Spooky Empire: Horror Blogging & Social Media
First, let me apologize for not getting this entry up sooner; it was supposed to have gone up yesterday, 10/15/11. I had most of this drafted out already but needed to finish it up and proof it. However, yesterday was also my birthday and I got sidetracked by friends and family. So you’re getting today. Please forgive me.
The Horror Blogging & Social Media panel was held at 7pm on Friday, 10/7/11, the first day of the convention. I was a panelist, along with Kevin A. Ranson (MovieCrypt.com and author of The Spooky Chronicles), Stephen Biro (author of Hellucination), LJ Gastineau, and Scott Kenemore (author of The Zen of Zombie and Zombie CEO). Scott moderated, doing an excellent job of keeping us on track as we discussed how we, as writers, used social media and blogs, why we used them, and what we found worked best.
For the most part, the consensus was that social media was a tool to get promote ourselves and our work. We discussed how using various social networks, such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+, could reach a broad swath of an author’s potential audience.
Personally, I’m not a fan of social media. I prefer face-to-face contact, but I do not, in any way, discount the importance of social media as a tool. There is only one drawback that I really object to: the amount of time it all seems to take. There ways around this, however, so I’ve no excuse for not using the tool.
Facebook allows you to link your FB Pages to your Twitter account, so that anything posted on FB will also hit there. Twitter, in turn, can be linked to your LinkedIn account. That’s three of the major social networks and you have only to post on Facebook once for that post to appear on all of them.
For WordPress users, there are several plug-ins that will do that the same. One will publish your update messages or new blog entries to your main Facebook profile. Another will do the same on your Facebook Page, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Buzz, Delicious, and many more.
All of this drastically reduces the amount of time I spend updating social media accounts. I don’t need hours on end, I don’t need a check list. That makes me happy.
I do budget time for social media. I try to get on there every other day, spending 30 minutes to an hour checking things out, responding to comments and status, etc. It takes that long because I like to read blogs, which I lump in the same time slot.
If I didn’t do all of this, I wouldn’t be able to sell anything. Advertising works for a reason and social media is an advertising venue. More, it’s free advertising. As to what I’m selling, it’s not just my fiction, it’s myself as an author, as a brand. It’s important to let people know that Doris Ross, Author, exists, that I have published works out there. If they don’t know, they won’t seek out my stuff and buy it.
So even though I’m not a fan of social media, I’ll use it. I’d be stupid not to.
Blogging was the other topic of the panel. Kevin A. Ranson stated that an entry that includes something relating to currents events will increase the number of visitors. Tying that into whatever you’re blogging about will enable your blog to get picked up by the
search engines and place your blog higher on their list of results. Scott Kenemore mentioned that a major attractant for a blog is frequent posts of new content.
Speaking for myself, it’s sometimes very hard to come up with new content regularly. I have a day job, I write content for my website and work on projects for TrinityGateways.net. I’m juggling book writing and social/family time (hey, everyone needs some down time) in among all of that. Time is a commodity that I sorely wish I had more of. If I had the time, I’d blog every day. I don’t have the time, so I blog when I can.
Whether the issue is time or inclination, not all writers can blog or deal with the social media regularly. During the panel, an audience member asked that. Steven Schulzman gave the answer: if you can’t or won’t do it yourself, find someone who’ll do it for free or hire someone to do it. It’s that important.
Another subject that was thrown in was reviews, which often show up in blogs. We all prefer good reviews, but even bad ones can great publicity if we use them right. Stephen Biro intimated that his first independent author release, The Dead Baby Joke Book, got such bad reviews and generated so many complaints that he actually made sales after his book was banned from Smashwords. People wanted to know what was so bad about
it so they went out and bought it. (Humanity is a fascinating and sometimes strange species.)
Yet using select quotes from a bad review can generate positive interest. Something that says “This book is the greatest piece of crap I’ve ever read” can be modified – and still be a quote – in this way “This book is the greatest…I’ve ever read”. So long as the omitted words are replaced by the handy ellipses (the “…” for those of you unfamiliar with the term) it’s still a legitimate quote. So if you ever get a bad review, don’t blow up at the reviewer. Smile, thank them kindly, ask for permission to use their review, then make your quote selections carefully.
As for good reviews, handle them like the gold they are. Include them, or links to them, in your blog. If there enough room in synopsis field for your book on, say, Amazon, include that review there as well. People like to see a good review for a book as much as the author does.
That wraps up the panel on Horror Blogging & Social Media. No, it wasn’t specific to horror – other than the authors who were panelists – but it was still worth going to for writers who just starting out or considering venturing into the somewhat daunting world of online media.