Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The "Work" in Networking

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post on why I blog, where I explained that I blog because I love it. (if you missed it you can find it HERE).

But... over the weekend I had someone ask me, once again, why I blog--and this time it was someone live and in person, looking at the dark circles under my eyes (I've had quite a few late nights lately) and the way my skirt was falling a *little* too low on my hips (haven't had as much time to eat as I should) and the stray cat hair on my sweater (I didn't have time to use the lint brush before I ran out of the house in a mad-dash because--as always--I had 10,000 things to do and not enough time to do them) (have I mentioned how HAWT I've been looking lately?) and, well, I realized my usual answer of: "I blog because I love it" probably wasn't going to satisfy.

Let's face it: blogging is a lot of work. ALL social networking is. After all, you have to put yourself out there by writing posts, tweeting, sharing stuff on your wall--all of which should, in *theory*, be mildly interesting/informative/entertaining (which is much easier said than done, let me tell you). AND, you need to reciprocate. Respond to tweets, @mention people, "like" things, comment on blogs (which, sadly I'm kind of neglectful of lately--sorry guys, blame WriteOnCon!). Not to mention the emails (ohhhh, the emails).

All of which does beg the question of: WHY????

Why bother with this huge, time sucking thing?

"Does it make money?" the person asked me. To which I said, "No, if anything it costs me money because I like to give away a lot of prizes to thank my followers for coming by."

So then, WHY? Why use so much time and energy and effort for it? I can't possibly love it THAT much. What do I get out of it?

And here's the thing--the thing I tried to explain to them. I do blog because I love it. And the second I stop loving it I will stop blogging. But yes, it's work--and I try to treat it like a job. Because, to me, it IS part of my job.

No--writers don't HAVE to blog. But I do think they should--IF they can do it in a way that's fun and appealing and clearly shows that they enjoy it. Not because I think it will significantly increase book sales (I have a hunch that many of you who have clicked "follow" or "friend" will never end up buying my book.) Not because I think an editor will stumble across my blog and offer me a MEGA-SIZE BOOK DEAL because they loved what they saw. (ha, if I was counting on that I'd probably churn out posts with a few less parenthetical interruptions) But because I personally think networking is an invaluable resource.

I found my CPs through my blog. I found the WriteOnCon girls through my blog, and got invited to be a part of that amazing project. I also met all The Bookanistas through my blog. None of that makes me money--but all of it does help my career, either by improving my writing, letting me give something back to the industry, and giving me a TREMENDOUS support group to lean on during the frustrating or confusing tides of this business. Plus, I've met all of YOU, whose comments and support are 100% invaluable.

Not to mention, I've connected with agents, total literary rock-stars, book bloggers, teachers, and librarians through this blog. All of which helps me to be a PART of an industry that is centered in a state far, far away on the other side of the country and well beyond my reach otherwise. Which makes this whole dream feel REAL. Yeah, my book isn't on shelves yet. But I am part of his industry. A small, insignificant, largely unknown part--but A PART.

So I put the time and effort into blogging. I network. And I will continue to network, no matter how much "work" it turns out to be. Will I sometimes have to take breaks? I'm sure. Will I ever need to scale back? Maybe--who knows? But as long as I can, as much as I can, I WILL be blogging/tweeting/FB-ing/CONNECTING with people. Because it's important.

And...because I love it.

What about you guys? How do you feel about social networking? And how do you balance it with writing?

23 comments:

  1. I blog for all the reasons you've stated above. But I do have to add, I've purchased PLENTY of books from bloggers that I wouldn't have looked at twice if I didn't know them. So yes, it CAN, mean someone buys your book. And this one person could love it so much that they tell their friends to buy it too. Then, word of mouth breaks into an epidemic and you've made tons of sales because of that ONE person who bought your book because they followed your blog. I wouldn't underestimate the power of making book sales by having a blog. AT ALL. :o) My two cents! :o)

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  2. I agree with Jessica, most of my purchases are through promotional efforts online, through their blogs. I wouldn't underestimate that. And I think most of blog b/c we enjoy it, we love the connections, and b/c we see it as part of writing these days. You hit the nail on the head - to be cliche.

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  3. It is so so much work. But wonderful all the same. Before I discovered blogging and online writing communities, I was alone in my endeavors. Online networking has opened up a world of support and info that is invaluable. It's hard for outside peeps to understand, but if we didn't get anything out of it, we wouldn't do it. It's that simple. It fulfills us in ways that other parts of our lives as writers can't. It's a network of support and understanding from like minded peeps---and really nice and generous ones at that! :)

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  4. I agree with you all about why to blog. And much as I love it, the blogging, even one day a week, is work, as is all the social networking of following people's blogs.

    But like you, I've made a lot of great friends through blogging and found out about a ton of books I wouldn't have known about and want to read. And I found my awesome blog partner, Casey, through her blog.

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  5. Yup, I'm with Jess! Quite a few people have bought my book because of my blog... and I do agree, it is work and it is part of the job. But I love it, too - because of the wonderful people I've met!

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  6. I blame my overloaded bookshelves on blogging (and not because I've won all the books). ;)

    I love blogging for the same reasons you do, Shannon. I've meet some amazing people/writers because of it. :D

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  7. Ever since I started blogging 90% of the books I've read have been ones I discovered through blogs.

    Not that that's the only point you're making. I completely agree that it's a lot of work, but it's worth it. Blogging, and the relationships that come along with it, have really changed my life.

    That's what it's all about for me - connecting with friends.

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  8. Social networking (through my blog, Twitter, etc.) is personally huge in my life, but not necessarily for the purpose of self promotion. The reality is they are my connection to the outside world. For nearly 4 years, I've lived in a city where I know next to no one. My family lives in the Northeast, so I have no family around either. My friends are spread out across the country (all over the world, really). My blog and FB are my way of connecting with them over the distance. In the process, I've made some amazing new friends I never would have. Creatively, blogging has been an awesome way to make connections with other artists in a way I'd never be able to working 40 hours a week at a desk job and raising two young kids. Friends recommend blogs they think I'd like to visit and next thing you know, I'm making new connections. That's how I found you! A friend of mine who is both an illustrator and writer said "I think you'd love this writing blog", I hopped over and VOILA, here I am :)

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  9. I am very choosy about my networking...but the main reason I continue is because of the connections to other writers. But the truth is there are only so many hours in the day. I teach full time and write as well. In addition, because my job deals with young children, I feel a need to keep part of my life private (to kind of protect their privacy as well.) So, I don't tweet or FB.

    But I have truly grown to love the blogging community.


    And that's why I get up at 5:00 each morning...to check in before the rest of life starts.

    But the balance....aaarrrgggghhh!!

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  10. Like you, and others above, blogging connects me to others who write, people who 'get' my life which involves sitting in front of the computer a lot. I also love blogging; it's fun and it shows a piece of me to whomever stops by.

    Twitter is a writing/publishing info gathering place for me, and I happened to meet some pretty awesome people there too.

    Balancing all that with writing (and being a mom, wife, devoted dog owner, book reader, laundress, chef.....) is hard. There's no doubt. But like most, I sleep less than I should.

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  11. Know what, Shannon? If I hadn't started blogging 15 months ago, I would never have heard about you, or Elana Johnson, or Matt Rush, or Sarah Fine, or a host of other people I respect and admire.

    You bet that when your book hits the shelves, I'll be one of the first out there clamoring to buy it because I "know" you through blogging.

    And you are right on when you say that blogging is part of the business of publishing. But it is also a creative outlet. I think I've become an even better writer because I blog. I've certainly become briefer!

    Thanks for this post. You really are one of the best. Now, go take a nap!!

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  12. I agree with your completely. Blogging is much more about networking for me than building platform. And no one should ever meet new people unless they love it.

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  13. I couldn't have put this better myself! Great, GREAT post. This is exactly why I do what I do as well--it's time well worth it and makes me feel good to give back in some small way.

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

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  14. Such a great post. I wholeheartedly agree. I can't say enough how grateful I am for the people I've met through my blog.

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  15. I don't have anything to promote yet so blogging for me is a way to make friends and be a part of an awesome writers community. Where else am I going to find peeps who know EXACTLY what I am going though?

    How would I know what were the best books to buy if it wasn't for the Bookanistas? Also, if I purchase said books in person...I like to tell the sales clerk that I know the author. Yeah, I do.

    So maybe it's hard to juggle sometimes but it's worth it because I wouldn't be where I am today, or as close as I am to my goal, without all of you.

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  16. Lately, I've been a blogger slacker. I really need to get back to it.

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  17. I agree! I only throw as much of myself into my blog as I'm comfortable with, and only post once a week or so, but that's the way I like it.

    If I never started blogging, I would never have met my crit buddies, and I'd probably still feel like much more of a novice writer. I need the kind of outlet it gives me, and I need contact with people "like me". People I can't find in my city.

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  18. I feel like the balancing act has been a popular topic lately. It's a hard balance and if not kept under control the balance can tip and that's when the overwhelming feeling comes. I know because I've been there.

    Blogging can feel overwhelming and when it does, that's when I cut back. I enjoy it but sometimes I don't. And like you said, if it isn't enjoyable then why do it?

    Flexibility brings a better balance. Life throws curve balls and sometimes you have to bend a little to deal with it.

    I'm glad you blog.

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  19. Yes, yes, yes. You did a wonderful job of summing up the practical and emotional benefits of blogging--and what it is that keeps us all working at it year after year. I think it does help book sales, too, though. Maybe not in a phenomenal way, but it helps. We all promote each other and that adds up. :-)

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  20. I love this post!! Thank you for summing all of that up. There's no better way to connect with other writers, I think!

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  21. I also love blogging, but I meet a lot of ppl through it. I've met my CPs and all my bloggy buds, people who lurk on my blog and I lurk on theirs. And weirdly, it feels like friendship.

    Plus, I live in Japan. There are days when the only English conversation I have is with other bloggers.

    Recently I've been seeing more and more of the "you shouldn't focus your blog on writers," but I tend to disagree. You?

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  22. I'm pretty much with you, except that I have bought a lot of books that I wouldn't have if I didn't blog - and by "blog," I mean maintain a blog, as well as read and comment on others' blogs. So I do think it will help when it comes to selling your book, Shannon, if only because it means more people will have heard about your book.

    But mostly, I think networkig is important: making friends, finding CPs, forging connections. And I like Twitter and blogging, so I do it.

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  23. I enjoy blogging, I think because in a way it's like having work colleagues. We may all be at different levels, but we all write.

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