Writers in the Storm

A blog about writing

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January 2, 2019

WITS Throwdown: Social Media

by Fae Rowen

To say that social media is not my strong suit is a lie. I'm not playing with a full deck; the social media suit is missing. And I don't care.

I prefer to call someone rather than text them. Why? Because I want to hear the pitch, the inflection, the tone of their voice.

As writers, that's what we do for our readers. We give them the subtleties of human interaction. And I want that in my everyday life. I want to live life, not check a little screen.

I know that we need to "put ourselves out there" for our readers. Readers want to know about their favorite writers and their lives. But where does that desire to know personal facts, private likes and dislikes cross the line?

As a person who would rather not be recognized, would rather not share the details of my daily life, I am not going to share that I'm traveling to Bucket List #42 destination next week then on to take a week-long class from the world's leading chocolatier in Paris. What if I walk into a hornet's nest on vacation or give myself food poisoning in my cooking class? I'll admit that to my closest friends, but expose my personal foibles to the world on a format that will last longer than my bones?

If you've been reading my posts for any length of time, you know that I don't paint a rosy picture of my life. I share what I believe to be appropriate to share, given why I'm communicating. My readers deserve to know when the next book in the series will be available. They deserve to know when I fall behind, and maybe a bit of the reason I'm not on time. Tidbits about how a character came to life or how I got a plot idea—those are fair game for "the public." The time I was afraid I would become an international incident is not.

Missing a production deadline happened to me for the first time in 2018. I'm not going to detail all the drama behind the deadline failures, though I have no problem sharing the new and improved production schedule, along with my apologies.

What does this mean? I'm willing to share pictures from my day or my trips—after I've returned. I'm willing to comment about my rescue cat, because I know that if I hadn't brought her home with me, she wouldn't be alive today. I share about writing, life lessons, the things that make me the writer I am today.

I wish I could be funny, or warm-and-fuzzy heart-warming, or find amazing pictures to post. Sometimes I wish I had the desire to spend hours instant messaging and responding immediately to likes and comments on my Facebook feed or Instagram account. But I don't have the time. Between writing and my daily schedule, I just don't have the time.

In the last five months of 2019, I'm looking at publishing three books. I've already talked to my publicist/marketer friend about ramping up the social presence during the spring. To me, that means I'll post a short story somewhere, check into my Instagram and Facebook accounts more than once a week, and schedule time to comment and share more.

Marketing myself and my books is not what I want to spend time doing, but then, I don't think that's why any of us are writers. I do, however, want my stories to be read. I want my ideas and my future societies to be thought about, talked about. And to do that, I have to make people aware of them. So I will use social media, because it is an amazing marketing tool for the average person like me.

Who knows? Maybe after a handful of years of more involvement with social media, I'll tolerate it better. After all, ten years ago I didn't enjoy posting on Writers in the Storm much. Who am I kidding? I felt like Joan of Arc being dragged to the fire. But now, I enjoy reading your comments to articles and your responses to other readers' comments. And I enjoy writing back with my own comments. I feel like I personally know many of you from your sharing. And surprising as it is for this introvert to admit, I treasure the community we've built.

Is dealing with social media like a trip to the dentist? Would you rather sit in a math class than sit down to an hour of social media interaction?


Fae Rowen discovered the romance genre after years as a science fiction freak. Writing futuristics and medieval paranormals, she jokes that she can live anywhere but the present. As a mathematician, she knows life’s a lot more fun when you get to define your world and its rules. P.R.I.S.M., Fae's debut book, a young adult science fiction romance story of survival, betrayal, resolve, deceit, and love is now available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

34 comments on “WITS Throwdown: Social Media”

  1. Oh, Fae, I feel your pain. And sharing very personal parts of my life isn't going to make my writing any better. Like you, when it becomes necessary to put myself out there I will. I do have a story to tell and it isn't mine.

    1. Thanks, M. Lee. I didn't think my book had anything to do with me until my editor started asking me questions about why I wrote it. Then my good friend's housemate, a librarian, read my science fiction book about a prison world and commented that she'd never known an author personally, but she would have known I'd written that book anyway. Hmmm...

  2. Bless you, Fae -- you're singing my tune. I love interacting with writers on social media, but have little interest (okay, zero interest) in putting my personal life out there for public consumption. Hopefully I'll continue to find a point of balance, but meanwhile, it's nice to see I'm not alone. (Where do I sign up for that math class? 🙂 )

    1. Bless you, Rebecca! I marvel at people, like Laura and Jenny here at Writers in the Storm, who love to check their social media feed and even post while I'm doing something fun with them. About that math class...when I first started teaching I went to a holiday party of non-educators. Someone asked what I did, and when I replied that I taught math, he answered that he'd rather go to the dentist, without novocaine, than take a math class. The party went downhill from there.

      1. So funny to read this and see how differently we see it. I DO love social media. I love to see what all my friends are up to, to celebrate their successes and commisserate on their woes. I love the recipies I find and the traditions I'm exposed to through their countries and cultures that I might not otherwise see. About the only thing I dislike about social media is politics. Other than that, it's pretty much all fun for me.

  3. I don't post a whole lot about my personal life, and I only post about a trip when it's relevant to my career and people would know that someone is at my house so don't try to break in. Otherwise, like you, I save the pics for when I return. But I have been surprised by how much you can get to know someone through social media. Case in point: Jenny Hansen. I knew her solely through online interactions for quite a while before we finally met. And although I hadn't imagined her voice quite like it is, she was otherwise just herself—the same woman I'd gotten to know through social media. Of course there are many more people I'm connected with that I don't have nearly that level of relationship with, so there is that. And when it comes to readers, I don't think any author should be expected to be constantly on social media and still turn out books. At some point, you have to say, "Which is it, people? I chat with you on Twitter, or I put another book in your hands?"

    1. Yep, Julie. I only have so much "working at the computer" time in my day. Besides the necessary adulting, I have to fill my writer's well by living my own life. When I end up doing an activity that translates into a scene in a book, so much the better. My walks are time for me to reflect on my life, and the lives of my characters, through the lens of "here-now," even though I sometimes post pictures from them on my social media.

  4. I agree, I could fill my blogs and Facebook with thousands of words and pictures of my family, who are of course more amazing than anybody else's, but I only make oblique reference - their lives are their own and not for me to share.

    1. I wish I were as considerate as you, tidalscribe, but I just don't have the time-or inclination-to wax on about my life. I'd rather live it. Too much to do and too little time. (Though I have to say, that when I want to connect with others, social media is wonderful.)

  5. I so agree about social media. With the average attention span being less than the time it takes to swap a fly, I don't want to waste my time on something that will be replaced nearly before I'm done writing it. But I also recognize that marketing depends more and more on social media. I'm glad to hear you have a friend to help with that. Good luck in 2019.

    1. Yes, N.J., my friends are fantastic. The one I mentioned calls me sometimes to say that I need to check my FB right now and respond to something. It's not that I'm against social media, it just doesn't float my boat. I want that eye contact or hearing a voice when I communicate. Drives my texting friends crazy sometimes.

  6. Great post, and I would love to see a post elaborating on this. To date, every blog and book has said I absolutely must abandon all privacy if I want my words read. I follow the topic of social media presence avidly because if/when I am ready for readers, I will have to go from zero involvement with social media to some structured response. So please elaborate on this if you feel inclined. One workshop said to plan on two hours a day just to "like" other blogs. Another workshop said 3 posts a week is enough. How many platforms do I really need is another question. Sources vary on this too. Thank you for the post, Jane

  7. I started a FB account five years ago, about the time my first book was released. I had no interest in doing so. It felt awkward and uncomfortable. Fast forward to now and I love FB. Probably way too much. I have to consciously limit my time there to get my writing in. Hope you grow to enjoy it!

    1. Thanks, Debbie! Now I enjoy reading what other people post, but I don't like to take the time to post my own stuff. Maybe it has something to do with being told as a child not to brag. That's what sharing my good fortune seems like. And sharing difficulty reminds me of my dad saying that no one wanted to hear me cry. He was very supportive, but he felt crying was unproductive, that you should "get in there" and fix what was making you cry. Yeh, I'm working on that.

  8. Hi, Jane. I've read that same advise and attended workshops that range from one end of the spectrum to the other. One thing that I am sure of is that you need to start building your online presence now. I started long before publishing my first book—with my website (getting ready for its third total make-over) and starting Writers in the Storm with my (then) critique group almost a decade ago.

    I started our throw down at the "low end" of the spectrum, to be followed next week by Julie Glover, who is better than I am with social media, but doesn't necessarily love it. I'm sure our social media experts, Laura and Jenny, will address your questions when they write their own throwdown posts later this month. Stay tuned to this space...

  9. Thanks for this, Fae, and everyone, for the comments...it helps me understand the other side of this issue, and will help me write my blog later in the month. But I'll just say here, honestly, NO ONE cares what you're eating, or doing, minute to minute (unless you're a teen on Instagram). I do understand your wanting to keep details private, but that's not what social media is about, IMO. It's about connection - on a deeper level.

    I'll explain soon, promise!

  10. This is an interesting, thought-provoking post. I absolutely hate the time I spend on Facebook and almost never bother with Twitter. I still can't post pictures on Instagram and only like Pinterest for the pictures of costumes of my writing period that I can view. I'm interested in the doings of my brothers, sisters-in-law, and nieces, etc. My dear friends (translated, critique partners) have interesting Facebook posts that I enjoy reading, but I'm not hugely fond of posting in return. You're so right--I don't share my deepest thoughts. I also couldn't care less where people are currently eating, which fabulous vacation they're taking, or which interesting museum they're visiting. I'm a writer. If you're interested in deepest thoughts, come visit my books. But of course, as you say, they aren't my stories and they aren't my thoughts. Mine are private--as are my principles and political beliefs...and the cool places I get to visit. My real life is private. It's mine and I'll share it over the phone with those I love. Thanks for this post. For the very first time I can truly say that I relate to it.

    1. Thanks, Cate. I knew I couldn't be the only one who was not gaga over social media, although I can see that it is a wonderful opportunity for people who can thrive in the connections of cyber-space. I do have cyber friends whom I've never met, but for me, without face-to-face contact, it's harder to make connections.

    1. Maybe I can take some lessons from you when I'm ready to build those bridges, Denise!

      1. Social media has been a blessing to me. Because of social media, I have had some opportunities I wouldn't have had which has given me consulting work, friendships, and contacts I wouldn't have otherwise. If used correctly, social media is awesome.

  11. I know some people who are on Facebook every single day all day nearly. I just don't want to go down that rabbit hole. I read a post then another then another and soon more time flew by. I don't like talking on the phone much anymore i'd rather text. Because my "day job" that I work from home is 8 hours or more on the phone with customers. I never post to Instagram or some of the others where I have accounts but just don't have anything to "share".

    1. Before FB became a "thing," a friend, who stayed with me right after her divorce, was always on her computer after work. I like to play games on my computer, but not for hours, so I asked her what she was doing. "Facebook," she answered, telling me that she could communicate and see pictures of her daughter and grandchildren across the country. I never asked to see what she was doing, but I thought that was a nice vehicle for people to communicate cheap and easily with family and friends who are far away. That mindset hasn't changed a lot.

  12. Facebook is my happy place and has been for a long time. I just “get” how it works. That said, despite what people think - I don’t share everything (not even close). I’m honest and do my best to be real, but my life is not as transparent as it seems.

    My social media presence powers my totally organic-grown email list. My social media allowed me to quit my day job and teach online instead. It can be a time-sucking black hole and it can be a life-saver and job-creator.

    1. Thanks, Lisa. I tend to be an all or nothing type of person, so your comments interest me. I wish social media could be my happy place. Maybe some day...

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