By Lana Long/ It’s not like I’m that old. I’m barely a Gen Xer, practically a Millennial, but social media alluded me until this year. I never had a Facebook account (insert gasp), I didn’t blog (insert an understanding nod), and I’ve only ever read one Twitter feed (I know, more than you can imagine). I have email, a smart phone and text, which are way more than I had growing up during the invention of call waiting and voice mail. Some of you may remember the time when the only way to communicate quickly, over a distance was on a land line, all the while hoping they weren’t talking to anyone else when you called.
Remember pay phones and the busy signals!
Although pay phones and busy signals made fantastic drama for books and movies of the time, today it’s the immediate accessibility of anyone, anywhere, on an enormous scale that drives the drama. How is it that I can access millions of people with one post? Destroy, encourage, promote. How is it that something I write online may be there forever and ever and ever? People, years from now can find and read what I wrote.
What if I say the wrong thing?
A large chunk of the human population, all over the entire world, is easily reached with a few quick strokes of a keyboard or a smart phone or tablet. The immediateness and permanent nature of it overwhelmed me. Truly, the one thing I found most intimating about self-publishing, or publishing at all, was the need to be on social media. Yes, I worried about what readers would say about my novel, or worse, what if no one read it? After going through countless workshops and conferences, I’d developed a pretty thick skin, though I still don’t like reading reviews. I also edited and edited and had others read Finding Favor before publishing. I couldn’t expect to do that with every online post. Or could I?
Perfection needed to be tempered.
I also feared my inability to keep up online. Could I post enough? Would anyone care? Was I even remotely that interesting? When I write fiction, I write as my characters, not me. There are elements of me in everything I write but it’s not really me. In a way I can hide behind the character. In a way it’s easier to have people read my book, even though all my writing is personally, essentially important to me. On social media, you can create a persona but it’s the real you that the readers of your book want to know. Who created this book they loved, liked or hated? Who is the person that wrote that lovely story or beautiful scene or unforgettable character? Who is the author?
Do I expose the real me?
My debut novel came out in April 2013. I created a Facebook page, avoided Twitter cause I’m just not that brave, created a GoodReads page, and a website with a blog. I connected them all together, took a deep breath, and launched them into the great unknown. The real me is out there. Dun dun dun.
Then I fretted, a lot, over how much to post, when to post, what to post. So I posted very infrequently, and each post consisted of me fretting over what people might think of my posts. Usually my posting process went something like this: me pondering what to say, me typing, deleting, retyping, deleting, typing again until maybe one word still existed from my original post attempt, me reading it over and over, me walking away and coming back to my computer and reading it again, my cursor hovering over the post button and then finally pushing it, me taking a few deep breaths and waiting for disaster.
Disaster hasn’t come yet.
Though I’m sure I will post something that people roll their eyes at, or I’m sure I will post something stupid, or I’m sure I will one day type ‘there’ instead of ‘their’ or ‘your’ instead of ‘you’re’ and everyone will notice but me. Still, I post. It’s only been about three weeks that I’m making a conscious effort to post daily or twice a day. I’m keeping a log of ideas I can post when nothing else comes to mind. Still, I’m posting.
It’s not so scary once you get out there.
It’s actually not so bad. I still reread my posts more than I should. I still fret over whether I will have anything to say tomorrow. I still worry that no one cares. But for now I’m out there, and I feel good as I watch my reach increase. I feel great connecting with people. Now here’s to hoping that my foray into social media helps my writing career. Here’s to being less scared and more hopeful. It really is a better way to go, and who knows, maybe one day I’ll try Twitter.
Lana Long hopes that her books provide readers with the same entertainment she herself finds in YA novels. If you enjoy a good coming-of-age story featuring enthralling characters, check out Finding Favor and read more of Lana’s thoughts atwww.lanalongbooks.com.