1. MVP
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    Internet platforms a waste of time?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by MVP, Apr 20, 2012.

    I came across this page recently for romance genre novels. There is a bar graph titled, "Activities that do or do not interest the Romance Buyer". I keep coming across articles and blogs that suggest creating a platform or online presence for yourself if you want to be a published author. However, according to the poll, the opposite is true.

    I'm not a romance author, but I find these stats interesting, because romance is a popular genre. I've always dreaded the part of social media, platforms, websites, etc for an author, and thought it was a waste of time for the author when they could be writing and researching their next work. Others say a platform is vital, create a fan base, etc. I don't agree with using a webpage to create a fan base. Maybe its a generation thing, are younger readers more apt to use smartphones and the internet to go to these webpages, where older audiences don't care? Maybe its a tech thing, where people don't have the technology to visit a webpage, but have access to paper books?

    What do you think?

    The link was removed by the mods, but if you cut and paste the name of the graph above in a search engine, the link should be the first one, scroll down through the graphs.
     
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  2. funkybassmannick
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    Who are the readers for romance? I think primarily middle-aged women, and I agree with your contemplation on age. Look at the same graph for popular YA titles, and you'll see MUCH different results. Teenagers are significantly more "wired in" than older generations, and "liking" their favorite author is just a click away.

    You say you think websites are a waste of time, and seem to indicate that this graph reaffirms that it is. Even in romance, where it is likely an older generation reading than other genres, we see 60% of readers at least interested in using a wesbite. That's a huge percentage.

    I think the graph is deceiving. For example: you don't need 100% of your fans to follow you on twitter. But you want your most devoted fans to follow you on twitter, so they get more hyped up about your upcoming books/events, etc. Then they spread the word to everyone else and promote your upcoming books for you. It might be a smaller percentage that wants to go see your live events and read your blog, but these are the people that matter the most.

    Also, the graph kind of shows signs of a timeline. For example, websites came before blogs, blogs came before facebook, facebook came out about the same time as YouTube, and twitter is the most recent. The longer something has been around, the more readers want to use it to follow their favorite authors. As time goes on, the percent of readers using them in this way will increase.
     
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  3. funkybassmannick
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    funkybassmannick Contributing Member

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    While the website may have been removed, the ability for others to interpret the graph is important for this discussion:

    View attachment 4006
     
  4. Edward M. Grant
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    Edward M. Grant Contributing Member

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    Part of the problem, I think, is that many writers want lots of followers so they'll become popular, but few people will follow them until they're popular. So writing blogs and twitter feeds aren't much help.
     
  5. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    A lot of famous writers (John Grisham, Stephen King, GRR Martin, Junot Diaz) have websites to keep readers up to date. It doesn't depend on genre or the age of the target audience, though I'm sure older readers visit websites/blogs less often than younger readers.

    Those who self-publish also use websites or blogs to promote their writing. It's definitely a big part of the publishing business today, but I still think word of mouth is the most effective way to boost sales.
     
  6. funkybassmannick
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    This is very different for non-fiction. If you want to publish something non-fiction, agents and publishers want to know that you are the expert of your topic. Additionally, platforming lends itself better to non-fiction than fiction. Writing a blog about advice to parents of autistic children with the intent to publish a book on that subject will be a much more successful tactic than writing a blog about random musings in an attempt to get people to read your upcoming pop fiction book.
     
  7. MVP
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    This discussion isn't worth it without the link. For those who are wondering, the graph supported on average, 70% of readers or more for the most part didn't give a crap about an author's blog, website, FB page, twitter or any other web presence. My expertise isn't in computers. If someone else knows a way to post the graph without breaking site rules, and wants to post the graph, I'll PM you the link.
     
  8. Floatbox
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    Ok, so assuming the poll is an accurate representation of readers in general, and assuming that the activities you mention are things like subscribing to blogs and following social media - I still think it is worthy to blog and tweet and generally be present and accessible online and here's why:

    Readers are interested in quality content. This is the base assertion here that should inform all following logic.

    Things that you have to write and say are valuable and readers, no matter what they may say, are attracted to valuable content, no matter the form. So, in this sense, it is never a waste of time if we are to agree a communicated expression of the self is never a waste of time. These different social mediums are mediums to be taken advantage of, not just for the sake of selling books, but for the sake of themselves. And the cool thing is that they are really sexy and viable. For instance, to look back on an aesthetic, thoughtful, substantial Facebook Timeline is a satisfying, unique thing (if you are not on Facebook, it is two neat columns of arrangeable snippets of any sort of mixed media.) These platforms are designed to take minimal time to maintain as well! I mean, people CAN spend an extraordinary amount of time, like people can do with anything else. Facebook and Twitter and Google+ and Instagram are all designed to take with you wherever 24/7. You can tweet from your phone on the bus, or in between high fives, but you get away with ten minutes a day total on a Twitter account and have something worthwhile come of it.

    While Twitter and Facebook are on the minimum end of the spectrum of effort and time, (taking less effort than participating on a forum), blogs take more time. Of course, they are also more substantial. A blog is magazine format length and similar in spirit. To express anything of that medium without relying on published magazines (which are essentially old-world blogs), the blog is a must. If it is a waste of time, so is the magazine/newspaper medium I guess.

    The final thing we know is that everything is all connected with everything.

    Generating more connections in our culture stream strengthens all the things you generate. It is a truth sending readers of your twitter to your blogs, sending the readers of your blog to your book, and sending the readers of book to your twitter. It is important to note that not everybody is so inclined to follow your other formats, probably not even the majority. It is easy to look at your own habits and assume that it wouldn't happen. But it is a statistics game. If 1 out of 10 people who read your blog read your books, you just sold a thousand books if ten thousand read your blog. The better quality content, the better the buy rate. The better quality content, the bigger the readership is, because the readers generate connections themselves in posting links on their facebook and twitters and blogs. It is a flexible, reflexive web.

    Also of note, is that shorter, more easily digestible content -- that is Twitter and Facebook -- spread easier. Study reddit (a classic model of the internet, and general culture dynamics) and you'd find most all of the top content are pictures, because pictures take two seconds to process. When a mob of content competes for attention on a fast conveyor belt of exposure, "easy-to-process" wins. If you put a link to your book, maybe even the best book ever written, it's not going to get anywhere because it takes a long time to read and spread. So enter your Facebooks and Twitters, your format of one-liners and hooks to pass through the largest cross-sections of potential readers. These are the markets that generate bursts of interest in the way that is impossible with literature without an official well-financed marketed campaign.

    But to bring it back, it's all about the quality and quantity and variety of content. This is how the system works. You can take advantage of it however you like to, but it starts with quality of content. Approach it as a medium to express yourself in for its own sake, always. That is the only way to make quality content. Just know that the structure and dynamic of the new media world order will reward you.
     
  9. NeedMoreRage
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    If you are published by an actual publisher, I'd say you shouldn't get into a blog and all of the social media websites. But if you are self-publishing and promoting your book yourself, a blog, facebook, twitter, and whatever else can be extremely helpful, even if it only nets you a couple of more readers every once in a while.

    My basic plan, if I do decide to publish (which the odds are low), I'd go with self-publishing through as many online e-book platforms as possible. Meanwhile I'd start a blog and begin writing a lot of free material and articles. The idea is this, the blog is less for my current readers, and more for just simple promotion. The articles could get picked up from search engines or links to forums or websites like reddit, and suddenly I have people seeing my blog. They see my blog, they see I have books, too. Most people won't care that I have books, but a few who came for the free content on my blog might get interested and purchase a book.

    It's all about picking up more readers by expanding what parts of the internet you cover. So instead of just having a presence on the e-book distribution platforms, you now have content that can reach out onto all sorts of other sites. And who knows? Maybe a magazine or a website will like the articles your produce and offer you some sort of a job.

    Social media websites like Facebook are great to have a fanpage set up so people can just click a link and suddenly get updated every time you have a new book coming out. Personally, I would try releasing a lot of free short stories or something on my blog once every 1-4 months, just so i can keep my facebook/twitter active enough so that it doesn't seem like I stopped writing (otherwise I'd be posting updates once every two years or so.) But you also don't want to be posting updates every day or two because then you just become annoying.

    Also, have very detailed author profiles on the websites you publish your work on. That is extremely vital. Keep that updated as much as you can because that is probably where you will be seen the most as a writer. As well, although I can't think of any because I've never looked into this, but try to find websites that will promote indie books. Don't pay for these websites because the whole point of self-promoting is to retain as much profit as possible, but if you can find a website that reviews indie books or something, I'd recommend submitting content there. Once again, free advertisement.

    But I definitely think that a very strong online presence across as many websites as possible is extremely helpful for anyone who is self-publishing. If you aren't self-publishing, you probably should disregard what I've said because I doubt it will be effective. But just be warned, I've never tested any of this out, so I can be completely wrong.
     
  10. The Tourist
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    I have to be honest with you, I have a love/hate relationship with all things 'cyber.' Granted, I need a computer for business and e-mail, but I often wonder if this brave new world of blogs, social networking, and posting every move you make or picture you take is in our best interests.

    For example, there's a debate going on whether a potential employer should be nosing around in your FaceBook account.

    I look at presenting a book or story as something akin to a job interview. And lately I've even been distrustful of forums. The reasoning is quite simple. The cyber world seems to have a differing agenda and etiquette than the real world. What is accepted or expected in one is not the same as in the other. And to me, the selling of a story is just like any other business deal--you have a commodity you want to sell and you're looking for buyers. The schmaltz of the 'net should not color the reality of a book deal.

    Rather, it shouldn't matter, but I guess it does.

    Now, my opinion comes on the heels of some considerations I have had to make recently. I originally joined creative writing forums to learn nuances I might need. In many ways being in a forum kept me away from my story. And sadly I had to make a decision between having my core values or going along to get along. I chose freedom, because I felt if you chip away bedrock you lose everything.

    This brings us full circle. Do some of us want a "presence" in the social cyber world of selling stories and being connected with this segment of creative writing? I've decided I must limit my footprint, and work on the story as if this network does not exist. I must be a gatekeeper. In many real ways I have wasted two weeks of writing to generate a public persona. I won't be making that mistake again.
     
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  11. superpsycho
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    It's about marketing and the social networking sites aren't the best way to build a name. Blogs can generate a following but only if you've got something different or insightful to say about an interesting topic. Websites and blogs can generate interest but you have to know what you're doing because you're just not writing for people, you're writing for search engines. There is a lot going on under the hood so to speak. If you think you can just through up a cheap website, think again.
     
  12. Floatbox
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    Grouping the concepts of blogs, social networking, and "posting every move you make," together in the same breath might be problematic for you.
     
  13. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    I hope you get the general idea. Even my story needs proof reading and editing, so why not my forum responses? :)

    From my seat it just looks like every mother's son has an electronic device in their hand or strapped to a belt. Even I flip on the computer to "check messages" when I get home. This mindset is spilling into our stories. A few years ago my home was hit by lightning. I was down for nine days. Actually I was 'mechanically' down for four or five--I just liked the peace and quiet.

    My overall concern is that when people need to make a statement they turn to the great demi-god, the 'inet. Why? A computer just is a big dumb adding machine hooked to a coax cable. For all we know the gizmo actually runs by a coal-fired dynamo in Bulgaria.

    Tell you how bad we've become. I told a mod last night that I would rather have freedom than bending to a tin-god (meaning his mindset as our grand overlord), and his forum no longer met my needs. I asked to be disconnected. I did not want to be associated with his forum, after all, even I have a reputation.

    Guess what? I didn't die. Coffee tastes just as great this morning as always. My wife loves me. The chrome on my bikes still shines. And I don't feel like a major body part has been cleaved from my chest.

    In other words, nuttin' happened no way.

    But we all know people who break out in a sweat if their cell phone doesn't get an immediate signal.

    Are you sure you want our stories to be tossed into that same category? In other words, you tale is not really an example of your dreams and storytelling abilities until it's an electric knot in some server? Truth be told, I get more concerned when I leave the house without a jackknife.
     
  14. funkybassmannick
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    A key aspect to successful platforming is regularity. Writers love it when something is regular. If you post a youtube video every Friday, they will expect it and they will check you out more often than if you don't keep a regular schedule. It's entertainment for them, just like TV. And if you all of a sudden stop for personal crises or whatever, followers will feel betrayed. They probably shouldn't, and they should try to understand, but they are often selfish. Similarly, if you haven't updated your website in months, they will be less likely to check out your website.

    Too keep your followers happy, be regular with your platforming plan, whatever it may be.
     
  15. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    You are absolutely correct. However, at one time people didn't even expand a local business without a ring-kissing visit to the local mafia representative. Same dealie here.

    I don't do what I feel 'the public' expects. I usually post in the morning, do my daily routine and return later. I slept in another whole hour today, and almost blew off the sign-on this morning to do the crossword puzzle.

    A computer isn't like punching a timeclock. I owe the 'net no allegiance. I don't answer phone messages either until it's convenient--sometimes not for three or four days. In about 25% of the time I just delete them without responding, at all.
     
  16. Floatbox
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    In the morning, coffee will always be, for me, the most desirable liquid to ever have occurred in a cup -- this is because caffeine is a drug, an addiction, habit-forming.

    So there is such a thing as information addiction. I'd dig up studies, but I'm sure you believe such an assertion. The internet is habit forming. In general, media is habit forming. There is something to be said about that.

    Which is this: that we need an awareness to the perils of our modern interactive media without giving into sensational neo-luddism. I think a far more constructive way to look at the new world order is to ask, how can we best leverage the awesome power of the internet? The potential of these new technologies are staggering and mostly unrealized. Part of realizing that potential is to realize the perils, but I call ya out only because I detect a tendency to emphasize the addictive/vapid element of social media so that it dominates the concept. It's a pet peeve of mine, because I'm a optimistic futurist young guy.

    So what I'm saying is this - you're a ying and I'll be a yang and together we shall conquer the future.

    That is sort of like if I asked you, "Is your tale not really an example of your dreams and storytelling unless it's a splotch on a piece of dead tree?" The digital medium is just that - a medium. It's a way to start a conversation with people all over the world in real time. You control what that conversation is. It can be as superfluous as what you ate for breakfast, or it could be about rifles or the human condition or transhumanism.
     
  17. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    Well said! I think you hit the nail right on the head!

    (Hey, my culture is effected, as well. You should have seen the protests when they took kickstarters off Harleys and went to EFI.)

    Now the big question. Since everything runs with a chip in it, and we have already turned over our business invoices and the targeting systems of our tanks to computers, how do we keep a check on our personal creativity?
     
  18. The Tourist
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    I asked Floatbox how you deal with this real problem. I'll tell you how I answered his posts this morning.

    I deal with 'life' in the modern world as I treated him. For one, I used a computer to answer his reponses. While doing so I sharpened a client's knife using a Japanese method that is +800 years old.

    Luddism? Well, I'm not going to vandalize a Prius with a wooden shoe, but I believe you keep the best of the past and filter events of the present.

    I believe we have a real problem with what I refer to as a "cyber" culture. Everyone has a cell phone, but precious few can get a UPS box open. You'd be surprised at how few of them carry a knife, and want mine.

    I don't think this is a healthy step into the future. And your stories are going to face the future, as well. We should protect them.
     
  19. Floatbox
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    I think the best way to interact with the new technology is to understand it lucidly by mindfully exploring and experimenting and innovating, by observing how other people are successfully engaging the new tech (or unsuccessfully) and by not holding on to dogma. Basically, we incorporate social media the way we incorporate anything new in life.

    You are very cryptic, Tourist. I don't know what you mean by

    We both know that computers are more than dumb adding machines. The internet is greatest communication system ever built, quite possibly the greatest revolution in human culture of all-time. It is a tool, like your knife, that if used properly can be extraordinarily beneficial. It is the brute driving force behind the transformation of nearly every industry and field. The internet is kinda a big deal. The mobile internet is kinda a big deal. I don't know if you have a smartphone but it completely changes the flavor of life for the better. I'm typing on a smartphone right now. Then I'm going to read the Principles of Aesthetics by Dewitt H Parker on the same device for free. I might just watch a lecture on youtube too, out in the park. Then, I'll check back to see what you have to say about all this. Later, I'm going to find my girlfriend somewhere on town for an impromptu date using my gps and text. I'll track how much I spend on lunch on my money tracking app, on the spot. And later on, I'm going to drive around and appreciate magic hour because it's a beautiful day but if there is a thunderstorm headed my way I'll know because I've got a weather app. I might just stay out in it though until it's time to go home, and I'll know when I should because my phone has a clock, too. And a voice recorder if I want to dictate notes from a sudden inspiration if I happen on an amazing sunset, and I'll take picture too. I might send it to my mother halfway across the country.

    A cell phone is an amazing Swiss army knife of a tool. I mean it's utterly fantastic.

    What? Everyone I know can open boxes. If you are getting metaphorical here, well let's get specific. What can't I do?
     
  20. jazzabel
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    I write a blog but I abhor facebook/twitter and similar, so I can't really offer perspective on those, but with blogging, the only thing bloggers are concerned with is quality entertainment. If you are going to post excellent quality creative writing on your blog, or spill your guts on the page, or take pictures or selfportraits, or show off any creative pursuit, then you have a chance of being successful. If you are already famous and have fans, opening a blog to post about what's coming up, a bio, pictures from tours etc. you'll be successful. Not being known and not posting anything authentic and interesting, bloggers aren't interested in yet another blog about "I might be doing this and I might let you know when it's done" but otherwise, why should they care?
    I suspect twitter/facebook are the same, only if you are creating something and it is possible for people to read/see it, they'll be interested in your updates. Otherwise, you are just like any other person posting about what they had for breakfast ;)

    The only way I can see an unpublished writer to be successful as a blogger/writer is to have a project they don't mind sharing for free on the internet. Then you post couple of pages at a time, at regular intervals. Answer comments, visit other bloggers and keep posting. If it's god, people will get hooked on reading your stories, and by the time your real project is finished and published, you'll have a successful blog with fans who'll rush to the store to buy a copy.
     
  21. Nakhti
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    Nakhti Banned

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    I know an author who has a fantastic website, online forum, and also maintains an FB presence. He's very hands on and responds to all his readers' questions. It doesn't seem to have harmed his profile at all...

    by the way, I had to laugh at this:

    'Women make up 91 percent of romance book buyers, and men make up 9 percent.'

    Well who the hell do they they think made up the other 9%? Credit card toting llamas??
     
  22. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    That leaves out the often very large group, "We have no idea whether the buyer was male or female"

    78.63% of all statistics are total rubbish.
     
  23. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    I believe that some devices are viewed by people as technology pirated right off the bridge of The Starship Enterprise. The computer isn't one of them, the first automatic sorting machine was used circa 1880 to tabulate info for the national census. The computer on the first moon landing had less storage capacity than your average current cell phone.

    However, we have fallen in love with all things cyber. There is more 'cutting edge' technology in cutlery made from Elamax or S35VN steel than in that cell phone--and it takes more raw science to make those alloys, as well.

    A computer is a big dumb adding machine. There are only 10 types of people who understand binary, those who do and those who don't. A computer is an on/off swtich. How complex is that?

    As for opening a UPS box, obviously you own a knife. I sell and service items to the "general public." Yikes, it's a wonder that most of population isn't slicing and dicing themselves on a daily basis...
     
  24. superpsycho
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    Yes, a computer is just a bunch of on/off switches but there are tens of millions of them and they are very very small, made up of some very sophisticated material of their own. Like anything else computers are tools. Computers don't do things better, just a whole lot faster. Like a knife or a sword, it can be an asset when used properly but it also can be dangerous when misused.
     
  25. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    Oh, I agree. The issue as I see it is that other than creating invoices and downloading porn, a computer is more of a detriment to society than a help. Periodically I shut the computer off for a few days. I think cyber stuff is an addiction like anything else.
     

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