Guest Post, Benjamin Vogt: Social Media for Authors

benjaminvogtWhen SR informed me that my creative nonfiction piece “Across the Flats” was receiving the most hits of any for its issue, I was shocked. Who was reading it? I’m always thrilled to have work accepted for publication, but I pretty much just assume that no one will read the work. There’s a lot out there in the world.

I did publicize the piece on my Twitter account and three Facebook pages I have (personal, blog, business). That’s all I did. Nothing magical. Unless you take into account a few big things:

1) I’ve had a writing and gardening blog http://deepmiddle.blogspot.com for nearly five years now. In that time I’ve amassed a modest set of readers. And though I see only 80-100 visits a day on the blog or on its Facebook page, it serves me well by creating a long term audience. Since my essay was both a piece of creative writing and garden-themed, I could hook up to my two main audiences. I’m two-faced that way.

2) The garden theme carried over much more to Twitter http://twitter.com/brvogt, where a vast majority of my followers are gardeners and garden writers. I’ve only been on Twitter for eight months, but I posted the link to the essay twice a day for a day or two, then a few times over the course of a week. That’s the beast of Twitter, redundancy. More beasty yet is that Twitter is both a link happy place AND a relationship-heavy place (although the two don’t really go together in my mind). Twitter is constant work like having pet fish. Twitter is interaction-heavy—quick glib and jokey comments or heartfelt and interested comments, anything to make a split-second connection like flirting with someone across the room. Once you catch someone’s fancy (and creative tweets can help), it takes a split second for them to share your tweet to their followers, who share it to their followers. My approach with posting the link on Facebook was different. Facebook feels more intimate, which is why I posted just once on each of my three pages.

3) What I’m getting at is this: people visited SR to read my work, (and hopefully others), because I’ve spent part of each day working for free online. Some days it’s a major chore and distraction. Some days it’s a natural extension of myself. But it takes time—and you have to be constantly interesting and authentic on any media platform. By this I mean not narcissistic or whiney, and not a promotional machine. I’d say that 90% of tweets and 50% of Facebook interactions should have nothing to do with you—talk to people, share interesting links and photos, pretend you aren’t being archived and sold and stalked by company platforms to third parties. And something else I’ve discovered: Facebook is much more active M-Th during the day (people at work goofing off?). Twitter is pretty much 24/7.

Does any of this social media “pay off?” Eh. I once had an editor contact me out of the blue via my blog to look at a memoir, but they decided against it (it’s still available by the way, ahem). http://www.scribd.com/bvogt/d/60742810-Morning-Glory-A-Story-of-Family-Culture-in-the-Garden-unpublished But that’s not what this is all about—it’s about making friends, being personable, being human. And for this grade A introvert, I can be social on my own time in my own way. Now leave me alone so I can write.

Google Analytic Stats for "Across the Flats"

Meet the Interns: Haley Coles, Poetry Editor

Haley Coles is a junior English major with a Creative Writing concentration.

Superstition Review: What is your position with Superstition Review and what are your responsibilities?

Haley Coles: I am one of two poetry editors. I review submitted poetry for consideration in Superstition Review. At the beginning of the semester I created a list of 20 previously published poets from whom to solicit work from. It is my job to decide which poems, solicited and not, will be published in the journal.

SR: How did you hear about Superstition Review and what made you decide to get involved?

HC: I received an e-mail from one of the English advisors about the internship. For the past few years I have had a desire to work on a literary journal, and once the opportunity came I jumped on it!

SR: What are you hoping to take away from your Superstition Review experience?

HC: I’d like to leave SR with two new awareness. The first is, as a poet, to understand how work is selected for publication in journals so I might be more conscious about how I format my own submitted work. With the huge amount of submissions I am reading as an editor, I have more empathy for editors of larger journals and know that the rejections sent are truly not about the poet as a person. Secondly, I hope that my experience with SR will qualify me for future work in other journals. And I suppose I have a third expectation: reading a TON of poetry!!

SR: Describe one of your favorite literary or artistic works.

HC: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce has been one of the most influential works I’ve read in my literary career. I read it for a British Literature class last semester, and it completely changed my artistic life. The book helped me to make the transformation from a woman who is good at writing and enjoys doing so to living my life as a committed poet. Though I don’t have much in common with early-twentieth century Irish Stephen Daedalus, I found myself enraptured by his complex yet persistent desire to freely create and live in his art. I have been truly inspired by his journey.

SR: What are you currently reading?

HC: I just finished House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski. I’m about to start on either Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke or The Plague by Albert Camus.

SR: Who would be the Superstition Review contributor of your dreams?

HC: Sylvia Plath–nobody said they had to be alive! Sylvia Plath was the first poet whose work moved me, and as a result inspired me to be a poet. In almost every poem I write there is a nod to her extraordinary language.

SR: Do you prefer reading literary magazines online or in print?

HC: I definitely prefer reading journals in print. There is something substantial and comforting about being able to hold a journal in my hands, to rest it on my chest while I lay on the couch, to circle passages that intrigue me, and to fold down pages to return to.

SR: Do you write or create art? What are you currently working on?

HC: I write poetry. I am taking a forms class, so I’m consistently writing for that class. Right now, today, I am working on reading rather than writing. I just finished a poem that exhausted me and am giving it a week or so to come back to it for a revision. So until then, I am rebuilding my aesthetic by reading submissions coming into Superstition Review and various other literary journals, particularly MAR and Rattle.

SR: Besides interning for Superstition Review, how do you spend your time?

HC: I attend ASU full time. When I’m not in class or studying (which is a huge chunk of my life), I like to cook, read, play Risk, ride bikes, and make fun of my cats.

SR: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

HC: In 10 years I will be 30. By this time I will have my MFA in Poetry and could be working on or have already received my PhD. I will be teaching either high school Literature or college Poetry. I will have a part in a vegan community-oriented restaurant cooperative. I will be gardening and writing a lot and will have at least one book of poems published. I might be in Berlin or on the East Coast.