online networking

Online networking (social media) is the least influential networking I do when you put it in a time ratio. I'm online nearly every day, rarely does a day go by without my posting something, somewhere, commenting and responding to others, engaging in private conversations via email and instant message. I'm rather ADD about it, so I'm not sure I'm someone who's habits you want to follow. Does it interfere with my writing? Absolutely. It also helps my writing in a myriad of ways. I think it's something I should do. It's something I fortunately like to do. But we can smell a poser, so if it's not your gig, don't go there.

A little history: Sex Scenes at Starbucks has been around since 2004. It was suggested to me right as blogging was really getting a foothold and I joined the fray. It was anonymous, it was a blast, and it made me as a writer. I found my voice, an audience, confidence, and dedication to my craft and profession. Most importantly, I figured out who I wanted to be. It was a playground of self-discovery and invaluable to me as a person and a writer.

I was outed in a good way, by LOCUS magazine. Suddenly my picture (prior to this I'd withheld it) was out there. A few people who knew my name and had connected to to SS@S noticed. So I went public with my name and image. Even so, the name Sex Scenes at Starbucks stuck; people came to find me online and at cons based on that handle alone (and I assume from some of the crazy shit I wrote on the blog). Then Facebook happened. And Twitter. And Pinterest... (not on Pinerest--yawn) and now the new MySpace (we'll see).

I made some of my best friends online. I've had something like five bad experiences in 9 years. People are generally the coolest rock stars online, cuz geeks rule and shit. Creeps happen, but they're rare and usually get beaten down by the pack.

All that said, I consider online networking supplemental to in person networking. I know others would disagree. It's just my bent, how I work best. That's a balance everyone has to work out for themselves.

On blogging:

I try hard not to roll my eyes when people talk about starting a blog with great excitement. Been there, done that. My opinion? Blogging is dead. I do it because I want to. (In fact, I just signed up for a weekly gig at the Night Bazaar)   If you want to blog, write one! But don't expect a herd of folks thundering their way to your hit counter. 

Blog tours: also dead. The time put into writing them is time you'll never get back. Unless you're on Scalzi's Big Idea or the Tor site or something with equal hits.


Still determined to blog? 
  • Your name is probably boring. Get a good handle. (Hence: Sex Scenes at Starbucks)
  • Go to other blogs
  • Leave comments early and often
  • Post every day, at least at first
  • Keep it short and sweet (I'm not a good example--I'm a crabby, long-winded oldtimer) 
  • Cross-link your blog with Facebook, Twitter, wherever you hang out
  • Link to other folks lots of times, a blog is a great place to give a favorite writer, book, magazine, or just cool stuff a shout out. (see this post as an example)
  • Be careful with using pix. Give credit if you must but people have been sued. Best to use your own.
  • It works well to keep a website dynamic.
On Commenting:
  • Leave comments on big blogs like Whatever, boingboing, and the Bloggess
  • Go to read other blogs and leave comments
  • Clever is best, of course, and funny is really bestest
  • Adding to the conversation is awesome
  • Yelling at the blogger...not so much
  • Don't. Suck. Up.  
  • Seriously. Don't suck up.  Sympathy is fine. Sucking up rots your teeth.
Websites
  • Yes, you need one.
  • There are lots of options.
  • find a cool, easy to read layout and stick with it. columns and white background are popular now
  • too much stuff is confusing, especially on the front page
  • keep content dynamic instead of static - use the blog, links, twitter feeds etc to keep it dynamic

Pinterest
  •  I find it meh. Some people like it. 

Goodreads
  •  I'm on it. I find it clunky and confusing. Readers do hang out there, though, so I think it's worth it. I don't visit often enough.
Facebook

I like it best. It works for me, cuz I'm long winded (see above). That said, it does not scale. It never has. You will see about 10% of your friends' posts on a given day and not everyone will see yours. That's not new. It's been that way since forever. The service is free  because you are not Facebook's customer. You are Facebook's PRODUCT. Their customers are their advertisers.

  • Check out stuff before you forward it. Yes, I've been caught up in that. Snopes is your friend.
  • Give credit, link back.
  • Use the linking system to link to other friends when mentioning them. 
  • Decide carefully what alerts you want on your email. No, they won't work the way you want.
  • Don't get too dependent on it. It won't last. The company has proved they're putting ad sales over quality of product.

Twitter
  • I'm on Twitter but it's mostly via Facebook. Not my favorite place. My posts link there, truncated. (see above, where I talk about being long-winded)
  • Don't link to your damn book more than once every couple of days. Seriously. Just stop. Or maybe once every couple of years. It doesn't work, doesn't sell books, and will only get you unfollowed.
  • You're no one on Twitter until you have at least 10000 followers.(that's a personal opinion but also a number I've heard bandied about)
  • Feel free to leave more twitter advice in the comments. :) 

Google+
  • Meh.
  • It takes a certain mindset--one I don't understand.
  • It seems easy to get tons of followers/friends/googles, whatever they're called. It seems to scale well. I find it overwhelming. 
  • That said, I was invited to be in an anthology that has had thousands and thousands and thousands of downloads. So it's not all bad. 

New Myspace
  •  Still waiting on my invite. We'll see.

In general:
  • Online is like driving in the fast lane. It's fun to flip people off you've never met. Resist. Publishing is small. You probably will meet them. 
  • It's easy to say "avoid politics and religion" but hell, no one else does. Do what's right for you. Don't whine when you reap the consequences, though.
  • There is zero anonymity online. None. The windows aren't even tinted. People can find you and will.
  • Decide your comfort zone and stay there.
  • There are managing/compiling systems for all your online sites. Use one. It helps. I'm not currently on one and I'm definitely hurting because of it.
Did I forget anything? Any questions? Wanna read more? My friend Bree talked about this today, too. Great minds...

4 comments:

MegansBeadedDesigns said...

I'm on Pinterest for the food porn.

Stephen Parrish said...

One of my earliest online friends was you. Thanks. Again.

sex scenes at starbucks, said...

Aww Stephen. Love you!

Peter Dudley said...

Another fantastic post. My only quibble is the "don't link to your book on Twitter more than once a day." Twitter is by its very nature temporary, so linking to something there is likely to be seen only by those people actively watching their feed at that moment, or by people who see the RTs and replies.

People who ONLY tweet links to their book are doofuses. When I realize that's all they're doing I just unfollow them. It's not worth my time. But if you've got a special promo going on, you have to tweet it at least a few times in a given day, or people won't see it.

Haven't yet figured out Google Plus, but I just downloaded a free book by Guy Kawasaki about how to use G+. We will see. So far, I'm underwhelmed. (The book was free where I saw it linked in a post from Guy, but it's 99 cents on Amazon. It's called "What the Plus.")