Thursday, January 10, 2008

Networking? Not me.

I've mentioned this before, but I was talking about this the other day with somebody else in the publishing business, so it's fresh on my mind.

There seems to be more and more pressure for authors to join internet networking sites like MySpace, Facebook, Shelfari, etc. as another means to publicize their books. And by pressure, I mean the implication that if you don't choose to participate, you're missing a golden PR opportunity (you poor, foolish Luddite).

However, I have resisted, and I intend to continue to resist for three reasons. The first is the time it takes to set up on those sites and monitor them; the second is that such work saps my creativity and the third is a little more personal.

I write for a living; that's my paying gig. And yes, PR comes with that territory, too. However, I am not a PR person, I have no PR background, and I didn't set out to become a published writer because I wanted to publicize myself or to be in sales or marketing. Indeed, of all the career choices in the world, sales would have been my LAST choice. I prefer to create, not market, and I've decided that's where my energies are better devoted.

Believe me, I know the arguments against that attitude, the primary one being, if your books don't sell, you can be the most creative, wonderful writer on the planet and it won't make a bit of difference, the publishers won't buy your work. Also, if I don't do this sort of thing, there are plenty of authors who can and will, and they may leave me in the dust.

So be it.

Because the bottom line for me is, if I wanted to do PR, I would have chosen that as a career. If I wanted to be in sales or marketing, I would have pursued those choices. I chose instead to be a writer, so writing the best book I can, putting that at the top of my agenda, is what I intend to do.

Now, there are plenty of people who can do both -- be excellent writers and PR whizzes at the same time. They take the time and devote resources to all sorts of PR efforts, while managing to write.

This brings me to the second reason I'm not getting involved in networking sites.

I am not of that ilk. Apparently I have only so much creative juice in the ol' gray matter, and if I spend too much time on marketing, I have less for my writing. I simply cannot do both without one or the other suffering, so if something has to suffer, in my case, it's going to be the PR aspects of the writing life.

And the third reason? I feel that between my books, my website and my blog, readers are getting enough information about me, as a writer and as a person. If people want to contact me or interact, there's email or this blog. And that's plenty.

I do think a website is important for a writer today, so if a reader wants to know what books you've written or what new books will be coming out, they can find that information easily. Obviously, I have a blog. I enjoy that -- but if it starts to come between me and my work? I'll stop.

We all have many choices to make as we pursue our careers. Sometimes we make the right ones, sometimes we make the wrong ones. I've certainly done both, and this may prove to be a wrong one. However, right now, this is the best choice for me, one that enables me to achieve a balance between doing the writing and reaching readers, as well as having time for my family.

Two key words here: for me. This is my choice; it may not be another writer's. But then, other writers make different choices all the time in terms of what they're going to write and how and when, and that's just as it should be.


Leah Braemel said...

As a hopeful writer, I've felt a lot of pressure about MySpace and Facebook - but personally I can't stand them. Especially MySpace - it's just too 'teenage' for my tastes, and not very professional. And you're right about the number of hours it takes - Yahoo groups are just as bad.

I like reading blogs - they're my reward for attaining my wordcount goal every day but I'm stopping going to blogs where the author is only using it for reviews and blatant self-promotion when that's the only thing on the blog and don't put up anything else. I get enough telemarketers phoning me without having to voluntarily have marketing shoved in my face. Oh, I understand that you need to mention a release date

Not to mention that even though I used to teach computers - the coding involved in websites and these other sites is just way beyond my poor befuddled brain. (I guess I'm joining the Luddites too.)

So what do I look for as a reader? A clean website where I don't have to 'click to enter', not graphic heavy so it doesn't take forever to load, an easy -to-find booklist, preferably where there is a reading order if there are sequels or series. As for blogs - you're sure to lose me if it's just one big advertisement and nothing else. I enjoy reading about the creative process, or interesting things that have happened, or your take on the world like you find on Romancing the Blog or Drunken Writers or The Naked Truth group. Or this one.

You're doing fine, Margaret - don't worry. (Of course, having 45 books published doesn't hurt either.)

Margaret Moore said...

I've given up some blogs that were too promotional, too. And I'm giving up on some that seem to foster conflict or are too sarcastic.

I'm glad you enjoy mine!

As for PR, I wish I could just sit back on the ol' laurels. However, sales figures for recent books are much more important than the length of my backlist. That's why I do some PR, but have chosen not to do everything available.

Kimber Chin said...

I always figured not having to heavily market was one of the benefits of writing for a large publisher.

Small press, on the other hand, well, small press authors don't have much of a choice. You either market and sell books or you don't market and don't sell books. There is no don't market and sell books option. I know. I've checked. LOL

Don't worry, Margaret, you have enough fangirls such as myself marketing your books for you.