Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Author Media: Do it Right

If you've been on twitter this week you may have heard of the Goodreads YA Bingo Card. If not, see below.

This card was created by YA author Amy Spalding. Whether you agree with the card, think it's funny, or disrespectful, it made a lot of noise. Bloggers are upset, Goodread's negative reviews on Spalding's books are being flagged and deleted--I personally know a sweet blogger this happened to--and the whole thing has spiraled.

The point of this post is not to get into the weeds, but to point out one simple truth: use social media to connect with your readers.

Yes, we all vent and post silly pictures of animals and re-tweet Pinterest recipes, but as an author we should be using social media to widen our audience. Creating an image, whether in jest, that may hurt certain fans/readers is not the right call.

Whenever I'm on social media, I pay attention to what I post and where I post. Make one inappropriate comment and it could be stuck on the web forever.

Be smart folks. Also, remember, there are a lot of young ones online, some of them are bloggers. Set the right example and leave out the drama.

What are your thoughts? Do you think authors are held to a higher standard on social media?


  1. I am very mixed about this. I know social media CAN widen my audience. But I use it to please myself, first and foremost. I want it to be fun for me bc otherwise it's just a lot of work. I write the books for people to read and if they like them, great. If they don't, well. I can't try to make everyone my BFF. Not every book or its author is my BFF, either.

    As a woman, I know I am judged on whether I'm perceived as "nice" and whether my girl characters are "nice" and I want to be nice and kind and whatever, but also, I don't appreciate that severe blowback that comes when someone disagrees with you online. There is a fierce glee in some people online, when it comes to "taking down" or "calling out" someone else. I would like to be able to inhabit the sides of me that aren't nice and not feel like I've committed grievous sins, the way I imagine men get to.

    If I had to think about "widening" my audience and "reaching more readers" every time I went on Twitter, I would never go on it, actually. I think we all deserve grace for our mis-steps. And I will never be able to manage my online persona and divorce it from my private persona; it's too much to keep track of. So you get all of me, shittiness and sunshine, I suppose.

    Thankfully there's a mute button.

    Further, I don't think angering potential readers is as worrisome to me as the culture we live in that doesn't seem to value reading as a leisure activity for all people, not just intellectuals or "smart" kids or academics. That pervasive problem hurts authors more than saying something that upsets someone online, to be honest.

    *starts stacking sandbags up for the anticipated assault to come*

    1. Well, said : )

      It's hard to find a balance, and sometimes social media doesn't feel so social. There have been many instances where I wanted to comment on a particular issue but worried I'd piss someone off or start a twitter war. In the end, my day job and kids exhaust me too much to deal with any online drama so I chat about video games. It's a happy medium.

  2. My biggest problem with people causing shitstorms, is how incredibly EASY it is to unfollow someone. So. Very. Easy. And then you don't have to hear their noise anymore.

  3. On another note - I can X off all those BINGO boxes except for one. And I'm with Carrie - I'd HIDE from social media if I thought about widening audiences when I jumped online.

  4. Everything is open to criticism - even criticism. It is okay for any individual to write something smart or stupid about a book and put it on Goodreads. They get to. But it is also okay for other people to point out if a review is maybe sexist. Or racist. Or poorly thought out. Or demonstrative of poor reading skills. These are all okay things to notice and point out. I took a GR reviewer to task not so long ago for writing a very poorly written and frankly xenophobic "review" about a book that I loved. I don't regret calling that writer on the carpet. I think it was the right thing to do.

    I think there is some misconception about what social media is for. For me, I do not use social media to sell books or to increase my "reach", whatever the heck that means. I do it to participate in larger conversations. I do it to learn things. I do it to meet interesting people that I would not have known. I do it because I enjoy saying funny things or angry things or controversial things, and say them in good sentences. And honestly, the folks who are just hawking their "brand" are mind-numbingly, blisteringly dull to me. And I unfollow them.

    1. Exactly, but while you're engaged in those larger conversations, people are checking you out. Even though you're not out to sell books, by being your awesome self people will click on your profile, possibly follow and even search what books you've written.

      I can count at least 3-4 times where I've been part of a twitter chat, talking about books, leading a discussion or babbling about hot book boyfriends, and my kindle ranking has gone up that night.

  5. For me, social media would be too scary a place to enter if I was constantly thinking about selling myself or my image to an audience. While I once was Pollyanna enough to think I could please everyone, I was quickly corrected after my debut. Now I'm in a "love me, hate me, whatever" place. To be honest, I think the Bingo card is funny. I think bloggers should be able to laugh at it, too. Maybe the book-review world takes itself way too seriously??? (Just a thought.) As for me, I'm taking my mother's advice when it comes to engaging in social media: "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all."

  6. I think bloggers would've laughed if it wasn't all negative. Each square is about a negative review. Why not post some funny positive reviews? They also were reviews that bloggers had used on her books. That's where the line between joking and not joking blurs.

  7. I very much try and be diplomatic with everything I say on Facebook and Twitter. I'm really on social media to connect with readers and fellow writers anyway. The problem is you don't always know what's going to affect them and in what ways.

    My best and worst (in terms of hits, comments, shares, retweets, etc.) blogs are always the rants. When I'm being negative I'm either at my funniest or my worst. Trying to hide my cynicism tends to make for dull and unpersonal posts, but coming off has too hateful can alienate people. Those risky posts will make or break you. Don't take any risks and you won't be interesting, but sometimes people will be offended at something you never expected. Many of these bingos, when spoken aloud or with the right tone of voice would be funny, but because it's read, we tend to implant a more serious, sincere voice. You can at least say she got a lot of traction.