The Social Media Cheerleader and the End of the World (or the Apocalypticon Book Launch Party)
I have transformed into a social media cheerleader. I don’t know how it happened exactly, though I probably should have seen it coming (what we’ll all say at the end of the world, I bet). A gal downloads a Kindle app and suddenly becomes the modern world’s electronic champion of all things digital.
A few months ago I became the social media manager for Chicago Women in Publishing (CWIP). I didn’t make a lot of fanfare about my new position (a reticent cheerleader, I suppose), mostly because I like to be personal in my posts and tweets but want to maintain some semblance of organizational objectivity. Folks seem to like my conversational tone, though, so maybe it’s OK to just come out with it. You got me. I’m the man behind the curtain.
I’m also an unrepentant (and perhaps relentless) cheerleader for the social media cause, when it comes to writers, editors, and small business owners using the modern world’s gift of social networking for self-promotion and marketing. I know plenty of holdouts who hate Twitter or avoid Facebook (or threaten to leave, leave, come back, leave again). One of my friends said Twitter seems like a bunch of people just yelling links at each other.
I get it. Social media is a strange society, an ether crammed full of posturing and the vapid. Much like the world in real life, I suppose. But now that I’ve spent a lot of time studying the lingo and getting comfortable, I gravitate to a few of these electronically mediated pockets of people, at different times and for different reasons, for personal and professional development. And I encourage everyone to do the same. Because I enjoy surrounding myself with like-minded people at the Internet watercooler.
Some people need a concrete answer to how social media will help them sell products, get work, or become better people. We’re all trying to do one of those, if not all three, right? It’s not so black and white, though. In my lapsed Luddite moments, I do pine for the days of longhand letters and meaningful conversations that don’t involve a link or an Instagram filter. Let’s just forget industry jargon like content marketing and conversion. They don’t hold the real kernel of truth: People are online these days, doing business and making connections, and if you want to do some of your own business with them, you have to join them. Hashtag by hashtag, like by like. Besides, says the cheerleader, it turns out yelling links at people can be a lot more fun than stuffing envelopes and making cold calls.
Here’s my real-life example: Before the recent Chicago Writers Conference panel on self-publishing, I met author Clayton Smith on Twitter. Maybe he found me through one of my tweets with the trusty #amwriting hashtag; maybe I replied to his tweet and followed. However we originally connected, I decided to make the leap and introduce myself in person after the panel (which, like the CWIP program on self-publishing marketing and distribution a few weeks later, was informative and priceless).
I knew from Clayton’s tweets that he had recently published a novel. Before we talked in person, I had no idea what it was about, but I was happy to give him Twitter applause just for completing that mighty feat. Not only am I a social media cheerleader, but I’m always a fan of storytelling, and I know stories in book form don’t appear by magic. Writing is a grind. So, applause to writers! Clayton told me Apocalypticon is about a road trip to Disney World a few years after the apocalypse. Postapocalyptic, dystopian, speculative. I love it all. And even if I didn’t, I love supporting local authors as much as possible.
Clayton invited me to his book launch party on Sunday, March 23. I’ll be there. I’m doing better with the whole party thing, and who knows? Maybe in a cruel twist of hilarious fate, a bunch of people talking about a book about the end of the world will be the domino that tips off the apocalypse. If so, I can say I was there when it all went down.
Writer compatriots meet online, then in person. One buys a book to read; the other makes a sale. If that’s not a social media success story to cheer about, then I don’t know what is.
The Apocalypticon book launch party is Sunday, March 23, at iPaintMyMind in Logan Square, from 4 to 6 p.m.by