Tag: instagram

instagram

Social Media: Tonic and Toxin

 I’m in a love/hate relationship. With social media. I love connecting with people on various platforms. As an extreme introvert, I find too much face-to-face contact exhausting. Social media provides me with the distance I need to make social engagement engaging, instead of an exercise in “put on a happy face”. Social media also lets me keep in touch with geographically dispersed friends. Neither my budget nor my schedule let me go visiting all over the world. And, as much as I cherish handwritten letters, social media accounts tend to change less often than physical addresses. Finally, social media lets me connect with readers and reviewers. I have a day job so extended book tours are not an option for me. Social media is vital in promoting my books and building my audience. But, I hate the way a constant diet of social media makes me feel. Instagram’s not so bad; it’s mostly pretty pictures. However, a week of ingesting negative news and caustic comments on other platforms leaves me feeling worse than a corn dog-and-fried-Twinkies binge at the State Fair. Despite my good intentions to only post, and respond to, funny Episcopal Church memes and heartwarming stories of animal rescues and Mike Rowe, I get wrapped up in the stories of injustice and bigotry and discrimination and cruelty. I get angry at the state of the world and the unkindness of humans. My cynicism goes into hyperdrive and I end up feeling helpless at my inability to “fix” things. My ire paralyzes me. When I reach the righteous anger saturation point, I have to find a way to reset. Otherwise, I can’t function. I accomplish nothing. My to-do list goes ignored. Pent up frustration leads to restless, purposeless futzing. This past weekend was one of those times. I hit a wall. Fed up with humanity, I wanted nothing more than to crawl into a back corner in my closet and rock back and forth. Luckily, the community center came to the rescue with a screening of “Casablanca”. Watching an iconic story of self-sacrifice and redemption play out against a backdrop of ultimate evil convinced me—or, rather, reminded me—that even the most cynical among us may be harboring a “rank sentimentalist” inside and will manage to do the right thing when it counts.
 How do you detox from digital negativity? Did you sign off from social media? Do you limit yourself to certain platforms or type of posts? Block comments like a defensive linebacker?

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Better Left Unsaid

I follow several writers, some published, some unpublished, on social media. Many post news of book deals, tweet about signing with agents, and ‘gram photos of awards. Friends and followers like, “heart”, and share the good news over social networks. Some writers also share their disappointments. A series is canceled, a manuscript doesn’t sell, an agent query is rejected. Friends and followers virtually gather ‘round to show support, offer encouragement, and share advice. Fortunately, most writers limit themselves to these common uses of social media. However, a few writers take up their smartphones, not to seek congratulations or commiseration, but to excoriate those they blame for, in their view, thwarting their literary ambitions. You’ve read their posts: the “stupid” publishers don’t understand them, the “opportunistic” agents pass up the Great American Novel because it’s not marketable, the “idiot” editors insist grammar matters, the readers who leave negative reviews are—you fill in the epithet. These writers do not take rejection well. As they see it, their manuscript is perfect; everyone else is wrong. The “story” is the only thing that matters (they sneer at punctuation and spelling) and anyone who doesn’t agree their novel is brilliant enough to warrant the expenditure of 300,000 words is a “moron”. Or worse. Advice, or anything other than wholehearted endorsement of their vitriolic screeds by friends and followers is treated to the same burn as the offending agent (or editor or publisher) and to the ultimate social media act of retribution—a block. Please don’t be that writer. Nobody enjoys rejection. No one expects anyone to be happy about rejection. But letting the whole world (and posting to social media is akin to letting the whole world know, regardless of your privacy settings) is not the way to handle it. Rant and rage if you must but do it in the privacy of your home or car or broom closet. Make sure no one but the cat/dog/goldfish can hear you. They won’t talk; humans will. Pin the rejection letter to a cork board and throw darts at it. Stick any leftover pins in a voodoo doll with the agent’s name scrawled on it in blood. But don’t snap photos to post to Instagram. Keep your anger to yourself. Agents, editors, and publishers are on social media, too. They’re the original networkers. They networked before it was cool. You may not follow any of their accounts but at least one of your followers does. And publishing people follow each other. You know that caustic email you sent to agent X informing them how dense they must be not to recognize your genius? Well, agent X just tweeted a screenshot of your email to the Twitterverse, which includes agents A through W and Y and Z. You just been branded “difficult”. You’ve just been branded a lot of other things that aren’t repeatable in polite society. Think anyone’s going to represent you now? Nope. You think agents are morons; agents think you’re a toxic jerk. Editors and publishers agree with the agents. The same goes for your foaming at the mouth social media posts. A screenshot of a flame goes viral. Consider yourself quarantined. No one will come near you. They’d rather have measles. Are you really surprised people in the publishing business (business, not hobby, not charity) want a manuscript that’s marketable? As one writing instructor put it, agents live on commission and need to earn enough to pay rent in New York. Editors and publishers have to pay rent, too. And maybe at least one or two of them has a point. Maybe your novel really isn’t a good fit for them. Try someone else. Maybe your novel isn’t as perfect as you think. Even manuscripts that are sold need editing. Maybe no one appreciates your story because it’s harder to decipher than a teenager’s emoji-laden Instagram caption. Maybe you should listen when they say your 300,000 word thriller stopped being thrilling at 120K. Maybe you can look past your hurt and find the nugget of good advice buried in the “no”. If you can’t resist firebombing bridges and insist on refusing all advice? Self-publish. 

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Connecting With Readers

So, the AMA on Snapchat was fun yesterday. More than thirty readers weighed in with questions asking everything from how I create characters to my personal political views (it’s Twitter, where so much tends to skew Trump. What can you do?). You can check it out here.   In keeping with the social media-centric posts this week, I asked the MissDemeanors to weigh in on their favorite tools were to connect with readers. Here’s what they said.  Susan Breen: I love twitter. I’ve come to the conclusion that I see the world in 140 character bites. I love the whole retweeting thing, which allows me to interact with people I might not otherwise. It’s a sort of living diary, for me. Alexia Gordon: I like Facebook and Instagram as my go-to social media tools. Conferences are how I meet readers face-to-face. Paula Munier: I interact with readers on Facebook and twitter—and that’s fun. But I really love meeting readers (and writers!) in person at conferences and bookstores and library events. Robin Stuart: Twitter is my go-to for online interactions. I’ve tinkered with InstaFaceSnap but have had the most consistent experiences with readers and writers on Twitter. I also agree with Paula. The networking and mingling at conferences and workshops can’t be beat. I meet a surprising number of crime fiction fans at Sisters in Crime and MWA events. Prior to joining the organizations I expected the events to attract only writers. Meeting and hearing from enthusiastic readers is a happy bonus. Another tool that I like (and keep hoping mentions my latest book) is The Skimm. A daily email that summarizes the news for its five million readers, The Skimm also highlights books of interest on Fridays. The newsletter was started by two, now 30-something, NBC News producers for millennials that need to know what’s going on in a nutshell before heading to the office.     

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The New Social Media Frontiers

We all know about Facebook, Twitter and (hopefully after my last post) Instagram. But what about all the other ways to interact with readers online? How do we reach readers on new platforms?  Today, at 4 p.m., I’ll be doing something that I never tried before. I’ll be participating in a Ask Me Anything interview on Snapchat. I am hoping that the questions will focus on my books and the writing. But, it’s Ask Me Anything, so we’ll see.  According to one of the organizers of the Snapchat AMA, Author Joe Clifford, that last AMA they hosted resulted in 51,000 tweet impressions and 12,700 video views. That was nearly 6X the engagement that the author usually received from tweets.  I’ll let you know how it goes tomorrow.  In the meantime, here are some must follow book snapchatters that I learned about this morning, courtesy of BookRiot. On their list is MyBookBath, a snapchat by a Vancouver book blogger who takes videos and photos of beautiful book swag and bookshelves. BookRiot has a snapchat too that’s made lists on blogs such as iDiva. And, if you’re joining the snapchat book community, there are some lenses to try that will spruce up your posts. Barnes & Noble recommends “Rotting Pig Head on A Stick” (It’s a Lord of the Flies reference) and Book Cover Face Swap (which puts your face on your favorite book cover).     

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10 Bookstagrammers To Know

Bookstagrammers are the life blood of the social media book community. Found on Instagram under the hashtag #bookstagrammers, these literature-loving individuals read, review, photograph and spread the word about books that they love (and, sometimes, hate). Some wonderful bookstagrammers even supply casting recommendations for films.  At last count, there were 1.36 million posts by #bookstagrammers on Instagram. Here are some #bookstagrammers any thriller or mystery author should know.   BookSugar. Maria has more than fifty thousand followers on Instagram, which means a ton of exposure if you make her must read list. This Canadian book blogger’s tastes range skew literary (Jane Austen, anyone?) but she does include the occasionally mystery, thriller, or suspense novel on her list. Wendy Walker’s Emma In The Night made the list recently. Crime By The Book. Bookstagrammer Abby started out with a cup of coffee and passion for thrillers, mysteries, and suspense novels. Now she has 47,000 followers (and growing) and a major book marketing career! Though she works for Dutton, the opinions on her blog and Instagram account are her own. Her reviews are insightful, well-explained, and sought-after. She also clearly knows where to get the prettiest cups of joe in the city.     SuspenseThrill. Avid bookstagrammer, blogger and reviewer Chelsea Humphrey had 4,588 Instagram followers as of Nov. 7. She’ll probably have more before this post runs tomorrow. She is a top reviewer on Goodreads and her blog is followed by English-speaking mystery and thriller fans the world over. On top of all of this, she takes some beautiful book cover shots.  Texas Girl Reads. Texas Girl, Sarah, sure does read. A book or so a week, by my count. She also takes visually arresting images of the suspense novels and mysteries that she loves and shares her heartfelt reviews on Instagram. Sometimes, she’ll share her kids’ favorite picks too. She shares detailed reviews on Instagram, where she has 1,044 followers, and on her blog.   GareIndeedReads. Gare is a dedicated bookstagrammer that not only reads a new book seemingly every few days, but also provides in depth reviews on Instagram and on his slick, professional blog. On top of this, he also casts many of the books he reads, sharing his vote for the Hollywood stars he could picture playing parts of different characters. The photographs of the books that he takes along with his reviews, and the images of the celebrities that he sees starring in the one-day-film version make for some visually arresting book evangelizing. He has over 750 followers. (I also had the pleasure of meeting him at a recent book event and he’s a very thoughtful reader and all-around friendly person).    Kourtney’s Bookshelf. Kourtney is a dedicated mystery, thriller and suspense reader. Her Instagram and blog often feature new releases in the genre.  When she likes a book, this Texas girl will not only photograph it and share with her 1,676 followers, but she’ll often include favorite quotes from the novel.    Oh The Book Feels. You can truly feel the book love from this #bookstagrammer. More than 66,500 people follow this Kansas City reader’s Instagram account–and it’s not difficult to see why. Carmen’s photos are composed like works of art, which isn’t surprising given her book library.  She also has a cat that occasionally graces her posts, and knows how to pose perfectly on a book shelf ladder.   Angie’s Bookshelf is another thriller and suspense #bookstagrammer to follow. According to her brief bio, this avid reader of thrills and chills loves wine, coffee, music and books, which you know means she’s part of the thriller tribe. (Thriller writing and garage bands go together. Check out any conference for verification). Angie has 579 followers and a taste for travel, as evidenced by this beautiful book shot.  Who wouldn’t want to read whatever novel she put against that beach?  Prose and Palate. The alliteration in the name alone should tell you this #bookstagrammer appreciates thoughtful writing, and it shows in her Instagram posts. Stacy has more than 4,680 followers and a penchant for thrillers, historical fiction and Southern fiction. She takes beautiful photos and has a vintage typewriter that often peaks from behind the pages. She also is a regular Book of The Month Club judge and has the collection of coolest coffee mugs around. Check out her Instagram to see what I mean.  Books The Thing. Erika has nearly 1,000 followers (979 and growing as of this writing) and loves a good mystery. She reads all types: cozies, psychological thrillers, Agatha Christie-inspired, Sherlock Holmes’ updates. She also loves a good female sleuth, as evidenced by this post on her blog.    

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The Right #: A Bookstagram Guide

Forget Facebook. The book community is on Instagram and you can find them if you follow the right tags.  The first one to use and search for is #bookstagram. The reader community uses the hashtag to mark anything book related on the site and it’s been used more than 15 million times on the site. It’s basically the goto search term to find photos of books that folks are reading and tons of reviews. It’s not the only one, though. When posting about my books I often use the tags #thrillerbooks, #suspensebooks, and #suspensethriller, too. I’ve also seen plenty of folks use #mysterythrillerbooks and #mysterybooks. The latter hashtag has the mosts posts associated with it, so it’s a good catch all for the mystery/thriller community that gets significant search traffic.  Another useful hashtag, if you have a pet and a book to market, is #readingbuddy. People love their pets. They love their books. They combine them on instagram to adorable and wonderful marketing effect. Thanks to petbookclub for this post!  Another great hashtag is #bookfetish. Use this one for all posts involving love of books or when you buy a book. And, if your book is on one of the lists, always mark it #bestseller.  Tomorrow, I’ll mention some of my favorite bookstagrammers! 

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