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The Value of Social Networking February 1, 2010

Posted by Ronica Stromberg in Uncategorized.
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Standard advice for writers these days is to get involved in social networking sites such as MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter to promote their names and books. I joined Facebook, JacketFlap, and LinkedIn but wondered how much they’d benefit me as a writer.

I’ve been on Facebook the longest, a little more than a year now, and without putting much effort in, I made a contact in the book industry, sold a couple of books to a long-lost cousin who found me through the site, and reconnected with another long-lost cousin. This last contact proved the most valuable, but not in the way one might expect. By reconnecting with my cousin, I reconnected with my childhood.

Children’s writers like me are always advised to spend time with children to make their stories realistic. I’ve doled out this advice myself. When Jenny Whitehead, another writer and poet, was searching for more topics for her book of school poems, I advised her to hang out at a playground and eavesdrop on children. I had done that and rediscovered a whole nother world in children’s language. When a boy pushed a girl on a swing, she told him, “No underdogs.” Underdogs. As an adult, I had forgotten about those, but the memory came back quickly. Underdogs are when you push a swing high enough to run under it. And then there are tagbacks and cooties and all kinds of other words distinctly from a child’s world. Hanging out with children and hearing such words can inform the writing of a children’s author.

But after reconnecting with my cousin through Facebook, I might be more apt to advise other writers to get in touch with the world of children by reconnecting with friends from their own childhood. My cousin, Greg, said to me, “You still have that giggle no one else has.” I’d completely forgotten that I have a distinctive laugh, one that other children used to try to make me laugh just to hear. Adults don’t usually point out unusual laughs. And then Greg reminded me of family get-togethers and the time I camped out with his sister. Neighbor boys had tried to scare us by crawling on the roof of the camper and scratching on it like panthers. That memory put me squarely back in my childhood. I wrote a story about this after he left.

We both shared stories that reminded us who we used to be and who that inner child in us still is. What a great benefit from such a small investment in time!

Ronica and her cousin Greg

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Comments»

1. Nancy Cavanaugh - February 2, 2010

I have connected with family and friends from high school via Facebook, much more so than with other sites like it. It has been nice to have many of them back in my life after a long period of them being absent. I even sent out Christmas cards this year to friends and family!

I think the fan pages on Facebook can be very useful. I use them in marketing a pumpkin festival I’m involved with and with some of my other web sites. I don’t really have any books published so I’m not really using it for that. But I see how teens and college students are using sites like Facebook and how the marketing can be worked there. I think those who write for 13+ kids are going to have the most benefit from places like Facebook. I also use Twitter sparingly to promote some of my web sites and if I ever get published I’ll be using it for that. So it definitely has merit in marketing your books, as long as you’re doing it the right way.

Ronica Stromberg - February 2, 2010

Nancy,

I’ve seen authors make good use of the fan pages. This is probably something I need to look into.

I write mainly for 12+, but most of the contacts I’ve had through Facebook have been adults. I could direct my blog more toward tweens and teens, but I started it as a way to share insights into the life of an author with other children’s writers who had requested that after hearing me speak at a conference. Definitely the design and language of a site determines who frequents it. Maybe this is why some authors maintain more than one blog. I have had a friend of my teenage son befriend me on Facebook though. I was flattered.

2. Andrea Buginsky - February 3, 2010

A writer friend of mine suggested I sign up with Facebook about a year ago. I was reluctant, but went ahead and did it. I was amazed to find most of my family were already members! My cousins, aunts and sister, among others. I was also able to find old friends from school whom I hadn’t talked to in years. It was wonderful! Now, I love to check in to see what everyone is up to and say hello. I will also leave links to my online published articles to generate more traffic to them. I think Facebook is a wonderful way to make contacts and keep in touch.

Ronica Stromberg - February 3, 2010

LOL. This is what happened to me also! You’d think we writers would be all over a chance to network socially through writing, but I was reluctant also. And then I found family and friends who never showed much interest in reading and writing had been on the sites much longer than I and remain far more active. Go figure. I guess I feared that time I spent writing on social networks would detract from the time I spent writing stories and books that I could sell. That still is a concern, but less so than when I started.

3. Andrea - February 3, 2010

Your thoughts about how Facebook helped you reconnect to your past are interesting – never really thought of how using it that way could benefit writing.

Ronica Stromberg - February 3, 2010

Andrea Mack,

It wasn’t what I was expecting when I signed up for Facebook either, but reconnecting with my cousin inspired at least one story from memories of my childhood. And it was great fun seeing him after so many years apart.

I still see these social networks as primarily social, but a person’s social life can affect their work life and career also. This was just a clear example from my own life and writing career.

4. Ronni - February 5, 2010

Hi Ronica! (Oh, that feels so weird, like I’m talking to myself!)

I followed your link from the Edifying & Edgy blog–you responded to me, a fellow “Ronica.” (I usually go by “Ronni” just because it’s so much easier than explaining “It’s like VERonica, without the VE” to people I meet.)

I’m on Facebook, and although I am not published, I find it’s a very fun/addicting site. I’ve also found it to be an effective marketing tool. I play games with authors, and when they use their books as avatars/profile pics, I recognize them when I go to stores, and that makes me more than likely to pick the book up!

Feel fee to friend me; just do a search for Ronni Selzer if you’d like. Nice to meet you! And thanks for the book recommendation–I’ll certainly be taking a look at that one as well. 🙂

Ronica Stromberg - February 5, 2010

Yes, I used to introduce myself by saying “just like Monica but with an R,” but the whole Monica Lewinsky scandal put an end to that comparison. 🙂 Then I started saying, “It’s just Ronica, no vuh,” but a few people thought I was saying “no duh” to them. Sometimes I wish my mother had named me Veronica. Life would have been simpler!

I’ll try to befriend you on Facebook. I’m still getting the hang of all of this technology stuff.

For anybody else reading this, Ronni and I are talking about my new books, “A Shadow in the Dark,” and “Living It Up to Live It Down.” These are available from the publisher, Royal Fireworks Press, at http://www.rfwp.com. (The first book was recently reviewed on the Edgy & Edifying blog.)


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