Authors and Social Media

I understand that one can write an entire opus on this topic alone. That’s not my goal for today since I only have half a cup of coffee left.

I am sure by now you have seen/heard/read that actress Lauren Graham published a novel. Initially, I thought “Yeah, I enjoyed Gilmore Girls, but is another celebrity really coming out as an author? Enough.” It’s a large piece of the self publishing vs. traditional publishing debate. Really talented, unknown writers are trying to get book deals and being trampled on while the “big six” rush to bid on big celeb names that suddenly decide to type out some paragraphs on their MacBooks*.

I figured Ms. Graham’s book would have no issues on the shelves at all, and she could sit back and watch the money flow. However, as I was in a local store yesterday waiting to be helped, the tiny TV was turned to the Ellen DeGeneres Show. Who is the guest? Lauren Graham, obviously. She talked about how she recently joined Twitter, and I started paying attention when she said it was because she wrote a book.

This is intriguing. Most celebrities already have social media accounts and aren’t ashamed to use them (or have their lackeys use them). It’s also no secret that social media is a hugely valued weapon in the publishing world today. You can’t just write a book and publish it. You have to market (excuse me) the shit out of it. That’s why going it alone is so challenging for many writers. My professional discussion boards on publishing are crawling with posts such as “What are some tips for an author trying to promote their book through social media?” and “Does anyone know a company that handles Web development and social media management?” and “Is social media enough to promote my book that I’ve self published?”

Would Someday, Someday, Maybe have suffered at all if its author had chosen not to go the social media route? Probably not, since this is a celebrity we are talking about, but, in the case of unknowns, is the way to become known via the Web? Like the proverbial tree, does a book really exist if no one has tweeted about it?

To return to my example of Lauren Graham, I find it smart of her to be connecting with her fans and potential readers through the use of Twitter. She’s funny and endearing (darn it), and I will probably pick up her book because of it. Touche, Ms. Graham. I am not immune.

Businesses, politicians, professionals, celebrities, authors, artists, inanimate objects and escaped zoo animals all scramble to utilize social media. When I am searching job boards there is a plethora of social media specialists wanted. Actually, the feeling of “authorship” that inherently comes from social media writing has largely contributed to the most recent self publishing boom (in my opinion anyways). Everyone can be published. It’s a self-fueling fire, I guess, social media being the catalyst and the fuel.

What do you think?

*I have always had MacBooks and hold no prejudice against them, though the generalization works here. Chill.

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