Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Adventures in Social Media: Is Google+ a boon for new SF/F authors?

When Google+ launched, I thought the same thing most of you probably did...NOT ANOTHER ONE! I pay attention in writers workshops. I know how important social media is for author promotion. I have a Twitter account. A Facebook author page. When I'm writing as I should be, they languish. When I'm distracted, they enable. Creating a Google+ profile seemed likely to exacerbate both situations.

But then I read a pair of posts by SF/F author Amy Sundberg on the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America blog. (Check her out - she also has a great post on Twitterquette today.)

Amy wrote about benefits/drawbacks of Facebook and Google+ for authors. She suggests a Facebook presence is more critical for established authors. But for new authors - especially SF/F authors - Google+ presents a rare opportunity.

If you are an sf/f writer, being active on Google+ right now is a no brainer, because guess what? Your fans make up a large portion of the current user base. Google+ is known to be particularly popular with the high-tech crowd, many of whom enjoy science fiction and fantasy. So the potential for building your fan base is very good. 

Who knew? This was enough of a nudge for me to give it half an hour of what is typically my "wine down" time. You can get a skeleton up even faster than that, but I wanted to launch with at least a little bit of content.

Folks familiar with FB probably will have no trouble setting up a profile. There are some key differences, such as Circles and Hangouts, that I haven't completely grokked.

But I *really* like that they prompt you to categorize your connections as friends, family, acquaintances, and/or people you are "following" (equivalent to "likes" in Facebook). You can create your own categories too, such as "fans." Makes for some pretty robust (and intuitive) control over content sharing.

(boo! click me)
Though I have created a public profile (because I want readers to be able to find me), I can post pictures of my daughter, for example, and check only the box for Family when it prompts me to share. (Or, go to a specific "circle" by clicking the button next to it in the left-hand column, and post to that circle directly.) You can do the same with anything you post. If someone tries to share something you originally shared to a limited group, they get a polite little suggestion from Google to be considerate when sharing it further. Or if you want complete control, you can actually lock the post so no one else can share it.

From my perspective, anyway, this completely gets around the FB need to have an author page in addition to my profile, which has always been clunky and confusing to me. I am not two different people! Okay, maybe that's debatable, but you see my point.

A pretty small difference that is big to ME is the fact you can edit something after posting. No need to delete and repost. Because I have certainly committed some embarrassing grammatical and spelling fouls in FB posts.

It *is* a little quiet over in Google-land right now. I have looked for some of my favorite bands, for example, and none have profiles yet. Most of my friends and writing colleagues don't have profiles. But if Google+ catches on (and/or continued Facebook updates and privacy concerns drive off some of their users), it's only a matter of time. I did find SFR cohort Lisa Paitz Spindler over there, and my paranormal/sf/f author pal Skyler White.

I consider myself still in beta with Google+, so I'll report back in a week or two. Meantime, if you decide to give it a go, consider adding me to your circles and we'll see if we can silence those crickets.


  1. You convinced me to give it a try and I was up and running in a matter of minutes. It does feel much more user-friendly and I like the control over what I post. Also love that I don't have to have a separate author account.

    As you noted, there aren't tons of people on Google+ yet, but I was able to find ten people/fellow writers I knew in less than three minutes.

    I can see G+ being hugely popular once more people catch on.

  2. Yes, let's hear it for no separate author account! This was HUGE for me. And honestly, though it's hard to connect until more people join the party, it feels awfully peaceful over there compared to all the scrolling and constant updating and prompting over at you-know-who.

  3. Hi Sharon! I feel as you about yet another social group. I don't really like facebook or twitter and I admit I don't use either often. I sometimes think I am isolating myself because I don't want to be there! But I've always liked the Google atmosphere, so I think I'll give it a try. Hey, if you and Laurie are there it has to be good!
    BTW-- my friend's teenager tells me that Google+ is the next big thing. So who knows?

  4. @Kaye

    I think teenagers have a better sense of these things than we do these days. :)

    Would love to see you over on Google+ - look us up if you do set up a profile.

    I attended an event on author marketing via social media last night, presented by former agent Colleen Lindsay (now with Penguin biz dev) and two best-selling author pals. They mostly talked about appropriate and productive behavior on social media, but they also suggested that if the whole thing seems overwhelming, to pick one place you feel comfortable - whether twitter, FB, G+, etc - and focus on that before expanding to include the others.

    I thought that was a great suggestion...though I'm not sure where that leaves those of us who've ALREADY jumped into all three and are feeling scattered. Damn, that would have been a good question to ask after! Maybe I'll follow up via Twitter! :)

  5. You've convinced me, too. I was in, because my daughter made me, but hadn't done much. Went in and added my cover art and stuff. Thanks!

  6. That's great, Pauline! Fun to find more friendly faces over there. :)

  7. Glad my posts were helpful to you! I do think it's still very early days for Google+, but at the very least having a profile with a bit of activity positions us to be able to use it more if it really takes off.

    I also like the suggestion in the comments that for people starting out, it might work well to choose one service to start with and then expand from there. From what I have learned, though, eventually it is usually beneficial for most writers to have a presence on more than just one social media platform (since for many of us, we'll have readers/potential readers on more than one platform).

  8. Hi Amy! Thanks for dropping by and sharing these additional thoughts. It's been a fun week playing around with G+!


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