Happy Thursday, Everyone! Today, I’m sharing a post I wrote several months ago for Venture Galleries. Since it never appeared on my blog, I thought it would be a good one to share. It’s my take on the pitfalls of spreading yourself too thin!
Transposing words is a stupid mistake.
Typos happen when I’m rushing.
Both are red flags that I’m spreading myself too thin. That’s a hard lesson to learn when you’re used to rising to challenges and tackling most anything thrown onto your plate. Case in point: I’m a new author. I sold my first book, WEATHERING ROCK, last February and it published the beginning of October. Prior to that contract/sale, I was without a presence online.
Fortunately, my ‘day job’ is marketing, so I knew about branding and building a platform. What I didn’t know was how to go about it, and what social media tools would net the best return-on-investment of time.
In the world of advertising, whatever your product or service, the goal is to float to the top when that particular brand/service is mentioned. Top of Mind Awareness. TOMA is the golden standard everyone hopes to achieve.
There was a time (in the days of yore) when businesses used the bulk of mediums available to them, hoping to obtain TOMA. Many felt the need to be everywhere. Web, print, direct mail, radio, etc. Most businesses, however, work with a budget and only have x-dollars to spend. When invested in multiple mediums, there isn’t enough for impact, only a ripple. Poof, and you’re done. Advertisers became smarter and realized they weren’t netting a good ROI.
I look at social media the same way. I could be everywhere, spending five minutes here, five minutes there, but am I making an impression? I’d rather put most of my eggs in one basket, rather than having many baskets with one egg.
When WEATHERING ROCK went under contract, I had to learn the ropes of how to brand myself online. The more I studied the advice of other authors, the more I lumped onto my plate.
Facebook. Everybody does it. I can learn that.
Twitter. Sure why not?
Triberr. Uh, okay. I’ll figure it out.
Every time I blundered through one outlet (and there was plenty of blundering in the beginning), something new surfaced to take its place. The parade of things I had to learn seemed endless. That conjured the phantom of doubt and despair. You know the one . . . it slithers from the cracks, waiting until you’re exhausted to whisper you’ll never learn it all. I went many rounds with that loathsome wraith.
According to all the research I did, it wasn’t enough to be online. I had to build a social media fiefdom – – website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Google +, Pinterest, Tribber, writing forums – – and that felt impossible. It was like getting sucked into a sinkhole.
In the beginning, I made an effort to be everywhere. Eventually, however, I remembered the rule of TOMA. I wanted to connect with people rather than being a ripple quickly forgotten in their social media stream. That meant investing more time in a few baskets, rather than minimal time in many.
These days, I am still pretty much everywhere online but I’ve come to the conclusion many of those mediums won’t grow beyond a splash. At least not while I’m juggling a full-time job.
I enjoy blogging, Triberr and Twitter and find them the most effective. For someone else it might be Facebook, Google + and Pinterest. It’s a matter of deciding how many baskets and how many eggs are right for you. I’ve made friends with numerous authors, bloggers and readers. I’ve built, and will continue to build, relationships. It’s want I want. I’ve connected.
Goodbye phantom, hello Nirvana.
Sounds good, right?
All was well until a new challenge reared its ugly head a few weeks prior to WEATHERING ROCK’s release. That’s when another author mentioned book reviewers to me. I knew my publisher sent ARCs to over a dozen reviewers but this author told me I should be seeking more on my own.
The Doubt Phantom crept back. Fortunately, it had less power to intimidate than before. I gave it the boot and set out like a heroine on a quest, combing the web for book reviewers. And then it happened. The stupid mistake that still makes me cringe.
One night after a full day of work and several late night hours on the computer catching up with my blog, email, Twitter and Triberr, I decided to send off a book review request before calling it a night. By that time it was after midnight, I was exhausted and operating on low ebb, but I went ahead anyway. No amount of fatigue or murmurs from the Doubt Phantom would hold me back! I found a reviewer, and emailed the request. Tired, but victorious, I went to bed.
The next morning when I looked over the email I’d sent, I was horrified to realize it had typos. Not one, not two, but three! Here I was asking a reviewer to read and rate my book, and I couldn’t even write a professional inquiry. Ack! Far too many baskets in that egg.
There was a point I would have beat myself up about that mistake for weeks, but I no longer have the luxury of time. I goofed, accepted the reviewer probably thinks I’m an idiot, got over my mortification, and chalked the whole thing up to a learning experience. When I’m tired and spread too thin, it’s time to call it quits and start fresh the next day.
Quality, not quantity. It’s an old idiom, but holds true. I’m in this thing for the long haul, not just to make a splash. I continue to grow, continue to learn, and – – I’m sure – – will continue to make mistakes. Hopefully, there will be less in the future.
What about you? What social media outlets do you find most effective? Have you ever made a blunder, as I did, that ended up contributing to your growth?
There are so many social media network to think about. I’ve limited myself to my blog, Twitter, Goodreads and Facebook. Has being on any of those made a significant impact on books sales? I couldn’t tell you which network is better than any other.
I’ve made blunders in query letters, also. I still cringe thinking about when I sent a letter to a literary agent and addressed it to the wrong person! They came back very friendly and didn’t mention my stupid mistake.
Goodreads is one I still struggle with. I’m there, have lots of bookish friends and belong to several groups but just can’t seem to find the time to use it properly. The same thing with Facebook. I really REALLY want to make an effort with both. You’re right that there are so many social media outlets available – – too many!
It’s what makes those blunders happen!! 😀
I cannot think of any particular mistake off the top of my head, but I am sure I have made them and will make more. The good thing about mistakes is that Intelligent people learn from them; I’m not bright sometimes, but I’m no idiot. 🙂
Since I am not published yet, I cannot tell you which sites seem to be the most effective. I can tell you that as a fan fiction writer of the past few years, I do have people who follow me on both fanfiction.net and Archive Of Our Own, as well as many friends on LiveJournal and Dreamwidth who know that my ultimate goal is to write and publish original fiction.
As you know, I also have a blog, and while you seem to truly enjoy blogging and manage to have something interesting to say every day, I struggle to keep up with three entries a week; even now, I wonder what in heck I’ll put up tomorrow. Wait! I know now. Phew!
One of the problems that I come up with is–how many eggs do I need? I went with Blogger for my blog site because I worried that WordPress’ TOS might be too restrictive for what I wanted to blog about, and then wound up keeping my blogs relatively PG-13 instead of the “no holds barred” I had originally intended. Now, the tech “expert” from my local RWA tells me that Blogger’s TOS are actually MORE restrictive.
I check in on my FB every now & again, but as a rule, don’t spend much time there, as I don’t really care what my friends had for breakfast. I haven’t even looked at Twitter yet, and while I have a friend on Pinterest (and there are lots of pretty piccies there), I find that I want to ensure that I have time to actually live my life–the real one, not the cyber one.
I am on Goodreads as well, but have run into two problems there–I read very slowly since my only time is in the bathroom, and the quality of books I’ve been reading so far is not something I want to report on–I played Thumper’s mom in a school play as a small child and still remember my line, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Any of the books I have on my Amazon Cloud Reader can’t follow me into the bathroom without my laptop, and can’t be accessed on my tablet for some reason.
So there is my (rather long-winded, as usual) answer. The synopsis: yes, no, maybe, some, soon, not yet (not necessarily in that order). 🙂
Hi, Lynne! Thanks for such a thoughtful response. Long-winded is fine, LOL.
Sometimes it’s hard for me keeping up with blogging (okay, a lot of the time) but I really enjoy it above and beyond all other aspects of social media. I’ve met so many great people and it’s fun! Sometimes with Facebook I feel like I’m just searching for something to post whereas with blogging I actually have something I want to share and get interaction on.
I didn’t realize blogger was restrictive with TOS but I guess every platform has to have guidelines. I do really like using WordPress. My biggest problem with blogger is the captcha that many bloggers use. Sometimes it takes me 3-4 tries to figure those things out. I’ve even given up commenting now and then because the captcha keeps telling me I must be a bot. Hmmm…there’s something seriously wrong when a human being can’t prove they’re human.
I don’t read as quickly as I used to because the evenings are consumed with other things like writing blogs and social media 🙂 but I’m still an active reader. Even with that, I haven’t really made any strides in Goodreads. Hopefully, it’s something I’ll become more active in during 2013. Oh, wait – – that would be another basket with an egg, LOL.
I totally get that “spread to thin” feeling. I think you’re doing everything you can Mae. I’m glad you’re accepting that and embracing the baskets you do have and the eggs that are bringing you the best ROI.
I think at some point, we all have to find that balance between living life on the social-media web and living life for reals, like Lynn says above. Lately, I’m finding my actual writing time is the smallest block of time I give to anything all week. That’s a problem since i’m a writer. I need to be better about figuring out where my ROI is and what eggs to focus on:)
A goal for me, and I’m sure many authors, is to get to a point where your works generate word of mouth. That’s the only way others will begin spreading the love and relieve you of the need to “be everywhere” to get the word out about your book. Without the snowball effect of word of mouth, I suspect many good books languish on the Amazon ranking system. So we have to be diligent in tooting our own horns (in a respectful and interactive manner) until that word of mouth takes off, if we’re so lucky.
Thanks for the post, Mae! Great food for thought, and so nice to know I’m not alone in feeling overwhelmed.
You made such a valid point about writing receiving the least amount of time. There are times when that’s all I want to do but I’ve already committed to doing something on another social media plaftorm. One thing I did this year (that I’m proud of myself for doing) is I dropped one of my tribes on Triberr. It’s was the largest one with 110 members and I just couldn’t keep up with the blog posts. I knew I was struggling. But when another member commented on one of my posts by saying she’d liked to share mine but I didn’t appear one to reciprocate, I knew I was kidding myself that I could keep up.
I promptly went over to the main tribe site and left a message for the leader and the members thanking me for inviting me, that I enjoyed my time with them but that the tribe was too large and I just couldn’t keep up. I wished them all well and told them I’d see them around the blogsphere. And you know what? That gave me an amazing sense of relief!
I still belong to several other tribes but they’re small and managable. I’ve learned to draw a line.
I definitely agree about the snowball effect and, a good portion of that, comes from producing books that produce word of mouth. Of course to do that, we need to write more book and create a backlist. Hard to do with all the social media sucking up time, LOL. It’s a bit like a vicious circle.
I do think I’ve found better balance now and I am trying to be more of a one-two basket person (er, not basketcase, although sometimes that’s how I end up feeling). 🙂 Feeling overwhelmed hits us all now and again. It’s toughing out and learning as we go. Thanks so much for commenting!
In some ways, it is a bit like having a full day time job, writing as a night / weekend job, and social media / branding fit into those time when you are supposed to eat and brush your teeth. Three jobs in one week – it is easy to get spread too thin.
I’ve splashed into a few different social media options too – I think I needed to, just to figure out what fit for me. Honestly, I just don’t “get” Google+ (though that is probably because I haven’t spent the time to figure it out). I like Goodreads, but mostly as a place to keep track of what books I’ve read – I haven’t figured out the “social” end of things on that either. Pinterest is fun – like a big picture book – but I haven’t been on it in months. I really like Twitter and blogging – those are my primary focus and will continue to be my top “go to” social medias. I’m hoping to spend more time on my Facebook page too this year, but my participation on all the others will probably be sporadic.
I haven’t made any recent “spread too thin” blunders (that I’m aware of), but I have done some awkward ones in the past. I’m bad for typos – I typed the phone number of a reference on my resume incorrectly once. And, once, I was hired to develop a poster – sent it to print (hundreds of copies) – then realized the contact phone number was incorrect. Ooops.
OMG, Lorraine, that last one with the poster must have made you cringe. I’m sure I’ve done a blunder like that some time in the past, but it probably got meshed in with the other day job ones, LOL.
It sound like we like much of the same things, blogging and twitter with Goodreads as a place to keep track of read books, TBR, etc. The social end of it is so hit-or-miss for me and seems to demand time I don’t have. I’m trying, because I know a lot of authors use it successfully but so far I haven’t made much progress.
Pinterest is fun, kind of like an unwind/relax sort of thing. I’m on Google + too (which seems like another Facebook) but I haven’t done much with it. And, like you, I want to be more active on Facebook. It’s one of the things I really want to make an effort about in 2013. You are so right in that it’s like having another job!! So glad I’m not alone in feeling this way.
Thanks so much for dropping by and sharing 🙂
My blunders are likely still ahead of me, but maybe I’ll make fewer of them thanks to your advice. Lyrical took my first novel under contract in November, and it won’t be out until fall, so I’m still feeling my way around building a presence in social media. It’s rather liberating to hear from another author that it’s okay — possibly even better — not to be hopping all over the place and dipping my toes in every site. Thanks for the cheerful thought!
Hi, M.Q, Congrats on the sale! What an exciting time you must be having. 🙂 And, yes, I can completely relate to how overwhelming it must be too, struggling to build that online presence. I remember the extra-steep learning curve I had to face, learning not only social media but also being a first time author. Every time I turned around there was something else to figure out.
And blunders? I made sooooooooooo many of them. I’m so glad you found my post helpful. Please feel free to call on me if I can help in any way. When I look back on it, I’m amazed at what I did learn in the amount of time available to me. Much of it was thanks to the helpfulness of other authors who had been there before me. I’m so thankful to them to have helped me along!
Oh, don’t I know this dilemma! I’ve made many mistakes from being spread so thin. I know exactly how you feel. But you’re so right, we need to take a deep breath and see which avenue is working for us. It sure doesn’t help to peep in on all only to be forgotten the second you head off somewhere else. Great post!
Glad you enjoyed it, L.J., and I can relate. I guess all authors can, as we’re all struggling with many of the same dilemmas. You are so right that its easy to be forgotten when you only peep in on a platform/site. That’s how I feel about Facebook. It’s the bane of my existance (I want to write a post about it). Much better to be a regular presence making connections than a blip.
Strangely enough, I had a meeting with one of my sales agents today and was showing him various social media platforms where we could build a presence for him. He’s a ‘techie’ guy and understands the need to be online but, at one point, he got overwhelmed and exclaimed, “I sell real estate!.”
I completely understood his frustration. It echoed my own of “I write books!” But, as we know the truth is writers (like real estate agents) have to be more than just the sum of their occupation. They have to be marketers and social media gurus too. And that’s the balancing act I’m still juggling wiht!
Thanks so much for sharing!
I’ve been of the mind lately that I just need to write great books that others can’t help but share, even if they just happen upon reading it. I know its not the “social norm” to think this way, and it may never bring me sales, but I don’t want to lose my love of writing, which seems to happen when I concentrate too much on the other stuff.
Completely agree, L.J. Wrting books is one of the things I’m concentrating on in the New Year too. I think it’s a smart move. Here’s hoping e’ll both make great strides with producing new novels!
Oh yes – the many qualities of social media that seems to have so much power over us. That old panicky feeling when I don’t get at least a like on blogs I follow – or better yet a comment. And then there’s the issue of promoting my own platform on Twitter. I’ve let Goodreads go – it sucked way too much time out of me and it seemed the site always wanted something I didn’t want to give. I said goodbye early on in the game. I also set aside Linked In – I said goodbye there also. Same thing – too much time for what I wanted to gain. Facebook – seemed to be one author talking to another but no real substance. Feed me substance and I’ll follow. Give me trivia and I don’t care. However, give me good writing on your blog and I’m as faithful as they come and Mae – as you know – you can convert me into being more than a follower – I bought your book and will continue to do so. I also try to stay loyal to my own blogging path. Twitter has been a good place to grow my platform but I keep it small. Just because someone follows, doesn’t mean they get a follow back. I’ve become picky in what I want Twitter to do for me and not what I’ll do for Twitter.
Hi, Sheri. Thank you so much for those kind words about my blog and my writing.:) I so value that support! It has been such a pleasure to get to know you. You (and many of the others who have commented here) are a perfect example of those treasured online friendships I mentioned. What a different it makes to actually connect with someone and develop a rapport!
I never really did much with Linked In. I use it to a degree on my day job but haven’t ventured near it as a writer. My biggest problem with Goodreads is all the emails I get about book launches, new releases, etc. i have found a lot of “good reads” through them but sometimes there are so many I can’t keep out. Same with Facebook. It seems like I am constantly being invited to a book launch party. I really want to support everyone as much as possible but it just seems there should be a better way of doing it.
When it comes to Twitter, I’m picky too. I don’t automatically follow back. I enjoy it a great deal. It’s probably not giving me the return I ‘think’ it brings, but at least I’m making real connections and it FEELS like I’m accomplishing something. Part of that came from adding Hootsuite and Mangeflitter and creating a number of lists.
Lately, I’ve been hearing more and more about Instagram and I may go dabbling just to see what it’s all about. Another drawback of the day job – – I have to stay on top of all of this stuff!
Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
Great post, Mae. I blunder all the time. Leave words out and hit send. I’m learning to proof before the ever important send or post button is clicked, but it doesn’t work 100% of the time. I think you’ve really found your niche with your blog. You are terrific at it and I hope you keep it up, even if all the baskets are full of eggs.
Aww, thanks, Stanalei. *blush* I truly appreciate those kind words 🙂 I love to blog!!
I’ve done the same thing with proofing too. No matter how many times I check a post before scheduling it, I invariably find a typo on the day it publishes. Usually, I read them shortly after they go live and can often catch the blunder before too many people have seen it. Still, it’s frustrating. The baskets keep filling up, LOL!
Thanks so much for dropping by and commenting!
Great post Mae! Facebook has been reduced to “like” and “Happy Birthday” to friends. I’m still learning Twitter. I think I like it best. Goodreads is used to keep up with the books I read and Pinterest is for fun and taking a break from writing. I’m trying to get in more blogs, but I have times when I can’t think of anything to say, like now… But, I’m still in my learning curve. Trying to squeeze in writing time is my biggest issue. I’m teaching myself to write in the mornings when I get up. I’m thinking that’s my best time.
Congrats, Alicia. It sounds like you’re making amazing progress and you’ve set goals. I envy you that time in the morning. I just can’t seem to drag myself out of bed early enough but I keep thinking ‘maybe’, LOL.
Twitter is one of my favrotie too. I completely agree about your takes on Goodreads and Pinterest. Pretty much where I’m at with both of them too. And I love Twitter. I’ve learned to dive in. Are you using a tracking interface like Hootsuite (my choice) or Tweetdeck or Tweetadder. Manageflitter is also great for checking on your followers and all of them are free.
I think it’s amazing the biggest challenge for most writers seems to be the issue of finding time to write. Interesting what that says about the changes social media and marketing have forced upon the insdustry (along with many other industries). *sigh* At least we’re all learning to adapt together.
Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!
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Great post, Mae. I love the way you look at baskets and eggs. I never really thought of it like you have. As you probably have figured out, my blog is my favorite media outlet, followed by email, FB and Twitter, Goodreads, then Triberr (still trying to figure those last two out)
Glad you enjoyed the post, Calisa. Blogging is my favorite too. Goodreads and Facebook are the challenges for me. Love Twitter and Triberr. If I can help at all with the last one, give a yell 🙂