Wednesday, June 10, 2009

To Be Or Not To Be

Thoughts of BookCampTO are still funneling around my head, and one in particular -- Mitch Joel (@mitchjoel) (much quoted and oft-called upon) after stating a very obvious fact that authors should come to their online presence with a strategy and not feel they need to jump into every social media avenue available to them, said something akin to: "What does it mean if you've only got three followers on Twitter? You suck."

By definition then, little old me with my barely 130-odd followers, sucks. My teeny little book blog has never exploded or made me rich. It's never gotten me a book deal. I barely have 6 followers (I think). So overall, does my online persona suck balls in his eyes? Is audience the only thing that matters? Is my platform over even before it began? I was having a crisis of online consciousness after hearing that because deep down I've never put the words up here for anything other than the pure pleasure of typing one letter after the other.

Maybe that's short-sighted of me. Another friend at BookCamp TO mentioned that she was going to spend the good part of the upcoming year just 'getting her name out there.' And I do recognize the importance of putting yourself forth as an expert, as someone with valuable opinions to share, as someone with thoughts that are worth expressing, and I did some of that this weekend.

However, I've been hiding behind a "pen name" for years, never wanting my online life to converge with my offline life. I enjoy the bliss of anonymity. But it's been years since I published anything under "ragdoll" -- it was a holdover from the years of recapping at Television Without Pity. And then came the Boss From Hell incident where I did a lot of complaining after I lost a job I wasn't all that fond of anyway. The need not to get sued (as dooced was no longer an option) was foremost in my mind. Now my online life and offline life are so mixed up there's no easy way to keep them separate.

I was afraid of speaking up at BookCampTO simply because I like being a little behind the scenes. I like thinking what I think and sharing those opinions with like-minded individuals who love me for who I am not what I do. Anyone who was there knows that I got over that rather quickly and couldn't quite help myself but to open my mouth and let some thoughts spew forth. So maybe I need a bit of a retool, a bit of a rethink, maybe I need a 2.0 or a 3.0 version of myself that's not afraid to step from one side of the internets to the other worried that people will find out that I type more often than I think.

But then, Sassymonkey's intelligent and thoughtful post "Can't we just stop with "right" and "wrong"" also got me thinking yesterday that maybe Mitch Joel, as smartypants as he is, perhaps spoke a bit too quickly -- that there's nothing wrong with having three followers if you're happy and pleased with your online life. That if you enjoy using the technology and its ability to add value to your life, that's all that matters. Not all of us are here to find a way to do much more than say what might be on our minds. Even if it is behind a cloak of a poorly conceived moniker that came out of hearing a truly awful Aerosmith song that was stuck in one's head for far longer than it should have been.

So, I don't think I'll take the "ragdoll" off the site any time soon. I mean, truly, all I want to do here is talk about good books. And I think that's probably okay, right?


metro mama said...

As you know, this is something I'm really struggling with. I have a small following too, and that's partly by choice. But for both of us I think, more important than being a blogging "rock star" as Joel puts it, is immersing ourselves in this world. It's this experience that allows us to do our jobs so well.

And I bet we actually have more quality followers than many of the rock stars. And these are the people who truly value what we say, and may actually take that into a book store and buy a damn book.

sassymonkey said...

I have a small following. I like my small following. I purposely keep it small on Twitter It's actually bigger than I want but I just can't bring myself to stop following more people. I go through every couple of months and weed it out again (it's *hard*). But I like my internet world. I'm not in it to make my reputation or brand (but do not fault those who do).

I have my reasons for doing things the way I do. People can tell me I'm doing things "wrong" all they want. It's not going to change how I do things.

I've had years to come to this conclusion though. I don't know that I could stand up to those messages the same if I was just starting out, which is why I wrote that post. It's got to be hard for new bloggers that are getting hit with this information from all directions.

Kerry said...

I read you avidly, but I'm not on Twitter and I don't "follow" anyone on blogger because for some reason the "followers" thing bothers me. But I read you all the time and await your updates. I'm sure I'm not the only one. That your "following" is bigger than you think.

Emma said...

Like Kerry, I'm one of your followers not on Twitter. I also read you all the time and always look forward to seeing your updates. In fact, due to your reviews I've been reading more short stories and both Brooklyn and Reliable Wife are next in my TBR pile. I would bet that you find that there are many of us out here.

Mitch Joel - Twist Image said...

Here's the idea: do you want more people to discover your work or less?

As I said in my session, if you're just writing for the sake of writing that's fine (remember my story of Bruce Lee writing and then lighting it on fire?), but if you are interested in building a significant audience and getting your muse out to more and more people, then you need to strategize about where those people are and how you are going to connect with them. That was my point and I'll stick with it. So, if you think Twitter fits in with your strategy and you can only pull 3 people (133 is a nice audience), then clearly what you're sharing is not interesting to that community. Now, if you use Twitter just to connect to friends, etc... all of this is not relevant. The conversation was about using the new digital channels to market and promote your work.

Carrie Snyder said...

I don't think blogland has to be or even should be all about marketing strategies. Uck. That's my gut response. I love your book blog for what it is.

Anonymous said...

I read your blog all the time too and I love it because of what it is - not a marketing tool, but your honest thoughts on a book. I don't even have a twitter account, let alone follow anyone - your following is definitely bigger than you realise, so keep typing 'cause you like to!

Anonymous said...

Awesome that Mitch commented. And he's right - it depends what you want out of it. I would suggest NOT staying "behind the scenes." Put yourself out there and see what happens.

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