Friday, November 9, 2012

The Hashtag of Discontent

When the visual of my last post hit me as I logged in, it made me a bit queasy. No, silly, not Dean Butler. Manly could never do that. All the Twitter visuals. Have I become one of those people?

I've had a Twitter account for about two years. Tweet count as of this morning? Two hundred and ninety-four. There are no hard and fast statistics on this, but largely 80% of those are the result of the Vortex feed. I have tried. Tried to mine what could be fascinating in my moment-to-moment life to amuse the staggering 190 people following me because I followed them. Tried to elevate my awareness of the media such that it becomes engrained in my daily to-do list. Tried to fill those moments of waiting by whipping out my iphone and scrolling through people trying to fascinate me. Tried to raise it on my priority list of visibility and marketing. I have tried.

I'm tired of trying.

Apparently, I'm not the only one.

Forgive me for sounding like a ninety year old in a thirty-something body. What does all this nervous chasing of some nebulous social following get us? I can't attribute this to my recent theory about how somehow we've collectively skipped the track. That in Colorado, we are now teaching our kids that it's okay to smoke pot because mommy grows it in the kitchen window. That I have neighbors I barely know by sight let alone name or culture or history enough to respect them past a wave of the hand. That I am the only house on the street who displays an American flag-even on traditional flag-hanging holidays. That we again voted into office someone who can't be bothered to put his hand over his heart as a sign of respect to country and those who died so he can  have that privilege. But I digress. This isn't about politics. I can't attribute my recent social media attitude to those things because I've been thinking about it for some time now. It's about chasing the wrong things in life.

Professionally, I have only to look to my favorite authors to have an epiphany. None of them have Facebook accounts. None of them have Twitter accounts. Guess how they're spending their days? Writing. Hopefully, hugging their children. Maybe taking a walk in the Autumn breeze. And writing.

Perhaps it's because I'm hard-wired to be introverted. Perhaps because Twitter just seems like a big, crowded room filled with only a handful of people I'd ever really talk to in real life. Perhaps because there's a guy in one corner screaming to buy his book fourteen times a day and a woman in the other talking about the Greek yogurt she had for lunch whom I only follow because she edits books in New York.

I don't wish this to come across negative. Rather, a call to action of a different sort. Authors, how many books have you sold as a direct result of Twitter marketing? How many of you could have written your next book over the past six months with those hours? How many of you are exhausted trying to keep up with social media because we're told we should by someone who seems to know some grand publishing secret we don't?

I challenge you to be more aware this week of how you're spending your time. Take a walk. Nourish your body so that your mind is ready to be creative. Read a book to fill the well or get more in touch with authors in your niche. Spend time with your loved ones, not the Greek yogurt lady in the corner, because tomorrow is no guarantee. Put your smart phone with the Twitter feed down at mealtime because your children want to tell you about the butterfly they saw at recess. Social media does have it's place, but only if we put it there.

And only if it brings me Dean Butler.


Charles Gramlich said...

I haven't gotten on TWitter. I intend to but then I think I just don't have the time. I have no idea who Dean Butler is btw.

Todd Wheeler said...

I feel similarly about Twitter. However while Facebook is often an evil time-suck, it is also the most useful way for me to get news out about my writing.

You (L.A.) have an e-mail newsletter and a blog (with lots of nifty buttons on the sidebar to help promote it). Are there other ways you connect with readers/writers/editors/Dean Butler impersonators that you feel are worth the time and effort?

L.A. Mitchell said...

@Charles...That tells me you were watching Land of the Lost when I was watching Little House on the Prairie. DB played Almonzo Wilder, who wooed and eventually married Laura Ingalls. Check previous post for a visual. It's just one of those Fabio things around here. We just get kinda stuck on something for awhile.

@Todd...I'd be interested to talk to you about how effective FB has been for your writing. FB is just something I haven't done because it's impossible for writers to do everything. We'd never write! :)

I consider the newsletter golden and sacred. Where else are writers going to find a group so highly motivated to act/buy/spread the word/etc? But mailing lists take time to nurture. I thing blogs have waned in popularity and it takes an act of Congress to get people to click through and comment (Yay for you--thank you, Todd :)) People read, but it's hard to tell how much/how often. I blog because I love to do it and its very much a part of who I am as a writer now. It keeps me in touch with great people (though I'm not as great at reciprocating..sorry..I'm trying to get better).

I like that Twitter can call attention to something, like the idea of an interactive romance..something new for the market, but I can't say how many people actually clicked through and purchased my ghostwritten book. But apart from that, there's so much chatter, I don't know how any one voice is heard unless you already have a following/platform you bring to the site.

As you can see, this blog has already forwarded my meet-Dean-Butler campaign :) It's working! Thanks for stopping by, Todd.