Friday, March 30, 2012

The Importance of Online Feedback

Do you have a website or social media page? 

If you do, that's excellent! I laud your accomplishment! I am gladdened when I see my fellow writers
promoting themselves, gathering followings, and getting their name out there for the world to see.

We authors have to work more and more as our own marketers in this modern publishing world. Websites and social media pages/profiles are excellent ways to do that.

Websites function as online resumes. They showcase or advertise your work publicly. They display contact information. And, if they are well-constructed, they add a degree a professionalism to your name.

Social media pages/profiles are a primary method for author/reader interaction. In this online age, people crave interaction as much as they had back in the pioneer days. Humans are social beings, some more than others, but overall they are social beings. This interaction allows the author to build a relatively personal connection with the readers.

So, you have a website or a social media page, but do you know how to use it?

I encourage you, fellow writers, to share your work with your readers. Share snippets of your short stories or novel. Share a book cover you're working on. Share a concept (I would caution not to do this too often. Though many of we writers will respect another person's idea as his own, there are some people who will steal an idea. I leave this thing up to your own judgement)

Your readers are an excellent source of feedback. Your website or social media page/profile is more than just a place to share snippets of your work or what you're working on. Granted, readers enjoy knowing what you are working on. But they enjoy sharing their honest opinions with you more.

There is one key idea I want to emphasize at this point. While sharing the things above is a good idea, it takes another step to draw out your readers' opinions.Your readers look up to you. Readers respect writers they follow. You need to ask them for their opinion. Then they will feel as though you have a great interest in their own opinion and you should, dear writer, you should!

When you ask your readers explicitly for feedback, they are more likely to give it.

(I know that a lot of authors use this technique I have just blogged about.I have three reasons for writing this post: One, I have not seen any blogs about the technique itself. Two, I wished to laud the writers and authors who do use the technique. Three, I wanted to encourage writers and authors who do not use this technique to start using it and, hopefully, to let me know about the results.)

Until next time,
Joshua A. Spotts

Continue to write!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Internet Trading

I just need to sit down and write. Okay, here goes! Sometimes, when you need to start writing it is helpful to write a beginning sentence even if you don't plan on that being your starting point. For instance, this blog post is not about getting down to writing, though it has been something I've put off for too long. This blog post is about the concept of internet trade. And, no, I don't mean Ebay...

A few years ago I was talking with two men who have greatly impacted my lives. We were discussing the internet. One of the men, Mr. Thomas Pryde (a brilliant musician) explained that the entire internet can be considered one large but reclusive community.

Sure, it can be said that the internet is an open community in a sense. There are multitudes of people projecting their ideas into the internet community. That's open, right? Well, yes, but not open with quality. Many of the internet users with solid quality behind their ideas are reclusive. Major bloggers respond to almost every comment, but many times it is just a simple "thank you." When the comments are interesting however, it is as Mr. Pryde emphasized  "the more you put in, the more you get out."

Serious internet users want quality interaction in exchange for their strongest and most interesting thoughts. A challenged concept is soon a refined concept that both parties can benefit from. If both parties exchange in civil, but meaningful conversation or debate then we have witnessed quality internet trading.

It has been said that the Internet is a place for the sharing of ideas. May I propose that we make the internet of place, not of sharing, but trading? To illustrate the slight difference between the two words let us look at a common thing on the internet. Link-dropping.

Granted, I have clicked some link-drops and found great content. But there are some times when I am rewarded with, well, it's not garbage, but it doesn't meet expectations and the title has often been misleading.

In my mind, link-dropping, especially from people who rarely ever interact within a group, can be considered in the sharing category. They share their opinions, but they don't trade it. They don't put it out into the group and then interact with other members or people online, checking others blogs and writings, gleaning from another person's wisdom while they trade out their own.

Fellow writers, what I am encouraging here is simply a heightened amount of interaction. It shouldn't be that hard. Read the works of other people and provide honest, thought-provoking feedback in the comments. I am sure that trading with the users of the internet will cause more quality interaction to come your way. It is a slow process, but through my observation and experience it has proven true. A good concept to remember in the internet, especially the world of blogging, is what Mr. Pryde said, "the more you put in, the more you get out."

Dear friends, I leave you. Please comment and express your thought or concerns or anger, but please remember I am not accusing anyone by name and I will never call any true blogger's work "garbage." In fact, I try to never call any writing garbage, but even garbage can be refined and made pure.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Benefits and Negatives of Social Media

Social media has been developing since around 1960. The internet was invented to share information  from one computer to another in a different city. The concept resembles the purpose of the telegraph and then the telephone after that. And it created a new means of social interaction. It created a fast way to share large amounts of information across long distances. It was time efficient and convenient as well. For example, with the invention of the internet, companies no longer had to hold long telephone discussions with another branch somewhere else or visit that branch to get a report. They could simply look the file up of the internet database.

Social media has come a long way from databases used by companies to share information. We still use social media to share information, I should call it trading information, but I'll reserve that for a different time. We share things about our lives and what we find interesting or helpful on every social media site. This is social media at its core. On twitter we share links or short blurbs about our lives. On Facebook we share longer "statuses" about our lives and we share our opinions or joke around with our "Facebook Friends."

There are benefits and negatives to social media for everyone. But I want to concentrate on writers. Writers have stronger benefits in using social media than the average person using it.Writers also suffer more from the basic negative of social media.

And after an elaborate and useless drum roll, we announce the basic negative! Social media is, as we all admit, a prolific time waster. If used effectively and carefully it is not a waste of time. But when someone is constantly checking Facebook for no good reason (checking to see if a friend's relational status has changed yet again is not a good reason) and tweeting random stuff about his life is addicted to social media. If this person is a writer than he should understand the danger (financially) of spending too much time on social media. For writers, the saying "time is money" is far too literal.

Writing is a delicate craft that requires dedication to the max. Any time spent checking Facebook (and I'll admit I do this occasionally) is a distraction and cuts from your max dedication  to your work.

The benefits of social media for writers are fantastic. With social media we can do one thing that makes are lonely occupation less overbearing. That thing is networking. With social media  (even writing websites) this process is very easy. Facebook makes it easy to carry on light conversations with fellow writers. Twitter makes it easy to share and receive helpful writing tips or articles. Google+, I have found, is the best place to find and connect with other authors. I have also observed better feedback to a question and longer discussions there.

The other benefit to social media for writers is what some people consider link-dropping. I consider it an art. Sharing your own work such as a blog post, a short story, or a link to your e-book, is very important nowadays as an author. These things help get your stuff read and your name out there.

I am not condoning link-dropping. I am adding intrigue for my next post. When link-dropping becomes an art is when there is a balanced trade between the author and reader from a social media site. This concept of online trading (instead of the word sharing) is something I will talk in more detail about in my next post.

Wow! That was a long one! Thanks for sticking with it. I do hope you enjoyed the post. Let me know if you have any other disadvantages or advantages in regards to social media.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Dedication rises from disappointment.

What normally should have hurt like a bullet ripping through my flesh, only caused me to flinch and sigh. I did not even make it past the first round in the novel contest I entered. (see An Adventure with Amazon)

I am thankful for my copy-editor, a fellow Professional Writing major, and for the rest of my mock-publishing squad. Through their tips and edits the errors of my work were revealed to me. The author, no matter how long the manuscript sits aside, will not catch everything. I ripped that manuscript apart over Christmas break and here, about two months later, fresh eyes are pointing out things I would never have seen.

It is the process of my copy-editor's hard work and the many things I've had to do (synopsis writing, back cover text writing, cover designs, pitch writing, and editing) during this mock-publishing process my professor is guiding me through that has enabled me to resist the disappointment that always accompanies rejection.

I am imbued with a fresh sense of dedication. That dedication pushes me to polish this manuscript close to perfection. It does not push me to obtain perfection because I know perfection on earth is impossible. Also, the perfectionist author cannot compete in the fast pace of today's literary market.

The author who looks upon his/her book with a critical eye is able to resurrect dedication from the grave of rejection and disappointment.

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