Thursday, October 22, 2009

Operating on Osmosis

(Or Novice Networking)

I've been doing my Author Facebook profile for six months now. It was about the time I finished what I THOUGHT was my final edit of CONFLUENCE, and I started looking for ways to network. I don't remember the date I created the profile, but I do remember the process:

--> Google: search writer networking

I stumbled across, nearly instantly, Jessica Faust's blog entry on social networking (a few months old at the time) with the clear statement that SHE had two profiles: one agent, one personal, and that if people wanted to friend her agent profile, that was FINE. She also was very clear (and has been ever since, as are several other agents), “can't hurt to ask”.

So in that 'seat of the pantsless' way I do things, I created my author profile, invited my writer's group to friend me so I didn't appear to be a loser, then friended Jessica. Then I proceeded to scan HER friends and send friend requests to obvious authors.

How does one FIND obvious authors you ask... At first 1) by a book cover for a profile pic, or 2) a status related to writing or promoting a book. Easy peasy.

Beth Groundwater was the first author I really started tracking. She was preparing for a book tour and so had lots of guest blogs she was reporting and she was kind and responsive, so I also started scanning HER friends. I think that is where I found Elizabeth, though I may be misattributing (it IS what I do). And I've been following Elizabeth around ever since, mostly because she is so nice and gracious about it and seems to be doing all the right things.

Enter Blogging

I started blogging four months ago. Similar approach, but MUCH more work. Instead of pressing 'like' a lot and making a comment now and again, I had to both SAY SOMETHING (preferably something a little interesting, though I've had commentless days that I wonder...)AND (and this is the part you don't think about) spend quite a lot of time reading OTHER people's blogs and commenting (so THEY KNOW I'm reading)--PLUS, commenting on someone's blog who isn't one of YOUR followers often brings them seeking out YOUR blog. Initially I frantically invited tons of FB friends to follow, but anymore, I think most new followers are people I've read, commented on, and followed.

Now there are people worth following and reading you DON'T have to comment on. Nathan Bransford is not going to notice my comment from among the 400 OTHER comments (though I do tend to comment when he polls, being a good statistician and all). There just is an area of diminishing returns where... to comment, I feel obliged to read the OTHER comments to make sure I'm not just repeating a point, and is all THAT effort worth the miniscule possibility that somebody might notice my presence?

I guess my point is... I've made relatively good progress, probably because I have been following Elizabeth and she has such nice friends... Funny thing is though, I was the first of my writer's group really out of the gate with this networking thing... Natasha... erm... Rayna... had been blogging a long time, as had Jen, but I was the first one with a BOOK I was trying to sell, and so a reason to pester strangers into letting me wiggle my way in.

But now that the tart has tested the water, a few others have decided to join me. And guess what?! I'M A ROLE MODEL! *snort* But I find each of them brings something new. Mari has even been tracking down pantsless people for me *waves at Paul* to follow and I find instead of her borrowing MY friends and followers, I am now borrowing some of hers.

I guess what I'm saying REALLY is you don't have to know what you're doing. Dive in. follow. Feel around. It is sort of a squishy melding thing anyway, but if you put in a little effort, it seems to almost happen by accident... or osmosis...


Breaking news! I know I dissed it as impossible for a working girl... and I am not actually under the illusion I could write a WHOLE book in a month... and the way I write isn't actually conducive (long-hand, typed later)... but I've decided to participate anyway. Say what? See, here's my thinking. Amped wordcount goals. Good. Meeting other writers frantically writing? Good. Finding people who LIVE IN MY TOWN writing? Good. [I'm very excited about this aspect actually—there are 650 writers from Ann Arbor signed up. I only know two other fiction writers here, one VERY cool—Colleen, you rock!, and the other I once suggested years of therapy for to the principal of a school where both our children attended... she won't want to be friends with me anyway though, if she even recognizes my name, but I know how to run from her... besides, we have VERY different genres] I can participate in the spirit of it (and Dani said I could)... What I figure I will DO is discuss the book I am WRITING for process, but share pieces of the one I am TYPING—it's all part of the same trilogy, and I never WAS one to follow the rules to the letter. I figure it's only cheating if I claim at the end I wrote something in a month or enter the contest, neither of which I plan on.

And so I will leave you with this thought from Chad Kroeger… my morning mantra, because it was the last song on my iPod on my Power Walk, and it seemed so appropriate to my current state of madness...

“We got no fear, do doubt, all in, balls out!”

Weeeeeeeeee! (he doesn't say that part... it is just my natural response to Chad Kroeger and adrenaline) Oh, Chad... kicking isn't the only thing I'd like to do...


Crystal Clear Proofing said...

Great post! One of the first things that stood out with what you said here, (maybe because it WAS one of the first things you said...) is Jessica's statement of, "can't hurt to ask." That's the way I feel about a lot of this "networking," followers, etc. I figure the worst thing that can happen is someone says NO. And I haven't had anyone say NO yet.

You touched on several VERY good observations about jumping into this world of blogging, branching out, attaining followers, commenting on blogs. All very astute and right on! You've nailed what I've found - that it's kind of a give and take. You find a couple of good people in the beginning, read their blogs, comment, check out who's visiting their blogs and check them out - and so the process begins, and continues...

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

This is a really interesting post, Hart! I think your process of online networking was a lot like mine. And you absolutely would have met me through Beth--good memory! Now Beth has a new series with Midnight Ink, so we're both on the InkSpot blog.

My friends are really nice, I agree. It's been a fantastic experience for me to make friends with so many other writers who understand what a writer's life is like! I've learned a ton, too.

The time consumption part...definitely there. Hard to find a balance, but so far I'm making time for everything, and you definitely are! Writing a book in a month...whew!

Na No Wri Mo--I've *pretended* to do that before. I lurked there and worked on my current WIP (which is, obviously, not what we're supposed to do!) and even finished a WIP during that time before. The energy there is really inspiring and I fed off of it to get my work done.

Mystery Writing is Murder

Aleta said...

I'm not an author. I love writing and I love to read, but I couldn't string a book together if I used needle and thread. But I still blog :) It's an online journal and I'm grateful for those who visit. It's opened up a world of friendships ~ how wonderful! Reading blogs helps me to realize that through the troubles we can be there for one another, even if we aren't "right there."

I look forward to reading your endeavors during NaNoWriMo... but me ~ couldn't touch that if I tried. Best of Luck!

Creative Chronicler said...

Wonderful post! Thanks for sharing your journey so far. I'm with you on the finding time. I'm off to check out NaNoWriMo, although I think I probably have too many pots stirring already to jump into it this year, plus the deadline for my first draft of my non-fiction book is approaching and I must not miss a dealine.

BTW, I love the kitty pic!!

Watery Tart said...

Thank you so much everyone, for the encouragement and keep it ups...

Aleta--I totally agree about the support community too. I haven't been blogging long, but my online friends are sometimes my lifeline, and blogging is really expanding it.

CC: I've just been to my local region page for intros at NaNoWriMo and there are MANY people sort of aware that hitting the goal isn't going to happen. I'm looking at it more as a networking thing than a real thing (though I can get obsessive, and 50,000 words in 30 days is only about 5000 words more than I would NORMALLY do when on a role--so i may really do it...) What I'm saying, in as deviant a way as possible, is you should do it anyway, even knowing you can't...