Sunday, October 24, 2010

Creating An Online Presence

In this day and age-a time when everyone is obsessed with the next big technological thing-practically everyone spends some time online doing something. My seventy-five year old, great aunt spends time farming on Facebook. My three and five year old sons play educational games on PBS Kids. And, I have started a Facebook page, Twitter page, and this blog, of course, just to keep up with the online Joneses.

"And why do I need to do all that?" you ask. Well, the answer is simple. I, like everyone else who forms an online presence, have something to say. And my message is this....I want to be the next top model. Oh wait... no that's not it. I'm wait too short for that. It's this....I want to be the next big picture book author.

And after a year or so of researching the writing bizz-give or take a few days-I have come to realize a few things about becoming successful in the writing industry. While I don't necessarily NEED an online presence to become a successful picturebook author, it's definitely a recommendation. After all, if I can command the attention of thousands of people online on a daily basis(I wish. Seriously. Please follow. LOL), then chances are I can sell a book or two. Right? Well, that's the logic anyway!

Ok. So now that we've all decided that having an online presence is esential, what next?

Well, now you need to get down to the nitty gritty and decide which platform is best for you. You need to discover which platform/platforms suit your personal style best. Because, honestly, nothing's worse than creating a site, blog, or page in which you can't work and that you're terrible at. I mean technology is forever, people. If you mess up, it'll be documented somewhere on the world wide web forever. No pressure or anything.

So here is a list of options for you to consider using as an online presence: Twitter, Facebook,any number of writing sites, and any number of blogging sites. My preference for the blog, of course, is blog spot. But I'll get to that in a minute.

Let's start out by talking about Twitter. That seems to be all the rage now. And frankly, I'm just not getting it....yet.

Twitter's advantages, to me, are this: 1. You can get your message out there and not bore the reader with tedious details. 2. You learn a lot in quick spurts. You can join big time authors groups and find out what's going on with industry insiders (Love this aspect) 3. It's a little more formal than texting, and a lot like a real conversation. You don't have to be perfect with your writing, and most of the words are spelled correctly. 4. You can decorate your Twitter page with cool backgrounds.If you love the personal touch, you'll like this feature.

Twitter's Disadvantages: 1. I hate having to limit my words. I'm a writer. I love words. 2. Some people abuse the word limitation and send multiple tweets to get their message out there. People, if you're doing this than Twitter's not your platform. Get a new one. Please:) There's nothing worse than reading 15 tweets from the same person, in a row. I think we should have a 5-8 tweet minimum. 3. Sometimes I have to scroll on forever to get to through all the tweets in a day. Probably the reason I loathe multiple tweets in a row. 4. If you don't tweet for a few days, no one misses you. This could be a pro or a con, depending on your perspective. If you don't have a lot of time to work on your online presence, this is great. If you need to feel the love, it's not fun NOT being missed.5. Not as user friendly-IMO.(Sidenote:So far, tweeting is not my favorite online platform. I have learned a lot and will continue to use it, though. I can definitely see its advantages in the long term.)

Facebook's Advantages: 1. You're getting your message out there. 2. It's way more layed back. It just feels more comfortable for the people who have little time, and want to tell you what's going on. 3. You can post pictures and captions. 4. Very user friendly-IMO.

Facebooks Disadvantages:1. There has been a lot of controversy surrounding Facebook. 2.You can't add really cool backgrounds. Not cool if you like the personal touch.3. Again, word limitation springs to mind. While it's not as bad as Twitter, it does still put a cramp on your writing style.

Blog Advantages: 1. You're getting the word out. 2. If there is a word limitation, I haven't reached it yet. 3. Lots of cool features: backgrounds, polls, pictures, multiple pages, etc. 4. Most are pretty user friendly. I personally love blogspot, because it is so user friendly. A lot of my friends use Wordpress, and I've heard bad things. For one, you can't post countdown clocks on Wordpress. And as you guys have seen, I love countdown clocks. I will use them often. Countdowns til' book releases. Countdowns til' movies. And countdowns til' the last day of school. They serve as great reminders, and give hope that there's an end in sight.

Blog Disadvantages: 1.It takes A LOT of work to keep your blog updated. The word count is high, so people expect more. It's mucho pressure. 2. You're constanly having to look at other people's blogs to find out how to make your's better. Did I mention that it's a lot of pressure?

And Lastly, Writing Group Advantages: 1. These are a must. One, they get your name out there. 2. You will find great resources on these sites. 3. You will learn to rely on these people to critique your work and help you grow as a writer. 4. You could meet someone who helps you get published. 5. It's just the smart thing to do.(Sidenote: I personally love Writer's Digest and Writeoncon, but I've heard that Redroom is good too. Technically, I'm a member. But honestly, I don't visit. I just don't have the time.)

Writing Group Disadvantages: 1. Not all writers are created equal in these groups. What I mean by this is that some have more experience than others. So in truth, you're going to want to look at their credentials before you just go and buy into their critiques. After all, they could be new to this, like me. I always say things like ' But this is just my opinion. I'm new to all this, so take my opinion with a grain of salt' when I give a critique to someone who doesn't know my experience level. But not everyone does this. Just keep that in mind when you're listening to these people. Don't go changing up your entire story because Joe Schmoe says you should. After all, Joe Schmoe's not an expert!

So to sum everything up, whether you use Twitter, Facebook, Blogspot, or any number of other online sites, do something. Done correctly, building an online presence could help you get published, help you sell books, and help create the buzz that you want to.

More importantly, write great stories. Because in the end, that's all the matters.


  1. That's true, the stories are all that matter. But we really like to do our blogging, don't we? Personally, I love twitter. I have a facebook page too, but it's more for family and friends and even then I rarely use it. It is good for finding people and having a way to connect though. I found lots of photographers that way and got permission to use their photos in an upcoming book (I hope). Twitter is more professional. I only read the posts that pop up when I'm online, and of course I check my @name mentions. Ciao!

  2. Agree with you both on all counts. I don't have time for FB too, but I do have one writing contact on my personal FB page which helps me keep a check on my professionalism. Hopefully my friends won't show me up! Not that great at twitter and use it less frequently now, great source of info there though. I love blogging at the moment, I just make sure there is paper in every room ready for my blog ideas. I read a post saying you get lots of ideas but you forget them and its true. It's like your dreams, we have lots every night but soon forget them.

  3. Totally agree that each offers such different things, and that it is personality specific as to what works for you and what doesn't. I'm a Twittering Twit--only use it to promote blogs (mine and other people's). I hate the dependency on TIMING... do you hit when the news comes out or not? If not, you just don't GET IT (though as I understand it, there is a way to organize this stuf... not interested enough to invest the time learning...)--I do think the features like #askagent are nice.

    I like facebook for conversations--it makes exchanges easy--but mostly I talk to the same 2 dozen people, in spite of my writer's profile having nearly 2000 friends. (I adore it for the personal stuff, but that isn't online presence--I have a separate profile there)

    I haven't used the writing forums--I have a writer's group I've depended on, and through blogging have made other friends for one on one feedback.

    BUT I LOVE BLOGGING. a ton of work, yes... not just maintainging your own, but the commitment of visiting others... still, that visiting is how you get to know THEM, and THEM visiting is how they get to know YOU, and I think the identification of kindred spirits just isn't possible the same way in any of the other formats.