Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Stars of Social Media by Carla Damron

Every writer knows the importance of building a social media platform. We hear it at conferences and from agents and publishers. We read about it in journals and blogs. Some might say the point is to promote your writing and yourself as an author. I’m not wild about that—honestly, I don’t love it when authors just use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., to highlight appearances and advertise their work. “Hey, look at me! Buy my book!” gets old.

Instead, I view my platform as another way to connect with readers. It can enrich my relationship with them. I share some details of my life, perhaps too many of my opinions, and, what is apparently the MOST important thing, glimpses into our lives with pets.

I didn’t mean for it to happen. I love animals. God knows, I must—we have enough of them. They are our family, so of course I share little stories about them. Little did I know that this would lead to them developing their own fan base.

My critters are nothing special. We have Shadow, the perfect, wonderful, “please throw the ball. Please, please throw the ball” black lab. We have Ella, the foster-fail dog we were supposed to keep for a week. Three years ago. Ella only follows the rules with which she agrees. “Stay off the furniture” is NOT one of them.

Shadow, perfect lab
Ella, imperfect foster fail 

Is Pumpkin fat?

We have Pumpkin, reluctantly inherited after my Mom died, a 700-pound ancient, clawless tabby who never lived with other animals before. Yeah, his life changed. He has a lot to say about that.

Fenway, always helpful 

There’s Fenway, a gift for my fiftieth birthday twelve years ago, a shelter runt-turned-diva who thinks the Boston ballpark was named for her.

Scout: "I did NOT knock over the Christmas tree!"

And we have Scout, a tuxedo cat orphaned when three days old, who bit the nipple off every bottle she was fed. (I sometimes wonder if her birth mother committed suicide.) Scout is highly opinionated and judgey. A dedicated attacker of all hair clips. 

These creatures have developed a following. I’ve had complete strangers approach me in a grocery. “Carla! Hey! I’m Mary Jones.” I smile, thinking, oh… she read one of my books! But instead she says, “Is Ella still terrified of Pumpkin?”

If I neglect to mention a critter for a while, questions arise. “Haven’t seen a pic of Scout in a while. Is she still editing your latest work?” A pic of Pumpkin, splayed out in all his Jabba-esque glory, can lead to multitudes of other fat cat photos and a Facebook debate about whether he is actually losing weight.

It makes sense, though, that my critters have usurped my Facebook presence, because they’ve certainly usurped our house and our lives. They are why we don’t get to keep nice upholstered furniture or put glass ornaments on our Christmas tree. Our vehicle purchases are partly determined by dog-carrying capacity. Our typical grocery list looks like this, in order of importance:

 1) dog biscuits
 2) cat litter
3) food for humans to eat.

(I should point out that as I’m writing this, Fenway is climbing all over me. Seriously. Her tale is swishing around my nose this very second.)

Do I have a social media presence? Yes. Does it help to promote my writing? I think so. But I’m pretty sure that when/if I ever launch a new book, I’ll have more Facebook traction if I name a puppy after it.

That’s what they call “Marketing.” How do you use social media?


  1. A few years ago, my husband, who hates shopping, stopped at the grocery store to pick up a few things. He got dog food, dog biscuits, cat food, cat litter and a cabbage.

    As she was checking out the cabbage, the friendly cashier said, "Well, at least you got something for the people."

    "That's for the rabbit," he replied.

    Our pets are important to us!

  2. Carla, this is so true! Our critters are all on prescription diets and even prescription litter - can you imagine. Vet bills run higher than doctor bills because if a cat or a bird is sick, they go right away, with us, we wait and see. And yes, posters ask about critters on FB if they've been absent for a while. Now, if I could only teach them to edit. The critters, not the posters.

  3. Carla, what social media do you use? Face Book, Twitter, Instagram? I've kept track of "likes" on FB. The top three are standard poodle photos, closeup flower photos, and food photos.

  4. KM that's funny!! Do you still have a rabbit?
    Kait, Scout says she IS an editor
    Margaret, Facebook, Twitter.Haven't been as active on Instagram but should be!!

  5. My husband and I never had pets, but once our grown daughters left home, they both immediately got dogs--so by nature of watching them when they travel, we got dogs. We do a lot of dog-sitting. So we get the best of both worlds--the company of pets, but the freedom to travel without having to worry about the dogs.

  6. I've had collies ever since I was sixteen years old. Then my son brought home a German Shepherd puppy when he was sixteen and you know who ended up caring for him. Still I got another collie, too and she developed grandmal seisures when she was five years old and I had to put her down. It was so sad. Because my California daughter thought I needed another dog to protect me, she found
    several local people who bred collies. Both of them said they wouldn't have any puppies until fall. In the fall I contacted the one who was closest to where I live and she told me none of her female collies had puppies but she had an eighteen month old collie who didn't show well. I was not interested in showing any dog so I went out there and found my beautiful tri-colored collie who is the most beautiful and sweetest dog I've ever had. I named her Maggie, and as far as a guard dog, when people knock on the door she barks and wags her tail.

    A few months ago I had to have Brat Cat, my female tabby cat euthanized because she got cancer. It was so sad. I named her Brat Cat because when I got Maggie, my full sized collie, this little young cat would come around the corner hissing and batting at Maggie with her claws causing Maggie to try getting away from her slipping and sliding. Eventually they turned into very good friends. The only other cat I have now is a barn cat that my son's girl friend gave me. I tried bringing him in when it got cold, but he was never neutered and sprayed the house everywhere so he's back in the barn now with my two ponies.

  7. I think I need so pets, Carla. Do you take them off your income tax in your PR budget?
    (Yes, Pumpkin is fat!)