Friday, December 3, 2010

Great writer gifts day 5: Mastering social media

We’ve reached the final day of my week-long series on great gifts for writers, and I feel like doing little happy dance in my underwear. If only I had the ones I blogged about in Tuesday's post.

Now that we've got the requisite underwear joke out of the way, I want to tell you about a book. Not just any book, but hands-down the best tool I’ve seen for authors exploring the world of social media.

Since you’re here reading this blog, I can conclude you’re at least dipping your toe in the social media world. Maybe you have a blog of your own, or maybe you tweet and skype and facebook and all those other things that sound kind of dirty when you use them as verbs.

When my amazing agent first lured me into the world of social media with promises of ponies and candy, I was hesitant. I went out and read as many books and articles as I could so I wouldn’t end up looking silly.

Then I decided to build my platform on being silly, which simplified things.

In doing my social media homework, I couldn’t help but notice most resources aren’t targeted specifically at authors. That’s why I perked right up when I first heard about author Kristen Lamb’s book WE ARE NOT ALONE: THE WRITER'S GUIDE TO SOCIAL MEDIA.

The book covers everything from the nitty-gritty of setting up your Facebook account to the best strategies for using Twitter. One thing I love is that Kristen doesn’t advise authors to embrace every social media trend with the vigor of a beagle humping the mailman's leg. She has a very realistic approach, something she explained in a recent blog post:

Personal trainers are a happy energetic lot, and they will tell you all the benefits of eating algae and tofu and getting detoxed with the latest cleanse. They want us to be just as happy and healthy as they are. But there is often a huge problem. We might desire to be 6% body fat and a size -0, but we have jobs and families and need to sleep.

A person who makes her living as a personal trainer can live this way because it is already in sync with her goals and her life. For the mother of two who works as a teacher, becoming fitness model thin is a HUGE time commi
tment with a lot of sacrifice. Can she do it? Of course. But for most women, just being a healthy weight is already a struggle. If we shoot for fitness model fitness, we likely will give up before we ever see real benefit.

Social media experts do social media for a living. So to advise a writer that they need to be on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Lin
kdIn, Flikr, YouTube, del.ici.ous., Squidoo, Digg It, and on and on and on is natural for them. Why? Because that is their life and what they DO. They do social media because they love it and like the fitness trainer, they want us to love it that much, too…

...I am a writer first. I love social media and I love teaching writers how to use it in a way that doesn’t totally disrupt their lives. I think that there are a lot of cool sites out there and if you love social media then ROCK ON! But like working out, we have to be careful. Social media works best when we forge relationships, when we create networks of people who know us, support us, and are emotionally vested in us.

Her book is chock full of more great information just like that—wisdom that’s tailored to the specific needs of authors from a fellow author who admits right up front that she learned many of these lessons the hard way.

I loved this book. It made me want to pick Kristen up and squeeze her and shake her and slobber all over her with gratitude (which is evidently not the best way to make friends).

No matter where you are in your writing career—from crafting that first manuscript to signing the contracts on your next big book deal—I guarantee there’s something you can learn from this book. Do it for yourself, do it for your writing career, go get a copy of this book.

Are there any resources you’ve found invaluable in the writing world? Books or blogs or articles or Magic 8-balls? Please share.

And in the spirit of sharing, please let me know if there are any great writer gifts I’ve left off the list this week. Obviously I didn’t hit them all, so I’d love to hear your recommendations.

That reminds me...I'm still waiting for the ponies and candy.


Sarah W said...

Now I know what I want for Christmas!

I'd also like to suggest Under the Covers and Between the Sheets (C. Alan Joyce & Sarah Janssen), subtitled "The inside story behind classic characters, authors, unforgettable prases, and unexpected endings."

The short passages reassure me that (most) classic books started out as shitty first drafts, too, and famous (or infamous) authors are real, live people with real, normal lives.

Except, you know, for the writing thing.

Matthew MacNish said...

Twitter as a verb is tweet? I thought it was ... never mind. That's too dirty even for your blog.

This sounds like an interesting book. The best gift for (this) writer(s) is booze. It helps me turn off my inner editor ... and catch a buzz.

Danica Avet said...

I was so resistant to Twitter, I mean...violently so. I had a MySpace and a Facebook page, why would I want to tweet? How can you possibly say anything in 140 characters or less? Then I started and I can't stop. *sigh* I've also met some wonderful people via Twitter, so I can't complain about my compulsions to check it every twenty seconds.

abby mumford said...

this is a delightful twist on the normal "how to" books for writers. i will definitely check this one out.

*sits and waits for ponies and candy*

Anonymous said...

Thank you for such a lovely review! To be honored in such close proximity to pink Writer Panties is an achievement in itself (I will try not to get oo big of a head). Now it's my turn to pick you up and hug you and slobber all over you, :D. This is the best review yet.

And I have to confess, I should have called the book "I Made All the Dumb MIstakes So You Don't Have To." Thanks for this wonderful review. I hope many writers pick up my book and start their New Year in a way that will be productive. It is so easy to get discouraged and overwhelmed and I hope to help keep that to a minimum.

Kristen Lamb

Patty Blount said...

Great series, Tawna !

To Matthew - D'oh! I choked on my breakfast at his comment.

To Danica - YES! I said the same thing. WTF is Twitter and why should I care? Know what? Twitter is going to get me where I want to be in my writing career. It's connecting me to writers who can teach me what I don't know, to agents sharing insight into what works and what doesn't, and to a whole support system of people who have 'been there, done that' and are willing to commiserate when my inbox is filled with rejections.

What I STILL want for Christmas is my own writing space. *sighs* Someday...

Gabriela Lessa said...

Awesome as always, Tawna! This is very true and very important to pay attention to: try to hit it all at once and you'll end up with a bunch of accounts you barely check and some you can't even remember you have (believe me, it's happened to me).
One other great resource for writers trying to learn about social media is Marian Schembari's blog, . Marian is great and, like Kristen, doesn't expect us all to turn into social meadi experts overnight. I recommend her blog.

Xandra James said...

I guess my Christmas list is going to be full to the brim with pink knickers, social media books, writing courses... and when Santa complains, I'll just blame it on Tawna - and ask for an iPad ;)

Thanks for the gift ideas!

Kathleen Redwine said...

Kristen's book is great - I can highly recommend it! I also found your blog through Kristen's, and look forward to reading your new books. Love the writer's gifts, too, especially the t-shirt :-)

Terry said...

You are the source I find invaluable! All your insights hit home. It's nice to find out I'm a "normal" writer who someday might even be published! Thanks!

Linda G. said...

Love Kristen's blog! I'm putting her book on my Christmas wish list. :)

Melissa Gill said...

Thanks for the tip. I've been looking for a book on this and now I know where to get one.

Lisa Potts said...

I just caught up on the whole week's worth of posts. Fantastic suggestions! Now I know what to tell Grandma to tell the kids when they ask her what I want for Christmas.

Bookewyrme said...

Hugely enjoyed the whole series, Taawna (I have my eye on your panties mean...yea.) But I am extremely disappointed that you didn't once bring up cabins in the mountains, Chicago pent-houses, or Spanish villas. Every author needs one of those, right? RIGHT?!

Er, in all seriousness, I would add e-readers to the list. Being conversant with the digital medium isn't a requirement for authors. Yet. But it's not a bad idea either. And that's a whole lot easier with a dedicated e-reader of some sort (hint: curling up with your computer is not as satisfying as curling up with a book/e-reader. No really.)


Christine said...

Kristen' book is on my shelf and I have been going through it very methodically. Thanks to her book I was completely prepared with tons of blog posts during a request cycle of about four weeks. And I've started playing around with other blog sites, got my domain name and have more hits on my blog due to her book.

I have recommended it to many of my writing friends. Several of them are debut novel writers this year so the book is super for them as they build their careers.

Great post! I started following you after Kristen linked to your posts.


Unknown said...

Thanks for this! I just bought it for my Kindle (cuz dats how I rolls!)

It's easy to feel left behind when it comes to social media.

Guinevere said...

I'd like to read Kristen's book too now... I love the personal trainer metaphor (as someone with a personal trainer who says OF COURSE YOU CAN GET BACK TO YOUR HIGH SCHOOL WEIGHT!, I can certainly imagine social media experts as also being a bit... overly enthusiastic). Very neat.


Sarah, that sounds like a fabulous book! Adding it to my list now, thanks!

Matthew, *snort!*

Danica, you need some of that "Twitter is my crack" stuff from the Romance Yardsale site!

Abby, did you get the ponies and candy yet? I'm still waiting over here.

Kristen, admit it -- you kinda want those underwear too, don't you?

Patty, I've got a garage you can borrow. It's a little chilly, but there's a nice spot right there on top of the dog food bin.

Gabriela, thanks for the recommendation! I'll have to check it out.

Xandra, make sure you tell Santa you've been very, very good this year. Or bad, whatever works for Santa.

Kathleen, thanks for stopping by! Isn't Kristen the best?

Terry, awww...thanks! I don't know about the "normal" part though :)

Linda G, I know you'll love it!

Melissa, you'll have to report back and tell me how you like it.

Lisa, glad you found it helpful!

Lia, well duh, I assume you all already have cabins in the mountains, Chicago pent-houses, and Spanish villas.

Christine, so glad you stopped by (and that you loved Kristen's book as much as I did!)

JD, I read it on my Kindle as well. Made me feel all techy and special.

Guinevere, yeah, that personal trainer analogy really struck home for me, too!

Thanks for reading, guys!

Patty Blount said...

Tawna: How soon can I move in?

Jan Markley said...

Sounds like some great advice in that book. I've learned a lot this last year of having a blog. Ultimately, it is about building relationships.