MY SOCIAL MEDIA EXPERIMENT

POSTED BY: Michael McGarrity
POSTED: February 15th 2017

Since 2000, I’ve had a website typical of what most writers put up on the Internet. There’s a brief biography, a list of my published works with lovely book review quotes of how great they are, some photographs, links to bookstores that sell my books, a way to email me, and an events page that now directs folks to my Facebook page. 
Although it has been updated several times over the years, the website (www.michaelmcgarrity.com) now basically sits there as is, lonely and neglected as I’ve developed new author “platforms” on the World Wide Web.
Author platforms are those things writers are supposed to do to expand their presence, enhance their media exposure, and draw new audiences to their work. For example, because of my past experience as a police officer, I should be blogging a lot about crime. Or, I should be using my background as a clinical social worker to be posting about problems such as homelessness among veterans with PTSD. By doing so, I establish myself not only as a writer, but as an “expert,” thus giving me more “chops” that draws more fans, readers, and media attention to me and my body of work.
So now I Blog, and I’m on Facebook, the Goodreads Authors page, the Amazon Authors Page, and something called LibraryThing, which I don’t have a clue about other than it lets writers sign up. And I’m wondering nine months on, if it’s worth it. Has this attempt to make me more interesting, more accessible, more of a desirable commodity to readers, achieved any payoff in terms of sales, growing celebrity status, or heightened anticipation for my next book or public speaking event?
The answer is a resounding, “I don’t know, but I doubt it.”
 What it does is consume time I could be better using working on my next novel “Residue.” That’s not to say I’m going to stop. I just plan to pay less attention to social media, unless you, dear readers, can convince me otherwise. Your job here, as I see it, is to vote on the simple question:
Is my enhanced presence on social media important to you? Yes or No.
And thanks for voting.



14 comments

  1. You've had a 'hands-on' approach w/your readers since I first contacted in 2008 (the Cedar Rapids, IA flood). I'd started reading your works long before that. While, I believe, most of us appreciate your personal touch, I'd rather you write me another great novel. I only read two fiction authors (and you're head & shoulders above the other with story development). So maybe whip out a blog once a month catching us up on your research (as you used to do), make it common to all other platforms you mentioned. While I believe you're a real people person, limit yourself to maybe 15 minutes a day on FB at a set time. I do believe your best advertising is word of mouth from your loyal readers. Personally, I have 5 others who wait for the next book because I said, "You've gotta read this guy!"

  2. I follow a few authors on FB…I am certain it is not Daniel Silva who occasionally respons to me. Previously I am certain Peter May and I were talking to each other…not as certain lately. I read Deon Meyer and I am pretty sure he writes back at times. Robert Crais…not sure…do not think so. I could go on with other authors if you wish… However, I have NO doubt it is you I discussed guns and other topics with online. That means something to me…it means quite a bit. I have been reading and buying your books for years and I look forward to seeing you at the Tucson Festival of Books…not sure if I answered your question :).Oh, yes, I do tell others about you! Maureen

  3. Social media was how I contacted you to book you to speak in Los Lunas. So I'm a bit fond of that medium. I would choose the social medium you enjoy. Don't feel pressured to do it all.

    Being a librarian I've felt the same pressures to reach people. It is a daunting task. I would need a staff person completely devoted to social media to keep up. I've chosen to use Facebook because it's easy to borrow posts from other organizations that I think are interesting for our patrons.

    So do what is right for you. If you need to write, just put a "Gone writing" sign on your page and when you feel like sharing step back up to the keyboard and let one fly!

    Best of luck!

    Cynthia

  4. You asked the question that plagues me as a writer. Neither time nor energy is allotted to us in infinite amounts. I believe it's useful to have a website with most of the same features as you have. I also think that a presence on FB can raise some awareness. But I have read your books since they first came out and have always recommended to others, and that was based on discovering your work without benefit of social media. So, to answer your question–no, your increased social media presence is not important to me. If you maintain a relatively "static" website, notifying people of new work and of public appearances and allowing for comments, and add to that the occasional posts on FB, then I'd say take back the time spent on other social media and spend it doing the work of writing. That's the conclusion I reached about my own effort to balance the creative work with some necessary effort at marketing that work.

  5. My vote is for more writing and less, but continuing, presence on social media. I am looking forward to Residue, etc. I have decided to buy new hard back copies of all your future books to support you.
    Your social media blogs about interesting and normal things are a comfort to a normal person like me. We are inflicted with endless blogging about social ills everywhere else. You are interesting and accessible. You are a desirable commodity to me through your writings, not particularly enhanced by social media.
    Your responses to my replies and to my e-mails is an ego booster to me but probably not particularly useful to you, although I really like you as a person. You do feel wonderfully accessible.
    The PTSD and homelessness of our veterans is a wrenching issue, especially here in Denver. I resist lectures from do gooders telling me I am a bad person for not throwing tons of public money at them. About 85 percent goes to overhead and 15 percent to the people. There are better ways. What you might do is bring someone like this realistically into your writing and show us ways to help them.
    None the less, I am not a professional writer and not a judge of promotion of works. I will go along with your judgment on the best path forward.

  6. Yep, it's me who replies to folks like you who take the time to write. Maybe it would be different if I had hundreds of emails a day to respond to, but even then I'd try. Thanks for recommending me to other readers. That's as good as it gets for a writer.

  7. It is a struggle for us truly, as publishers put more and more of the marketing and publicity work on our shoulders. You've confirmed my belief that there is no significant payoff for overdoing the social media stuff, certainly not at the expense of the writing. Thanks.

  8. Thanks, Cliff. I think you've helped me find a way to strike a balance. Perhaps a blog a month and use Facebook for advertising events and publicity announcements, mixed in with a little surfing of what's happening with "friends." That might work.

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