Social Media: the Joys and Challenges for Authors

Here I have begun with my own story.  You will notice there are no statistics in it.  I have purely focused on more qualitative feelings about social media.

This blog post is  part of a series for authors trying to do their best to manage social media and feeling overwhelmed and frustrated or who are scared they are on it too much.  Some people love it, and others find it difficult. I think this is essentially because we all have different personalities and approaches in life and these can be magnified on social media.

Writers by nature are often introverted!  This makes the challenge of social media even more daunting at times. We might have expectations or conceptions about how these platforms work  which don’t turn out to be true for us but are true for others.  We are told that we have to build a platform, and that it should be engaging!

My journey with social media began with me not even thinking of it as social media but more as a tool to keep writing when I lived in a country area. My first entry into what we tend to call ‘social media’ was a blog which was mostly a letter to family  and friends about life in North Queensland which was new to me at the time although I did like to include poems as I did this in letters as well.

I should say at the outset that in my youth I had many pen pals.  It became too expensive to write to them all, and I lost touch with many of them as my budget of time and stamps became tighter.  Blogging presented a solution.

Over time the blog just kept growing and developing and I found myself writing a lot about the community I was in, and our life there. I love looking back through old blogs now.  I would have forgotten some of these things without writing them for my blog.

My family bought me a digital camera and I just loved it! I used my photos on my blog.

I used flickr as well because it was a great space to store photographs.  I found a few friends there as well, who I am still in touch with today. Some of my blogs were published in anthologies.

 

Ultimately my blog let me to being a community journalist/blogger  for ABC Open, and sharing the cyclone recovery story of my area.  I became a frequent ABC Open contributor for a few years as well.  Two of the friends I made through ABC Open later worked with me as editor and designer on my Magic Fish Dreaming book.  I stayed in touch with many of the producers and visited them on the way down to live in Brisbane.

 

The Book!

I did not set out to build a platform, I just wanted a space to develop and  share my writing.  My early connections were other writers and photographers in similar situations, especially women living in the country all over the world who were facing the same challenges.  I found their stories gave me strength, and I loved the way they journalled life.

I  took part in online writing prompts and writing worlds.  These were just so much fun.  We would set out on online adventures, and write into these worlds.  Blogging really gave me an opportunity to develop my writing through play and journalling.  I have formed some lifelong friendships through it.  Later on some of these people supported my kickstarter.

But despite all these wonderful things about social media I still have friends I prefer to telephone and catch up with.  They don’t use social media and we still connect mainly via email and phone! Now I haven’t even gone into email at all, but will leave that for another post. Email of course is a form of staying in touch, but I don’t tend to use that much anymore for that purpose.

Pam family friend with the kids – we stay in touch by phone and email

Gradually I learnt about twitter, which was interesting because you could tweet almost anyone.  It is a space where you can send messages to people whose work and philosophy you connect with and they might just tweet back.  I found twitter a great place for researching topics.  I was able to connect with poets and others in this space, some of whom I later met in real life.

Later one of the friends from twitter wrote the blurb for the back of Magic Fish Dreaming.  A Queensland Tourism body also sent me a support pack of goodies during the kickstarter, including tea and chocolate.  I did not set out to build a platform I was curious about the world and used it as a research tool.

The next area I ended up in was facebook, mainly because our family were there and really wanted us to join, I resisted for ages.  They didn’t really read my blog that much and it had become more something the community read, although it had been initially started for family.

Now facebook can be a truly complex place.  I find people can become upset so easily  and you find out things you don’t want to know.  Like perhaps a friend is racist.

You find the keyboard bullies and warriors.  It often becomes a place of opinions with no basis in fact and little basis in reality.  Yet, facebook was super helpful during cyclone yasi, at keeping people connected, and sending messages to large numbers of friends and family, from the wifi in Maccas.  We could never have phoned them all.

 

To respond to the challenges of facebook I find that I moderate groups and join groups in interest areas  which are themselves well moderated and stay only in those that truly inspire me.  I like to share things that are helpful to others, and in turn receive some priceless advice from people who know what they are doing say for instance with publishing.

I am part of private family groups and art groups so that my feeds don’t bug people who are not interested in those same things.  I have pages and public groups for projects, and sometimes connected project blogs.

This challenging space, became the place that made my kickstarter possible.  Many of my friends from blogs and twitter became also facebook friends, and real space friends.  When I moved to a new city I met many of them and they welcomed me to the area and helped me find my way to creative groups.

 

Write Link Buddies

I did not set out to build a platform on facebook, I joined facebook to connect with family and friends, and creatives met through both virtual and real space.  When I go to conferences and return home I often find people will connect on facebook or twitter.  Or I meet people that I have been speaking to for years, and I just really feel like I know them.

I did of course make a facebook writer page at some point and I do have a Magic Fish Dreaming project facebook page.  I still don’t really know what this achieves.  My general view on this is that groups are better than pages for engagement.  Mind you the Magic Fish Dreaming project page, is fun to share links with from the blog, and stuff I love about nature, so perhaps it is really just another form of journalling.

I find that social media when used well is great for maintaining and deepening connection, sometimes it can spark new connections and extend knowledge.  The main frustration I have is that sometimes it is very hard to keep up with all your friends and even family, actually it can be impossible.  There is so much information there all the time.

I don’t mind if you miss my news! I will try and contact you directly if I have time and feel you would really love to or need to know something.  I am not being pushy if I do this I just know the volume of information on facebook.

But often, there are people who take it personally when you miss their news, or don’t support their project,  launch, etc and they think you should notice.  But funnily enough if they phoned you, you would have responded.  I loved that my one family member phoned all close family about her engagement prior to any online announcement.  How wise and lovely!  Such a precious phone call.  Perhaps then some of our projects need the same approach with some of our contacts.

But like any area the most genuine friends and family find a way to stay in touch, and will actually pick up a phone or visit when they are in town.

A tree which was later destroyed by Cyclone Yasi. So happy to have this photograph of it.

Thoughts on social media – this is my take, in no particular order.

1- Be yourself

2- Be kind

3- Connect with people, fans, organisations, friends, family etc sincerely

4- Be passionate

5- Be humorous

6- Be thoughtful

7- Care about others and how they are doing and share things that could make a difference to them

8- Be thankful

9- Connect in real space when you can (of course wisely if you havent met people before in person and know them from online discussion groups)

10-Don’t make your whole social media about marketing!

11- Do work out the best times of the day to post and where your audience are – find out from the professionals; but always be yourself

12- Understand how the hashtags work as they are pretty useful everywhere

13- Cross pollinate your social media so that you share your blog posts on twitter and facebook

14- Find out how people who do it well work but also add to that your own twist

15- Create the best work or business you possibly can so you can be proud of what you do and it can speak for itself

16- Think about the groups you are in and apply all of the above

17- Be respectful of others

18- Have breaks

19- Find out about apps

20- Plan your time on social media to take into account all of the above and limit it to what will make you happy in life and productive with other tasks.

 

(c) June Perkins

In future blogs I would like to look at authors whose social media use is brilliant and inspiring any other topics of interest.  So watch this space.

Search for the Stillness

Seaching for the stillness  – the first poem in a while over at ripple.   I am not putting as many poems on line as saving them for some competitions and publications.

This poem is in its early stages and will undergo some transformations but the theme is something I wanted to share as stillness and space away from social media can be just what’s needed to centre one’s own writing.

 

Ripple Poetry

dsc_0778_cardwell

The silent space
beyond the threads

beyond tweeted tiny details
of everyone’s planet

the tendency of people
to overshare and demand
seeking their tiny minutes
of fame and infamy

those who peek out only
when they have something deep to say

those who hang out for intellectual
sustenance within the threads
of everyday

unravel in waves of concern
in a world like chorus
cheering and jeering at the sidelines of everyday

Connecting us to Maya
and Stephen Fry

silence calls
stillness waits

memes remind of the spiritual
the social obligation
friendship that is more
than threads

tendrils of humanity
respond

silence calls
stillness waits

this is the space
where story beckons

(to be continued – a first draft of the poem, it may change, a chorus to the poem is developing, and this one might be one to perform!)
(c) June Perkins

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Life Splinters

I wanted to write a Haiku this morning, but this poem had other ideas in mind. Wonder how this one will evolve in future drafts…

Ripple Poetry

five mile creek abstract

Skin tastes the season
Knits it to the bone

Frosty footsteps
Eat a dreamer’s skin

Gloved handprints
Scroll phone photo splinters

Eyes speaking life
Embedded dreaming

Life splinters
Into status statements

Season to season
Image to image

Emoting and unleashing
Inner worlds

Memes beckon likes
And stories untold

Knit themselves
From bone to dream

Extract from Life Splinters – a work in progress.
  (c) Words and Images June Perkins

DSC_0009

It began as a haiku but quickly changed into two line stanzas, so just went with the flow.
It might have some potential as a song.  Will think on this piece some more.

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I’m back ‘dreaming’

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Final sunrise at our brief stopover home before now…

So it’s been tricky keeping up with my blog.  All my time has been taken up with packing, unpacking and cleaning.   I will forever have visions of my daughter dancing with the mop and cleaning the windows with glee, and the kids enjoying the lift on the truck.

Even though we have settled not everything is done, we still have to get internet and a fresh water set up.  We are on bore water and it’s so rusty.  There’s a tank here, full of rubbish and not connected to the tap – it needs a lot of work.  I can even smell the rust in my hair when I am showering.  I load my hair up with heaps of fruity smelling shampoo to rid myself of it and just hope people aren’t going ‘there’s that rust smelling lady.’ Joys of country life I really must remember some people walk miles to wells to find their water at least we have water, but at the moment we are buying our drinking water as even when we boil it the bore water seems icky.

For now I am using mobile net and the library internet!!

Two hours free internet at the library per week for locals – great news for me just at the moment so I am taking advantage of it to blog.  I’ve signed up to a five week course to learn how to use my mobile phone, no more asking the kids.  It makes me feel like a nanny when I have to do this.  Mind you finally getting more conversant with video editing, but really want to learn how to do sound transitions better.

I’ve read a lot of blogs and articles about blogging, social media and the art of selling without feeling like you are annoying people.  It’s all about having a service people want and engaging with them as people not ‘customers.’

So a blog that is about people, but offers a service, so much so people want to support it and buy products off it.  Sounds easy, well it is if you can think of the gifts you have that are of use to others.  So many artists – some commercial and some in it for what they can so and do to change the world and some combine both wonderfully.

So rethinking my blog as both a personal blog which is there for my friends to catch up with me I realise I want to offer some products you can buy to help me keep up my blogging.

So watch this space and see what happens.  I think however, outblogloud, that I love to make documentaries, and would love to be more and more involved in this, so you will be able to see sample documentaries embedded in my blogs.

You might also see places you can buy photographs, prints, books, cards and be able to purchase things you like or mean something to you.  I love making photocollages and will let you know where you purchase some.

I love snail mail letters – I don’t write or receive them very often, but the personal handwritten letter is such a novelty these days.  I do them as precious gifts, so handmade products based on the blog might be on the way.

I am touched by special things my friends and community do and love to blog on events and newsworthy stuff.  A lot of bloggers world wide do that!  I don’t like this to just be opinion based but like to research what I post and check out the background to things just like good journalists do.

What else, I love to keep up with the creative writing process and motivate myself and others to write and create.  So I will probably continue to develop blogs on that but maybe I can make neat little ebooks and do more samplers here.

I personally love reading humourous blogs, and I love that you can subscribe to blogs and receive them to your email inbox – it almost like a snail mail letter in that it arrives where you can read it and you don’t have to go looking for it .  It would be great to have more subscribers who are enjoying the blog and events and products I am making or part of.

Well my internet time is almost over so I better sign out and post.

You can catch my latest abcopen blog here  http://open.abc.net.au/projects/aftermath-08vh8ac/posts/taipans-trucks-and-trust-95hp4ul

I have another one in the works on Graeme Connor and Robert Rose visiting with Australian Health Rotary on the way.  I am doing my second mini documentary for that.  I’ve decided that soon I want to do some voice over narration on my documentaries, and will need to be miked up for that.  There’s also the one on Pam and Joe, so much interesting stuff to share there.

It’s really awesome learning new skills! I love it.  ABCopen visited last week to document my family’s recovery since the cyclone.  It was great having them in town.  I have a blog on that visit typed up at home and will put it up when I get a chance.

I have been off chasing sunsets and waterfalls as well, with my camera that is! It’s always interesting being in a new home and having new things to photograph.

All the best to my family, friends and readers.

Feel free to subscribe to the blog it’s the easiest way to know when I have next posted without me making you feel like a ‘customer.’  Life, wow it sure can be one massive roller coaster ride at times, even with or without cyclone aftermaths.

June