Whenever a big book deal is announced, especially when the beneficiary is a celebrity, there's always blogosphere strife. People arguing that they were paid too much. That they can't really write. That publishing is a nepotistic, taste-bereft land of the quick dollar.
Here's a very nice video responding to that.
But, is this suggestion easier given than received? After months, sometimes years, of rejection, can one just forget about the book deal and write?
Yesterday, the Anna Karenina movie people released eight new posters for the film and I immediately clicked over to check them out. And I was so, so bummed.
At first, I couldn't figure out why--the sumptuous costuming and overall aesthetic are right up my romantic alley and JUDE LAW. The posters are ostensibly "exploring love" in all its types but...something about it felt cheesy to me.
Then it hit me. On each poster, you've got a caption over top that's all "ADJECTIVE Love." The problem is that the images themselves say so much more than any single adjective ever could. If they'd just put LOVE on each one, it would have been so much more sophisticated.
$1,000. One day. No confirmed attendee list. I don't see any one-on-one time...AND they're promising you you can learn "best practices." Which you can learn here, here, or here. And many, many other places.
The truth is "best practices" of anything are going to be fairly basic--don't spam, don't overuse the hashtag, etc. You can't talk about best practices of the higher level stuff: crafting a campaign or talking to your specific audience, because there are too many variables. You have to be, at a minimum, familiar with the basics to get anything out of a panel or conference.
Guys, panels are hard. As someone who's been on them and listened to them, it's rare that I come out of a panel discussion with much more than one or two insights to ruminate on (which is usually worth it, actually).
This is because you've got 3 - 5 people, all with different agendas, none of whom want to give too much away, plus an agenda-ed moderator, PLUS a crowd that runs the gamut from someone who knows a lot about the topic to those who just heard about it. And, worse, those who just heard about it who think they're in a tutorial on, say, best practices of social media.
This last group is, unfortunately, the most likely to get suckered in to paying a GRAND to go listen to the head of McDonald's talk about their Twitter strategy. Because obviously what works for them, what's even FEASIBLE for them, should be on your radar, too? No.
Here's the thing about panels and conferences: you have to be really well versed in the topic long before you go there. Ideally, you should have dabbled a little in it, too, so you know what the glitches are for your specific situation. That's why we encourage so much research into agents and publishing before just showing up at a writer's conference thinking you'll get an agent or a book deal. If you don't know what you don't know, how are you going to glean the information that will help answer those questions?
For all of you who've walked out of a panel or a whole conference feeling like you just listened to people talk about totally company specific, personally inapplicable things, that's what happened to you.
So as for these social media conferences? Put your cash into a reputable freelancer who works in your industry and can speak to you particular strategy.
Have you been to a conference before? Did you leave filling fulfilled and knowledgeable or confused and downtrodden?
Do you use scheduling software to manage your professional social media? You should! My favorite is the exceedingly user friendly Hootsuite. It's free and takes a lot of the burden off of you to get to your Twitter account three times a day.
With Hootsuite and its ilk (another is the notoriously buggy TweetDeck), you can schedule Twitter and Facebook (and even blog, if you have Wordpress) posts out into the future. So you can maintain a presence without interrupting a busy work day every 3 hours.
But when should you schedule? You want to find that sweet spot where your audience's eyeballs are actually on their own social media--otherwise you'll just end up too far down the Timeline. Hootsuite has an auto schedule feature that claims to monitor when you get the most interaction and help schedule posts at those times.
I'm skeptical of automating to that extent. The goal isn't to completely check out from your audience, just to take some of the pressure off. You should know when your audience is active because you're evaluating what gets a response and when. Still, it's something to try out.
Also look at this cool infographic, about when social media as a whole tends to be most active. I was very surprised...anything surprise you?