Social Networking. The term has become a part of our everyday world, and I doubt it is going anywhere. Seriously, when my mom is on Facebook, something tells me it is here to stay. But for writers, social networking takes on an entirely new dimension. Go to any writing conference and slip into a workshop on marketing or P.R. I'd bet you my next book advance that the term "social networking" will be talked about as a way to broaden your reader base. As writers, we're told that we need to be "accessible" to readers, and platforms such as MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Good Reads, and the like are the perfect place to connect with fans.
But how social should a writer be? Should you assume fans only want to hear about your writing, or do you think they care about what's going on in your everyday life? At my personal blog, I find myself talking more about what's going on in life in general instead of sticking to writing-related topics. For example, the last three weeks (and several weeks to come) have been about my recent trip to China. Although I haven't had many responses, the site statistic show that I've had more visitors tuning in than usual. Would I get the same interests if I was griping about the struggle I just had with the last chapter I wrote?
I've touched upon this before, and continue to struggle with what face I should show on social networking sites. On sites such as Facebook and Twitter, readers get the real me. If they don't want to read about how much I love the TV show GLEE (new season starts on April 13th!), or how I think the new Dark Cherry Mocha at Starbucks is delicious sin in a paper cup, then they really don't want to be my friend.
But something in my gut tells me that readers are okay with seeing the quirky, real side of me. That's the point of social networking, right? To be social. And, to my chagrin, I'm starting to enjoy it more and more.
What are your thoughts on social networking? For the authors out there, do you consider it a burden or have you embraced it? For readers, how much interaction are you looking for when you "friend" or "follow" an author on a social networking site?