Where does an author go to keep in touch with and find new readers? Where do we hang out to gain words of wisdom from successful authors? And how do we do all this without sucking so much time from our day that we don’t have time to write?

These are all questions authors ask themselves. Social media sites have exploded exponentially with the growth of the internet. And in my opinion this means authors and readers are having a harder time finding each other. I absolutley love to talk to people. As an extravert it’s how I recharge my energy levels. Since writing is such a solitary endeaver and I’m now disabled and not getting out of the house to work, it’s the social sites that keep me in touch with the outside world. But how much is too much?

Here’s a list of some of the places I hang out on the internet and some of them I understand and use effectively, but others I’m still not sure about …

MySpace – I LOVED MySpace when I was first contracted two years ago. I had a teenager in the house who walked me through setting it up. I went there every day to touch base with my “friends”. This means I read comments left on my page and usually went over and commented on other’s pages in reply. MySpace has a blog feature which I tried to see if blogging was something I wanted to jump into. I really enjoyed it. But over the past year or so MySpace has become cumbersome. It loads slowly and often times locks up my computer when I try to visit other people’s pages. I have no doubt that it has invited several unwanted viruses onto my computer. I’m moving away from MySpace. I’m not sure if I’m going to delete my page, but I’m definitely not using it as much.

Blogging – Wow, this one is hard. If I were to do it all over again I don’t think I’d have my own blog. Though I do love having this space that’s all about me and a place where I can display all my book covers and buy links, a place where I can share my life with my readers, I’m not sure whether or not if I’ve run out of things to say. (Don’t laugh … yes, I can talk … blogging is something a little bit different. LOL!) If someone were asking me whether they should blog I would caution them about the time it takes to post blogs. In order to get followers YOU MUST BE CONSISTENT. IMHO there’s nothing worse than someone stumbling upon your blog and finding the last post was one month earlier. You’re going to be hard pressed to get them back when you have posted something that would be helpful. If you don’t have your own blog I would highly recommend finding a group of authors willing to start (or joining in) a group blog. But again, it’s very important for everyone to agree that posting on their scheduled days is important. Building a readership is hard. Losing a readership is very easy … don’t be consistent in your posting.

Yahoo Loops – When I first started writing I joined RWA and through that my local writing chapter. We stay in touch with each other through email on a Yahoo loop. The wonderful thing about loops is you email one announcement and it goes to the inbox of every member of the loop. It’s a great way to communicate. Many authors started their own loops. It gave them the opportunity to share news with readers. As I started looking into Yahoo loops I realized there were soooo many that I chose not to start my own group. As a matter of fact, at one point I was on so many loops I could receive up to 1000 emails a day! Though these groups allowed me the opportunity to post excerpts and chat with others about books and writing I found myself spending my day answering emails. (Mostly because it’s important to me not to be a “fly-by” poster. I try to chat with people on the loop even as I post my own promo.)

Forums – My first publisher had a forum. THAT threw me for a loop. It looked like one long list of goble-dee-gook. It just seemed so confusing. Then I realized chats were in threads and if I wanted to participate I simply needed to open the thread. I found a wonderful forum in Romance Divas. I highly recommend this group. It’s filled with authors both published and unpublished, new and some very established authors. They are a very welcoming group that is willing to share without reservation. Again, this is a place I visited every day, both my publisher and Romance Divas forum. But I found I was hanging out and chatting for so much of the day that I wasn’t writing. So I’ve slowly moved away from forums.

Facebook – This is the newest place I’ve set up housekeeping. I really enjoy it over there. There’s none of the personalizing of MySpace, which is good … because everyone’s home pages come up without having to take time to load. Again, besides posting my own news I do comment on the posts of my friends. I am really enjoying this social media and IMHO, I think more people are shifting to this site and away from MySpace. Mostly because it’s easy to set up and easy to use.

Twitter – The best way to describe this is that it’s an instant chat with 800 (or however many followers you have) of your very best friends. When I post a tweet it feeds to the home page of anyone following me. When anyone I follow tweets it streams to my home page. If you enjoy chatting, twitter is a great place. Some people complain that people are chatting out about what they’re eating or the fact that they’re doing their laundry. Some are. It doesn’t bother me to follow a few people who do that once in awhile. I’m probably guilty of doing that as well. I use Twitter to give links to my blog posts or share a link to someone else’s blog if I think it’s a good post. I also use twitter to follow links to blogs on subjects that interest me. Since I don’t surf blogs I do find this is a great way to visit blogs with relevent posts. I like twitter. But there are a lot of people who don’t and avoid it at all costs. I do have this linked to MySpace and my blog (you can see it in the sidebar) so it posts to those two places whenever I tweet. (But couldn’t figure out how to get it to go to my facebook, but it does have that feature.)

These are the places I’m active. But I also have accounts at

Goodreads – I can’t help you here folks. On most days I can post what I’m currently reading and what I’ve read. But I don’t go there enough to be able to remember how I did it the last time. *g* I know you can post events or join groups and do a whole bunch of stuff, but I don’t know how to do it.

LinkedIn – Again, I’m hanging there … but I REALLY have no clue what to do with it. Not even sort of.

And that’s where I am. Now there’s NING’s and I know some people on Live Journal (who love it). But at the moment I’m pretty overwhelmed with all the places I’m visiting right now. Sometimes my social obligations can take over my whole day. I’m trying to figure out what’s an efficient use of my time. I’d love to hear your opinion. Where do you go and what do you enjoy. Because in the end it’s all about what helps readers find new authors and authors to help readers find their books. And sometimes it’s having the opportunity for experienced authors to share what they know.

So what works for you as a reader or an author?

19 Responses to A Question of Time

  • I’m with you on all these. I do use Linked In, and I mostly think of it as networking. I did a search recently for agents that handle romance and science fiction. Found a few agents who are really perfect for what I have in mind down the road a bit. Linked In isn’t really a spot to find readers, but is more of a professional site. I like it but don’t spend a lot of time here.

    I just got a Facebook account, which I really like, but now you can’t get a username unless you have the ability to get text messages for your confirmation. *sigh* I’m upgrading phones in the near future so that’ll have to wait. It hasn’t kept me from finding friends. I have about 200 and have only been on there a couple of weeks, so I’m not complaining.

    Myspace is still where I hang out but not as much. I like it though!

    My yahoo groups get me a huge return on time invested, both Romance Lives Forever http://groups.yahoo.com/group/romancelivesforever and Marketing for Romance Writers http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MarketingForRomanceWriters/

    I’m also a featured author on The Romance Studio (and have been since 2004), and Coffee Time Romance. Each has their own goodies and perks, and I like each for their differences. I get a lot of views on my CTR forum, and a huge response from contests and ads on TRS. When I first started writing, 88% of my views came from TRS! Now, I’m so well spread over the net that hits come from everywhere, so the percentage is smaller, but the number of hits are greater.

    However, for all the things I do, I’d have to say blogs are probably where I get the most responses. Although it doesn’t show on comments (lurkers leave no sign of their passing), I can see the # of hits on my website – http://kayelleallen.com – coming from Blogger and WordPress, and they’re huge.

    Where I get the most personal satisfaction is in one on one discussions like this, where I post on a blog or a group and then people comment.

    This was an excellent post, Nina. You’re insightful as always. And I really liked the signs from your vacation! ROFL…

  • Hi Nina!

    It can be exhausting, can’t it? And horribly time consuming.

    But I don’t think social network marketing should be about considering one isolated social network location such as Facebook, or Yahoo or MySpace all on its own and grading it.

    You have to look at social network marketing as a whole-Internet marketing strategy, and how you use the social networks to build your presence.

    So in the end, the value of one social network over the other doesn’t really matter. It’s how you use them to build your platform that counts.

    But on one count, I think you’re wrong. Blogging is the single most critical tool an author has at their disposal.

    Just my humble opinion.

    Cheers,

    Tracy

  • Hi Nina!

    You have some very cool places to keep in touch with readers. I am using some of what you are using too. I am scared of Twitter…lol…so easy to get caught up in conversations.
    I also use Shelfari – http://www.shelfari.com, it is like Goodreads. I also have my own newsletter, do contests, guest blog, have a spot on Access Romance, do chats and sometimes promote on review sites. 🙂
    Have a great day!!

    Hugs,

    jan

  • Oh Nina, these are the universal questions: How much time is too much time – AND – Am i using my time wisely? Truthfully, I don’t know he answers! Wish I did. Add to your list Author’s Den where I have a profile. You have to post frequently to keep your name at the top of the list. My name’s never been at the top!

    I have linked my blog to my fan page on Facebook, and my fan page to Twitter, eliminating two of the time sucks. Of course that also means I don’t have original posts in each place – but who has the time!!

    Kate

  • Hey Nina!

    Thanks for explaining some of the things you do, and your reasoning for ceasing or staying. It was very helpful and informative.

    BTW – Don’t know if you remember me, I am the inspiring M/M author who sat next to you at Bingo during RomantiCon. You were a hoot to be around with!

  • Great post, Nina. You’re right. There are many avenues to pursue on the social network circuit. My favorite places? Yahoo Groups, MySpace, Twitter, and Blogs.

    Hugs,
    Destiny

  • Great blog, and I’m too getting disillusioned with some of the sites such as Myspace, which I used to love. I don’t think I’m making the best use of my time and truly don’t know what to cut out and what to concentrate on. I blog twice a month on Goddesses of Story Telling and that’s all I can handle, but I don’t think I get much response. All I know is I’m too damned busy.

  • That was very helpful and kinda goes along with the way I’m leaning myself. Though being a bit more of a techy I do love making my own forums. Simple machine forum is the easiest and I believe more flexible and organized than a blog

    Rick

  • I’m blogging today at a group blog…the ruby slippered sisterhood, which gets way more traffic than my personal blog. I don’t tweet or do Myspace or Facebook. I’m afraid they will suck all my time away. I do Goodreads, but not often. Someone invited me, I have yet to see the benefits.

  • Kayelle – I’m soooo glad you stopped by. I am active on both your Yahoo loops and really love them. I’m glad you gave the links. I tried a static cover ad on TRS but didn’t see anything from that. IMO there are so many book covers visitors look past them. But I could be wrong. And I do have a profile over at Coffee Time Romance forum but that’s one of those where there are sooooo many threads I couldn’t wade through them all. I haven’t been over there in a year or so.

    Jan – Yep, Shelfari’s another one and I know it’s like Goodreads and since I can’t figure that out I’m steering clear of Shelfari. 😉

    Kate – Oh, linking the blog to facebook would be so much easier. I’m going to see if I can figure that one out. It certainly would help save some time.

    George – Of course I remember you! That was such a fun night! If your hubby hadn’t peeked over my shoulder I wouldn’t have realized I won! Mwah to hubster!

  • Tracy – It can be overwhelming for sure. Interesting what you say about the blog. Is there a reason why you feel it’s so important for someone to have a personal blog rather just being part of group blog?

    Jean – It’s so true about the time and the exhaustion. I feel like I’m always juggling balls and of course I can’t keep them all in the air at the same time.

    Sensei – I know nothing about building forums but on the user side I just find them very time consuming. There is a nice organization about them to be sure but I can never seem to keep up with the threads that interest me.

  • Kelly – See that’s where I think group blogs are a good thing. When done right they get a lot more traffic than personal sites. And marketing is definitely a time suck, but I do enjoy Facebook and would recommend that site. Easy to set up and even easier to maintain.

    Destiny – Thanks for visiting and weighing in. (And Destiny has one of the BEST Yahoo loops I belong to ParanormalMonday@yahoogroups.com if you write paranormal romance or enjoy reading it, I would highly recommend this group.)

  • I use the same social networking sites you do, Nina, though I spend most of my time blogging and using Facebook. I love my blog and have lots of fun developing new ways to keep it interesting. It’s definitely the most traveled pathway to my website.

    Best–Adele

  • First of all, welcome back to cyberspace. I know you’ve had some crazy blogging issues.

    This is such a great post. And explains precisely why, while I have both a Twitter account and am on Facebook, I barely check them. Also why I don’t blog. Since I work full time my time to write is pretty limited and I choose to get the words in my current WIP down rather than writing on other things. Which is probably my loss, ’cause my name isn’t out there much. But there are always tough choices.

    Thanks for the great list, though.

    Judi

  • HI Nina,

    I’m doing everything you mentioned and still feel like I’m barely making a dent in the social networking opportunities.

    I’m still waiting for that magic article that tells me how to make the most of each of these venues.

    Sensei? Are you listening? Sounds like you might be able to write such an article.

    I love Goodreads and even though I don’t keep track of every book I’ve read (and would THINK of reviewing one that I couldn’t speak highly of, especially if I considered the author a friend) I was recently surprised by how many I’ve read…just since March!

    Ash

  • Oops! I meant to say I WOULDN’T think of reviewing a friend’s hard work unless I could say something nice about it…Just like mama taught me.

    Ash

  • Adele – You always have great posts on your blog. I stop over there once or twice a week.

    Judi – Thank you for the welcome. I pretty happy to be here. I thought I may have lost everything so I’m beyond ecstatic that’s it’s still here. Authors who work full time and squeeze their writing in around the rest of of their lives definitely have a much harder time squeezing in the marketing. I do feel time on Facebook and Twitter does get my name out there. *sigh* But nothing is more important than getting your next book out. So writing should be the top priority … I think you have it right.

    Ashlyn – You hit the nail on the head! No matter how much an author does it never feels like it’s enough. And I’m with you … reviewing friend’s books on Goodreads is a difficult place to be.

  • Hello, Nina,

    I think that every writer has to choose the channels that fit her style. I’m just about to launch a personal blog (December 14th — and I’ll be looking for regular guests!) because I’ve found that I have things to say that just don’t fit in on my group blogs.

    (I agree with you 100% about being regular. I plan to be ;^))

    I started blogging on MySpace, but I have sort of given up except to announce things happening elsewhere. For one thing, MySpace won’t let you put in any links to outside places. Very annoying.

    On the other hand, I hate Facebook. I just don’t understand how it works, I guess.

    Loops–well, I hardly ever post excerpts except when there’s a special theme that fits. Just too many other voices to drown me out. I do announce blog posts, newsletters and such, and I’m trying to manage my lists better so that I can make some non-promotional comments and get to know people. I love Kayelle’s RLF in particular. I do have my own yahoo group, but nobody ever says anything there except me!

    Twitter? No way am I going to get sucked into that! Sorry, but I spend much too much time online as it is.

    I think the activity that’s brought me the best response is guesting on other people’s blogs. It is a win-win deal. The blog owner gets some new and different content, while the guest gets some new eyeballs.

    Cheers,
    Lisabet

  • Lisabet – I think you said something I forgot … it’s personal. What works for me isn’t going to work for another author and vice versa. We’re all wired differently which means we enjoy doing different things. In general, if an author doesn’t enjoy doing it, it probably isn’t a good idea to use that marketing tool.

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