Sunday, January 20, 2013

"Oh, man, a blog? That's old hat. Nobody does that any more. Too much text. That's caveman-old. Come into the new world!"

Ah, the enthusiasms of youth. I've heard over and over that "blogging is over." That the new social media venues--Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest--are the places to be. Especially if you are an author trying to Get Seen out there and perhaps attract new readers.

The other day on a writers' mailing list, I saw the following thread of quotations:

------->Although I am a member of Pinterest, I really don't understand how it works.
----->Me too. I don't get the point either.
--->I like it because it doesn't require any writing.

(That last statement, from a writer, worries me. LOL)

I think I know what Pinterest is about. It's a nonverbal, pictorial-pictogram scrapbook. It's for people who are primarily visual and not logorrheic (like me), who think in pictures and have an eidetic-memory sort of recall. For people who have grown up with video rather than having been raised on radio, and who like a picture better than an explanation.

In other words, people like it because it doesn't require any writing or reading (mostly). It uses a different part of the brain. It's simpler and easier for many people.

Lots of people are going to like it. Advertisers, merchants, and others who have an agenda or something to sell are going to LOVE it. Why? Because these "innocent" users are going to copy their photos and drawings and take screen shots of their ads and will re-post them as something they "love," "want," or "have." This is great exposure for the advertisers! If your book cover happens to be among the pics, or your cartoon, or a pic of you, that is good exposure.

But I do NOT believe this is the venue for those who want to promote their books or build a "brand" as far as text/books/writing might be concerned.

The people who are going to love Pinterest are not text-based people, IMHO. They are the ones who flash on photos/pics/images. They are the ones who say, "I'm waiting for the movie!" They are the people raised on MTV's flash cuts and advertising's quick flash-flash-flash. They will not be the ones who will go to search out your book, read it, and then give thoughtful reviews. It's not because they're inferior (well . . . arguable on both sides, can't win if you play that, so Homie don't play that), but because they think differently. Their brains are wired for video, short attention spans (as lauded in "Short Attention Span Theater" and "brevity is next to Godliness" and other cultural stuff), and pictures.

In my opinion, it's a step back. Back to the sketches on the wall of the cave.

What's wrong with that, you might ask? It's impossible to convey a more complex or sophisticated idea in pictures/pictograms, that's what. You need a specialized vocabulary and the ability to comprehend subordinated clauses in order to talk about something like brain surgery, rocket science, or even software engineering. You can't convey a more advanced concept that way.

So it's a step back to return to pictures-only. Even if they are amusing and entertaining and sometimes can "tell a story" very effectively.

But people seem to be on the anti-literary path, the anti-intellectual path (if you will), and are abandoning blogs that are more than one page. This post is, of course, "TL;DR" to them ("too long; didn't read"), and they laugh at those eggheads who blather on and on with details and explanation when all they can concentrate on is 160 characters or less, a soundbite. They are moving away from any type of narrative, and already live by hypertext ("surfing"), forgetting what they started out looking for and just going with the flow.

That's fine. Except when it comes to tasks or subjects that require your concentration and focus.

Anyhow . . . the short version is that I don't think writers who are trying to promote books or build a brand will benefit that much from having a Pinboard or whatever they call it. You can use images in your blogs and on Facebook now, and I think adding a bit of text is a good idea when you do that. There will always be a "hot new NOW thing," but we don't always need to jump onto that bandwagon. It's going to be a lot of effort and a timesink, and will you benefit? Not so much, IMHO.

If you are going into it to help build your platform and author brand, I sincerely don't think you will get much in the way of reward. You might. I could, of course, be wrong. Apparently nowadays anything that gets your name and image in front of people might build your brand and platform. I don't know. Nobody knows anything (as the wag famously said.)

I don't have the extra time to try it out. Already I spend lots of time e-mailing and blogging and Facebooking, time I should be spending writing. I have to spend time marketing and doing promo when I would rather be writing. There's just not enough time for it all.

And I even value things like face-to-face communication and scribbling with a pen on paper. I am DEFINITELY a weird old egghead. "Long live the old ways," she cackles!

Of course, if you enjoy it, that's your choice! Go forth and pin!


  1. Well, Shalanna, as usual you have given us a detailed analysis of the 'It's NEW, IT'S Now' approach to just about everything related to the media.
    I come from a generation that grew up on the printed word and radio so i can appreciate your views on the subject.

    i have also read many a book before i saw the movie. Hunger Games comes to mind, same with The Girl Who.. trilogy by Steig Larrsen.

    oh and we must not forget Harry Potter. and Twilight. Grin...For the most part i thought the book version of Twilight was better than the movie.

    on the other hand, to play the Devil's Advocate... One picture is worth a thousand words.

  2. I tried Pinterest. Thought it was lightweight and not really worth the time and trouble. But then, like you, I am an 'old school' reader and writer. I already have Twitter (which I have neglected now that I am in graduate school) and Facebook. I'm even neglecting Google+. They do take up a lot of time.

    The picture you paint of young people is accurate to an extent, but not complete, of course. I see many intelligent, articulate young people in the university I am attending now, as well as in the one I graduated from last spring (at the age of 65). So there are those who are totally abosorbed in the "new" and the "now," but who blithely ignore the fact that they are being farmed by the commercial interests who glom onto their presence in social media in order to pitch their commercials to them.

    Me, I always ignored commercials on TV, and I am very good at ignoring them on social media, too.

    But I agree with you. Pinterest does not seem like a good venue for book publicity.

  3. I haven't even looked at Pinterest for exactly the reasons you cite. It's little more than virtual scrapbooking. Someone seeing your book cover MIGHT seek more information, but from what I've heard it's not likely.

  4. I don't need one more file of clippings. So I don't think Pinterest is for me.

    I like your style and would love to do a guest blog on your site. What are your guidelines?
    JL Greger