense to make meaningful conversation about both blogs and writing.

    • Well, that’s what I’m trying to be–just plain honest about the stage I’m at in this whole thing. If I try to come off as uber-knowledgeable people will dismiss me, as they should. I’m trying to learn here. Thanks for commenting!

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