Online Social Networking for Writers

Adapted from my presentation for the NaNoWriMo Kickoff, October 19, 2009, Lakes Region Library, Inverness, FL.
Updates from my handout are preceded by a red asterisk (*).
If you have a resource to suggest, please contact me here.

(The lists in this article are currently in no particular order.)

WebsiteBlogs and BlogrollsSocial Media SitesOther NetworksForumsResources

Today, a Web presence can be indispensable for writers. A Web presence:

1. Makes your name and news of your work accessible worldwide.
2. Fosters connections with other writers and publishing professionals.
3. Can give you access to more story-relevant information than researching the Web alone.

Website

Websites can be set up for free or for fees of varying amounts.

Some sources advise having a website with your own name as the domain name, for purposes of (a) owning that name and (b) making you more visible to search engines. If you know HTML and can encode your own website, you can make yourself more visible by using
meta tags.

What to check for: Read the Terms of Service. Especially, make sure the TOS specifies that you alone own the rights to your work. Some free sites reserve the right to use material you post in advertising, or will share that material with third parties. (Facebook attempted this approach, but backed down after a wave of user protests.) Also, keep in mind that free sites can and do change the terms of their TOS, sometimes without informing their members. The good news: Other sites keep tabs on those changes. Mashable: The Social Media Guide (http://mashable.com/) is one such site.

Also, check with your host company to learn what fees it charges for changes you make to your site, including the size and frequency of uploads. If a third party is updating your site for you, find out how quickly those changes are implemented, especially if you are dealing with time-sensitive material.

Look at other authors' websites. Many include:
1. Bio
2. Bibliography
3. Writing samples*
4. Ordering information for published work
5. Contact information
6. Schedule of appearances
7. Blog
8. Links to social networking sites (e.g., if an author is on MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, etc.)


* Keep in mind that work you post online is considered published. That includes work on your website, your blog, and in public forums. (Private, members-only forums accessible by passwords are the exception.)

See "Published is Published! at the Writer's Digest blog Poetic Asides:
http://blog.writersdigest.com/poeticasides/Published+Is+Published.aspx

The blogs, networks, forums, and other resources below are geared toward general interest for writers.
Many other resources apply to specific genres.

Blogs and Blogrolls

Keeping a blog is another way to connect with other writers and with people in the publishing industry. Wordpress, Blogger, and LiveJournal are just a few of the blogging sites available. Blogs themselves take different forms, including:

1. Individual blogs, where you are the sole author.
2. Group blogs, in which several contributors post entries.
3. Carnivals, which link to multiple blog entries written around a central theme.

Blogs are kept by writers, publishers, book reviewers, editors, agents, and others involved in the publishing business. Some serve as mini-seminars on the writing craft or on the business of publishing. Some serve as publishing industry news outlets. Some may be highly personal, or can mix personal and professional. Some link to a variety of information sources. For example, Jane Friedman's "There Are No Rules" Writer's Digest blog devotes Fridays to "Best Tweets for Writers," while agent Nathan Bransford includes valuable links in his Friday posts devoted to "This Week in Publishing."

Another useful information source is the blogroll: a list of blogs that the blogger follows. Blogrolls and Links sections are resources in themselves. For example, the "Links" section in the Book Square blog includes other literary blogs, literary magazines, literary podcasts, publisher blogs, and writer resources.

Below is a small sampling of writing- and publishing-related blogs.


Inkygirl: Daily Diversions for Writers http://www.inkygirl.com/
Book Oven http://blog.bookoven.com/
Editor Unleashed (Maria Schneider) http://editorunleashed.com/
There Are No Rules (Jane Friedman) -- includes "Best Tweets for Writers" on Fridays http://blog.writersdigest.com/norules/
Mike's Writing Workshop and Newsletter (Michael Geffner) http://mikeswritingworkshop.blogspot.com/
Publishing Talk http://www.publishingtalk.eu/blog/
Author Tech Tips (includes advice on how to use social media to your advantage) http://www.authortechtips.com/
Scribophile Blog http://www.scribophile.com/blog/
E-Fiction Book Club (e-fiction reviews) http://efictionbookclub.wordpress.com/
Book Maven Media http://www.bookmavenmedia.com/
Writer Beware - a publishing industry watchdog group http://accrispin.blogspot.com/
Nathan Bransford - Literary Agent - his section "The Essentials" is chock full of good advice http://blog.nathanbransford.com/
Creative Writing Contests http://writingcontests.wordpress.com/
Pimp My Novel - written by Eric, who works in the sales department of a major trade book publisher http://pimpmynovel.blogspot.com/
Market My Novel/Ask Angela http://marketmynovel.com/
Book Square (Kassia Kroszer) http://booksquare.com/
The White List: " a listing of writers, editors, and other publishing professionals that have LiveJournals or LJ RSS feeds." http://domynoe.livejournal.com/80319.html

Social Media Sites

Twitter (http://twitter.com/) does more than keep people abreast of each other's activities. It can serve as an invaluable information resource. For example, I learned about the Help A Reporter Out website from this tweet that editor Maria Schneider posted on Sept. 15, 2009:


I just tried using HARO for an article for the first time. Getting some good sources. http://www.helpareporter.com/

Here's an informational post by Debbie Ridpath Ohi (inkyelbows) on Sept. 16, 2009:


Is revising a picture book different from revising a YA or MG novel? @paulayoo answers: http://bit.ly/1MAbfK

I also use Twitter for research and to help get story ideas. Many organizations and news services tweet. A tweet often includes a headline and a link to a particular article. For example, if you're writing about crime, a good place to check might be the FBI Press Office, at http://twitter.com/FBIPressOffice

Twitter also uses hashtags to sort entries. For example, searching for #writechat will take you to a Sunday chat among writers. For more about writing chats on Twitter, see Joan Kremer's "Great Virtual Resource for Writers: Twitter Chats" at
http://www.writersinthevirtualsky.com/great-virtual-resource-for-writers-twitter-chats/

Debbie Ridpath Ohi (inkyelbows) has posted a Twitter Guide for Writers:
http://www.inkygirl.com/a-writers-guide-to-twitter/

You can also follow the Citrus County Library and several staff members on Twitter. The library Twitter address is http://twitter.com/citruslibraries

Below is a small sample of writing- and publishing-related Twitter sites. Note that many also keep blogs listed above.


American Society of Journalists and Authors http://twitter.com/ASJAhq
Debbie Ridpath Ohi http://twitter.com/inkyelbows
Book Oven http://twitter.com/bookoven
Editor Maria Schneider http://twitter.com/mariaschneider
Jane Friedman (Writer's Digest) http://twitter.com/JaneFriedman
Michael Geffner http://twitter.com/MikeGeffner
Publishing Talk http://twitter.com/publishingtalk
Publishers Lunch http://twitter.com/PublishersLunch
Author Tech http://twitter.com/AuthorTech
Hope Clark (Funds For Writers) http://twitter.com/hopeclark
Book Square (Kassia Krozser) http://twitter.com/booksquare
Publishers Weekly http://twitter.com/PublishersWkly
Pub Perspectives http://twitter.com/pubperspectives
Scribophile http://twitter.com/scribophile/
E-fiction Book Club (Merrilee Faber) http://twitter.com/efictionbookclu
The Book Maven (Bethanne Patrick) http://twitter.com/thebookmaven
Goodreads ("the largest social network for book readers in the world") http://twitter.com/goodreads
Help A Reporter http://twitter.com/helpareporter

Mashable: The Social Media Guide, posted "Literary Tweets: 100+ of the Best Authors on Twitter"
http://mashable.com/2009/05/08/twitter-authors/

Mahesh Grossman has compiled a Twitter directory of literary agents:
http://authorsteam.com/authorsmbablog/twitter-twitter-names-of-literary-agents-plus-a-snapshot-of-how-much-they-tweet/

Recently, author Matt Stewart struck a book deal with publisher Soft Skill by tweeting his debut novel, The French Revolution. More details at http://editorunleashed.com/2009/09/17/tweets-to-book-deal-matt-stewart/


How do you find connections on social media sites? Check Twitterer "following" lists. As you pick up friends on the various networks, look at their Friends lists.

Facebook (http://www.facebook.com) is like Twitter on steroids. It is also a way for people to connect and keep in touch, with the added ability to post articles and photos, leave comments, and join groups. In this way, Facebook becomes more of a forum. Many websites and blogs kept by publishing professionals and organizations include links to their Facebook profiles. An application allows tweets on Twitter to be automatically re-posted to Facebook.

Facebook includes authors, agents, magazines, publishers, businesses, and organizations. One can set up a fan page in addition to individual pages. Fan pages are useful for sending out announcements to members about publications, tours, events, etc.

Guides on the ways authors can use Facebook are available at Sachi Studio's "How Book Authors Can Use Facebook As Part of Their Social Media Strategy"
http://sachistudio.com/blog/2008/04/23/book-authors-facebook-social-media-strategy/
and at Mathew Ingram's "Can authors use Facebook to reach readers?"
http://www.mathewingram.com/work/2007/09/04/can-authors-use-facebook-to-reach-readers/

MySpace (http://www.myspace.com/) is also used by authors, though opinions vary as to its usefulness.

On the pro side: New York Magazine's "How to Win MySpace Friends and Influence Readers"
http://nymag.com/arts/books/features/30300/

On the con side: the Author Tech Tips article "4 Reasons Why Authors Should Avoid MySpace"
http://www.authortechtips.com/2009/07/4-reasons-why-authors-should-avoid-myspace/

MySpace includes a group for authors, at http://groups.myspace.com/authorsofmyspace

Other Networks

Linked In (http://www.linkedin.com/) is widely used by business professionals and includes a group for writers, publishers, and editors. See "40+ Writer Uses for LinkedIn" at Meryl's Notes:
http://www.meryl.net/2009/08/03/40-writer-uses-for-linkedin/

FiledBy (http://filedby.com/) is a the largest book site linking authors, co-authors, illustrators, photographers, editors, artists, and other creators with readers and fans.

Red Room (http://www.redroom.com/) is a place to buy, discuss, and research books; to blog and upload other content (including pictures, videos, and other media files); and to socialize and connect with readers, published and aspiring writers, publishers, agents, students, researchers, and other publishing and literary professionals.

* Writer's Digest Community (http://writersdigest.ning.com/), created on October 13, 2009, by Jane Friedman, combines WD resources with networking.

Book Tour (http://www.booktour.com) lists author events. BookTour has now connected with Amazon's Author Central, which allows authors to set up profiles on Amazon.com.

Plaxo (http://www.plaxo.com) not only connects people, but incorporates information from other networking sites.

Author's Den (http://www.authorsden.com/) allows authors to post profiles, book info, events, news, and blogs.

Writer's BBS (http://www.writersbbs.com/) "Meet other writers for critique, workshops, challenges, fiction, non-fiction, Memoir Writing, Mystery writing, poetry, Romance, Mystery, Science Fiction, Young Adult, Children's Writing, Flash Fiction, politics, gardening, cooking, and much more. Writer's BBS is about writers and lending a helping hand up the publishing ladder. Or just to chat and enjoy the company of our writers in our more than 50 active forums."

Agent Query (http://www.agentquery.com/) and AQ Connect (http://agentquery.leveragesoftware.com/) " offers aspiring writers, published authors, literary agents, editors, and other publishing professionals a free and easy way to connect through our interactive online community!"

Florida Authors (http://floridaauthors.wetpaint.com/) includes biographical information, book lists, and web links about Florida Authors. This wiki is a group project started by the Readers' Advisory Committee at the Southwest County Regional Library of the Palm Beach County Library System in Boca Raton, Florida.

Writer Support (http://writersupport.ning.com/) offers support and encouragement for all writers.

The Florida Writers Association (paid membership, http://www.floridawriters.net/) also maintains an online network at http://fwanetwork.ning.com/


Lately, the Ning.com platform has been at the center of some controversy, particularly concerning content ownership rights. Several sources refer to it as a scam. Here's a review I found useful at
http://www.thecommunityarchitect.com/2009/06/01/ning-review/

The review concludes:

Ning is geared for groups and hobbyists without the resources or intention to develop a salable asset. I can see it being used for some grassroots organizations, fan sites, clubs, band groupies, hub affiliations and assemblies with a finite interest, like followers of a TV series or trendy phenomenon like Twilight where the population emulates the expo effect (e.g. large swell or congregation of participants followed by an inevitable scattering).

Stakeholders, entrepreneurs and small businesses should invest the time in a platform with a higher return on their investment of community strategy and user engagement.

NaNoWriMo (http://www.nanowrimo.org/) provides forums and other support and networking services for participants.

Forums

Online forums are another good way to connect with writers. Here are a few of the many that are out there:


The Speakeasy Forum at Poets & Writers Inc. http://www.pw.org
Absolute Write Water Cooler http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/
Mike's Writing Workshop http://groups.yahoo.com/group/mikeswritingworkshop/
Write/Publish/Market http://groups.yahoo.com/group/writepublishmarket/
Writing and Publishing http://groups.yahoo.com/group/writingandpublishing/
Creative Nonfiction Writing Forums (includes occasional discussions about fiction and poetry, plus writing software, hardware, and guides) http://forums.personalessays.org/

Resources

Worldwide Freelance Writer http://www.worldwidefreelance.com/
Writer's Weekly http://www.writersweekly.com/
Writing World http://www.writing-world.com/
Funds For Writers http://www.fundsforwriters.com

The four sites above provide free newsletters containing articles on the craft and business of writing, plus writing markets and job opportunities.


Poets & Writers, "the nation's largest nonprofit organization serving creative writers" http://www.pw.org
Goodreads ("the largest social network for book readers in the world") -- includes forums for authors. Similar networks connecting authors and readers include LibraryThing and Shelfari. http://www.goodreads.com/

http://www.librarything.com/

http://www.shelfari.com/
Writer's Digest (general site) http://www.writersdigest.com/GeneralMenu/
Writer's Digest 101 Best Sites for Writers - updated annually http://writersdigest.com/article/101-websites-2009?p_PageAlias=101BestSites&m_nYear=2007&m_sCategory=all

Here's a short link that will take you to the same place:
http://bit.ly/19m2EY
Creative Commons -- free licensing tools to inform people how they can reuse and share your creative works http://creativecommons.org/
Preditors and Editors -- In addition to its other resources, this site compiles information about publishing scams on its Warnings page. http://anotherealm.com/prededitors/
The Writer -- includes articles, resources, and forums http://www.writermag.com/wrt/
WritersNet: An Internet directory of writers, editors, publishers, and literary agents. Includes various writers' forums. http://www.writers.net/

Author Ann Wilkes has also put together this list of social networking sites for writers:
http://redwoodwriters.blogspot.com/2009/07/social-networking-let-list-begin.html

Time management becomes a consideration when dealing with social networks. Here's one set of time management strategies:
http://onecoolsite.wordpress.com/2009/01/08/social-media-time-management-strategy/

My home page lists places where you can find me online.


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© 2009, Elissa Malcohn Version 1, 2009-10-19

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