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Sunday, October 4, 2009

Social Media and the Author - When is it too much?

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Over the weekend I attended a writing conference. This was my second that I have attended and each has its distinct character.  AuthorFest of the Rockies is pure delight.  The Conference was held in the Cliff House, a historic hotels of America member hotel.  It was built in 1873 and is an elegant victorian hotel that gave the event a memorable touch.  The entire conference was intimate lending itself to making acquaintances easily.  I certainly hope to attend next year as well.

Like most things, attitude is so very important. I set my intention - and hopefully my attitude - of being a student again. I wanted to soak up absolutely everything I possibly could. With that said I find discernment is always needed. Does this apply to my writing? To my Genre? To my style? What insight does it give me that I can apply if not literally then conceptually?

I tried to prepare for this conference. I had my schedule printed out, my clothes set out the night before (did I mention I am a Virgo?) I had business cards printed for each of my works in progress (I am a Schizophrenic author since I am working on a strict non-fiction book and a suspense novel - simultaneously.) Going from left brain non-fiction research and writing to right brain creative writing is challenging! It might explain those tics I have developed!!

At the conference I also wanted to network. I have joined some local writing groups but had not attended any meetings yet. I purposely wanted to meet a few of the people so I would feel more comfortable going to the group meetings.  I am happy to report that I met several local authors from the writing organizations I joined and will feel more comfortable attending the meetings now.

Let me give you my report from the fabulous Authorfest 2009 conference. This is a smaller venue than I had attended prior. I like the smaller venue for better participation in questions and discussion.

Nancy Atherton of "Aunt Dimity" fame was a keynote speaker during lunch! I loved her. She shared that she has found success without doing anything the way we are told you must do it. She affirmed that we ultimately all find what works best for us.  I really enjoyed getting to chat with her after lunch as well.

"Skips, Lies and Videotapes: How PI's Find the Missing, Nail the Fraudulent and Obtain the Proof" by a current investigator from Denver. Who knew dumpster diving was so fruitful for PIs?  Very informative and I won the session raffle and got a free online class with these real life Private Investigators. I will certainly be learning a lot from these people. And to think I almost went to a different session! 

One session was on character driven stories versus author driven which brought out the importance of being true to your character. The opposite of character driven is sticking your character in a contrived place or situation that is contrary to your character just to force a plot point. Readers can identify this and will call the writer out on it.

There were two schools of thought represented at the conferece. Marketers at the conference who gave social media sessions stressed blogging, tweeting, facebook, Digg, Stumbleupon etc. daily to get your name out there. But other sessions (usually be published authors) warned of the huge time suck that could be used for writing a really good book. One author was told by a fiction publisher that they wanted to see 1000 blog followers to consider signing up an unproven author. Some interesting facts were mentioned such as Technorati currently states it is tracking over 112.8 million blogs and of those do any author or writing sites even get in the top 100? After all the political, celebrity gossip, blogging tips and technology blogs for Sunday Oct 4 there was not a single author or literary blog in the top 100. The point was made that 112.8 million that just Technorati tracks means there is a massive amount of blogs all trying to grab the attention of the web surfer that the author is competing with that takes a lot of time and energy – which might be better spent in writing a really great book.

I would love for authors to comment on this. How much is too much for social networking to publicize yourself and your book on the web? What is the payoff considering the level of time and energy put into it?  Please comment your thoughts and see where the discussion goes.

Until Thursday when I post the next paranormal book review I wish you many mysterious moments.
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April said...

OMG!!!!! I LOVE the look of the Cliff House! I would be heaven there, I think! The conference sounds so wonderful and enjoyable!

A.F. Heart said...

Yes, the Cliff House in Manitou Springs is really Victorian Elegance - emphasis on the elegance. Intricate and luxurious details surround you - five star restaurant and attentive staff.

As a mystery writer I loved the ambiance. Next year it will be held there again and I am already planning on staying there if at all possible.

Book Bird Dog said...

I think that judging an author by the number of blog followers or Technorati links is not a good gauge of how a writer will sell. Blog readers aren't all buyers and many are not even serious readers. IMO.

A.F. Heart said...

Thank you Book Bird Dog. I agree with you. It is not a true gauge of how popular any author will be.

I have to wonder if the tremendous effort that goes into blog book tours is worth it compared to a regular book tour.

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