Monday, July 16, 2012

What is Social Networking Anyway?

Janalyn Voigt, author and speaker

When the oriental man pushing a shopping cart full of books hailed me in the parking lot of a hardware store, I knew I was in trouble.

His forehead creased with concentration. “I…book…writer.”  

I smiled and nodded as I edged for my car, not feeling quite safe.

Perhaps emboldened by my response, he flashed a bright smile and waved a paperback in my face. “You…want…book?”


He placed the book in my hands. The cover wasn’t bad, I remember thinking, but if he could barely speak English, what would the inside be like?


I took myself in hand and, shaking my head, thrust his offering toward him. “I don’t want the book.”  My tone was a little abrupt, so I added a polite “thank you,” but he’d already turned away, possibly on the look-out for his next customer.

Sometimes I feel like that man.

As a debut author I’m out there pushing my shopping cart as I try to convince people to buy my book. I can get caught up in narrow-focus marketing efforts and forget there's a better way. I won't succeed if I go it alone. In the first throws of building a platform I gave little thought to how much help it actually takes to launch a novel and a career. I have never felt more needy than now, when I have something to offer. Yes, I have more traction than I did but a taller mountain to climb.

My launch of DawnSinger, the first novel in Tales of Faeraven, my epic fantasy series, was successful because a number of people I helped along the way pitched in for me in return. That’s the way social networking works. Wherever you are in your writing journey, it’s never too soon or too late to give your help to someone else. But you can’t give to get. People smell that motive immediately, and it stinks. Be sincere in all you do.

If I didn’t understand before, I know it now: Any pinnacle I reach will be because many hands carried me there. That will always be so. I am nothing without others.

And neither are you.

Have there been times when you helped another person and the only return you received was joy? Was it still worth it? 

The High Queen is dying… At the royal summons, Shae mounts a wingabeast and soars through the air to the high hold of Faeraven, where all is not as it seems. Visions warn her of danger, and a dark soul touches hers in the night. When she encounters an attractive but disturbing musician, her wayward heart awakens. But then there is Kai, a guardian of Faeraven and of Shae. Secrets bind him to her, and her safety lies at the center of every decision he makes. On a desperate journey fraught with peril and the unknown, they battle warlike garns, waevens, ferocious raptors, and the wraiths of their own regrets. Yet, they must endure the campaign long enough to release the DawnKing—and the salvation he offers—into a divided land. To prevail, each must learn that sometimes victory comes only through surrender.
Available in paperback and ebook form at and Barnes & Noble.
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  1. Cross promotions and team efforts are wonderful, especially for folks too shy to toot their own horns. They'll toot yours if you'll toot theirs! :D

  2. Such exchanges are sometimes beneficial, especially when writers are shy. It's somehow easier to promote someone else rather than yourself.

  3. Great post, Janalyn. That's the stage I'm at - learning to network, but mostly learning to give.

  4. That's the way to go, Mary. Focusing on others helps us to avoid becoming self-involved as writers.

  5. This is very true. When I first started my journey, I joined a ton of writer groups, both on LinkedIn and Facebook. There's one on FB that I try to remember to remove myself from, but I'm always too busy to recall. It's something akin to "Excited Writers Promo" but I noticed after a while, it's pretty much shameless self-promoting. I wanted to post, "Does anyone actually READ or are people just promoting themselves with posts?" There is ZERO connection, and without that, I feel it's a waste of my time.

    I've made some wonderful author friends since diving head first into this world, and it IS much more involved than simply writing the book. I think that may be the EASIEST part. There are so many other things we need to do.

    As a reader, I've always appreciated authors taking time to thank me for telling them I'm a fan and enjoy their books. It makes me feel special and connected. As a writer, I remember to give back when I can. Once I'm published, I'll make efforts to thank every person that helped me along the way. You're right Janalyn - it can't be done alone!

  6. I was just thinking about this the other day. I am so blessed to have such a great network of helpers, among both readers and other authors. If the writing community has taught me nothing else, it's that there a ton of fabulously generous people out there.

  7. Hi Janalyn, I realise this is an older post, but I found it through Pinterest, and I wanted to say I agree. I am reading several books right now and I am hearing this from many different sources. You have to have put something into the "bank" in order to have something to draw back out. Same principle works for relationships across the street or across the internet.