Monday, February 7, 2011

The Power of Social Networking Strikes Again

In a recent post, I extolled the benefits of social networking.  If you recall, as a result of a Twitter connection, I became acquainted with a web radio host and book reviewer.  That host/reviewer interviewed me and then some time later read my book and gave it a rather glowing review. Not only did she give it a positive review, but she’s been kind enough to post it on web sites such as Amazon and Good Reads. Whether or not this will net me more sales remains to be seen, but it’s always good to get validation of your talent as a writer. It’s also great to see the effort I’ve invested in Twitter is paying off. As you know from previous posts, I started that Twitter account with a great deal of skepticism.

Guess what? The power of social networking, Twitter in particular, has struck again. I’m sure in my last post I mentioned that in the early days of Twitter I followed anyone who followed me. I felt it was only fair to repay the kindness.  Since then, I’ve become much more selective about who I follow. Please believe me when I say this has nothing to do with me being a snob and is more about getting back to my roots. I started my Twitter account with the intention of promoting my work and reaching fans. Following the local historical society doesn’t aid me in that. Instead, it fills my Twitter page with posts that don’t apply to me and slows down my ability to reach those who are interested in my work.

One of those who followed me was Team Duo Lit. The goal of these two wonderful people is to assist all writers, especially those who are self-published, with furthering their careers and getting their work noticed. Given this, I decided to follow them. In one of their posts, they spoke of a web site called Wattpad and gave a link to a contest the site was holding for self-published authors. As it turns out, by the time I got to this site, I’d missed the contest deadline. I did stick around to check out the site and was intrigued by what I saw. Wattpad is a web site in which both aspiring and published writers can share their work and offer one another feedback. It’s an intricate and well organized system that allows writers to upload their written work as well as a cover for their yet to be published books. I joined the Wattpad group and was emailed instructions for logging on and creating my account. Though I created the account, I didn’t begin posting right away. For some reason, I didn’t delete the email reminding me of Wattad’s existence.

Last week, after a grueling week of editing two manuscripts, I needed a break. Although I understand the importance of editing, I’m not afraid to admit it’s one of those things that sucks the joy out of writing for me. Needing a reinfusion of that joy, I decided to give Wattpad a try. I have a story that’s already completed that I’m not sure will ever see the light of day. I’ve tried many times to get an agent for this story and kept getting rejected. I suspect its controversial content scares some people away, which is what I tell myself to keep from thinking the rejections are because I’m a bad writer. With this in mind, I decided to test the Wattpad waters. My agent has strict rules about posting work on the web that she’s trying to push to publishers. Because of that, I decided to try out the story I’ve been convinced will never see the light of day. I uploaded the story and then waited to see what would happen. I checked back regularly, okay obsessively, to see if anyone read my story yet. In looking around the site, I’d noticed others were getting reads and the number was being tracked and posted by the book info for all to see. In addition to these reads, there was the chance for people to vote on whether or not they liked a story. Each vote gives the writer what are known as popularity points. These points move the writer up in the standings and could lead to them being featured on the home page. That would in turn lead to more exposure for the author. Imagine my dismay when no one was reading my story. I couldn’t figure out how everyone else was doing it. Then again, I couldn’t even figure out how to upload my own personalized avatar or update my profile or create a book cover. As you know from prior posts, I’m a bit technologically impaired. I had to enlist the help of my teen daughter to get the book cover created to the right number of pixels and what not. While she worked on this, I plodded through getting my little avatar up there and making my profile shine. Then I started poking around to find out how to get some reads. I didn’t just want reads though. I wanted some comments. I wanted to know what the readers thought of my work. Turns out there are a list of clubs on the site and one of those encourages authors to share their stories with one another. After a few posts there, I was off and running. The reads and comments racked up as did the popularity points.

What I’ve learned so far from this site is that it seems to be geared toward the younger generation. The ages of authors has ranged from twelve to twenty-five, at least those I’ve seen so far. As an aspiring young adult writer, this is great for me. With Wattpad, I’ve been given the ability to tap into the minds of my demographic. They appear to lean toward fantasy novels with an element of romance as well as teen angst novels. They still love werewolves and vampires. They also love what I’ve written so far. That’s what they’re saying anyway, and I tend to believe them given the fact that they have no emotional investment in my writing. When my friends compliment me, I get a little leery because I wonder if they don’t want to hurt my feelings.

With Wattpad, I feel like I’ve been given a new lease on my literary life. The positive comments I’ve received from the snippet of the story I’ve posted have encouraged me not to give up on my dream of being a mainstream published YA author, and I owe this feeling to Twitter and Team Duo Lit.

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