“I have always been a sucker for ballads, but you have to be careful these days, you can’t overload people.”

~Joe Cocker

I was in a meeting last week and heard the term “infosnacking” for the first time.  It certainly caught my attention.  Ever curious, I went back to my desk and looked it up.  Apparently this word has been around since about 2005 and as with most words in the English language its original definition has changed over time.  I also discovered I am very adept at doing this 🙂

The word was originally coined to describe time spent on the computer at work to do things that weren’t work-related (Googling someone or even shop online when you should be working.)  Now it includes getting online throughout the day to check your email, visit blogs (oops) or check the headlines.  Hmmm.

In the context of the meeting I was attempting to stay awake through, the term seems to have expanded to include the average persons inability to pay attention to anything beyond a few paragraphs. Huh?  It was Friday, who has a meeting on a Friday? Seriously! The meeting discussion was how to gain and keep that brief window of attention to get your message across.  I won’t bore you with the details, but my writer brain immediately kicked in and got me thinking.

When was the last time you sat down and read a novel that was 500 pages or more?  It is a significant time investment, isn’t it?  One of my favorite books has 973 pages, but I don’t usually gravitate towards books this length.  I don’t have time.  Not only that, but have you ever skimmed over descriptive passages because you just want to get to the next action sequence?  I am ashamed to say I am sometimes guilty of doing that.

Books used to have more flowery language and imagery. They took time to absorb.  It was a slower pastime; not a sprint like so many things today.  I have heard over and over again that the average reader doesn’t even read at a high school level.  Keep the words simple so they can be readily understood.  What happened to looking up an unfamiliar word?  For heaven’s sake, eReaders do most of the work for you.  Highlight the word and the definition will appear.  Yet, we are still cautioned to stay away from big words.  I find that sad.  We need to keep the readers attention or they will “snack” somewhere else.

Books are much shorter in length, many with non-stop action.  I don’t know about you, but as a writer I struggle to balance a fast paced story and still develop the relationship between my characters.  Sometimes I just want to stroll along with the characters, not race them to the finish line.

I think there is so much information vying for our attention infosnacking is here to stay.  But, I for one, hope there are still readers out there that prefer to take the more scenic route.  Let’s savor the journey, shall we?

Here a blog..there a blog…

“We don’t have a choice on whether we do social media, the question is how well we do it?”

 ~Erik Qualman

I spent a little time visiting blogs and web sites today.  I don’t do it as often as I should, because keeping up with the publishing industry and writing in general can be a daunting task.

Advice flows across these sites like a wide river, enticing the reader to stop and dip a toe in or, in my case, get sucked in for long periods of time while I lose myself reading interesting tidbits.  I find out about new releases from favorite authors, worry over the affects the economy is having on the publishing industry and what will happen now that e-books have exploded.  I mentally commiserate with other writer’s who blog about their trials and tribulations, laugh over anecdotes they share and get to do it all from the comfort of my office.  Most days it is a pleasant way to spend time.

Occasionally, I will read something that makes me stop and consider a point that is being made on a deeper level.  That happened today.  There are all kinds of opinions circulating in regards to an author having to find creative ways to stay in the collective conscious.  A publicity machine backing your newest release is not often an option for those just beginning their careers. Much is being asked of the author to promote their own work.

What has been repeatedly touted is the need for an author to have a presence beyond a book on a shelf.  What does that mean?  Sometimes it is as simple as a bookmark that you can give away or as complex as hosting a blog, a web site or having a twitter account.  With all the noise in our daily lives it gets harder to be heard, harder to get shelf space for a new untried author and suddenly writing isn’t just about writing a good story anymore.  It becomes about putting ourselves out there, showing up and raising our hands to catch a potential reader’s attention so they will find our book.   We spend our own money to help launch our creation in the hopes we will recoup our investment on the back end and garner enough attention we help our sales.

I am a bit of a late bloomer when it comes to joining the cyber highway.  It wasn’t until my book was almost ready for release that I finally got this blog up and running.  I joined Twitter thinking that would be easy (Ha! 140 characters to say something is hard work!) and finally after much whining and, well, more whining, I added an author Facebook page.

Want to know what I discovered?  I actually like blogging.  Who knew?  I get a thrill every time someone visits and actually leaves a comment. When I get a notification my tweet has been re-tweeted I breathe a sigh of relief because I managed to say something worth passing along.   Better yet, it is pretty darn awesome when someone tweets something good about you.  And Facebook – I quit whining.  Okay, maybe I just slowed down a bit.

Social media is a challenge and could take over my life if I let it.  It hasn’t been easy finding the rhythm that works for me, but I think I am getting there.  I make a point of leaving a comment when I visit a blog nowadays.  I want the author to know I enjoyed what they took the time to write.  It is all about give and take and making connections and new friends.

Will my efforts help my sales in the long run?  I haven’t a clue.  It will be fun to find out though.