Tag Archives: Social Media

Playing the Part: Fake it ’til you make it!

Fake it ’til you make it is a common piece of advice for anything you want to achieve in life. While on the surface, it might sound a bit disingenuous, there is a lot of truth to this statement. As a teacher, I had to fake it until I knew what I doing. Had I not, the kids (and their parents) would have eaten me alive. Likewise, when it comes to writing, platform creation is the current buzz.

However, for all of us yet-to-be-published authors out there, we know platform creation comes with a little faking. After all, we have to create the image of the author (and an audience) before our books even have real spines. I knew I had achieved some success in this endeavor when a friend introduced me at a party as a “real writer” again and again. While I protested a bit at first, she was adamant I had earned this title. At that moment I realized I had successfully played the part.

So, now it’s time to take this adage to the next level as I prepare to query (last round) and possibly self-publish Expecting Happiness. Some of the most common advice in platform creation is to make sure you present a professional and unified picture of yourself across all of your pages, (blog, Facebook, Twitter, Gravatar etc.). It’s important to make sure you pick just one or two photos as many readers will not know you well enough to identify you in different settings without these cues.

As such, I enlisted the help of a local blog friend and talented photographer to take some head shots to help me polish my presentation. While I’m going to hold off on picking which photo (or two) to use until after I get back from my trip, I wanted to give her a shout out for her photographic talent. If you live in the Sacramento area and need photos for any occasion, head over to Urke Photography’s blog. Likewise, Ashley also runs her own blog empire over at Domestic Fashionista (and has been my delightful inspiration for Thankfulness Thursdays). Stop by, say hi, tell her I sent you!

And, most importantly– keep on playing the part until it becomes a part of you! Any secrets you want to share on how you’ve faked it to make it?

Photo credit: Urke Photography

Photo credit: Urke Photography

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Is Twitter an Empty Canyon of Self-Promotion?

Alright, I know there are a number of Twitter diehards out there, maybe you can help me see the light. While I get that Twitter is useful for connecting to strangers, it feels a little like Linked-In on crack to me. One week in and I’m still not sold.

For those of you who love it, how do you quiet all the irrelevant noise? Are you actually “listening” to everyone you follow or do you follow to get followers?

I feel a little like Twitter is a gigantic mob of people screaming into an empty canyon. People with tens of thousands of followers add me because they follow tens of thousands of people to get those tens of thousands of followers. How can they possibly listen to anyone if they’re following that many people? Do they care at all about what others have to say or is it entirely out of self-promotion that they hope to pick up a few more follows under their belt?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t mind if it’s entirely about self-promotion– that’s why Linked-In exists and Twitter seems like a much easier way to connect and glean insight. I also get that some people use it like a Facebook status update to connect with friends, and I’m glad that exists as a way for people not to make Facebook status updates every 2 minutes. I am just not sure I completely get it yet.

I’m picking up followers, I’m following people, but I’m not convinced anyone is actually listening to each other, (except maybe people who have a lot more time to spend on the computer during the day than someone like me who only uses the internet for an hour or two each night). I like that I have found a sea of literary agents to follow and research, so that, to me, has been the coolest part. Otherwise, I just feel like I’m yelling into a canyon.

Reminds me a little of this scene from Garden State, one of my all-time favorite movies, btw.

Reminds me a little of this scene from Garden State, one of my all-time favorite movies, in case you were wondering.

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Big Dreams: Author Platforms, Twitter & Video Blogs (Oh my!)

Alright, I did it. I signed back up for Twitter. Maybe the third time is the charm? I still don’t completely get it, so if you’re into Twitter, you may have to give me some tips. You can follow me here. I’ll absolutely return the favor. To be perfectly honest, Twitter gives me a bit of anxiety.

I’m not entirely sure why. Maybe it’s the constant stream of 140 character or less messages. Maybe it’s the porn bot followers I always end up with. Maybe it’s the threat of one more online outlet to monopolize my thoughts and time… I have to promise myself it will be a quick afterthought. You know, five minutes a day, not hours drained into the frantic declaration of short thoughts against a puffy, clouded backdrop.

What sucked me back in? The answer is a compounding one. First a fellow blogger swore by it for getting book and agent attention. Second a different fellow blogger wrote me an email to share her success in building a bigger audience. Third I watched this video by Folio Literary Management and best-selling author Brendon Burchard, which swears Twitter is a must for every aspiring author.

Fine.

I’ll give it another shot. But seriously, not sure why my blood pressure increases every time I think about it…

In other, non-Twitter news, that link above is great for anyone who writes books. Got me motivated to push myself out there a little more in this whole platform-building process. I have become a bit complacent in recent months, happy enough with my little blog community, not pushing to expand.

However, I get that if I really want to traditionally publish my work, I need to keep pushing myself out there… So, I’m going to do it. I’m going to keep pushing, without being obnoxious to my core readers, I hope. One other thing the video convinced me to try, videos on my blog.

Yikes.

That’s another one of those things I have resisted because it feels so… I don’t know… Self-centered? Like, look at me! Watch me talk, I have something important to say that needs to be delivered in a video instead of a regular blog! I guess all blogging is at its core somewhat self-centered, so I’m willing to let that go if putting my voice out there helps to build an audience.

So, my lovely, true readers, here are Sunday’s big questions:

1. Do you have any Twitter advice for me? What’s the deal with hashtags? Do I need to put them everywhere, or what?

2. Video blogs… I haven’t caught any of you making them. Why don’t you? Or, alternatively, what in the world should I make a video blog about? I’m giving myself a week to come up with something, since I’ll need natural light to make a decent one and, well, that won’t happen during the week, (like my excuse in delaying this whole jump?!).

Happy Sunday.

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Social Media, Politics, and “Friends”

It’s that time of the election cycle. Our feeds are full of political opinions. A friend of mine posted an article about how easy it is to offend our virtual friends on Facebook. This made me reflect a bit on how we project ourselves to the virtual world. I personally don’t mind all the opinions, even if I often choose to stay on the sidelines, piping in with likes and comments instead of starting the discussions myself.

The way I look at it, if someone wants to unfriend me or stop following me for my beliefs, that’s fine. Makes me wonder why I’d want to be connected with someone that doesn’t respect me for my differences in the first place. Likewise, I have shed a few connections over the years for their consistently hateful ideas, which has only left me feeling lighter in knowing that those people don’t belong in any facet of my life.

Instead of seeing the barrage of opinions put out into the online universe as overkill or offensive, I see the Internet as a useful, natural filter for deciding who I really want to have in my online sphere. Sure there are plenty of relatives and coworkers and old friends and acquaintances I do not agree with, but as long as the dialogue is kept respectful, I like that there is a place in this world where they can express themselves openly and I can know them a little better.

This whole idea that we should not have hard conversations with the people in our lives gets under my skin. If we cannot have them in real life, as the article points out is often the case, then I am happy they can occur, even superficially, in the virtual sphere. The only way the world changes is if we start to listen to each other and understand our differing perspectives a little better.

I know it may seem like all the political noise does not really change anything, but I think it does, little by little. When I was in high school, gay kids were beat up, and no one publicly said anything to stop it. Now, all those same kids are grown-ups with Facebook accounts, and suddenly it is pretty mainstream to speak up for gay rights, (even if some of these adults are still on the other side of the fence). This shift in dialogue is just one example of how putting ideas out there can make other people feel safer in voicing their opinions too.

So, as your feeds fill up with ideas you may or may not agree with, I encourage you to be grateful a space exists where people actually speak their minds. Maybe eventually it will make people brave enough to start having important discussions in real life too. And, if nothing else, at least it shows us where the people in our lives stand, whether it be on the left or the right, or in a space of wanting to say nothing.

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You Like Me, I’ll Like You Back!

Shameless plug time– like me on my writing Facebook page and I’ll return the favor wherever you direct me.  Gearing up to send out my queries in the next couple months, I am reminded of a conversation I had with David Henry Sterry of the Book Doctors.  He underlined the importance of developing a writing platform before contacting agents and a Facebook page was one of his biggest recommendations.  So, if you don’t have one, get one, and I’ll like you too!

Thanks and Happy Sunday.

Sharing is caring! (Pretty please…)

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Life Beyond the Computer Screen

Yesterday, I took a break from blogging, my first since summer vacation started.  After reading “iCrazy” in Newsweek while lying on Tunnels Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, I realized I have become too dependent on the public approval fed through Facebook and WordPress, the notifications popping up in little dopamine doses on my smart phone.

While I rationalize that blogging is at least part of my mission in establishing myself as a writer, the reality is that it has also become part of my greater addiction to the internet.  The number of likes and new follows either negatively or positively affects my mood after posting, (not to mention the compulsive checking of my inbox for feedback).  My solution, forced breaks, turned off email notifications, and only checking my blog when I post new material.

In just 48 hours of silence, I’ve already noticed that not receiving email notifications to my phone has made a huge difference.  Not knowing what activity I am receiving is better than the high or low of immediate reinforcement.  I no longer have the urge to pick up my phone every two minutes.  In fact, I left my phone off all day today and yesterday, save for checking for voicemails and text messages once in the morning and once in the evening.

Taking a day off blogging was also nicer than I thought, as I resisted the urge to complete my daily ritual.  That’s the thing, even on vacation, I derive satisfaction from the exercise of blogging, I am just trying to move away from it being an obsession.  So far, giving myself a little space is making it feel a lot less compulsive.  Best of all, a break made me hyper-aware of how often I think about being online or checking my inbox.  It was more often than I like to admit.  However, the more time I let pass, the less often I had the urge.

The important life reminder– I value time spent disconnected.  A big motivation in becoming a teacher was creating a life where I was not connected to a computer for work all day.  I have to remind myself this as I dive head first into the world of writing, an evolving world shrouded in technology.  If any of this resonates with you, I recommend reading the article linked above, although I’m not suggesting that it is a problem for everyone.

A few pictures below to remind you how beautiful life can be beyond the computer screen.  I look forward to reconnecting with you all next time I post!

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Little Blog Renovations

I know I shared the same young literary agent’s blog last week, but she has some more great advice today about making sure you’ve covered your bases with linking social media on your site.  Amanda points out that everything should occur above the page break, which can be a little tricky if you’ve selected a WordPress template that will only allow widgets in the footer, (like me!).

My solution was a quick fix– I just created some new pages (or tabs) for contact, follow, Expecting Happiness, and my own little favorite, be brave.  Had to share because I know many of you are also aspiring writers trying to get your foot in the door with agents.  Amanda’s Thursday blog updates are always great!

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