Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

The Goose that Lays the Golden Egg

It would be wonderful to have huge piles of money to use to support every good cause in existence, but I’m not sure even Bill Gates has THAT much money. The vast majority of our donations are unsolicited and go to a source that we know absolutely will use the money wisely. Most of the time, I turn down phone requests from various groups asking for money, but once in a while, I’ll go ahead and donate in response to a phone request. And on an unfortunate occasion, I found that not everyone has quite gotten the message about not killing the goose that lays the golden eggs. You remember that Aesop’s fable, right? The farmer and his wife have a goose that lays a golden egg each day. They get greedy and cut the goose open to get their paws on all the gold they think must be inside, all at once—but they just find normal goose innards, and now their source of gold is dead. Oops.

Case study: I donated to an organization I won’t name—okay, I can’t remember the name, but even if I could, I wouldn’t name it because I’m not out to slam anyone’s group. I’ll just say it seemed like a worthy cause, and I donated. Then I got calls from similar organizations (and, I think, the same organization). And more calls. And MORE calls. AND MORE CALLS. It got ridiculous, and I’m now to the point that I will never donate to a similar organization again. My goose is gone, baby. When I agree to send money to support a worthy cause, that’s what I want to do—support a worthy cause. Not get my information passed along so I can get more and more requests for money. That’s an effective way for an organization to rid itself of a potential golden goose.

Now for the comparison relevant to writers: I’ve been on Twitter for almost a year now. I’m far from being a Twitter expert, but I’ve been there long enough to realize some things that, as a writer, I definitely don’t want to do when I’m tweeting.

If a writer starts following me on Twitter, I always go check out their tweets. If I find that the tweets don’t look too spammy or what all, I’ll follow back. But if that person then proceeds to tweet what amounts to ads for their book EVERY day—or even more frequently than that—I’m going to start getting annoyed. I’ve unfollowed a couple of writers for that reason. They had me as an audience—I was following them; I was willing to see what they had to say—but then they lost me. Goose gone.

I’m not saying writers shouldn’t promote their books on Twitter. Of course they should—let’s be frank; what are we doing there in the first place? As an author, it’s not just about having fun with social media; it’s about networking, connecting with potential readers, spreading the word, letting people know who we are and what we write. But in my humble opinion, you don’t make the desired connections by bombarding people with tweets like: “Want a great spine-tingling mystery? Read Whitney Award finalist COLD AS ICE!” Over and over and over again. I’ve got an audience ready to hear me—but instead of gently cultivating that audience, and trying, through personal, entertaining, interesting tweets, to generate interest in my work, I’m going for all the gold right away: Buy my book! Buy my book! And in doing that, I’m risking losing my golden geese—people who might have become interested in my work because of our Twitter connection.

When a writer talks about his/her book on Twitter, I want to feel like I’m hearing fun, interesting news—not like I’m listening to an advertisement. It’s fun to hear a writer tweet excitedly about a new book being accepted, or a new release, or a great review, or a new cover, or what have you. I do want to hear book news--definitely. I like connecting with authors and finding out about their work. I just want to hear about it in a fun, personal way.


At 4/06/2011 2:56 PM, Blogger Jon Spell said...

Learn From My Fail: don't ever donate to a phone request from the Fire Department. It's just like you say: your name goes on a list titled "Suckers!" and that list gets passed around.

I used to enjoy Twitter more when there was less of it. =)

At 4/06/2011 3:52 PM, Blogger Debra Erfert said...

Twitter is a great way to find out where your favorite authors are having their next book signings, too.

We never, and I repeat never do business over the phone. Ever!!

Great post, Stephanie.

At 4/07/2011 1:05 AM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

:) Hey, where have you been on Twitter, Jon? Haven't heard from you much?

Good point, Debra--Twitter's a great place to announce book signings!

At 4/07/2011 1:01 PM, Blogger Maggie said...

I'm not on Twitter, but I could say the same about Facebook. I frequently link to my writing blog on it, and sometimes I wonder if I do that too much. Thanks for the reminder to scale back a bit and just be a normal person--and not a constant advertiser.

At 4/07/2011 2:10 PM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

Thanks, Maggie. I think it's a matter of balance--some book promotion, some non-book-related stuff, etc. At least that's what I find I'm comfortable with in my own posting.


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