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?