Molly Shapiro's debut novel, Point, Click, Love, is the very essence of a modern novel. I was sure that someone like Shapiro, who (quite literally) wrote the book on relations online would find managing her online "voice" seamlessly easy. But know this--when you struggle to calibrate your online voice, you are not alone. It is a universal quandary, although Shapiro raises some wonderful points about how authors can make decisions about what to post--and what to skip.
From Hermit to Huckster
By Molly Shapiro
Sure, publicity and marketing are time-consuming, labor-intensive endeavors that take us away from our real job—writing. And yes, people who choose writing as a career aren’t always terribly outgoing, bold or self-assured, the kind of qualities that make a good salesman. But I’ve found that there are some advantages to being directly involved in the day-to-day publicity of a book.
It used to be that writers had to wait around for a newspaper review or a bookstore reading or a royalty check to get a sense of how their book was being received. Now we get a constant stream of online feedback from friends, followers, bloggers and readers. They post pictures of our books in stores across the country on Facebook. They Tweet about how excited they are to read our book. They write reviews on Amazon, where we can also track our sales—hour by hour, city by city. It can feel overwhelming at times. It can feel underwhelming when we don’t get the kind of reception we’d like. But the fact is that it always makes us feel that somebody really is out there reading and thinking and reacting, which is why many of us write in the first place.
Which leads to the next big question: How much to give? I don’t go by the motto: The more the better. While posting, tweeting and blogging are great, there can be too much of a good thing. So I often find myself trying to gauge whether I’m doing too much or not doing enough. Sometimes I hesitate before posting about my book for fear my friends and followers will see me as a dreaded spammer. Sometimes I’ll go a whole day without posting a thing and feel guilty about it, but I’ll stay quiet rather than force it, particularly if I’m not in the mood to be social.
All this worrying and wondering tends to take valuable time and energy away from writing. But this is the new world we live in, like it or not. While a part of me longs for the days when a writer could be the recluse, holing up in their room surrounded by books, removed from their sometimes adoring, sometimes indifferent public, another part of me likes how writing books has become less of a monologue and more of a conversation.
You can read more by Molly Shapiro at www.mollyshapiro.com.