Social Media Should Be Fun
by Melissa de la Cruz
We have come to a point in our culture where publishers are teaching their authors how to use social media. They ask that newbie authors take a class they offer called "digital bootcamp" so that they can learn how to use Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc. to sell their books. Apparently I am one of the prime examples of an author using social media to much success. Ha!
Life is too short to be a drag. I learned this from my dad, who also told me never to take anything too seriously, especially things you cannot control. For example, I take my work very, very seriously, but the reaction to my work? Not so much. Whether they love it or they hate it, it's all the same really. It was fun for me to write. It's up to other people to decide whether it's fun for them to read, and everyone has their own opinion. When I was younger I could never fall asleep, I was so afraid of everything—would someone say 'hi' to me at school? Would I ever find a boyfriend? I had so much social anxiety it was paralyzing. Now I sleep like a baby. It's not that I don't angst about anything anymore (I do) but I've learned to live without being afraid about life.
I have a newsletter, which I send when I feel like it. When I have news to share, and when I remember to send it. When people ask me how often I send it out I lie and say four times a year. In honesty, I don't know. I don't check. I send it out when I feel like it and that's that. I don't like receiving a lot of self-promotional junk, so I try not to send it out too often, or only when I have really good news that people might enjoy hearing about.
My friend Jennie told me to try MySpace because it's fun and all my readers would be on it, so I dutifully put up a MySpace account. It was fun, until they put some kind of odd restriction on the site where people who want to "friend" me have to write my name correctly in the form, and for some reason MySpace had my name as "Melissa De" so no one could find me anymore. It was such a pain that I just kind of let it die, since it was so not fun trying to fix it. Then Jennie said I should join Facebook for the same reason and I resisted because I was so annoyed by the MySpace thing that I still don't have a Facebook.
What I guess I'm trying to say to authors using social media is: do not feel obliged. You have no obligation to do anything except to write a good book. You can share or not share as much of your life as you feel comfortable. If you're not having fun, and you're just in it to shill books, no one will be that interested in you. Think of how YOU would react to someone reminding you over and over again to buy their book. I would immediately un-follow that person. You know? Be reasonable. I try to tell myself this too, and try to keep the self-promotion to a degree that I would be able to stand. Also, it's not really about social media. It's about writing a book. Writing a book is a huge accomplishment and a lot of work, so my rule is, everything else should be fun.