Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Five Problems With Social Media: Thirty Day Writing Challenge Day 1

I know that the topic for today has to do with problems with social media ... but that's not what I'm going to go with. For me, the only real problems I have are my inability to stay away from social media - not social media itself. That's a whole other blog post right there. :)

I dipped my toe in the pond of social media with a Google blog I started back in about 2005 or so. I had two small children at the time; my daughter was six, my son three and half years younger. I was a big rubber stamper, (making homemade greeting cards and other gifts) and I loved to scrapbook. With two small children, I found that I didn't have much time to do all the scrapbooking I wanted to, and so I started a family blog. I called it "Wing'in It", and I used it as a journal/scrapbook, inviting all my family and some close friends to come and see all the fun things we were taking place in the lives of the Wings. 

The blog became even more important at the end of 2008 when we were transferred almost 1,700 miles away from home by my husband's job to Cary, North Carolina. It was a way for our families to keep up with what the kids were doing in school, the trips we were taking and to see them as they grew up even while we were so far apart.
In 2011, my husband Steven was sent on two TDY's. The first one took place from March until June. He traveled to Stuttgart, Germany. He left again in August and came back in November after the second assignment in Heidelberg. Our family blog served as a way for him to see continual photos of his kids; to see first hand our daughter, who dressed up as Medusa for a Geography Fair, and to keep up with our son who decided to jump off of a six foot climbing rock and broke his foot while his dad was away.  Steven even set up his own Google blog while he was in Europe, and filled it with photos of the adventures he was having so we could share in some of his travels.

At the end of that year, Steven got a job on Ramstein Air Force Base and all four of us moved from North Carolina to Germany.

The blog then chronicled our two and half years of travel, adventure and homeschooling while we were abroad. When we moved back to Colorado, "Wing'in It" fell by the wayside. We may not see our families all the time, but now we're all within an hour or two of each other. My kids are now in high school, and are less enthusiastic about having their daily lives recorded. Besides, both of them do their own social media thing. I provide guidance (and some guard dogging) but my help with socialization of any kind has not been needed for many years. 

I published my first novel The Color of Thunder in December, 2012. I had no idea what I was doing when it came to publishing ... not a single clue, and I decided to go with Xlibris Publishing to get my book out there. That's when I really started using Facebook and learned the importance of reaching out to bloggers and news outlets via the internet. 

In the last couple of years, I have been so fortunate to 'meet' so many other authors and readers on Facebook. Sure, I get harassed just like everyone else does. I've been proposed to, flirted with, called a bitch when I didn't respond to overtly sexual comments and been added to so many groups I stopped counting them ... but the good far outweighs the bad. Some of my closest and most special friends were introduced to me on Facebook. I wouldn't change that for the world. It's been a wild and entertaining ride for me in Facebook land ... and the support I've gotten from other authors (and been able to give in return) has been one of the coolest things I've ever experienced. I've even got a street team. The best way for me to explain this to those who have no idea what a street team is -  it's kind of a home base for my fans. It's fun. I love it. The support I've gotten from readers on Facebook has been unbelievable as well.

YouTube has been helpful to me ... allowing me to create my own book trailer videos. It takes me a really long time to make them, but they're so much fun ... and I've gotten a lot of great feedback on them. It's been an enjoyable advertising tool, and I love watching other author's book trailers as much as I like to make my own.

In 2015, I found out about a job opportunity with Booktrope Publishing. I wasn't looking as an author ... by that time I'd decided to take what I'd learned from my previous experience with Xlibris and become a full-blown do-it-yourself indie author. I was interested in becoming an editor and a proofreader. I'd had a lot of experience in both, and thought it would be a good way to bring in a little extra income. In order to apply for a job, I needed a LinkedIn account. Being a stay at home/homeschooling mom didn't give me much reason to have an online resume, so I'd never considered LinkedIn before. I got the job with Booktrope, and now I keep my profile updated. It's been another positive for me where social media is concerned.

I have a Twitter account, but I'll be honest ... I'm not so good at Twitter. Instagram I'm good with, although more with my personal account than with my author account. I keep them separated ... one is private and for a bunch of pictures of my kids, the other is for my books. I absolutely love Pinterest. That I'm addicted to, and I use it for all sorts of things; entertainment, research, advertising and story boarding. 

There's one more thing I need to mention ... Goodreads. The authors I've met and become friends with after taking part in review groups on Goodreads are some of the most cherished people I know. It's also been a way to host some great giveaways, learn about new books and authors, and look up literary quotes and other fun things. I've heard some bad things about Goodreads from other authors. I, fortunately, have not had anything but a positive experience. 

I don't know about all the ways to connect via social media, but, as you can see, I have more than enough accounts active out there. And since this is a post all about social media, I've included ways for you all to connect to me should you choose to. :) In my opinion, social media is like anything else; there are always good parts to it as well as bad. You just need to enjoy yourself ... and be prepared to step around the icky parts.