Don’t be a Cyber Doofus

Well here we are gathered around the old cyber campfire again telling tales and swapping yarns. Summertime is upon ufwriters and it’s time for new beginnings, new plans, and a little bit of new information.

In this new-fangled era where most of what we do, we do on computers, Smartphones, tablets, iThises, iThats, and other cyber-linked doohickeys, we need to pause a moment and put a few things into perspective.

My Facebook Friends

Ahh, Facebook. The modern miracle that lets us make friends and visit with them wherever they are without ever leaving the coffee shop. Facebook has developed into more than just a place to meet people without having to take the curlers out of your hair, shave, or take a bath. It has also become an incredible marketing and platform building tool. And one of the ways we use Facebook to its best advantage is by finding people who are willing to become our friends and dropping the occasional hint like BIG READING, BOOK SIGNING, AND FILK SINGING DEMONSTRATION COMING UP. COME GET A SIGNED COPY OF MY INCREDIBLY GOOD BOOK, BARNEY BOOGERFINGER AND THE MUCUS OF DOOM, AND LISTEN TO THE GEEKTASTIC STYLINGS OF BABBLE SCREECHMORE. COOKIES WILL BE SERVED.

And to whom do we target these well crafted announcements?

Why, our “friends” of course.

But here comes the hard question: How many of them are really interested? How many of the people we send these reminders of our literary shenanigans to are really interested? How many might actually download a copy of Barney Boogerfinger’s adventure, or drive to the local Book-Nook to buy a copy?

I recently saw a push within a fairly well-known writers organization for people to sign up on each others’ Facebook author pages and Twitter sites as Friends and Twits (Tweeters, Twitterers…you know what I mean). The reason? So they will have higher numbers and a group of like-minded people to send their announcements to.

It could be a good idea, except for one thing.

Most of those folks will never buy their books. Writers generally don’t buy other writers’ books based on Facebook and Twitter posts. There are just too many, and few writers have that kind of time and money.

But readers, on the other hand, are more likely to buy an author’s book if it is in an area they are interested in. Especially if they have some kind of connection to the author. The problem for many writers is, finding those connections takes a little more work. But in order for Facebook and other social media advertising to be effective, it has to be targeted to the proper audience. Find the people in groups and book clubs within Facebook who are reading (not necessarily writing) what you write. Become a fixture. Be useful. Post useful information and occasional blurbs for the Boogerfinger series.

Does that mean don’t make “friends” of other writers?


But it does mean you can divide them into groups and send the advertising information to the people who are most likely to consider it and not those who will just “like” it and keep going. Most writers will give you an attaboy, and move on. Remember…they’re doing the same thing you’re doing.

What about Twitter?

Now, back to the Twits (Twitterphiles, Twitterrerses…whatever). The first thing to ask yourself is, “What kind of image do I want to project?” Now you might be one of those folks who just wants to post whatever comes to mind (I have spinach in my teeth. I’m at McDonalds, My dog just farted. If your knees bent backwards, what would chairs look like?) and that’s fine. Go ahead and tell us about your breakfast cereal. Or your mama’s bad perm.

But to be taken seriously as a writer and start developing your platform, you’ll need to rethink those posts. If you’re trying to come across as professional, then you need to be the go-to-person for whatever it is you are trying to build. Or at the very least be seen as someone who finds interesting information related to your area and shares it on a regular basis.

Do you write devotionals? How about short devotional tweets once or twice a day (or week, or whatever you can do). Do you write suspense? Maybe an ongoing dialogue about the latest forensic practices. Humor? Be funny (but keep it clean). Do you write non-fiction? Send out interesting facts based on the period you’re writing about.

Do you see the pattern?

I know of one writer who sends out hundreds of posts on WWII facts. Now I’m not a history buff, but if I ever need to know about WWII, I know where I would start my research. If nothing else, I’d ask her what references she would recommend.

See…even if someone isn’t actively following you closely, you can make an impression. And for those who DO follow you, you can become a resource. A known entity.

You will be someone who stands a much better chance of selling a book or two than the guy tweeting about doing Tequila shooters with a two clowns and a naked chicken.

cyberThe Other Guys

There are more ways to put your name in front of the public than you can shake the proverbial stick at, but again, it takes some planning and thought to make the cyber world work for you.

Blogs, Internet forums, weblogs, social blogs, microblogging, wikis, social networks web pages, podcasts, Internet radio shows, Goodreads, Google+, Pintrest, YouTube, Bebo, MySpace, Foursquare, Klout, HomeBase, Hoot Suite, LinkedIn, PitchEngine, Tumblr, TweetDeck, Heaven Up, Shoutlife, are all viable tools, and this list just scratches the surface. But with all this cyber power at your disposal, I think it behooves us to remember the words of Peter Parker/Spider-Man when he realized just how much being bitten by a radioactive spider was going to change his life:

With great power comes great responsibility.

Yeah, I know he’s not real. He’s some kind of made up comic book hero. But the admonition is still true. Used responsibly, the social media world can be an effective tool in the ongoing struggle to make your name and your “brand” known.

Or, you can be the crazy cat picture lady, or the guy who posts pictures of outhouse from all 50 states.

Your choice.

As the folks in the Mighty Marvel Bullpen used to say…’Nuff Said.


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