Guest Blog: Authors and Social Networking Part III – Sam Sykes 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.

Sam Sykes

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

A. I use twitter, facebook and my blog, mostly.  I sometimes think I should have stayed with MySpace.  Surely, it was mostly pornbots, pictures of scantily-clad and nubile young women looking at me with come-hither stares not unlike sirens whispering short and subtle messages in a language that dead men speak and…

…I forgot where I was going with this.

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

A. As a man who mostly needs a personality cult to survive, I’d say they count as both business and personal.  The fact that I can write 140 characters about beating up a bear in a tuxedo and call it (technically) business is the greatest thing about this job.

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

A. About as much as I spend on anything that is inherently meaningless…four?  Six hours a day?

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

A. Quite a bit.  The main reason, I feel, is that it sort of cultivates a need to be personal and friendly so that you can take that energy with you when you meet other writers and readers out there.  Smiles, everyone, smiles.

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

A. It can take an immense mental toll, for one.  Everything online has the power to suck you in and make you think it’s real.  If you’re not careful, you can start becoming too involved: linking your self-worth to the number of twitter followers you have, the number of comments you get, how much attention anyone is giving you at that moment. Go in steadily and knowing it’s just the internet and you’ll be fine.

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

A. Podcasts, sure, whenever I get the chance.  I once got an email from a guy who said he liked my book.  I wrote back to him under the assumed name of Ranger Bwansanti of Kenya, explaining that his email had made Sam Sykes laugh with such glee that he never heard the water buffalo coming up behind him to kill him.  Said fellow then reposted it on a forum.  I guess that counts?

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

A. I don’t pay enough attention to my sales to answer that question.  I assume they go up.

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

A. People can talk to me more freely.  It’s nice.

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

 A. My editor once called me a jerk in front of all my twitter followers.  How embarrassing.

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

A. Do it if you want to.  Don’t if you’d rather not.  It’s not something you desperately need.

Follow Sam Sykes on Twitter

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~ by Vinny Alascia on May 16, 2011.