Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

“Reading and writing are acts of empathy and faith. Guard that trust carefully — in this rapidly changing business, it’s the only sure thing.” ~Erin Keane
"Never give up. And most importantly, be true to yourself. Write from your heart, in your own voice, and about what you believe in." ~ Louise Brown

"Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it."
~Jesse Stuart

"A writer's job is to take one thing and make it stand for twenty." ~ Virginia Woolf

Friday, March 26, 2010

What's Your Online Presence?

Tomorrow I'm speaking to a group of aspiring authors on the whole online presence thing-- blogging, twittering, Facebook, website. Pretty funny, isn't it, since those of you who have been following me from the beginning-- um--last June, 10 months ago--know what a novice I am online. My blogging which started out as a response from my publisher to "establish your online presence" has now morphed into what you see today, giraffe and all. As for the rest of it....

-- not interested. Maybe I should be, but I'm not and don't plan to be.

-- oh please no.

Vox-- yes. It's a smaller, cooler, wannabe Facebook that most people have never heard of. Probably why I like it.

-- leaving that one to my husband

-- that is so 5 years ago

-- what you see is what you get, folks. This is it. (Well, this and my Vox blog.)

And I have to speak 30 minutes? HELP! So I turn to my good friends in blog land who probably know way more about this than I do and would no doubt be far more interesting and attractive, with better hair. Yes, I am taking a poll. Your responses on any or all of these would be oh so helpful :)

What is your online presence?

Do you think it's essential to be online as a writer, either published or not?

What have you gained from your online experience?

If you twitter or pursue any of the others (besides blogging)-- why?

Which online experiences would you most recommend?

Are there any of these you've given up for various reasons?

If you've got anything else to add, please feel free. I may even quote you! And if you have a book out, be sure to tell me the title, so I can mention that as well. Thanks for your help!


  1. I have a Twitter account, but I hate it. It's so superfelous. I like the depth you can get from blogging. I have a Facebook account, but don't have time! I can barely keep up with the blogging since most of my precious time is used to WRITE. I know it's good to use different venues online to reach different people, but to take advantage of them all, I would need sixteen more hours a day.

    I'm excited for you that you're speaking. Wish I could go!

  2. I'm just blogging at the moment. I really didn't have an online presence until last December or so, but with a book coming out this fall, I was prompted to join the WWW network of people. I might do Twitter, but not sure yet. Just trying to keep up with the blogging community right now.

  3. I used to have a twitter account. Waste of time. And it's too easy for people to google you. Myspace is dead. Facebook has become an obligation and annoyance, though it's fun to spy on people. I like blogging much more because I can write as much as I want about anything I want (with pictures!). I have complete control over a blog. There's much more freedom there. Facebook is more about providing information, but on a blog, you can be more creative. The id runs loose.

  4. I have a facebook account. I did it just to find friends I haven't seen in years. I didn't realize that it could be used for my writing. I'm just now learning how to use it for this.

    Twitter- not there with this one yet.

    Blogging-I think this has helped me in my writing journey. I didn't think so many people could support me while learning more about becoming a better writer along with learning about the business. To me this was the way to go especially for a beginner.

    I do not have a website. I think that will come later.

    I don't know what VOX is.

    I do have a LinkedIn account for my job but never use it.
    Hope this helps. Good luck!

  5. Facebook: Yes, but it is a personal page with writers on it. Now I need to make a "writer one" and separate out my writing/profession from personal. No time for it yet--plan to do that this summer.

    Blog: yes--I think it helps hone my writing skills. I also guest blog on a writing Chapter Blog. This has also given me an opportunity to share "articles" with the newsletter. Many of the articles have been picked up by other writing chapters.

    Twitter: No. And no again.

    Web Page: Stay tuned. That's darling daughter's job over the summer. Still need to get a domain name.

    I'm basically lazy with technology, but I know I have to embrace it. One agent at the PRO retreat for RWA said that he prefers his writers to be writing, not tweeting etc. So first and foremost, writing is the key. There's no point in having a web page if you have nothing to show agents and editors.

  6. Interesting questions on your interesting blog. I love posting on my blog but have no idea really whether it makes any major impact on my sales. I write my blog as a professional writer, and someone obsessed with the original writing process, who likes to communicate this with other writers and aspiring writers. I do enjoy the post-writing for its own sake - small inspired pieces of writing - like magazine columns. Or interesting literary five finger exercises. (Someone once said 'How to I know what I mean till I see what I say?')
    One practical spin-off from the blog is that if a journalist wants to write a piece the blog raises more interesting questions.
    I can't get my head round Twitter and I think Facebook is too exposing and timeconsuming. Mostly I'd rather write another chapter...

  7. Facebook is easy. Check it once a day, put blocks on everything except for friends so it's not all public. Link it to your blog. Link your blog to facebook so former classmates will join too.

    Twitter - not interested.

    I think it's good to have a blog, but if you don't have something to say - don't do it - it's not the same kind of writing. But I think it's good to have a Blogger profile and check out what other writers, agents, and editors are saying. It's also great to belong to Chuck Sambuchino's Writer's Digest blog because he has interviews with new agents every week, so writers will know about them right away + what the agents are looking for - before the agents have a big slush pile.

    I have a Linked-In account, but I don't use it.

    I also belong to Red Room - a good writer's site. You can have a blog there too. Periodically, I post new ones.

  8. What is your online presence?
    Twittering-- Yes, but I don't personally tweet. I set up my account so that every time a post my blog, a tweet is sent out to my friends. I rarely visit the site. Maybe five minutes a week.
    Facebook-- Yes, but the same applies with this as my Twitter acct. Solely, to post my blog.
    Vox-- never heard of it.
    Linkedin-- no
    Myspace-- I agree that it's so 5 years ago - so no.
    Website-- not yet, but maybe soon.

    Do you think it's essential to be online as a writer, either published or not? Yes. If you're going to promote, why not do it before you've written the book or completed it so that by the time you have, you have 2-300 faithful followers willing to purchase your book.

    What have you gained from your online experience? I write my blog everyday...that keeps me in the writing mood. Also, I learn from other bloggers and get support and encouragement.

    If you twitter or pursue any of the others (besides blogging)-- why? (See question above)

    Which online experiences would you most recommend? Blogging.

    Are there any of these you've given up for various reasons? Not yet. Some I haven't started but none given up yet.


  9. I think as a writer today we do need an online presence however, I'm limiting mine to a blog for now. When I get an agent and before I get published I believe I will Facebook, but just for the book, and I will have a web-site. Other than that, no. I don't believe in tweeting or any of that other nonsense. Besides, I'd have to hire a 16 yr.old kid to help me figure out how.

  10. Facebook: So far this is for friends and family, and it's personal. I do get asked about how my writing is going and where the book is, so I answer those and also post links when I do interviews on my blog. My author's blog has a link there and many high school friends find it and let me know they're excited about the book. But I don't actively pursue it as networking my writing.
    Twitter: I'm getting it. I've made a lot of connections with other authors through it. That support has been tremendous. If they like something I say, or like something I posted, they post it, and all their followers see it. And I do likewise. And, the challenge to keep your Tweets within the character limit is a fun writing exercise: Say what you want to say as precisely as possible. Maybe it's different for me because I'm a little isolated where I live, but the connections I've made through Twitter are valuable.
    Blog: I love blogging. It's paramount to an author, where we are expected to handle so much of the promotion, but also as a way to share what we're learning, vent our frustrations, and explore the language. I will say that although I have few followers, I had 7 forever, and when I started using Twitter seriously Dec 2009, my followers multiplied quickly (still not astronomical, but it's growing).
    That's all I commit to, and I do need to limit my time, but I consider it investment.
    Good luck with the presentation!

  11. I think it's pretty essential to keep up with the times, and I think the Internet is a big part of our current "times."

    I more or less run the online gamut - I have a website, blog, Twitter, Facebook, the whole nine yards. I don't have a MySpace because I wasn't a fan of the format, but I used to. However, I've been using social media more or less since its inception - I've had an online diary or blog in some form or another since I was about 15. I created my first website when I was 12. I think this probably helps in making me feel more at ease with using social media.

    I love the wealth of information and camaraderie among the online writing community, but I don't think being online will "work" for an author unless they want to make it work. If you hate Twitter/Facebook/whatever and have one you never use, than it's pointless. It only helps your platform if you use it to help your platform, if you know what I mean :)

  12. Hi

    Golly there are so much online choices in which to have one's platform aren't there? I'm just about managing to keep with the blogging!

    I think most established/new/wanting to be established authors have some kind of internet exposure so to speak to raise and maintain their profile these days. I just think that it's ok if you have all the time in the world but if you have to work as well as write as well as do all the other everyday stuff then maybe it's best to stick to one or two things - blogging and twittering say or just having a website and do that really well if at the end of the day, the main reason is to keep your name in the public domain. Just my opinion btw! LOL!

    Hats off to one and all able to twit, facebook, blog, skype etc etc etc on a daily and regular basis - it's hard work!

    Take care

  13. As an aspiring writer, I use my blog and twitter mainly to connect with other writers going through the same journey. I don't consider it much more than that at this time.

    I am on facebook, but only for personal friends and family. Like I said above, I don't see the need for it to be anything more at this time.

  14. Twittering-- Meh, it exists but floats along unattended for the most part

    Facebook-- Yes, but not for writing reasons

    Vox-- Bless you. wait... what?

    Linkedin-- It scares me, and I don't know why. So no.

    Myspace-- Once upon a time... wait I think I still do.

    Website-- geocities disabled my ancient creation. So not anymore.

  15. I think it is important for an author to have an online presence. We can't hide away any longer - readers *expect* to find us on the web, to interact with us. It's also a great (not to mention cheap) way for you to get the word out. I really believe you get out of it what you put in. If you comment on blogs, people will visit yours and comment back. If you don't, well, it'll take a whole lot longer!

    I love interacting with other writers and reading about their journeys.

    Good luck! I'm sure you'll be brill!

  16. HA! I remember when you didn't want to blog either.

  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

  18. Apologies Karen for above error,
    I really only enjoy blogging, as it's my watercooler place, a chance to meet virtual colleages, or invisible friends as my daughter likes to say. I tried twitter and I found it addictive but incredibly distracting. I am a happy blogger and love meeting new writer friends worldwide.
    I didnt take to twitter because I was starting to do all that abbreviated speech, see my
    Previous blog for what I mean:
    May give you a laugh !

  19. I have a Facebook Fan page, a blog, and a Twitter. Website is coming soon. It's hard to keep a handle on all this social media and still work my full-time job!

    When you get a chance, you should swing over to my blog... I've given you an award!

  20. I am trying to establish myself as a non-fiction writer -- and so platform is everything. I blog, and that is the core of what I do. But I use twitter and linked in and facebook to engage readers. It really does work.

    If I ever decide to write one of those novels rolling around in my head (or, maybe I should say if one of them ever decides they need to be written) I think I would try to use social media to drive marketing in some creative way.

  21. Website and blog. Blogging has brought me in contact with many other writers, and that's a good thing. I also interact with other writers in online writing groups. I don't Twitter or have a Facebook acount. While I'd like a Facebook account, I haven't yet figured out how to keep the personal me and the writer me separate. Have fun at your talk. Open with a joke.

  22. I think it it's (unfortunately) important for aspiring to-be-published writers to have online presence these days. My extent of this, so far, is blogging. I have a FB account, but it's used mostly for personal reasons. I do have one set up for my writing as well, but since I've begun blogging, it's fallen by the wayside.

    I have no interest in the other forums (especially Twitter!), though if I were to be published I'd probably do a website.

  23. My advice is to connect everything to one blog, or preferably website with your name in the domain. On that page have buttons to connect to Twitter or FB or whatever you choose to do.

    People may like your book and come looking for more of your books, but we all know it takes a year or two to put out a new book. Readers are curious about the author.

    It's important to make whatever you do dynamic (changing--new posts) and interactive unless you are a NYT best seller.

    Then you can get away with a more stagnant website (still with your name as the domain) with info about you, your books and upcoming events.

    So there's advice from an unpublished, un-contracted wanna be author.

  24. Wonderful comments, thank you all for your input! You're a very wise and savvy group. You've analyzed, researched, tried things out, and yet kept uppermost in your minds what you are after. And if it doesn't meet your needs, you have no problem unplugging that connection. Thanks for all the comments. I read each one, several times.

  25. I use LinkedIn a little for my day job (and a lot of breeze-shooting with work colleagues on Facebook). What I obviously do have is a blog :)

    Twitter, though... it's just so all-or-nothing. You either integrate it into your digital life completely or you don't use it at all - you can't dip into it every couple of days because it just moves too fast. I've been on it since last summer and only posted a dozen updates, and most of those were about the snow!

  26. Love love love Facebook, but it is for friends only and I have never, and will never, make it public.

    My blog and twitter are connected and make up my public online presence for writing. To be honest, I'm far too verbose for twitter - (seriously 140 characters? I can't announce the time in that short a space!) - but I enjoy blogger.

    Private & public is a nice balance to have.

    And what the heck is Vox?

  27. hamshire, yes twitter is speed internet isn't it? I don't think I'll ever use it. I spend too much time here the way it is.

  28. Donna, Isn't it weird how no one knows about Vox? Probably why I like to hang out/hide there bwa ha ha. If you click on Kristine Princevalle's blog on my sidebar, she's on Vox.

  29. Facebook was my first leap. I started a facebook account just before I went home to Ireland last summer. Thought it was a good way to keep up with my kids. I moved onto blogging last October. I have a Twitter account. I venture there rarely. I am not quite sure how to maneuver around Twitter. Just can't seem to get a grip of it. Well that's about it for my cyberspace antics. Good luck with the talk.

  30. While I was writing my first novel, I was using Myspace a good bit to talk about the books I was publishing with my small press, Shadow Archer Press. It was an incredible free way to get the word out and I sold a good many books because of that one site. Then everyone switched to Facebook. I took a long time, but now find it helps to send folks to my blog. I don't write long on theere but use it to link up. Twitter is helpful too, but less so. I use it more to keep tabs on what other folks are doing.
    As a small press publisher for years, I'm so thankful the internet is available to advertise for free. When I published my magazine The Howling, over 14 years ago we had to print posters and work on a grass roots level. Amogn stories, poetry and art, we featured local music reviews and the night clubs and musicians spread the word like wild fire. But it still can't match what the internet has done for my current magazine, Fissure, which went international in one issue. I use Clicky to keep track of where my treaffic comes from because it will probalby shift again.

  31. ggray, thanks so much for stepping into the discussion. This is what we've all heard that social media can do for a business, especially a small business, or a small writer :) And clearly it didn't happen overnight for you. Plus you had to be flexible, moving from Myspace when everyone else did. Excellent information.

  32. YOU are your own online presence felt through your wit and words. :)

  33. As for a writer's online presence, I tend to think about it as the sum of one's content out on the internet being more than what website platform(s) one uses. I also like to think it ties into ones "author brand" in a way, allowing potential readers to see how an author writes. Even when there are blog posts not strictly about the latest book out the writer's voice can come through. In addition to that there also can be a connection between the author and the readers through whichever website.

    For an example with the voice, I first came across Catherynne M. Valente on her live journal (which she has in addition to her official author blog on her site). I love reading what she writes, from covering the latest writer's conference she's been at, to various things she writes about in her neck of the woods. Because of her LJ I've gone out and bought some of her books, and I'm looking forward to buying more.

    With blogging/twittering/facebook writers have a bit of an advantage over other professions in my opinion. We sell what we do with our words, and here's the internet providing a place for us to do so.

    Just some of my thoughts on online presence. I'm not yet published (though I hope to be, I'm currently revising my first draft novels), but I've spent a fair amount of time blogging over the years. I was on Blogger ages ago and switched to LiveJournal in 2003. I've recently started using Blogger more again in addition to updating my LJ on occasion. I also have a website for my writing, which I don't have linked to many places yet because I need to get some content up on all the pages yet.

  34. Oh, and I'd meant to mention Facebook. I joined about a year ago, and have it pretty locked down privacy wise so that it is for friends and family. I have added people I've talked to online, but in general Facebook is for me to connect with people in a more personal way. Sure I update my status occasionally with my word count, but I also post whatever else on there as well.

    Now one day when I do get published, I'd create a fan page and or a group on Facebook. That way I could use it for networking and still have it for that more private connection to my friends. IMO that's the point of fan pages and groups with Facebook. One can still do photos and status updates like on a profile, along with a discussion thread area.

  35. The only online presence I have for my writing is Blogger. I just can't get into the whole Twitter thing. If I ever manage to produce something of import, I will create a Celebrity Page on Facebook but until then, my blog's just fine.

  36. I have a Facebook account, but I haven't looked at in ages (since I got more serious about my blog - now that takes all my time). I've thought about Twitter, and I've heard people say they've gotten some good information from it, but I don't understand it and I don't have the time to spend figuring it out. When (I'm thinking positive here) I get a book published, I'm sure I'll make a website for it, but that's about all the additions I plan to make to my online presence.

  37. Wow! Look at all your comments!

    As for me. I'm a blogger. I've blogged for 5 or 6 years. Have always loved it.

    I do facebook. I really feel it's a wonderful way to network and advertise myself and my book. It's cool because you can be friends with other writers and receive TONS of support that way. I have about 50 writers friends there. Everyone on fb keeps asking about my book. No better advertising! Seriously.

    I have a twitter account but I seldom use it. I have a vox account, but don't do much with it. Have no desire to use myspace.

    My opinion is this. Use every avenue you can to get your name out there. Use the ones that draw or interest you and learn about those that don't, because who knows? You might just like them.

    For an author, it's vital for people to know you BEFORE your book gets out (in my opinion) It's that much easier to sell your book. Plus, you get to reunite with old friends and make new ones. How is that a bad thing? =)

    Go and do, my friend. Go and do!

  38. Um, my blog is it. Period. No facebook, no twitter. I've never heard of ox prior to this post, 5 seconds ago. (see that? you just taught me something.)

    I have no desire to do anything else but blogging. I adore my fellow writer bloggy friends. As it is, I barely have the time to blog and get around to read everyone's awesome posts.

    Good luck with that talk!