On being (a)social

I have a confession to make. One that will shock you, I know: I’m not that into blogging. (I've been making an attempt to blog on a more regular basis, but who knows how long that will last.) I spend a little more time on Facebook than I do here, but not much. Mostly, you’ll find me on Twitter, but even then, compared to most of the Twitterati, I’m barely there. My non-writer friends who don’t use Twitter for conversations are probably laughing at that, but it’s true. I tweet far less than any writer I know. I suppose it’s no surprise I should be a social networking wallflower since I’m even more so in person. It’s not that I don’t like spending time with friends, it’s just that it seems to take a gargantuan effort for me to engage with anyone. The very idea of “hanging out” can exhaust me, let alone the prospect of a party or club. The most I can manage is a quiet weekly tea with a very small group, and even that I sometimes have to force myself to do because of all the other people I might incidentally have to interact with along the way.

So when it comes to socializing for an actual purpose—the whole “building a platform,” networking, and marketing shebang—you might as well tell me to get a clipboard and go down the street and schmooze with the other “do you have a moment to sign this” clipboard people who frequent my neighborhood. (Confession #2: When I see the clipboard people, I sometimes go blocks out of my way to avoid them, no matter how worthy the cause.)

Ultimately,  I have my doubts being social actually sells books. Maybe I’ll feel differently once my book is for sale, but I know I personally don’t buy books because the author blogs and tweets. After I buy a book and fall in love with it I might go looking for the author’s blog because I want to know more about them, find out what they’re working on now and when the next one’s coming out, and maybe where I can meet them at a local book signing.

Do I buy books because I already know the authors through social media? Sure, if it’s something I’m interested in. But even if every single person following me on Twitter bought my book, while I’d be flattered and humbled and pleased as punch, it wouldn’t make much of a dent in the numbers publishers look at (and sadly, not even in my pocketbook.) Most people following me on Twitter don’t even read my blog. In all honesty, outside the Robert Downey, Jr. Effect, I get about three hits every time I post an entry, even after tweeting it from both my author and personal accounts and with an auto-post on Facebook.

I read a blog this morning from an author whose recent post on self-publishing got over 2,500 hits and ended up getting a mention in Jane Friedman’s weekly round-up of the Best Tweets for Writers. Agent-mate Roni Loren was also recently featured on Jane’s Best and regularly gets multiple retweets and comments—and deservedly so. But I can tell you now I’ll never end up on that list, because I don’t write the kinds of posts that merit such attention. I considered it early on and decided I simply can’t give advice—not on writing, not on querying, and certainly not on publishing. I feel profoundly uncomfortable doing so when there's so much advice out there from so many people better equipped to give it.

What I do instead is more like an extended Twitter feed. I post pictures that inspire my writing, I talk about oddities I’m researching (last night it was the distance across the English Channel and how long it takes to swim it), and every once in a while I share the vagaries of my writing habits, like using the tarot to solve plot problems or taking a shower to talk to my muse. I suppose it’s as much a stream-of-consciousness babble as anything else. But, hey, that’s who I am. If you’re one of the “lucky” few I sometimes see socially, you’re probably used to it. ;)

My point (er, really, I do have one) is that in the end, I wonder if it matters. There’s so much buzz in the social mediaverse that it begins to blur together. I feel the same way at an office party with all the simultaneous conversations going on and the slowly rising voices as each person attempts to be heard above the rest: I don’t hear anything at all but noise and I quickly find an excuse to get out. Maybe everyone else is able to tune out the conversations they aren’t following and focus on the ones that interest them. And maybe those are the same conversations that build true buzz as more and more people at the party gather around to see what’s so interesting. Either way, those are conversations I’ll rarely be in on, as speaker or listener. Most of the time, I’ll just be talking to myself. And that’s okay.