Twitter: A Breeding Ground for Negativity?

no cynicsSocial media is awesome!

Except when it’s not.

Okay, so don’t get me wrong. I love the fun that is had on Twitter and Facebook and Google+ (are people really on that?) and Instagram (I hear this is fun, but they have a sign on their door that says, “No Flip Phones Allowed”). 

I love that I get to keep in touch with friends I see only once a year (hi, ACFWers!) and I love that I get to know people I never would have had the pleasure of knowing in the pre social media era (hi, so many of my fabulous readers!).

But there is one thing that social media has done that is a bit disconcerting.

And that is its propensity toward negativity.

Let’s be honest. As a collective whole, Twitter can be a big meanie.

Just ask Carrie Underwood.

Don’t get me wrong.

I’m all for funny tweets (there were plenty about The Sound of Music Live that had me chuckling).

I’m all for good-natured spoofs.

I’m all for giving trustworthy reviews.

But it seems like people are much too eager to jump aboard the Criticism Express these days. Tickets courtesy of social media. 

So much so that when somebody points out the GOOD, it almost feels like a breath of fresh air.

Hear me out.

I’m not talking about calling something that is bad, good.

I’m not saying there’s no place for honest criticism or critique.

I’m simply saying that there’s something refreshing, maybe even admirable, about a person who takes the time to look for the good parts, too.

Because honestly, we live in a world of critics. Humanity is saturated with them.

What might life look like, if instead of wrinkling our nose at the bad, which is all too easy to pinpoint, we trained our eyes to search for the beauty? What might life look like if we held up those pieces for the world to see?

Let’s Talk: Do you think social media has made people too critical or careless with their words?

Don’t miss the Christian Fiction Christmas giveaway! Enter to win 8 books and an assortment of gifts – all in one fun Christmas package! For more chances to win prizes, make sure to tune in on my Facebook page as I introduce each author participating in the Christmas giveaway, and direct you to her blog, where she will be giving away additional items! So far I’ve introduced best-selling author, Courtney Walsh, and later today, I’ll be introducing debut-author, Kristy Cambron. I hope you win something, and I hope you find some new authors to put on your to-be-read list!  

Controversy: Good or Bad for Fiction Authors?

Controversy sells. Controversy gets attention.

Just look at the latest public outcry surrounding Rush Limbaugh and Sandra Fluke.

Or look at well-known pastor, Mark Driscoll. He made a comment on Facebook about effeminate worship leaders and received a maelstrom of comments. 

Almost always, blog posts about controversial topics get more hits and more comments.

But is it wise for fiction authors to tackle these topics on their blogs?

I think, before we get to that question, we have address an easier one first:

Why are we blogging? 

Here are some of the more popular reasons novelists blog:

  • to get our name out there
  • to build a platform
  • to interact with readers
  • to establish a brand
I could write a blog post about my opinion of Rush Limbaugh or government paid birth control or masculinity in the church. I’m sure if I did, I’d get a good amount of traffic.
Because there are people out there who are passionate about these topics. 
But then what?
How many of those people weighing in about Rush Limbaugh would come back on Wednesday? What are the chances they would become a part of the community I’m trying to build on my blog?
There are things I am passionate about in this world. I might see a tweet and click on a link and engage in a fun debate. But how often do I go back to that blog when the topic changes to the next controversial thing?
Not often. Maybe never.
And when all is said and done, could we end up disrupting the community we already have?
Some people love debating. It gets the blood circulating. The heart pumping. The synapses firing.
But others look at that same debate and all they see is one giant argument.
One person enjoys the back and forth banter. Another feels like they’re being attacked. 
Here’s the thing. 
Controversial, hot-button subjects are polarizing. They are almost always divisive. 
As fiction authors, should we go there? 
Let’s Talk: Should novelists blog about hot button, controversial topics? Or is it best to steer clear? Why or why not? What are the benefits? What are the drawbacks? 
This post was inspired by a thought-provoking post titled, Our Beliefs Strengthen Inside a Rocked Boat, from one of my good writing buddies, Heather Sunseri. Thanks for the inspiration, Heather!

How May I Serve You?

I participated in my first-ever webinar last week, given by social media guru Thomas Umstaddt. I don’t know about you, but when I think social media, the two names that come to mind are Mr. Umstaddt and Kristen Lamb. And although he said some things that oppose what Kristen Lamb might advise, the core of their philosophy remains the same.

Serve the reader. Whether that be book readers, blog readers, or people who read our Facebook or Twitter updates. 

In a post titled Making Marketing More About Them and Less About Us, Jody Hedlund says, “The needs of the reader should be at the heart of our marketing and publicity efforts.”

I love this message.

It’s a message that is near and dear to my heart. Because to be quite honest, focusing on myself is exhausting. The more I focus on myself, the more self-conscious and insecure I feel. I start to second-guess everything I tweet. Everything I post. I start to worry, “What if nobody likes me? What if nobody even notices me!?”

The whole thing becomes very draining. Very….unfun.

The only cure I’ve found is the one Jody Hedlund, Kristen Lamb, and Thomas Umstaddt offer.

Take our eyes off ourselves and focus outward.

Which is no natural thing.

We are self-centered creatures. Or let me back that train up. I am a self-centered creature. It’s so, so, so easy for me to get wrapped up in my little world. But then I read a blog post like Jody’s or listen to a webinar from Thomas or read a book by Kristen and I receive a much needed slap in the face.

Switch gears, Katie.

Marketing is about being a blessing. Marketing is about serving. Marketing is not about me. 

And as soon as I start looking outward again, it’s like a sharp pin pops my growing tension and this whole thing turns fun again. Energizing, even.

My newest endeavor, as I wade these waters of debut authorship, is creating an author website. And as I start to think about what I want my website to look like and what types of pages I want it to have and what information I want to provide and what colors I want to use, I’m taking this advice to heart.

How can I create a website that is less about me and more about my reader?

It’s an important question for any of us, no matter what we’re doing. It’s a question I haven’t figured out yet. But will continue to ponder as I work with my web designer.

Let’s Talk: What features do you enjoy in an author website? In what ways can an author make their website more about the reader and less about themselves? Please share!removetweetmeme