Guest Blog: Authors & Social Networking Part 1 – Yvonne Navarro by Wendy Trakes

I have been fortunate enough to have developed a few friendships with several local Arizona fiction authors. They live all over the state, have touring schedules and “day jobs” and I don’t see them often, but, like most Americans with computers, we communicate regularly through email and social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. It is through the electronic media that I have learned more about them, developed stronger friendships, and been even more enthusiastic about reading their latest books. I have learned about the differences and similarities between writing styles, the emotional attachment to the characters that they carry throughout a story as they write. In short, without social networking connections, I wouldn’t know half of what I do about them as people and as authors.
I recently asked three of my more online-active author friends, Yvonne Navarro (Highborn and Concrete Savior), Janni Lee Simner (Thief Eyes and Bones of Faerie), and Sam Sykes (Tome of the Undergates and Black Halo) to answer a couple questions about the impact of social networking on their work, sales, and relationships with fans and business associates. Each one had a different viewpoint on the impact of social media with their business. The similarities, however, were more surprising. It seems that while there is a lot of hype about using social networking sites as a means to raise business, for some in the book world this may not be worth the time spent. I suspect the following answers may be voiced by many more authors than just my friends.
Author: Yvonne Navarro
Yvonne Navarro

Q. What social networking sites do you use? (Twitter, Facebook, etc…)

A. I use Facebook heavily, Twitter, LiveJournal (rarely), Redbook, MySpace (rarely), Pocket After Dark, LinkedIn. If you count message boards as social networking, I am not a good message board-checker, but sometimes I poke around the HWA and Brian Keene message boards.

Q. What purpose is your primary account on each of these sites? Are they for personal use? Business use? Both on one?

A. Both. The primary purpose was initially for book promotion, but that has really evolved. Facebook is, quite frankly, wonderful and distracting at the same time. It’s allowed me to reconnect literally decades later with friends with whom I’d lost contact. The flipside is that it sucks away an enormous amount of time.

Q. How much time do you spend on social networking sites during the day or week?

A. Too much—several hours a day. Which, frankly, is something I’m going to change.

Q. What are the benefits of authors using social networking sites to promote their work?

A. They’re obvious—you reach hundreds to thousands of people. If they like your work, they recommend (or you hope they do) it to others, and it spreads. It allows you to connect one-on-one with fans and readers, many of whom are surprised and pleased because they never thought this was possible.

Q. Are there any pitfalls? If so, describe a few?

A. To reiterate my answer to number 2 above, social networking sites can suck away a tremendous amount of time. Even when limiting the interaction to posting an update regarding a book can take well over an hour as you visit and post on each different site.

Q. Do you use any other online resources (chat rooms, video blogs, podcasts) to promote your work?

A. I have not done this in quite some time. As an author with a full time job, there is really only so much I can do.

Q. What positive or negative effects have you noticed in your sales, promotional events, etc since you began promoting your work online?

A. At this point, it’s difficult to tell. I haven’t yet received any royalty statements, etc. regarding my most recent novel, HIGHBORN. Unfortunately I find that a lot of people who say they’re going to get the book in the future never actually do. Frankly, I worry that a lot of this work is not going to translate into a hugely positive thing. Still, I hope it does.

Q. How has the use of these sites changed your relationship with your readers? Any examples?

A. As I said above, it’s easier to connect with people one-on-one. I just wished someone happy birthday on Facebook and his reply was not only to thank me, but mention how much he enjoyed my zombie book, deadrush (which is now out of print) as well as “Zachary’s Glass Shoppe.” That’s quite an old story, published a long time ago, and he noted it was the first work of mine he’d ever read.

Q. How has the use of these sites changed your relationship with your publisher/agent/business professionals? Again, any examples?

A. On in the sense that publishers now expect you to use these resources to a huge extent.
Where in the past they might have given you (as a midlist author) at least a smidgen of a publicist’s time to set up book signings, etc., there’s no such thing for anyone other than a bestseller. You are expected to do nearly all of your own marketing, and this comes directly out of the creative time you would otherwise spend writing.

Q. Is there anything else you’d like to add?

A. Since this is an article about social networking, please visit me on Facebook and the Internet!

Check back next week for part 2 with author, Janni Simner

Wendy Trakes is a page at Burton Barr Central Library in Phoenix, AZ. She lives in Peoria, AZ with her husband, two teenage daughters and a small zoo of pets. She recieved her BA in Anthropology in 2006, has a background in newspaper and technical copy editing, and is currently pursuing further education in Documentary Film Production.


~ by Vinny Alascia on April 27, 2011.