Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Social Media for Writers and Readers: Where Do You Hang Out?

I'm having serious doubts (again) about the amount of time I spend on social networking sites versus the time I could spend writing and promoting through personal appearances. Blogging is great fun, Twitter's a blast, and Facebook is entertaining. I love the time I spend visiting other blogs and leaving comments. The writers and readers I meet in this web world are amazing. More than ever, I realize what a small world we live in. Since I learned to budget my time on these activities, I'm not likely to give them up.

As a writer, however, I need to look at social media as a sales tool. Since I'm not willing to place a bunch of ads on my blog, and I'm not interested in making every blog post, tweet, or Facebook post a sales pitch, I need to take another look at the sites readers visit as they try to decide what book to read next.

I'm aware of:

Library Thing (which has apparently been down since March 16th)
Dorothy L
CrimeSpace: A Place for Readers and Writers of Crime Fiction to Meet
Red Room: Where the Writers Are
Mystery Writers of America
International Thriller Writers
Sisters in Crime

Writers: Do you find any of these sites useful as a sales tool? What other sites do you use effectively?

Readers: Which sites do you visit regularly to learn about authors and their books? Are you more likely to look at professional book reviews or the recommendations of readers like yourself?


Linda L. Henk said...

I'm just getting started with my blog, I don't have a book ready, I'm thinking what I write about on the blog may be summarized and condensed into a book but, ACK! The time it takes to build a platform is what intimidates me. I've just spent time this afternoon revisiting "Pencil Dancing" by Mari Messer. She talks about being willing to sit in the chaos of creativity. I know if I look at the BIG picture of what it takes to publish a book, I'm as likely to toss in the towel as I am to even write a blog entry.

KarenG said...

Good question, Patricia. I'm a fan of Goodreads. To me that is the ultimate place for readers & writers to share books, reviews, etc. They also allow writers to set up their specific home page. Shelfara is similar to Goodreads but doesn't seem to be as big.

Karen Walker said...

Patricia, as a writer, I'm only using my blog and Facebook right now. As a reader, I don't use websites. I'm old-fashioned. I go to the bookstore.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Linda -- I hear you. If I had known in 2003 what I know now...but that doesn't sound like encouragement, does it? :) Seriously, I've had loads of fun learning new stuff and great rewards from meeting new friends along the way. It's worth it.

Thanks, Karen. I'll have to take a look at Goodreads. I'd forgotten about Shelfari, so I should add that to my list of potentials.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Karen W. -- I choose most of my books at the bookstore or in the library, but I've recently read a few I first heard about on blogs I visit. That makes me wonder how many folks have chosen a title or author I featured in one of my blog posts...I may have to ask that question one of these days.

Ann Elle Altman said...

I use most of those sites too but I mainly focus on blogger. I do go on facebook periodically but maybe not as much as i should.


Watery Tart said...

I think all the social networking has helped me network and learn, and I think having a solid network gives you a way to (rarely or people won't anymore, but for a book release, for instance) ASK all your friends : please pass this on and ask your friends to pass it on, and the message can spread. The STRONGER those ties are, the more people will do it.

For THAT, I think blogging has definitely created the strongest relationships because enough is shared people feel like they know each other. FB is efficient for numbers, but I IGNORE a lot there because of the people who abuse it--send a message for every blog they post, for instance. Twitter I really haven't mastered, even though I'm there.

Now for the confession: for READING choices? I tend to independently search the internet--recommendation lists, or else go for personal recommendations, though I HAVE recently read one from a blog friend and have one on hold at the library from a FB friend--largely though, because I am trying to master the cozy mystery genre as a writer and felt why NOT start with people I know.

Alan Orloff said...

Well, let's see. I have a page on MWA's site and I'm listed on the ITW Debut Authors page (I'm a website editor there). Those are "passive." I also lurk at DorothyL, but don't really comment very often. I think I belong to Crimespace and maybe Red Room and maybe Goodreads, but I haven't really participated much there. I do have an Amazon author page, which I think is a good way to promote, and I recently signed on to to promote appearances--somehow that info then funnels into my Amazon page. Of course, I'm on Facebook and Twitter and I blog, too. One thing I do know: these all take up a lot of time!!!

Patricia Stoltey said...

Ann Elle -- I've been moving away from Facebook a little, ever since a writer friend's account was hacked there and scam spam sent out from her e-mail address. I always feel the need to keep changing my password there, and to log in and out in a hurry.

Hi Alan -- Geesh...and I thought I was doing too much. I guess I better get with the program.

Terry Odell said...

I've got pages at Red Room which seem to get traffic (and all I do is copy and paste my blog over there a few times a week).

Haven't found a lot of good coming out of Goodreads, but that's because it requires time and interaction and/or the ability to market yourself by posting to other people's pages. I find it's more handy to keep track of what I'm reading.

Subscribed to DorothyL but on digest. Put it on hold while traveling and haven't activated it again. It's probably a good tool, and certainly doesn't take much time.

I belong to MWA, but only have an author page. I do get occasional blog or website visits from there.

I simply limit the time I spend on any of the social networking sites. The biggest chunk of time is blog crawling, which I tend to do early in the morning before I'd be much good for anything productive anyway.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Hi Terry -- I like that idea of copying occasional blog posts to other sites like Red Room. That could be very helpful. I also belong to Dorothy L but started throwing the digests into a folder a few months ago and now I have a folder full that I haven't read. I need to catch up on what's happening in Dorothy world.

Jemi Fraser said...

I don't know any of these sites, but I'm not that far along the writing curve. I'll have to learn a lot more (hopefully!!).

Kay said...

Though I don't have worry about promoting yet, I hear you on the time factor of all the social media. I'm trying to limit it by:

1) my blog which I find organizes my thoughts, and

2) only visiting sites for a set amount of time (use a dinger or one side of a tape as a timer).

Frankly, I'm thinking of limited Facebook to just friends and family. Maybe keeping Twitter if I can figure it out.

Kathi Oram Peterson said...

I have a website, blog, use Facebook, GoodReads, and Amazon. I just signed up for Yalitchat. Not sure how that is going to go. I'd be very interested in the results you receive. I, too, struggle between writing my next book and socializing online. Thanks for blogging about this.

Simon Hay Soul Healer said...

I think the copying blogs to other sites is a good idea. I'd prefer to leave a teaser with a link back to your own blog. Ideally you want traffic to your site. I've had some success with this.

I've ordered books on author's recommendations. Maggie Stiefvater, YA author, has a great blog and sister blog where she posts short stories with two other writers. I've learnt a lot from these young women.

I think guest posting is important. There should be no such thing as competition between writers. We want people to read. I think if you enjoy a book then its great to promote it. I've ordered books from writers who promote others just because I think it's cool. I've tweeted, and linked to Patricia and others, because I like the sincerity in their marketing. Good people.

You have to find the right balance. Visit Michael Hyatt's blog for a good post on social media and also Copyblogger has good content.

Whatever genre you write you have to find sites that are talking about it.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Thanks to those who stopped by after I shut things down for the evening.

Good morning, Simon. You always says such nice things. I already follow Copyblogger (and Problogger), but the Michael Hyatt blog was new to me. I've added it to my gradually growing blogroll on social media. Thanks.

Talli Roland said...

I've given LinkedIn a whirl, but honestly I couldn't be bothered keeping up with it. I'd prefer to spend my time blogging and tweeting.

Brian Kaufman said...

As a writer, I'll try most anything. But as a reader, Goodreads is the only one I've tried. For what it's worth.

Patricia Stoltey said...

For an interesting take on the "Social Media Bubble", read this Harvard Business Review post at: