Alright, we know... or at least we've been told that newcomers to the writing scene would do better to have a strong network already in place to market the books they write and publish. More and more, we are told, traditional publishers will do little to market any given work and it's all up to the author.
Gone are the days when the writer writes. We must now be net-workers and marketers and goodness knows what else. Not an easy job, I have to say, and I would dare to ask how publishers can hope to acquire a writer's best effort on a piece if they have to spend so much time networking and marketing and other stuff.
To be honest, I'm a bit confused by that. I would think that a publisher would want a book they've decided to publish to succeed, and so would do all it can to help it succeed. After all, being the publisher of a flop would tarnish the publisher's reputation as much as the author's. Don't publishers care about their reputations? Wouldn't they want their authors to devote as much time as possible to polishing their next work, rather than commenting on this site, chasing up this festival or that festival and every other festival... Just a thought.
Furthermore, having to so publicly expose yourself tends to take away the mystique that authors used to be able to cloak themselves in. The Great Man series is very, very dark, and horribly twisted and extremely bitter. How can people take that seriously when they discover that I'm actually a great big goof-ball with a loud laugh and frizzy hair? Why can't I just hide away and let me readers (because I have oh so many....) imagine me as a tiny, tortured soul writing with only one lamp in the dark of my basement... if I had a basement? Where is my safety glass to divide me from the masses? I write to be read, not to be famous. I don't want to be like a rockstar. I don't want that kind of attention!
In any case, the state of things cannot be changed by the seemingly illogical functions of today's publishing industry. The fact of the matter is, you need to network and to market yourself, and fiercely, in order to get noticed. To that end, I have joined several networking sites, as you already know (if you go back a few posts. Alright, more than a few posts). They are as follows:
ziggs.com. To be honest, other than providing me with notifications that people have viewed my profile, ziggs hasn't done an awful lot for me. There are hardly any new contacts being made and no activity in the groups I've joined. It might well be that this site has really helped others, but it seems to not be working so well for me. I'm keeping my account though, because I rather like knowing that someone in New Delhi, India has viewed my profile!
Facebook. I have a profile AND I've created my own fan page. It felt incredibly strange to create my own fan page and then asking everyone I knew to join up. I only have 17 fans, almost all of them long-time friends (thanks for the support guys! I heart you!). The fan base hasn't grown any for a number of months. I suspect that it is largely because I don't have anything published (yet... come on Tor!) and so random strangers as less likely to become a fan of me. Unless they're creepers. Ugh! In any case, facebook is proving a much more useful networking site than ziggs.
Authonomy.com. Now here's a site I thought was pretty cool. In this site, you can post either an excerpt of or the whole work you've written for review by other aspiring authors. I'm paranoid, so I only put up an excerpt or two, and that's all I ever will! The most popular ones make it to the editor's desk at Harper Collins for review and pa shot at publication. A great idea in theory, but I quickly became disillusioned when I noted that it was nothing more than a popularity contest.
No sooner had I signed in than I was flooded by requests to read and back this book or that book... I had so much to get through, that I had no time at all to do any of my own work. I quickly tired of this site when I realised that it was more of a popularity contest and whether or not an editor got to read your work was less about the work's merit than about how much time you had to devote to the internet and how much you sucked-up to other would-be writers. I'm still on there, but I haven't been active in a while.
Now, all that said, I have been greatly encouraged by the comments on the stuff I did put up there. The comments were generally really good. Though, now I'm not so sure that they were truly genuine, or if other authors were just trying to get on my good side....
Alternatively, I quite like Goodreads.com. It is a community made primarily of readers who read, review and share their books online. There are also a number of groups for authors that I Belong to. It is a bit more social, but a good deal of fun. This is one site I recommend if you like reading!
Last, but certainly not least is the site LinkedIn.com. This site is to me what ziggs is trying to be. There are a large number of people on LinkedIn who are very active. There are several writer's groups and the one I enjoy the most is Aspiring Writers. If you are an aspiring author, this is the group to belong to. Everyone on there is bright and friendly, encouraging and helpful. They've created a subgroup where you can post up an excerpt of your work for others to critique for you. I trust the critiques here much more than those on Authonomy, as no one is trying to brown-nose their way to the editor's desk.
As far as professional networking is concerned, LinkedIn is the place to go to. Sure I have social links (my sister, and old crush from university who is soon to graduate Law School (Hi Bill, if you're reading this!)... it never hurts to have a lawyer as one of your connections! And so forth), but the majority of my links are with other writers trying to make it, professional editors and other people purely associated with my field. This is professional networking like it should be.
By the by, you are more than welcome to connect with me there if you like!
So, thus ends my very long post on social networking online. It might be a revision of a previous post, but just in case there are new readers out there, I've put it all up again, with slightly wiser, experience-based opinions on the subject. Now I have to go and write my next 3 000 words, so that's it from me. I hope you are all well!