One short week ago, I was in San Francisco packing my bag for the return trip home. I’d spent a nice, long weekend at the San Francisco Writers Conference, and another week enjoying the City by the Bay (and my son).
I’m always amazed at the stuff I bring home: business cards from fellow writers or presenters; hand-outs galore; books (like I can keep from buying books when there’s an in-house mini-bookstore?); chatzkis like pens and bookmarks and bags and other things. After I’ve emptied my bag, done a quick load or two of laundry, and inventoried the souvenirs I purchased for my office staff, it’s time to sort through the bounty of information I’ve culled from the conference.
The wonderful thing about the San Francisco Writers Conference (besides getting to meet my favorite writer of all time, Michelle Richmond — swoon, tongue-tied, instant fever) is that everyone is so helpful, and the help extends way past February. In fact, I’d like to think none of these people want to be emailed 25 minutes after the last workshop. If they’re anything like me, they will want to decompress and let the whirlwind of the conference settle before tackling anything that resembles work.
In my case, since I didn’t pitch to any agents this year (working on edits, have nothing finished to pitch), I concentrated on gaining information. This year, it was filling my little pea-brain with everything Internet and social media.
I know I’m an old lady, but I do try to keep up. I learn by trial and error. I learn by watching others do it. I learn by reading up on the subject (of course, most of that flies right over my head).
Imagine my surprise when I learned I was approaching social media all wrong. The tweeting, the Facebook, the blog – all wrong! Savvy social media-ites have a system. My system is this: 5-10 minutes on Facebook, keep Twitter open while I work and occasionally scan it for interesting items, blog once a week (sometimes twice a month), and don’t push my book at all (well, maybe some half-hearted attempts).
This is not a good system.
I learned a few things:
Facebook is not my friend, nor is it much of a friend to any writer or business. I’d suspected that for some time. It’s undergoing some changes, there’s a shift in algorithms so that not everyone in your sphere of influence sees your posts. It’s not quite a needle in a haystack, but it’s getting there.
You can schedule tweets! No joke! Now, of course, I have to learn how to do this. I tried TweetDeck many years ago and didn’t get it. Fast forward to today, a new TweetDeck installed, and I still don’t get it. (I may have to email one of the new friends I made at the conference, the ones who actually have a clue.) Also, I learned that there are prime times for tweeting, where one gets the most bang for their buck, and that there’s a content tweet percentage – 20% personal, 80% tweets on other things. Who knew?
I should blog more regularly. And, I should always include a photograph with a blog post. I’ve done that at times, but now I’ll do it each post. Something about the fact that most Internet content is visual and people are drawn to photographs.
The one thing I have done right? Using Pinterest for writing. I’ve used it to sketch out story lines, to post flash (it’s got to be flash on the P – you are only allotted 500 characters), and as a pin board for my novels.
Today, I’m sorting through my business cards; tomorrow I will touch base with the presenters I was most impressed with and thank them for their information and say hello to the writers I’ve met.
A writers conference doesn’t end when you say goodbye. This is what makes going to them so valuable. The information that you garner, the friendships that you make, the electricity of ideas that jump start your own flagging ambition – all of this makes attending so worth the monetary expense.