Social Media for the Artist (Starving and Otherwise).


I had a short Twitter conversation with Edith Frost on Saturday night.  It happened like this: Somebody that I follow tweeted a response to one of Edith’s tweets, so I followed her and responded to a tweet about the ASL sign for taco. This is part of the conversation I then had with her.

Edith Frost ‏@edithfrost

Now I know how to say taco in ASL (make V shape w/ left hand and do like a karate chop into it w/ right hand)

George Wells ‏@GeorgeWAuthor

@edithfrost I think that’s the universal sign for taco.

Edith Frost ‏@edithfrost2h

@GeorgeWAuthor Hey I used to live in Guad when I was a kid, from 73-79, I went to the friggin American School on Colomos

George Wells ‏@GeorgeWAuthor

@edithfrost Wow! I know teachers who worked there. GDL is great tonight. Cool and rainy.

Edith Frost ‏@edithfrost

@GeorgeWAuthor Wow I hope none of them go back far enuf to remember me, I was kind of a handful. My little sister Lucie fared better there

She then followed me on Twitter, and that’s really cool and made me feel good, and you have no idea who Edith Frost is, but you’ve all heard of Britney Spears, and that proves that the world is broken. She’s an awesome singer-songwriter of “pensive countrified psychedelia.”  Here’s an old favorite, Cars and Parties.  Check it out.

Social media is important to artists, especially the more independent and up and coming, but really with everybody.  There is a lot to wade through, and we’re struggling to be rise above the din, to be read as writers, seen as visual artists, heard as musicians, so we have to use the tools available to us.

What are these tools, and how can we use them effectively?  No, really.  I’m asking.  I have precious little insight to offer you, so please help me out on this one.

A few common sites that I know of and some observations:

Facebook: You should have a page as an artist that is separate from your personal page, because memes about cats and bacon are loads of fun, but not very informative.  I have one, but never know what to put there, except for links to this blog and the occasional announcement about a publication (Spark: A Creative Anthology, Volumes  I  and II ; check ‘em out!), or my latest rejection.

Twitter: Similar to the FB, really, but with shorter messages. I see some put the same thing in both places.  I can also make quips about the fact that I’m writing or not writing.

Blog: Now, some artists with blogs blog about their art exclusively.  I’ve heard differing opinions on this.  Many suggest that you need to have a wider range of topics, or else you’re only going to attract people who are already doing the same thing as you.

Others: Pinterest, tumblr, Google + (I can’t even type that without laughing), etc.

So I guess I’ve discovered why it took me so long to get this post done: I don’t have much insight.  Mmm…I thought I did.

Back to my conversation with Edith: As a fan of her work, it was nice to connect with her, have an interesting conversation, and learn that she’s got a new project in the works.  Now I’m following her to see when it comes out, and I’ll definitely pick it up.  How did it help me?  I don’t know.  Maybe she’ll check me out, maybe somebody else will see me on her Twitter list and follow me, who knows.  Couldn’t hurt.

My question for the week:  How do you use the internet and social media on both sides?  Do your followers look for your latest work?  Are they looking forward to it?  Does their internet activity affect your buying decisions?

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11 Responses to Social Media for the Artist (Starving and Otherwise).

  1. Was actually about to post a link to an article in a blog about this subject, George!

    A good blog is work. I haven’t started a writer’s blog yet because I haven’t taken the time to figure out how I want to approach it.

    • Yeah, I started this with some great advice from Brian Lewis, one piece being consistent posting (oops!). I’m still finding my way here, trying to keep it interesting, informative, and fun.

      Do post that article to the group, and here in the comments as well, if you think it will add to the discussion.

  2. I think everybody wants to figure out how to crack the code of social media. I certainly feel I have very much to learn in that arena — especially concerning my blog.

    Twitter, for me, is by far the most useful social media tool I’ve found. But I don’t use it to connect to readers very often. I wish I could, but I just don’t have readers following me. I use Twitter to connect to other writers, publishers and editors. I’ve found out about lots of great submissions calls via Twitter, I’ve connected with some of the up-and-coming names in my genre, and discovered some amazing articles (generally regarding diversity in fiction) via the people I follow.

    Facebook I use rather like you do — I post links to my blog, talk about recent publications, but mostly that’s it. I’m not sure what else to do there.

    As for how to connect to readers? I haven’t the slightest clue. I keep my blog up as a means of having ONE place where they can go to find me, with links branching off for Twitter, Facebook, etc.

    • That’s my big question: what to do with it all? I’m mostly following and being followed by people in the same boat as me. The moral support is great, but it would be great to have a bigger following of people who want to buy my stuff. I’m following several publishers, and the info is great to have, but I wonder if they’re still out of reach.

  3. Edith Frost says:

    Things that make you go “hmmm”!! My own social-story is that I’ve been on the web since like 1994, had a presence on every social site that came along (and deleted it ha ha) until the last few years where I’ve pretty much boiled it down to just Twitter and my own .com homepage. Mainly just Twitter. I had an f’book fan page, separate from my personal one, but when I left f’book about 9 months ago, the fan page went with it so I no longer have a presence there. And… I just can’t be bothered. If someone else wants to put one up, they can have a party, I don’t care. (And with that attitude you can probably work out why I didn’t end up more like Britney… 😉

  4. I remember the FB page, and it kind of fading away. I guess that’s more for keeping in touch with friends and family, at least for me. I do maintain contact with former students, and occasionally I get business that way, but it’s mostly for faraway friends.

    Or maybe it’s a question of comfort with the platform. I follow 10,000 Maniacs through FB, where Steve Gustafson interacts with the fans. They have a Twitter account, too, but it’s rare that I see anything there. You are more active on Twitter and your webpage. Whatever works best. I’m still trying to figure that out for myself.

  5. ED Martin says:

    When I was a teacher, my classroom philosophy was basically that someone needed to be enjoying themselves, and if it wasn’t going to be the kids, it may as well be me. When the kids saw that I was having a great time and was passionate about the subject while being myself, their enjoyment of the class really increased too.

    I think social media is the same. It’s obvious to your fanbase if you view blogging as a chore or Twitter as just a medium to spam your works. But if you’re enjoying yourself, talking with your followers about what you’re passionate about, people will pick up on you and gradually your platform will grow. It’ll take time, of course, but I think if you can be yourself with social media while getting quality works out there, you’ll get there.

    As for how I use social media, I only follow people I’m interested in. If I enjoy a story, I tend to find the author on Twitter and follow him or her. This has led to some great conversations with writers, as well as them tweeting about my stuff – which is an amazing feeling when that author has a hue following. But again, it’s all about being yourself and genuinely connecting with people because you want what THEY have to offer, not about what you want to offer them.

    • “A chore.” I like the way you put this. It is a chore for me, but only in the sense that most things are. I usually feel better having done something than I really want to do it. I guess it’s a symptom of procrastination. I need to get ahead of myself a little more, not rely on deadlines.

      Being myself is no problem; changing who I am is the real issue.

      • Good luck with that, lol. I don’t follow anybody. I can’t even think of an author I’d like to follow. Maybe Joan Didion. Maybe Lorrie Moore. That’s it. In the article I linked to, the writer was very definite that publishers will google you before they even read your query letter, which is rather distressing if true. Because I have basically decided that I won’t have an “author presence” on the Interwebz. If someone is curious about me, they can track me down on Facebook, that’s as social as I get.

        Here’s the link to the article. It has good information.:

  6. It’s hard work, there’s no doubt. I don’t think any of us have the magic answer George.
    Seems to me that there’s a whole variety of factors that go into reaching out to the market you want to read you. At some point I guess critical mass is reached as more people discover your work and “friend” you.
    I would say I abhor a popularity contest, but aren’t book sale figures also one? Forget the confusing jargon and just have fun with your social media. People respond to people who clearly enjoy their writing and all it entails.
    P.S. I expect you to share the chipotle and chocolate you mention on scrib.

    • What? No magic answer? *throws hands up* I’m out!

      Yeah, I’m trying to balance a lot of things, to make it as effective and fun as I can at the same time. It’s still all so new to me, even writing. I didn’t really start writing fiction until about three years ago.

      I will find some good chile/sweet recipes and share them in a future post. Promise. 😉

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