Does this title suggest a certain precariousness? I hope so.
Many years ago, before the mind-boggling explosion of social media, my college classmate Adam Begley, the distinguished author and critic, made this witty (and appropriately grisly) remark:
“Wanting to know an author because you like his work is like wanting to know a duck because you like paté.”
It would seem like a fatal attitude for an author these days. Indeed, recently I had the pleasure of sitting in on Holly Brady’s insightful class “The Entrepreneurial Writer” at Stanford University. Joining Holly was Nina Amir, author of How to Blog a Book and The Author’s Training Manual. With succinct precision, Nina laid out a roadmap for writers looking to create a successful social media strategy, encouraging attendees not only to put up a website and begin a blog, but to explore Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. One of her salient points? Marketing, she says, can be a full-time job in itself.
Her philosophy aligns perfectly with a comment I read once by Carol Stacy, a longtime publishing pro:
“Writers must get past the creative process and understand that what they’re selling is a product.”
It’s a tough-love call to action, but in an era of what all too often feels like TMI — too much information — how is an author to gracefully find a social-media middle road? Or, rather, a road that works for her or him?
* * * * *
Two writers whose blogs I like seem to have done this with wonderful clarity.
Beth Kephart, who writes fiction and nonfiction for adults and young adults, discusses a whole range of topics including and beyond her own work, with a candor and a kind of lyricism that is, simply, absolutely lovely. It’s impossible not to come away with the feeling that here’s a person you’d love to sit next to at a dinner party, and talk — really talk.
* * * * *
Novelist and playwright Charlie Lovett titled a recent blog post “Why I Won’t Bombard You on Facebook.” He goes on to say:
“When I started to experience some success as I writer I heard it from colleagues, from friends, from my agent, and from my publisher: you need to have a presence on social media. But what is a presence? Facebook updates twice a day, ten or twelve tweets a day, and a new blog at least once a week seemed to be the common wisdom. There have been times when I have actually tried to do this. There are three reasons why I won’t be doing it in 2015. Not that I won’t have a social media presence; I will. I just think that it should be a presence that respects both my time and yours . . .”
His three reasons:
1) “My life is not all that interesting.”
2) “I’m trying to write a book here.”
3) “I respect you too much to bombard you with meaningless posts just because a website tells me I should tweet ten times a day.”
* * * * *
So would I even be writing this post if I weren’t an author? It’s hard to say. I do know it’s fun to write about things that interest me as a writer (and human being), and to fling them out into the world, as it were, like confetti.
Confetti made of words and ideas. Landing who knows where.
More about Holly Brady here.
More about Nina Amir here.
More about Beth Kephart here.
More about Charlie Lovett here.