To cyber-socialize or not to cyber-socialize? That is the question.

My New Year's resolution for '09 was to finally, seriously and extensively take a look at all the social sites I kept hearing about. My Space. Face Book. Crime Space. Twitter. Blogs. No more letting the info slide by, no more shaking my head and saying, “Who's got time for all this bulls__t?” I would do an investigation, just like my sleuth Christy Bristol. I would finally find out what all the fuss was about.

First, I had to learn to put on the brakes. I was painstaking setting up my profile, tentatively adding friends, photos, an opinion or two. People responded. “Will you be my friend?” Uh, yeah, guess so. Messages began to flood my mailbox.

I found myself overloaded with all these strangers clamoring for attention. I decided to create a folder to stuff the socializers in until I could find time. Sunday mornings were free because business emails slowed on weekends.

As I took time to look at blog sites, I noticed links listed. My former training as a narc secretary kicked in. Where I once sifted through allegations to detect clues on drug trafficking, I now investigated these links for info. I sped the process by copying the entire group and creating a new folder titled Blog Sites. I could already see where this was going to become unwieldy, so as I checked each one out, I discarded what I couldn't use and put the “possibles” in alphabetical order.

Yes, I'm a bottom feeder. Let others do the work, I'll reap the rewards. I discovered an incredible number of sites and slammed profile on in record time. I tossed in photos, never the same as the other sites. I recycled good blogs, figuring I'd find a different readership at each site. I insisted my friends from my publishing house (Oak Tree Press) join me. I was a brat.

The work immediately paid off. People invited me to guest blog. Would I consent to be interviewed? Would I like my newest book, WHERE ANGELS FEAR, be reviewed? My Murder Circle was named a professional site by Linked In (yes!). My googled hits tripled in two weeks.

But, with success comes controversy. Those I left behind in the dust, the naysayers, carped that I wasn't doing any “real” writing. Or, why should they follow my lead without a book to market? On a panel in Hawaii, two major authors cautioned, “You should all be writing books, not wasting time on these sites.” Even the moderator let out a gasp (and befriended me as soon as we returned to the mainland).

Waiting means playing catch-up. Smart writers create a presence that will be ready when their first book is published. The rest of us, late to the game, are running to keep pace. Being aggressive pays off when it comes to selling books.

The way I see it, writers are now divided into two categories: Those who “socialize” with the possibility that their efforts will pay off in the end, and those who are “unsocial” and assume hard work will eventually be rewarded in sales.

My opinion? Do nothing and nothing is all you get.

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Comment by Eyre Price on October 4, 2010 at 4:09pm
Long before the Internet someone taught me that you can work hard or you can work smart. And nothing in this electronic age we find ourselves thrust into has lessened the truth in that nugget of wisdom.

We should all be writing books. I know I am.

But writing on blogs and writing books isn't an either/or dilemma. The fact of the matter is that participation in the cyber community is a necessity for EVERYONE who wants to be in play within a marketplace that is undergoing radical changes...and will continue to change for the foreseeable future.

Anyone who doubts that should check out Stephenking.com or noraroberts.com or jkrowling.com. The three most successful writers of the last fifty years presence on the web speaks to their understanding of the roll that the Internet has come to play, not just in marketing, but in every aspect of an author's relationship with his/her readers.

It doesn't surprise me that there are still those who doubt the necessity of high-profile web presence. There were, after all, those who were certain that "soundies" were just a fad and that people would never stay home and watch pictures on a little box...

From all of us who are looking towards the future: Thanks, Sunny, for showing us the way!

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