Monday, August 1, 2011

Focus and Today's Writer - A Blogshop with indie author, Brandon Tietz

This last year left me a little concerned about the role of social media in the writer's life and how all this seemingly instant socialization affects a writer's focus. As I've said in previous posts, writers (well, writers 35+) have had to evolve pretty quickly to keep up with the PR demands of most traditional publishing houses and compete with the thousands of other books begging for attention. All this competition is a lot to think about. As a result, I'm seeing more writers consider the market and their marketing plan before they have a finished product.

Marketing and PR is an important piece of the publishing picture, but what I'm seeing on my end are too many writers dreaming and scheming about how they're going to get their book into your hands or onto your reading device BEFORE the book is finished. Somewhere along the way, more attention is focused on sales and all things social than craft and the book finds its way to me needing TLC. And my answer to the distracted writer is, "Snap out of it!" (she says with Snow White kindness).

Enough is enough. I'm introducing FOCUS as a new writer's virtue, which will be our focus all month.

This week, indie author of Out of Touch and Chuck Palahniuk Writers' Workshop moderator Brandon Tietz snaps us back into focus with 5 must-implement essentials of writing, platform building and social media profile development.

Via Twitter, we now know which celebrity is on bump alert.

We know which pop star is in rehab by Facebook update.

And we know that you have a novel for sale.

This is your “instant voice.” It’s how you keep hundreds—potentially thousands of people in the loop about what’s going on with you.

So you tweet about your book, and you upload pictures of the cover art to Tumblr and your Wordpress, and then you start a Facebook fan page because you know you’re going to be a New York Times bestseller one day. You say “buy my book” in every online corner you can imagine. The problem is that everyone with a screenplay, modeling portfolio, or Nikon camera hanging around their neck is doing this too. Surrounded by all this competition, it’s hard to feel special.

So the big question is: you’re demanding all this attention, but do you really deserve it?

Just like with anything in a creative field, you have to earn it. So here are some tips to social networking as they relate to writing.

1.) First things first, your novel can’t suck. I don’t care if you reached your 5,000-person friend limit on Facebook or how many Twitter followers you have, if your book is shit, you’ll be seeing #craptasticbook hashtags with your name mentioned left and right. Always remember that craft takes priority over marketing. The most important thing about writing is and always will be: the writing.

2.) Don’t be spam. This is the biggest mistake I see aspiring authors make in relation to social networking. Around the second or third “buy my book” tweet of the day is usually when I click the “unfollow” button.

3.) Publication is the best kind of networking; it’s a reason to pay attention to you. A published short story or an article in a literary magazine will not only give you credibility, but also serves as a form of marketing by association.

4.) Don’t neglect in-person appearances. Live events are meant to be the proverbial pay-off for both the reader and author alike. I can honestly say that a good review will never compare to the sound of applause, so go out and do something. The whole point of social networking is to further enable being social in real life. Don’t forget that.

5.) Turn off the “author” switch from time to time. Some of the most interesting authors I follow talk about their work in less than half their posts. The rest is mentions of random things in their lives: what they’re reading, a good movie, etc. Never forget that a public persona also involves you being a regular person.

These are tips to keep you from getting buried in the static that is social networking—not hard and fast rules. Ultimately, you have to decide what works best for you. Finding your social voice may very well be just as difficult as discovering your literary one, but not impossible by any means.

This is probably the best top 5 rules for using social media to your benefit list I've seen. Feel free to use them after your major crafting is all wrapped up.

And of course, if you have tips that help you stay focused please share.

Here's to getting FOCUSED!


About the Contributor

Brandon Tietz is the author of Out of Touch and one of the moderators of the Chuck Palahniuk Writers' Workshop. He has been published in Cannoli Pie Magazine, Red Fez Publications, Troubadour 21, Outsider Writers Collective, and the upcoming Velvet Anthology, along with flagship authors, Stephen Graham Jones and Craig Clevenger. His next book, a themed collection, is called Vanity. You can visit him at his official website:


  1. Very useful tips, especially the one about not becoming spam. So many authors nearing the launch of their first book in particular, Tweet the sales link twice an hour. They also Tweet links to every single positive review. All their Facebook updates try to sell their book, and I'm certain any other social networking is the same. And that's all very annoying to their followers, often resulting in unfollows.


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