Monday, December 05, 2011

Know Your Netiquette

Army brat Ronie Kendig grew up learning to roll with the punches, including countless moves and educational disruptions that forced her to make friends fast. At 19 she married the hunk of her dreams, an Army veteran. Together, she and her husband have four children. She has a BS in Psychology, speaks to various groups, volunteers with the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), and mentors new writers. Rapid-Fire Fiction, her brand, is exemplified through her novels Dead Reckoning, a spy thriller, and the military thriller series, The Discarded Heroes, which includes Nightshade (Retailer’s Choice Award Finalist, IRCA finalist), Digitalis (INSPY Award finalist, Wolfsbane, and Firethorn (4.5 star review from Romantic Times and releases January 2012).

Ronie can be found at, Facebook, and Twitter!

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Twenty years ago, writers didn’t have to worry about Facebooking, Tweeting, messaging, texting, or anyone of the other seemingly hundreds of other social media colloquial. They wrote their stories and communicated with readers (mostly) through their publishers. But our culture today is vastly different and so is the publishing world.

If you’ve blinked lately, you might have missed some things—like internet etiquette in this rapidly changing world. In the last almost two years since my first title released, I’ve been watching the leaders, the movers and shakers among writers. Admittedly, this whole writing and participating in social media gig overwhelmed me at first, and some days, it still does. But here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way.

  • Balance – It’s important to find a balance. We’re writers, so we need to WRITE! However, the industry is such that we also have to engage our readers, who “demand” that interaction and are less understanding of those who don’t take the time to get to know them. Personally, I find Facebook much more integrated (despite its annoyances like ever-changing privacy issues) and easier to engage with readers. Some prefer Twitter. Find what works for you and then. . .WORK IT! Establish yourself there.

  • Iron Sharpens Iron – Earlier this summer, I sort of shot myself in the foot. One of my books contained a scene that I knew some readers would take issue with. And they did. A few raked me over the coals and made accusations about me as a person and as a Christian. It hurt—bad. And I made the mistake of commenting about a couple of the reviews on Facebook. Big mistake. Big. Huge! Your readers are watching and if you end up whining a lot or complaining, they’ll find other authors to spend time with. Keep your focus on your readres, on the faithful, not on the small percentage of negative. In essence, show your fans you appreciate them. Think about it—we all prefer to be around people who can see the sunshine ray in a cloudy day. As they say, iron sharpens iron. *That* is the influence I want to have—to challenge others to be better, just as my close friends challenge me. We do this through our fiction, but now we have the opportunity in social media, to apply it to our everyday lives.

  • Be Authentic - Readers definitely want to know about your books, after all, that’s how they probably discovered you in the first place. But it really does get old if all you do is talk about how great your books are. Show readers glimpses of the real YOU. Be authentic. (Be cautious at the same time—see point #4), while remembering to keep things positive and upbeat.

  • Guard Your Privacy – if you’re going out of town, don’t announce that publicly. Also, if you have small children, experts generally advise that you not use their real names. Our family endured some drama when a woman ingratiated herself through my writer page on a social media outlet, then friended my then-14 year old daughter. Next thing we knew, this supposed woman had my daughter’s full name, phone number, our address, and had put my daughter in contact with two older guys, and then offered to “come and get” my daughter. It happens, so just be alert and smart with information provided publicly.

  • It’s Not About You When readers claim a favorite author or favorite book, it’s generally because there is something in the story that resonated with them, something they could relate to. That’s what this entire gig is about—relating. If authors monopolize time with discussions about THEM, readers will lose interest. Engage your readers with questions like “what do you. . .?” or “what is your favorite. . .” The amazing marketing guru, the Great Rudini (aka: James L. Rubart, author of Rooms, Book of Days, and The Chair) once told me that the reason people will buy books is because they like [the author].” Relationships have to be built, and building requires engaging. So, talk to your readers. Find out what’s happening in their lives. Go to their pages and see what they’re up to. I realize some of us are insanely busy outside of writing. I homeschool all day, then have to write at night, but I take a moment here/there to pop in on Facebook and see what’s happening.

  • Have fun!! Don’t we all want to be there’s laughter and smiles? Then create some of your own. Have fun with those who are willing toe engage and the “party” will become contagious and draw others. I was told at one of my first signings to have people (family) gather around my table because it would draw others to find out “what’s going on over there.” Draw your crowd to your social media preferred site by creating a stir! Some like controversial stirs, some like comedic stirs, others like relational stirs. Find what works, and WORK IT!

  • Short and Sweet - We live in a fast-paced world that demands dissemination of information in tidbits and not in big words like I just used. :-) A great example of short and sweet information is the blog of Allen Arnold, Senior Vice-President and Fiction Publisher at Thomas Nelson:

So there you have it. Being an author is hard work, but if you break it down into some bite-size pieces, it'll be manageable--and fun!

Do you have a favorite tip regarding netiquette
that you think should be mentioned?
Let us know--post a comment!
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Ronie's latest title, Firethorn (Discarded Heroes #4), releases January 1st. Order Firethorn now!

Blown & dismantled, Nightshade is read to repay the favor!

4 1/2 stars!!! Romantic Times says: “…exciting, adrenaline-pumping prose that will catapult you right out of your easy chair. Oh, but keep the Kleenex close by for the tears.” Chandra McNeil, reviewer

Can a covert operative and the felon she’s freed overcome their mutual distrust long enough to save Nightshade? Will anything prepare them for who—or what is coming?


keiki hendrix said...

Really good stuff here. Thank you for posting this. Virtual behavior should mirror our real life behavior. But its also a learning experience.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the helpful information. I am a new author and new to FB. Still figuring out how the whole thing works. I find it confusing to know how much to market and when is too much. You want to be seen, but not appear pushy or needy. I've been encouraged to start a blog but think ... sure, when each day bumps up to 26 hours.
Karen Arnpriester

Jodi Janz said...

Great info Ronie!
I have a tip: I teach on line safety classes for kids and parents and I think the biggest shock people have is they still believe that things can be deleted from cyberspace. They can't. What you typed in one day can haunt you ten years later. So be careful what you do on line - especially BEFORE you become a well-known author. It's amazing what you can find with a 'google' search. Maintain a professional attitude before you become a professional.


janicejohnson said...

I so agree with your points! Here's a real-life "How-Not-To" example... I got a Facebook friend request, with no message, from a name I wasn't sure I knew. Looking at her profile pictures, I finally figured out I had been in a college course with her a couple of semesters earlier. We had had some rapport at the time, so I accepted the request.

That's when the barrage of posts began to appear in my news feed. They were ALL about her upcoming first novel (in a genre I don't care for at all). She was essentially using her page as a fan page for the book, posting only release updates and asking people to "like" and "share" the book.

She never once acknowledged me or our past association, wrote anything on my wall, or even clicked "like" on a status or photo that I had posted to my own wall. After a couple of weeks I clicked "Unfriend" without a trace of regret.

And that is how NOT to use Facebook to connect with potential readers.

Jan Drexler said...

Ronie - thanks for the tips!

You're right about keeping the focus on your readers - I also like authors who give out hints about upcoming books. I love knowing just enough about a new story to anticipate what might happen.

The only tip I have to add is to be careful not to get too involved in discussions on inflammatory topics on public forums like Facebook - it's too easy to get caught up in the heat of the moment and say something that can be misconstrued. Make a statement if you need to, then back off. You've had your say:)

And kudos on balancing your writing and homeschooling - I couldn't do it! I didn't start writing until my youngest was well into his high school years. You're working two full-time jobs!

Camille Eide said...

Thank you, Ronie, this is timely info. Thanks for baring your "soul". (I am famous for learning things the hard way, especially when it comes to matters of ettiquette.)

Thanks for all you do for writers, & blessings on your books!

Sarah Allen said...

Great and thoughtful post. I hear the advice about the negative reviews a lot, and I guess the best type of response is a non-response, right?

Sarah Allen
(my creative writing blog)

Anonymous said...

Don't promise aspiring, unpublished writers that you'll be happy to help them, or that you'd love to "encourage" their work ... and then drop it. I befriended a couple of authors who I liked and who seemed genuinely interested in my fledgling writing career, both of whom wanted to look at some of my stuff and give me their thoughts. I didn't expect either one to mentor me, or to try to get me accepted with their agent, just wanted a little push in the right direction. Months later I've heard either a slew of excuses or flat-out nothing. I understand fully how busy writers are, but don't promise if you aren't going to carry through!

And one more tip -- don't spam Twitter with endless tweets about your upcoming publication. Liberally sprinkle some interesting personal info in there (like, "Today I baked cinnamon chip muffins ... yum!") I'm interested in the novel, but if you're an author I like enough to follow or "like," I want to hear about who you are as a person, too! ^_^

Michelle Griep said...

Excellent reminder to keep our whining behind closed doors.

And Anonymous, great reminder that it's the people behind the writing that other people are often interested in, cinnamon chip muffins and all.

Donna Perugini said...

Put this into e-book format! This is a must read for any aspiring author. Even the comments are loaded with useful information.

PS Love your blog design!

David Chiles said...

Great netiquette tips. I agree that posting material that you know will offend people is bad netiquette. I call it posting flame bait.