Tag: twitter

twitter

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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To Query or Not To Query: Alternative Ways to Find an Agent

 Once upon a time, if a writer wanted to find an agent, they’d have to send a query letter—in the mail at that! Although querying is still by far the most popular way to get a mentor, I’m happy to say that it’s not the only way. Now, to the joy of everyone—except maybe the Post Office—you can also find your agent through online mentoring programs and even Twitter! In fact, New York Times Bestselling authors like Angie Thomas and Tomi Adeyami both got their agents through these untraditional methods. Angie pitched her agent on Twitter and Tomi was a 2016 mentee in a mentoring program called Pitch Wars. Here’s a list of several fun alternatives to finding your agent through querying, including a couple I’m thrilled to say I help organize. Pitch Wars What is it? An annual program that pairs more established writers—aka mentors—with mentees, aka those emerging writers still looking for an agent. If selected, the mentors and mentees spend months polishing the mentee’s manuscript for the Agent Showcase—where, after reading a pitch and first 250 words, agents comment requesting more pages I was a 2014 Pitch Wars mentee and got my agent, Michelle Richter from Fuse, from the contest. In addition, my Pitch Wars novel was actually Hollywood Homicide (though under a different name), which was released last year by Midnight Ink. I believe in Pitch Wars so much that I’m Managing Director this year.  When is it? Our Mentor Blog Hop, where mentors share exactly what type of books they’re looking to mentor is going on now. Our submission window runs from August 27, 2018 through August 29, 2018 at 10 PM EDT. Where can you find more info? PitchWars.org or visit the #pitchwars hashtag on Twitter.    #PitMad What is it? #PitMad is a pitch party on Twitter where writers tweet a 280-character pitch for their completed, polished, unpublished manuscripts. Agents and editors make requests by liking/favoriting the tweeted pitch. It’s run by the same committee that puts on Pitch Wars. When is it? Our next #PitMad is September 6, 2018 from 8 AM – 8 PM EDT Where can you find more info? http://pitchwars.org/pitmad/ #DVPit What is it? A two-day Twitter pitch even for marginalized authors and illustrators. Like with #Pitmad, agents and editors can like/favorite pitches they want to see in their inbox. It’s hosted by super-agent Beth Phelan. When is it? You’ll have to check the site to find out the dates of the next event. Where can you find more info? http://dvpit.com/ Nightmare on Query Street What is it? As the name suggests, it’s a Halloween themed contest run by Michelle Hauck, Michael Anthony, and usually another agented/published writer. Mentors help unagented writers revise their query letter and first 250 words of their manuscript for agents to requests. Sticking with the theme, contestants must answer a Halloween-themed question in their submission. When is it? October! Obviously! Where can I find more info? Visit the website: https://michellehauckwrites.com/contests/nightmare-on-query-street/ or check #NoQS on Twitter Query Kombat What is it? Another amazing contest from Michelle Hauck, Michael Anthony, and company. It’s such an interesting concept that I’ll just paste from the site: “Query Kombat is a bracket style competition where 64 query letters and first pages are matched against each other until only one is left. There are six rounds of competition that last the entire month of June and our expert judges leave notes and determine the winners. Agents request from the entries between the 1st and 2nd round, but there’s a catch. No agent requests are revealed until an entry is knocked out of the competition. Entries are known by their fun nicknames. Surviving entries are allowed to revise twice over the six rounds.” When is it? They just wrapped their 2018 contest. Submissions will probably open around May of next year. Where can you find more info? You can find more info on Michelle’s site here: https://michellehauckwrites.com/contests/query-kombat/ #AdPit What is it? Much like #PitMad and #DVpit, #AdPit is a Twitter pitch event—except it’s just for Adult and New Adult manuscripts. When is it? You’ll have to check the site but the most recent #AdPit was in April.  Where can I find more info?You can find more details on Heidi Nerrod’s blog here: https://heidinorrod.wordpress.com/adpit/  Kellye Garrett writes the Detective by Day mysteries about a semi-famous, mega-broke black actress who takes on the deadliest role of her life: Homicide Detective.  The first, Hollywood Homicide, won the Agatha, Lefty and Independent Publisher “IPPY” awards for best first novel and is nominated for Anthony, Macavity, and Barry awards. The second, Hollywood Ending, released on August 8, 2018 from Midnight Ink. Prior to writing novels, Kellye spent eight years working in Hollywood, including a stint writing for Cold Case. She now works for a leading media company and serves on the Board of Directors for Sisters in Crime as the organization’s Publicity Liaison.  You can learn more at KellyeGarrett.com and ChicksontheCase.com.        

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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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WHEN DID EVERYONE GET SO MEAN?

  Sometimes being on social media makes me feel like I am back in high school. That is not good. I found high school to be like a four-year dental appointment. And I was considered “popular,” whatever that means. I can’t imagine the pain if you were a nerd.
    “Like” me is now the unembarrassed beg on Facebook. Was your post “shared”? How many “friends” do you have? Dear lord, not that again.
    But still, I engage. I’d love to blame it all on being a writer just following Jane Friedman’s latest advice (which is right on), but the truth is I get sucked into the vortex. I want to play with the big kids, be part of the fun, and sell a few books along the way. I’ve trying “getting in” with the other crowd, you know, those Twitter folks, but so far they’re not sure about me. I’ll keep trying, though.
    Okay, I’ll admit it. I can actually have fun on Facebook. It’s just short of miraculous to be reconnected with people I haven’t seen or heard from in years. I love seeing photos of new babies, weddings, and puppies. Celebrating new books is like an online party. Sharing joyful news is a huge draw to social media, but so is the ability to talk about sad events and loss. A new community has been born. How can that be bad?
    Enter the inevitable meanies. Remember the girl who was sitting at the popular table in the cafeteria, whispering into the ear of the prom queen while pointing at your knee socks and laughing? I’d love to hear what the guy-version of this is, because I’m sure it exists. Anyway, the meanies are back, alive, and have infiltrated social media.
    Witness one poor woman who made the mistake of warning her fellow town-folk on Facebook about the price of a fish platter at a local restaurant if you customize your combo order. She went from being anti-the-restaurant to anti-commerce to anti-American in twenty comments. The vitriol in the remarks was so over the top, I winced reading them. Her reaction was to recoil, explaining she was only trying to help people avoid the same experience.
    Don’t even start me on the nastiness about the political scene. I wish I could say it’s limited to my “friends” on the right, but some of the most condescending disdainful posts I read recently actually were delivered by those I consider political allies. Can’t we disagree without becoming mean and personal?
    As a lawyer, I have long mourned the loss of civility in my profession. We have lost the art of advocacy without evisceration. Social media is rapidly becoming no less contentious, I fear. One person “unfriended” me when she learned I was a divorce lawyer. For that reason only. Ouch.
    Come on! Why can’t we all just get along? I’ll defend your right to say what you want to the mat, but can’t you say it without trying to bully others into silence?
    I didn’t have the guts not to be mean in high school and for that, I am sorry. I’ll be damned if social media makes me repeat my mistake.
    
    
    
    

   

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What's New in Social Media

One of the perks of being a Random House author is that you get invited to webinars where various publishing folk tell you about things they think you should know. I love going to these webinars. You don’t know who else is sitting in, of course, because you’re just looking at a screen with a picture on it, but I like to imagine Paula Hawkins sitting across from me in the void and thinking, “What if Maggie Dove met The Girl on the Train? Why don’t I call Susan and ask?” Anyway, yesterday the topic was “What’s New in Social Media.” The speaker was a young woman who handles all the social media at Penguin Random House and she had a lot of interesting tidbits. Here are some of them. 1. Share content you enjoy. (Yes, it’s okay to post all those pictures of dogs!) Readers want to know who you are and what your interests are. Social media is about getting across your personality! 2. You don’t need to be on every platform. Pick the one you like. But. If you are only going to pick only one, go with Facebook. That’s the big one, with more than a billion users. She advised authors to set up a fan page because while there are limits to the number of friends you can have, there are no limits to the number of fans you can have.  3. Twitter and Facebook tend to attract older users. The newer platforms, such as Snapchat, tend to draw younger ones. She said young people tend to colonize the new platforms and then the old people move in.   4. Because it’s the internet, there are always going to be some haters. Don’t respond. Don’t get upset. Don’t dwell. (But don’t forget. Never forget! 🙂 )   5. One of the most exciting new platforms is called Litsy. It’s an app for your phone, and it’s all about books. When you go on, it’s a little like instagram, except that there are only pictures of books. You can take pictures of books you’re reading and post them and write blurbs about them. I posted a picture of my fellow Miss Demeanor Cate Holahan’s book, The Widower’s Wife, against a red pillow, since it’s a domestic thriller.  Best of all, it’s a new platform and only has 28,000 or so users so far, so joining Litsky gives you chance to get involved with something on the ground floow. (Imagine if you’d joined twitter when it had only a few thousand users!)If you do decide to join, let me know and I’ll follow you. There’s another platform that’s similar called Reco. I haven’t checked that out yet. Probably her most important advice is to have fun with it. Social media really is about connecting. What about you? Which platforms do you like?  

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