Social Media and “Author Platforms”

There was a time (like, last week) that I was saying: “Yeah!!! Internet platform development…Arg!”  It’s because I’m half-Pirate.  Okay fine, I’m not, but it sounds cool at least.

See?  I'm a pirate!
See? I’m a pirate!

So author platforming.  I’m pretty sure that the wannabe authors have all heard of this.  If you haven’t though, here’s the syncopated version:

1)      Authors have to be “known” in order to sell more books

2)      Authors aren’t usually “known” until they get published

3)      Publishers don’t usually want “unknown” writers

See the trend?  It’s a lovely little cyclical thing. Enter the wonderful world of the internet.  The plan is to get to know people and develop a “following”.  Some people call this developing a “tribe”.  That sounds nearly cannibalistic to me, so “minions” might be preferable.   “Lemmings” is out of the question though.  This is all fine and dandy, but really, at some point one has to sit down and do it because it’s fun and interesting.  It’s awesome to hear from people all over the world, to share something in common or make someone laugh.  It’s fun to share things we find on the internet with our friends (real and virtual) and pass along little nuggets of wisdom or epic quotes.

If I approached social media with the sole goal of collecting minions or followers, or tribal members, I think I would hate social media.  I might lock myself in a room and ignore it completely.  It’s a mindset.  I have to look at social media as simply a way to get to know other people.  This is exciting, especially for the hermit-like writers out there (such as myself), who are apt to forget that there is something called an outside world.  I’m sure I’ve heard of that.  It is also a great way to keep up with certain things.  I don’t use Tumblr very much, but I absolutely love using it to get a quick snapshot of amazing things.  Some of my favorites are poetry, photography, quotes and little scientific articles.  Kind of a random compilation.

Twitter is great for bouncing odd, random ideas into the world of the internet.  It lends itself to fun, quirky and fast communication.  I love Goodreads for trying to keep track of books that I want to read, and ones which haven’t been published yet.  If you love to read, I highly recommend setting up an account.  You can network with other people you know on Goodreads or just use it and rate books that you’ve already read, write reviews and bookmark the books you want to read.   I could spend hours trying to get recipes off Pinterest (How do they get such gorgeous pictures of the food? Mine NEVER look like that!).

Social media isn’t just about trying to gain a following.  I think if it fills only that position, it is difficult to keep up an online presence.   Your success would be measured simply by the number of followers, rather than feeling as though you shared a part of yourself, or helped someone.  It would become a game of numbers, which quite frankly, is the exact opposite of my goal.  No one wants to be a number (at least I don’t think anyone does).  The point of social media is to humanize the internet, to elevate the core principles of humanity which cross every barrier.  We are all the same, we are all people.  We all have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  We can each play a part in helping those who don’t appear to have those rights.  Social media is about choosing to get involved.  I hope that there is even more involvement in communities and across the globe because of social media, instead of a more passive approach.  This is exciting stuff, and if people happen to get to know us during our foray into cyberspace, then it just happens to be icing on the cake.  The true value lies in the footprint we leave on the world.  So, instead of thinking “author platform”, I’m just going to do “me”:  share the love, rants and occasional writing epiphanies.

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