Twitter Chat Recap

If you missed the Twitter chat I did last week, you’re in luck. They’ve storified it and given me permission to re-blog it.

Here’s the link to the full chat or you can click on the image below. Hope you enjoy!

Join Me Tonight for a Twitter Chat!

I’m doing a twitter chat tonight from 7-8 p.m. CST on strong female characters in history and I’d love to hear from you!

Visit Strong Women Write to learn more! #StrongWomenWrite

Imagining a Twitter War Between Victoria Woodhull and Catharine Beecher

In 2016 we’ve seen Twitter wars between the two major political candidates for president of the United States, one of whom is the first woman running for president on a major party ticket. But she’s not the first woman to ever run for president in the United States. That honor goes to Victoria Woodhull, who ran back in 1872, 48 years before women got the right to vote in the US.

Not long ago, I got bored and imagined what a similar Twitter war may have looked like if such technology existed in 1872. Though Victoria and Catharine Beecher fought over many topics, one of the most bitter recounted in contentious letters swapped between the two and in conversations recalled in biographies of Victoria, was about the Victoria’s espousal of Free Love – the idea that the government shouldn’t have the right to say when marriage begins or ends – and the hypocrisy Rev. Henry Ward Beecher in preaching against adultery while his mistresses sat in the pews.

Here’s how that early Twitter war may have played out, with a bit of a modern twist. (Many of the words in the last four tweets are from an actual fight between the two women.)

twitter-war

Social Media Rule #1 for Writers: Be Social!

So many social media choices... (Base image modified by me. "stick figure - choosing" By Obsidian Soul (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

So many social media choices… (Base image modified by me. “stick figure – choosing” By Obsidian Soul (Own work)) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Social media is an interesting part of modern life, especially for a writer. We’re constantly told to use it to build a platform and connect with possible fans, who will hopefully buy our books. I get the logic behind that, but not the way some people go about it. Some people blast links to their books or reviews all day long. But you know what I’ve found it most useful for? Making friends!

Yes, just like everyone else, social media should first and foremost for writers be about making connections. To give you an example, last December on Twitter, I met up with a wonderful group of writers from across the world. I’m not exactly sure how it happened. I was off work (day job) for Christmas break and was participating in a few writing contests, while working feverishly to finish the first draft of my second book. Somewhere in there, we just came together, like it was meant to be. Soon @dyingechoes and @adrianaryansc called us Team Awesome (#TeamAwesome) and @EmmieMears was declaring 2013 would be our year.

Now we do writing/editing/researching sprints together and we just held our first virtual happy hour. An agent among our group came to represent one of our writers and we’re up to about a dozen or so members. I can’t speak for the rest of Team Awesome, but I feel like we’re really friends and I can’t imagine life without them. None of us try to sell our books to each other, but we have read each other’s work and in some cases have become critique partners and collaborators. Most of all, we’re support for each other in a profession that can be both isolating and lonely.

And that’s not to mention how much Twitter influenced NaNoWriMo for me, or how it helped me get my agent – but those are stories for another day.

I’m slowly figuring out the Facebook page/profile thing. For me, the biggest advantage there has been to connect with groups of other Arthurian/Celtic enthusiasts who I can learn from. Some are even historians whose work I’ve used in my research or authors I’ve long admired. Without social media, I wouldn’t have had the chance to interact with them, ask questions or meet with people of like mind. Sometimes through our interactions we naturally end up subscribing to each other’s blogs or buying each other’s books, but very few are overtly selling, which is the key.

Now I’m trying out a new form of social media called PushPages. I found out about it from my favorite actress and muse, Rachelle Lefevre, who tweeted about it. The thing I like about PushPages, besides being really easy to use, is that the whole point of it is a giant Q&A. It’s like an ongoing interview that allows you to get to know people. It seems to be very new, and could possibly be a rival for Tumblr (which I cannot for the life of me figure out.)  If you have any questions for me, drop by and ask. I’ll answer as long as they aren’t proposals of marriage or anything obscene. 🙂 What its long-term benefits are remain to be seen, but I like the idea of being able to interact with people spontaneously.

There are so many types of social media, I could go on for another 1,000 words. (If you want to read another great article visit Andy Rane’s page.) I guess my point is this: if you’re going to use social media as a writer, or a purveyor of goods of any sort, get to know people and transactions will naturally follow. Shouting about your books or shoving them in people’s faces is just going to annoy them. Be a friend first and if anything else is meant to come of it, it will. And you’ll be enriched in the meantime. Who knows what friendships or future business connections you may make?

What about you? How do you use social media? Which ones do you prefer? What have your experiences with writers, celebrities or anyone else with a product to sell been like? Who do you think does social media particularly well? Do you have any tips on using it successfully?

The Author Platform or “What Is It You Do, Again?”

It takes more than just writing a great book to get published nowadays.

If you’ve ever explored what else goes into it, you’ve probably heard of the dreaded “author platform.” It’s really just a way of answering the questions, “What is it that you do?” or “Why I should care about anything you say?” Your platform is how you get yourself out there and try to cultivate an audience well before your book hits the shelves. And there’s a lot of contradictory advice on how to do it.

“Talk about your expertise.”

“Be human – show people you have a life.”

“People don’t care about your personal life.”

Sometimes it makes me feel like I’m following a crazy director whose next command/advice will be, “Show me spirit fingers!” (Please tell me you’ve seen Bring It On.)

There are as many ways to build a platform as there are writers, but in this digital age, chances are social media will play a big part in it. I’m by no means an expert, but I am slowly learning as I continue to blog and tweet as a writer. Here are a few conclusions I’ve come to about building a platform/brand/name for yourself:

Not everyone is going to like you. Shocking, I know. For a perfectionist like me, this is tough to swallow. Sometimes when I notice my Twitter number is down or I don’t have as many blog hits as I’d like, I wonder what I said to make people leave or why they aren’t visiting. Then I realize that one tweet or blog post may have made them think they were getting one thing, when reality is really another. Or maybe their timeline was just getting too full. I’m learning to not take it personally. And there will always be people who either flat out don’t like you or are contrary just because they can be.

Being yourself is important. I’m not a writing machine and neither are you. I think it’s important to show that you have a life outside of your writing. I don’t know about you, but I love it when a writer I follow gives me a little glimpse into their real life. I don’t do it much here (other than by recommending books and the occasional manifesto), but I do tweet about my favorite TV shows and bands, in addition to writerly stuff. If you don’t like it, you can always scroll through it, but for me it’s a way to be relatable.

Speaking tours aren’t the only way to show off your expertise. Right now I don’t have a schedule that allows for teaching online courses or going on speaking tours (I hate public speaking anyway), so I’m using my blog to share what I’ve learned while researching. Hence, you get to learn all about the Celts and Arthurian legend. I’m also hoping that will help me find other people who love this stuff and might want to read my books. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll see I try to retweet blog posts and other articles on writing that I find valuable. Pay it forward, as the saying goes.

Write about your passion and it will show. For me, that’s Arthurian legend (thank God, or I’d really be in trouble), writing, reading and history. That’s why you also see “non-educational” posts from me: book reviews/recommendations, essays, etc. I also love my cats and to cook, but I don’t think anyone would care about that. But then again, I am trying to expand my blogging horizons. Anyone have any suggestions about other things you think I should write about?

Readers, do you think I’m on the right track? What else would you like to see in this blog? Writers, what’s made your platform successful? What advice helps you? What common “words of wisdom” do you disagree with? I’d like to learn from your experiences, so please let me know in the comments.