Posts filed under 'social media'
December 31st, 2012
2011 was a boom year. 2012 not so much. Not to say that I was not busy. In fact, I worked pretty much throughout the year. I worked on a couple of long-term book projects—interior design and layout on one; cover design and execution and interior design and layout on another—longish books with stringent creative requirements that stretched through from one year to the next. These two books actually made up the lion’s share of my work. There were other books as well, but, overall, though I was worked steadily, the year was not so profitable as the one before.
Entering 2012 my optimism was on the wane. It simply seemed to me that I could not expect it to be as financially rewarding as 2011. Of course, I always worry about self-fulfilling prophecies and giving myself excuses for failing. But 2011 had been head and shoulders financially better than any other year I had ever worked as a freelance book designer/layout artist. The way the rest of the American economy suffered, I could not imagine that freelancing in the publishing arts would continue to fare so much better.
This was also the year in which my promotional skills took a step forward. I don’t pretend to know any more or any different than people who, for instance, make social media their main field of play, but I have finally coordinated my Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and blog presences. I have been contacted through each of those venues by prospective clients. This last quarter of the year has seen a number of exciting propositions materialize.
First, I managed to line up three new books to begin in January. And second, I have opened a new avenue to promote my services, beginning to review big, new books on design on my blog. The first appeared about a month ago and was about Stephen Coles’ The Anatomy of Type. The second is being done as a series, the first of which appeared just a couple of days ago, on Phaidon’s boxed set, The Archive of Graphic Design. (The latter ill resume next time I post to the blog after the instant piece.)
And so it goes. I am set up for the biggest start to a new year that I have ever had!
December 15th, 2011
I just tweeted:
I’m very close to dumping LinkedIn. They’re irrelevant to the task I have at hand: expanding my circle of publishing connections.
When I first began using LinkedIn, I thought it was all about the number of connections one made. So I worked at driving that number up, engaging in “open networking”—networking with anyone who would connect; from any field and whether we were total strangers to each other or not. Somewhere along the line I realized that this was the method of human resource professionals looking to fill out their rolodexes. I definitely cooled on LinkedIn at that point, not finding many publishing types or graphic artists on board.
After awhile I noticed I was seeing people I knew from publishing—authors, designers. Artists, editors, indexers—and I began to connect with them. But I already knew these people and so none of that grew my circle.
Next I began to see more of these publishing types who were not people I already knew. They were the ones I most wanted to engage and get to know. My purpose was to discuss the state of publishing, including any new ideas I might pick up about approaching both self- and traditional publishers about freelance book design projects. I began to grow the number of people I knew on LinkedIn from that angle.
Anyone I didn’t know who tried to connect with me and who was not from that publishing world I simply ignored. No need to report them for trying to connect with someone (me) that they did not know. But apparently some people in the same situation vis-à-vis me reported me for not knowing them. Fair enough by the rules. But those rules really do not serve my needs. They make LinkedIn fairly useless to me, not much more than a time drain.
Let me step back. The conversations I have with people on LinkedIn are thoughtful and interesting. But my goals are not advanced and, therefore, the time spent on LinkedIn is not as productive as I had hoped it would be.
Unless I am overlooking something, I see no reason I need LinkedIn to have such conversations. I am willing to be convinced that I should remain. But my deadline for such convincing is Sunday, December 18 at noon.
August 20th, 2011
I just read a very interesting piece on the blog, gapingvoid. In it cartoonist Hugh MacLeod makes his case for why he decided to leave Facebook and Twitter. Initially he states that the, arguably, big two of social media are “too easy” and blogging is “too easy.” The implication, I guess, is that coming up with well-written, relevant blog pieces will suffer because it is easier to tweet 140 characters and post updates to Facebook.
A far more salient point, however, is that the content we tweet and post, becomes theirs, once we tweet and post it. Make no mistake how important an issue this is. Hugh says it very clearly,
“The content on your blog, however, belongs to you, and you alone. People come to your online home, to hear what you have to say, not to hear what everybody else has to say. This sense of personal sovereignty is important.”
Along with that “sense of personal sovereignty,” we give up the value of our thoughts, ideas, and words once we tweet them or post them to Facebook.
That all said, there are certain things that I use Twitter for. Most important to me is that I have cultivated Twitter conversations into professional friendships and, in some instances, paying book design and page composition work.
Aside from my grandgrrrls in California and old friends from elementary school, for Facebook I have no excuse.
July 1st, 2011
Social media have taken a turn.
But I get ahead of myself.
First I should say, “Welcome back!” I realize it’s not likely that readers have gone anywhere, as I haven’t put anything up on this blog in a dog’s age. I guess, then, I should address myself in a mirror with that “Welcome back!”
What happened, of course, was that I got very busy with work—finishing up two book projects, actually, while plodding along with a third that’s still not finished (I get textfiles only sporadically on this last book). By the time space opened in my workday, I found myself out of the habit of blogging, with nothing I wanted to say. More accurately, with nothing to say that inspired enough enthusiasm so that I felt like writing.
I am sure that’s one of the main hazards of not being essentially a writer. A real writer, I imagine, regards the act of writing as work, a job, and not some romantic activity to engage in when some airy-fairy energy surfaces and compels one to write. (I went through this in college, years ago, when nearly everyone—in introducing themselves in a creative writing class—spoke about how they loved to write, dreamt of being a published writer, did it because they needed to express themselves. I said I just had things to say that festered and annoyed me if I didn’t write about them. Must have been true, because once I ran out of things I “needed” to say, the urge to write subsided.)
* * *
So, as I started to say, social media have taken a turn. And this matters to me, because as a freelance book designer, most of my promotion, after having a website and this blog, rests on my presence on various social media platforms.
I think I have said here before that LinkedIn was initially a disappointment to me. Although billed as the go-to site for professionals seeking to network and find work, I found it to be mostly a collection of H.R. types looking to fill out their rolodexes. While there’s nothing wrong with that, it was not what I wanted when I joined. (I should add that over the last year or so I have found a lot more publishing professionals and “book types” on LinkedIn … and a lot more discussions on making books.)
After resisting Twitter—I bought into the rumor that Twitter was just mostly people announcing what they had just eaten for lunch—I joined and was immediately rewarded with worthwhile conversations and professional contacts. Paying projects resulted.
I came to Facebook later still, intending to use it just for connecting with childhood friends, when I noticed a whole crew of them on Facebook. But professional concerns have bled through there, too. What it comes down to, I realize, is that anyone is potentially a self-publishing author nowadays. While I’ve heard all kinds of accounts of how traditional publishers are suffering, over the last two years my roster of self-publishers has grown to the point where I’ve been busier than ever before.
Google has just announced something called Google+, which sounds as if it is meant to be a Facebook-killer. I don’t like how all-everything Google has become; and I certainly don’t want anything valuable to me out on “the cloud.”
So the latest piece in the social media mosaic that I haven gotten involved in is something called “EmpireAvenue.” It combines the game quality of a stock market simulation—you, the player, are the stock—with social media underpinnings. I, for instance, initially gravitated toward “shares” with publishing and writer backgrounds. But as I always wind up thinking, everyone is potentially a self-publishing author. EmpireAvenue seems to be growing quickly. It’s worth a look-see for anyone interested in reaching new audiences who also has an interest in game environments.
November 17th, 2010
A combination of things—being very busy with work, finishing up suddenly and finding myself with a lot of open time, health issues at home—all conspired to induce a very real case of writer’s block. I could not motivate myself to write anything for this blog, nor could I focus on doping out some ideas to write about.
Book design was uppermost in my mind. I designed a promotional postcard and got started mailing them out. I also bought the 2011 Writer’s Market and began emailing publishers in it, expressing my interest in book design projects they might want to get off the ground with a freelancer. And I was getting the feeling that I really needed to think of something to blog about.
As I usually do when I work on the computer—whether on a book design or doing the layout, or when sending promotional emails or scouring the Internet for people in need of a book designer—I had email, Facebook, and Twitter (the last via a Twitter client called “twhirl”) open on the second monitor. I noticed this past Monday night that a client, TSTC Publishing in Texas, had on Facebook that the hardcover edition of Lust, Violence, Religion, a book I had done interior design and layout on, was in. The ran it with a thumbnail photo of two people looking on as a third held the opened book in her hands. I happily addressed my Facebook friends:
The funnest book I’ve worked on yet. The cover’s not mine on this one, but the interior design’s all my baby.
That distraction out of my system, it wasn’t enough to just scout around for another client. I began to feel the edginess I get when I’m not really working. The next night, last night, I posted on Facebook:
Every time things get slow–that means I’m only working 9-5 at Court plus just 4 or 5 hours scouting out the next book project, I think about heading back to my PHP/MySQL studies and dreaming up some killer web app. Usually the feeling passes.
And two hours later:
Another day and night I couldn’t come up with anything for the blog. It’s becoming harder and harder with each succeeding day, well over a month. I mean, like, I’m dry. Dunno what the hell I’m going to do to imagine a scenario or an issue in book design that interests me enough to right about, like, now. Or tomorrow, anyway.
I never even noticed that I’d typed “right” when I meant “write.”
This morning, a friend—it’s time I stop saying and writing “Internet friend” or “Facebook friend” for people I never see in person—left me a message of encouragement with a list of ten or eleven ideas that I might consider.
My point is that this is how social media can ideally work. I was in a funk. And someone I’ve become friends with over the years—first on a now-defunct forum for publishing freelancers, which led to him bringing me in on a couple of big layout projects (encyclopedias), and now keeping in touch on Facebook—bailed me out.
I try hard to do the same for others and just generally express my better angels on Facebook and Twitter both. Sometimes that means as little as sharing how I feel about our political situation (I tend to be a disapproving lefty). Other times it’s true that I just wisecrack. But I also bring out who I really am and discuss, in short bites, the work I do and how I do it. 2010 has been my busiest year ever as a freelance book designer in no small part because of relationships I have cultivated on Twitter.
So social media is not a time-sink for people engaged in business. I recommend finding a way to use the social media tools you are comfortable with—and perhaps none if you are not at all comfortable. But at least investigate the possibilities. Don’t dismiss social media, and Twitter in particular, as just places to hang out and discuss what you had for lunch.