Those of you who read my blog know that I rarely post a personal comment. I'm actually a shy person - I was the kind of kid who watched from the sidelines, the kind of teen who hid behind her books, and I'm the kind of adult who doesn't like the spotlight.
I was chatting with my critique partners the other day about social networking, and I made the rash statement, "I've been hearing that publishers expect you to have an online presence." They looked at me as if I'd told them they had to eat dirt (or something nastier) in order to get published. "Why?" one of them - a published author of award-winning books, who doesn't blog or tweet - asked. "Well," I said, "um..."
I've been reading a number of discussions on various blogs about the concept of author "branding" as part of our publishing persona. I think this concept of branding is tied to my assumption that having an online presence is an essential part of my job. That in order to sell my books I have to blog, tweet, and Facebook. I certainly do all those things, and I think they've helped introduce my books to readers. I think.
But I also know that they take time - time away from writing - and frankly some of my online stuff makes me feel...awkward. As in tweeting "visit this blog where I've been interviewed!" Whooee, mama. Sure, I'm a writer who wants to be read. But why do I feel like I'm screaming "look at me!"?
And branding - that's a whole other level. I have some really smart writer friends who say it's essential to develop a personal brand. I have some equally smart writer friends who scoff at the notion. I wish I knew what "branding" really means. Other than the cowpoke thing that turns my stomach (yep - done that.)
So, here I am, standing alone in the wind, so that I can toss out a few questions to you all. How much social networking do you think is necessary for writers to do? How much is too much? Does it really help us sell our books?
What do you think?