We're very lucky to have a guest post today from the author of Ash and Huntress, Malinda Lo, as part of her Huntress blog tour!
Connecting with Social Media as an Author
When I was 12 years old, I wrote a fan letter to one of my favorite authors, Robin McKinley. Back then there was no internet, so I wrote the letter on an actual piece of paper and sent it to her in care of her publisher. I did not really expect a response, but several months later, I got one! She had sent me a form letter that she obviously prepared in advance to answer letters from readers, but on the back she had typed up her own personal response to what I had written. Getting her response was one of the most inspiring experiences of my life at that time, because I loved to write and wanted to be a writer myself.
These days, I admit I sometimes can get nostalgic about the Days of Yore (TM), when communication was slower and more tactile. Email and Twitter are great, but they are not stationery and stamps and ink on paper. And as a writer, I love the traditional tools of my trade.
Then again, I also love the way that the internet and social media can bring people together so quickly and easily. I love Twitter for the way it feels like a conversation among people at a party, and I love the fact that readers feel comfortable sending me quick messages to say that they just got my book, or they saw it at a bookstore near them. That is just really cool! Email, also, is a great way to connect with readers, and I've gotten so many wonderful emails from readers all around the world. I think that technology can be a great way to connect with others.
Of course, there is always a down side. As an author with books available that I want people to read, I am always aware that what I say online is not private. So I think before I post or tweet or update my Facebook status, and I try to always be careful about what I say, because the internet is forever. This is something that many new authors have to learn the hard way — when they post something that was not meant to be taken seriously, but is, for example.
I worked online for several years before becoming a full-time author, managing a very big and sometimes unwieldy website called AfterEllen.com. Through that experience I learned to be cautious about stirring up controversy unless you're prepared for a giant and heated response. I learned to not reveal many details about my personal life. I learned that everybody has an opinion about something, and they always believe they're right.
Because of that experience, I think I'm more cautious than many authors about posting things online and about interacting with readers. I'm happy to respond to tweets and messages, for example, but I don't get personal, and I think really hard before I post anything potentially controversial. Some days I just don't want to worry about the repercussions, and some days I say, "Bring it!"
Every author has to make their own decisions about how much they want to reveal online, and how much interaction they want to have with their readers. For me, that balance is constantly changing because technology and the internet are constantly changing. I've learned that I'm not comfortable googling myself or searching for reviews about my books.
I am comfortable responding to every reader email I get, even if it takes me weeks to sit down and write back. I think that's the best possible kind of reader-author interaction to have.
- Malindo Lo