Branding

Once upon a time I decided to start several social media accounts, and I was semi-smart enough to use a consistent username, though it did not match up with my blog name. Though that was OK, I thought, because I wasn’t really trying to brand my blog. But rather myself.

But why I thought my initials and birthday would mean anything to anyone or stick in anyone’s mind other than mine I have no idea.

So now I am facing a dilemma. I want to rebrand everything with my actual full name so I can get better name recognition so that when I hopefully query in hopefully 2016 (I have been saying I want to query for the last two years but one day this will actually be true) I will have a pretty decent platform.

But here are the problems:

  1. Every reasonable variation of my name that I can think of has been taken on all the social media sites I use.
  2. It could actually be confusing for the people who do know me if I switch now.
  3. It might mess up links and such.

When I looked through the authors I follow on Twitter, the vast VAST majority of them have Twitter handles that are very much their name. So basically I feel like I failed for not jumping on this train long ago. I should have planned this better. I shouldn’t have been so paranoid about putting my full name out there because apparently it’s more common than I thought and someone probably wasn’t going to track me down based on it. But who knows, maybe I would have run across this problem back then too. I don’t know how long these names have been taken.

And then there’s the issue of having a private Instagram account for people I know offline, but wanting to have a public one as well that I can use for bookstagram and similar things, and trying to juggle all that

It seems my only options (at least on Twitter, and I haven’t checked to see if anything matches up across the board) involve adding writer or writes or an underscore or numbers, and I don’t want to do that (even though my current  one has numbers, again, I am trying to simplify to my actual name). So what do I do? Stick with what I have? Choose a username close to my actual name but will still have something added?

And as more people grow up and sign up for social media accounts, what options will they have if they want to use their actual name?

Oh, and let’s not forget I haven’t even looked into domain names yet, which will be my last step in branding myself before querying and I have NO idea what my options are for that are…

Any thoughts on my branding woes?

*EDIT* Thanks to Jackie Lea Sommers and her comment, I was able to find something that was available without numbers or underscores and didn’t feel too long, yay! A million thanks! Of course, if you still have any thoughts on the discussion in general feel free to chime in! But now you can find me on the web as acshawYA. 🙂

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Let’s Talk About Tumblr

This is probably a blasphemous thing to do on a WordPress blog, but this isn’t abandoning one format for the other. It’s simply about expanding my horizons.

I read something a few months back that really stuck with me. It was from author Jon Acuff (who went from blogger of Stuff Christians Like to writing books to writing and speaking about chasing your dreams), and he mentioned that he asked a group of teens who out of them read traditional blogs, such as what you are reading right now. Not a single hand was raised.

It shouldn’t have been so shocking to me. I know a few teenagers do read this blog, so obviously this is not the case all across the board, but I imagine that was a decent sample group. I mean, I work with teenagers at church, and I know:

1. They communicate via Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Vine, etc. All short and sweet.

2. They might use Facebook a little, but not much.

3. They don’t really do e-mail.

(By the way, if any of you girls read this blog but have never told me before, *waves!*) 

Since then, the thought of starting a Tumblr has crept into my mind (maybe before too). But what would I do with Tumblr, I wonder?

1. Post pretty pictures (like I do on Pinterest, but I would just have to pick one instead of going on a rampage of posting 50 beautiful dresses in one sitting)?

2. Write short anecdotes about… life? writing? books and movies?

3. Reblog Fitz-Simmons GIFs?

I already feel like I spend too much time online and not enough writing or… you know… exercising or cleaning or *insert other responsible adult thing here*.

Anyhow, why am I so concerned about what teens do online? Because I want to write for them! If Tumblr is the best way for me to connect with them as an author, then I should probably have one. Several YA authors have embraced this format, such as Kiera Cass and Veronica Roth. And while at this point, I would be surprised if I quereyed agents this year (though there’s six months left this year, so I suppose it’s possible! But it would certainly be much later this year), when I do, I want to have an established presence already. I don’t want to basically say, “Hey, check out my social media presence that I started last week to impress you.”

I already want an audience base, which I have with some wonderful people who read this blog and have told me they totally want to read what I write one day (I’m so honored every time anyone says this by the way, truly), but I want to be up to date on things. I don’t think any author should feel pressured to be on every form of social media by any means, but since I have decided that for now, my Instagram is for my real life friends and not something I really share outside of that, all I really have that is “teen friendly” is Twitter. (Unless Pinterest counts? I’m not sure. I actually have a decent Pinterest following.) And while I usually tweet every day, it’s only occasionally interesting (or maybe it’s never interesting, I don’t know).

But I don’t want any avenue pulling me away from the ultimate goal of publishing a book.

Of course, there’s a lot to say about motivation and self-control, and I should probably stop blaming the Internet. 🙂

Anyhow, please share your thoughts about Tumblr if you have experience with it! Do you have one? What do you post on yours? What would you like to see from me if I decided to create one? How much time do you typically spend on Tumblr in a day? Does it have a good app? Please enlighten me! 

A Time to Speak Up and a Time to Just Ignore It

I think something that has become increasingly harder in this age of Internet and social media is knowing when to express our opinion (and just how much of it to express) and when to keep our mouths shut. I’ll admit, when I was younger, I would share my opinion with a fence post; I thought I had a handle on everything going on in the world. With age thankfully came a little wisdom and humility, and I’ve realized I don’t know everything. And even if I think I might really be more educated in a certain arena than someone spouting off their mouths, there are times when just arguing about it results in everyone losing and no one being converted. So over the years, I’ve tempered myself. It doesn’t change the fact that I have opinions, and I am willing to voice them, but I try to discern when and how the best ways to do so are.

twilightsoapbox

BTW, I’m not a My Little Pony fan, I just found the picture relevant.

I see things blow up on Twitter a lot. And almost always, I try to block it out, because 140 characters does little to change people’s minds, honestly. I’m not saying you shouldn’t post about causes you believe in ever, but I get a little weary when I see rant after rant about what one person said.

The latest example is that apparently, someone with a keyboard somewhere decided you should be ashamed to read YA. At least that’s what I’ve gathered from what I’ve seen on Twitter. I never looked to find the article so I don’t know for sure. I didn’t want to read it because I didn’t want it to frustrate me. It wasn’t going to better my day or anyone else’s if I did. So everyone has been ranting about how wrong this person is. I agree that it sounds like what this person said is probably out of line. It’s their opinion, but I disagree with it.

But the thing is, I’ve seen it perpetuated so much that I fear that this person’s opinion is getting way more Internet fame and credit than it deserves. I’m not saying no one should speak out against it at all, but when everyone talks about it on Twitter, more and more people become aware of it and perpetuate more about it. If no one had posted on Twitter about this article, I never would have heard about it. And this person would have been met by mostly silence. The only thing more frustrating for somebody with an agenda than being told they’re wrong is for no one to care at all about what they just said.

Or to be proven wrong.

You know how the old saying goes, “ACTIONS speaks louder than words.”

First off, The Fault in Our Stars is going to do well this weekend in the box office, and not even every YA reader is going to see it (I’m not), and not everyone going to see it is going to be a teen. Say what you will about whatever you think of teenage literature, but money talks and the story speaks to people. Some people assume every book in the teen section is like Twilight, and while I have to admit I do not understand that franchise’s appeal, I wouldn’t be so rude to say every fan of the series should be ashamed of themselves, like it’s equivalent to doing something truly shameful, like harming other people. But the point I’m trying to make is, you can let your voice be heard in other ways, by showing what’s great about YA. Share your favorite books with your friends. Keep blogging. Go see your favorite adaptations on opening weekend. Write your own awesome YA bestseller (easier said than done, but you know, some of us are hoping to achieve this one day)!

YA isn’t for everyone, I get that. But some people just want to be inflammatory, and honestly, they don’t deserve the attention. So before you tweet just ask… are you helping promote something positive, or are you just giving the disgruntled a louder mouthpiece? Don’t let them get to you, friends. They’re not worth your time.

keep calm and read on*EDIT* I wanted to add the link to another blog post on the matter, Why People Write Anti-YA Linkbait, that is worth checking out.