So… no kidding; your four-year-old knows this. Social media is not a yes or no question, but I think all of us are still trying to figure out the best way of going about it. From what I’ve seen, writers face the same problem everyone else online does: avoiding the echo chamber. Many of the people I know- writers and non-writers- have talked about how much they enjoy finding a group of like-minded people. It’s a big wide information super highway- there’s someone for everyone, trust me. But when we start hanging out with those people exclusively- and when we’re all talking about the same things- the conversations we’re in and the knowledge we can generate together becomes stifled. It’s the same problem the politicos, vegans, fashionistas and yogis have, but in our case it’s a little worse. If we are, to some extent, responsible for recording and discussing the human condition, shouldn’t we take all of the opportunities we can to thoroughly study it? What are we learning if we hang out with people who are more like us than not? And, oh yeah, for those who are really online primarily to sell some of their work, it just doesn’t seem like selling to other writers almost exclusively is the best strategy, you know?
The only other thing I would say is that all of us- whether we’re going the traditional or self-publishing routes- should approach our interactions with some professional decorum. I’ve seen a lot of things that have made me cringe: whether it’s someone who started writing a few years ago bitterly complaining on their blog that they haven’t been signed by an agent yet, an agent publicly accusing a publishing company of withholding royalties from a client, an author attacking someone over a negative review or someone on Twitter shilling their book every ten minutes (that is not an exaggeration). Social media- whether it’s our blogs, Twitter feeds or Facebook walls- are public, and with very few exceptions, people want to see mature interactions there. Save the rants for your best friend- if you’re going to be in business in public, be professional.