Everything is Changing

So guys, confession time.

I understand that my chatty Tweets and bursts of OMG HYPER digressions might lead people to believe that I’m a sugar-high extrovert that gets excited in large groups and loves to schmooze at parties.

Alas, I’m afraid to say that’s not the case. It’s quite the opposite in fact.

Truth is, I’m an introvert. 100%. I was that quiet girl in class that nobody noticed because the only time she talked was to get participation points for class. The one that read while walking in the hallways and occasionally sat alone at lunch.

I know a lot of writers are the same way. Many of us like our privacy and cherish those moments alone because that’s when we can really slip into our writing. It’s when we can let our minds wander to faraway places and write some of our best. And twenty years ago, that was ok. Authors could get away with sitting in their offices with their treasured books and shying away from the masses.

Today, not so much.  

I’ve touched on e-books and how they provide new opportunities for writers. But as I’m sure many of you are aware, that’s not the only thing changing the game in the publishing industry. With social media exploding the way it is, writers can no longer afford to be introverts.

I’m not saying you have to totally change your personality, in fact I hope you don’t. It’s being genuine that gets people to connect with you.

I’m also not saying that I’ve pretended to be someone else. Truth is, rather than shying away from social media (which I’ll admit, I initially did) I’ve found that by embracing it, I’ve been able to get past my normally timid exterior and open up to other writers. To people like you, my lovely blog readers.

Social media is making waves, and beyond my own experience, I have a pretty epic example.

I’m sure you’ve heard of her: Tahereh Mafi.

First of all, if you’re on Twitter and you’re not following Tahereh, you need to. She’s funny, genuine and best of all, actually answers your tweets. Even annoying questions required to write an accurate blog post on her. :)
Tahereh is a living example of how social media has changed everything for the writer. She’s 23 years old and her first book SHATTER ME will be released in November. Five-ten years ago, that meant no one would have heard of her. She didn’t yet have a book on the shelf which meant she didn’t have a fan base.

But today that’s not the case at all. Between Twitter, Goodreads, her blog, Facebook and Tumblr she’s built an incredible fan base all before the release date of her first novel. When she went to BEA, the line to get her autograph was so long they had to cut it off seven minutes after she started signing. 7 MINUTES! 

And SHATTER ME isn’t even out yet. That was unheard of until now.

Let me get something straight, I’m not saying that because of social media we can all magically attain a level of super-fantabulous-amazingness like Tahereh. Like everything else, building a fan base is hard work. It requires hours online, making sure all your sites are beautiful and kept up to date and trying to connect with your followers all the while still writing and keeping the day job and everything else we have to do.

Yes, it’s another thing to add to the already overflowing plate of the writer, but it’s necessary.

And if used correctly and treated with care, the rewards are well worth it. Just ask Tahereh.

How do YOU think social media is changing the industry? The life of a writer? The life of a reader?  


Joseph said...

I'm only 17 (18 in June) and I'm self-publishing in August, I think that says a lot because it's available and what I want to do, and I am adamant about being a published writer in what ever medium happens to be.

A have seasonal depression and mania (bi-polar) so my mood changes almost like the wind, one minute I can be on top of the world and the next is not a nice picture to paint, but it's not good. So, a few years ago I looked into self-publishing and it was extortion because people just wanted to see their writing in print, and the ebook just wasn't around. This triggered something that I would never see my work in print or in fact make much of myself.

Here I stand with a small fan base, and I can look forward and tell myself that whatever I write if >>I<< think it's good, not some editor who has to go through thousands of submissions and say what is right to print.

Joe =]

Jennie Bennett said...

Once again, you hit the nail right on the head.
Personally I'm not really and introvert, but I'm not an extrovert either. Every single last test I take says I'm smack dab in the middle.
Strange though, how writing a blog and socializing on twitter can make you feel extroverted. For me it's because I express myself so better in writing than I do in person. So I find it much easier to communicate with others online.
I love that I feel like I'm actually making friends, not just fans. There's this great big online universe I didn't even know about two months ago that I'm suddenly ingrained in. Pretty spectacular!

Gabe (Ava Jae) said...

@ Joe

When I first looked into self-publishing a few years ago, I agree it was just that: extortion. There were a few reputable places, but if you didn't have money it wasn't going to happen.

Amazing how quickly things change.

Gabe (Ava Jae) said...

@ Jen

Social media really surprised me with the friends vs. fans aspect. I knew I'd meet people online, but I never imagined it'd become so personal. I've met so many amazing people! :)

Sara Furlong-Burr said...

Hey, I can comment now!

Like you, in real life, I'm a pretty shy, quiet person. But there's just something about social networking that brings out the Chatty Cathy in me. I've never been one who could express myself verbally very well and have always found an outlet through writing.

The social media industry is the best thing that has happened to writers so far this century. Not only has it opened doors to numerous authors when conventional methods wouldn't allow them in, it's given hope to us aspiring authors by providing a way for our voices to be heard. Like you, at first I was resistant to them and thought they were a waste of time. However, that all changed after I joined Twitter and began gaining blog followers as a result.

One thing I didn't expect was the amount of work and time a writer has to put in to maintain these social networking sites. I've spent countless hours on Twitter, Blogger, Tumblr and, more recently, Goodreads. It's a lot of work and, with a ful-time job and a child, it can be quite stressful. However, as with any career, if you want success you have to work for it.

Great post! :-)

Unknown said...

I agree. Great post. Honestly, I hadn't heard about her but now I will follow your advice. :) I mean she's younger than me and has published a book and is an avid social media genius, so she's obviously my kind of gal. :)
I am actually both an introvert and extravert (which is how they spell it in textbooks sometimes, very confusing for a writer!), and I find connecting with people natural even though sometimes it can be too much. I firmly believe that half the job is to get published and then the real battle begins. I am actually considering building a fanbase before I get published so I am ahead when I need to really crank it up. Publicity is an amazing thing, social media is a great help to a writer, and I would never say otherwise. Before social media, it was extemely hard to advertise and now you can have your book read all over the world if you know how to advertise it well. Of course, publishers do the heavy lifting for traditionally published books, but still I think a writer should be active in the process as well. :) Sorry about rambling on, I just seem to have misplaced my brain today. :P Thanks again!

Gabe (Ava Jae) said...


I agree 100%. It surprised me how much time social media has taken to maintain, but it's already been more than worth it. I've yet to publish anything, but I've met some amazing writers and overall wonderful people.

Thanks for the compliments and comments! :)

Gabe (Ava Jae) said...

@ Lyn

Thank YOU for all the support and comments! I appreciate it more than you could know :)

I read a while ago on Nathan Bransford's blog (this post: http://bit.ly/eWnKj3) that you should try to start getting out there on social media sites three years before you get published. He stressed that basically there's no such thing as starting too early.

After some thought I joined Twitter and started this blog. It's been the best decision I've made about my writing career thus far. Turns out you don't have to be published to reap some amazing benefits from social media. :)

Thanks again for commenting!

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