A Place To Belong

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Google Plus for writers

It is time for me to confess. I can hide my guilty secret behind a curtain of self-denial no longer.

I am enamoured with Google Plus. In fact, I may go out and get drunk and have “I heart Google+” tattooed on my bicep.

Now settle down, calm yourselves, please don’t carry on so! Allow me to explain before judging me, if you would.

Don’t Believe The Rumours
For a long time I, like many others, avoided Google+, believing the rumours that its user base consisted entirely of Google employees, a handful of early adopters and several sociopathically vain bon-vivants who could no more let a new social media vehicle pass untested than permit a bandwagon to roll by un-jumped-upon.

Then I saw the light…

In many respects, Google+ (or G+ as I shall now term it, to save typing time and mark myself as a Member of the Initiated) is much like other social networks. It has all the status update and content-sharing features of Facebook. It incorporates the networking-with-strangers element of LinkedIn. Photo- and video-sharing à la Instagram and Vine? You bet your sweet little whiskers!

That Indomitable Community Spirit
But there is one feature which sets the mighty G+ apart from its squabbling siblings and that, ladies and gentlemen, is Communities. Google has made it fantastically simple to do the one thing which is so difficult on all other social media platforms – finding your target audience. How long have you spent on Facebook or Twitter thinking: “This is great, but I wish I could tap into a group of readers who might one day wish to purchase my masterpiece“? The crucial first step in any marketing campaign is to track down your target audience, so you can be sure you’re addressing a receptive crowd rather than wasting your efforts on a scatter-gun approach. How wonderful then, that G+ enables them all to gather together under a huge banner and shout: “Here we are, over here!!

Admittedly, typing the word “Readers” into a G+ Community search box will yield results of varying quality and relevance. There will, naturally, be some groups targeted specifically at readers of a certain genre – Romance seems to be particularly well represented, thereby proving that G+ users are a soft old bunch. By and large though, the communities of readers are poorly populated, with no more than a handful of members in most. This is almost certainly due to the fact that it would be a rather odd cove who defines themself by the fact that they read.

“What do you do then?”

“I’m a lion-tamer. And you?”

“Me? Oh, I’m a reader.”

Doesn’t really work, does it? A little bland and generic.

However, type in the word “Writing” or variations on that theme and you will find a slew of results comprising many thousands of members. Many of these communities are “Readers & Writers” groups, into which you should dive with carefree abandon and start networking your little socks off. Others are more focused on bringing together those of us with dark rings under our eyes and horny callouses on our typing fingers.

Writers Are Readers Too
Now, there will be naysayers who, at this point, proclaim: “Ah, but those communities are full of writers. Writers don’t need to connect with writers, they need to connect with readers!” To me, this is a very narrow and short-sighted claim. Firstly, writers are readers too – amongst the most prolific and diverse readers on the planet. It’s widely acknowledged that, to be a writer, you have to read as much and as often and as broadly as possible. Does that sound like an audience to you? It certainly does to me. And whose works are writers more likely to read than a fellow writer who has caught their eye with intriguing snippets of their latest WIP? Snippets carefully dropped into community posts, possibly with a request for feedback and critique. So much more appealing than those terrible “buy-my-book” tweets we all know to avoid, wouldn’t you say?

Secondly, there’s the fact that writers (most, anyway) also have friends. If I look at my own circle of acquaintances, the one thing which unites the showgirls, the ninja assassins and the disinherited minor nobility is that they all read. Every lad and lass of them. And who do they turn to when in search of a book recommendation? Got it in one – the writer! The one person they can be sure will have voraciously devoured all the latest releases alongside forthcoming, yet-to-be-published works of genius. And that covers off another of the most sacred tenets of successful marketing – Word of Mouth. A recommendation from a trusted peer is worth more than its weight in marketing budgets. Hey presto, more audience.

So if you’re amongst those who are hovering on the fringes, casting sidelong glances at Google+ and wondering whether it’s worth plucking up the nerve to start a conversation, I say gird up your loins and give it a go.You may soon find yourself head-over-heels besotted and wondering how you ever lived without it. Cheeky little minx that G+ is!

38 thoughts on “A Place To Belong

  1. Lol.. loved this.. I recently hitched up my big girl pants and got into testing the G+ waters. Stil consider myself a young padwan amung these time tested veterans but enjoying it all the same.

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  2. I love G+. You can create your own circle titles, too, which I’m assuming you know. I have one circle for writers and one for readers. If I want critique or a technical issue I send it to my writers circle, for sample chapters or whatever I sent to both. It’s great. However, I had no idea you could search communities for your genre, too. It seems so simple now that you’ve said it. I’ll be getting on that immediately. Thanks for the tip. BTW, I just added you to my writers circle :) And I’ll be following your blog because I love your style.

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  3. Excellent observations! I have found G+’ers to be strangers, but not strange, because we share similar passions, whether it be writing, reading, European soccer, Formula One, or curling. There is an interested, vested community waiting for you, with whom one can engage in a far more precise manner than other social media destinations-the only challenge is to find them.

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  4. TERESA SWITZER

    I’ve fallen in love with G+ I can’t stay away it seems. I’ve met and continue to meet people from all over. I love to read and at times will write when something pops into my head. Today at this point in time there’s 1100+ following me, totally blows my mind lol
    Here at G+ I belong and my shyness is being helped as well. ~GHT®

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  5. First the Twitter, and now I’m headed for the G+. Just look at your influence! I’ve heard others rave about this one. Jon, I do know about the “buy my book” now Tweets. Oh, it’s too much. The, thanks for the follow…now read this. This sounds promising. My whiskers are charged up now. I will definitely give this a go. Great post!

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  6. When I first started reading your post, I thought “oh, no, not another social media platform.” My facebook page is personal, and somehow I just can’t get into Twitter. I dunno, 140 characters just makes it hard for me to connect with anyone. But this G+ really does sound intriguing from your perspective. I had a cursory glance once, but found it kind of overwhelming and hard to navigate. Maybe I’ll have another go. Thanks Jon.

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  7. Huh. I had no idea! I’ve joined G+, but the only time I actually go visit it is when I want to have a Hang Out with a group, lol. I suppose I’ll have to give it more attention! Well, I’d add that to my list of stuff to do … but I really do like the idea of finding a target audience so easily. As it is, I’ve started using hashtags on FB posts (brings in more views) and stalking relevant hashtags on Twitter and then following those people in order to get them to look at me and possibly follow back. :P Complicated and time consuming. I like this idea of communities. I shall explore G+ more thoroughly this very day! ;) … and wait a minute … snippets?? Have you been sharing snippets on G+ and not telling me about it even though I’ve been asking for snippets from Dark Energies?!?! Or are you just talking about other people? Because I really think it’s about time for you to share some snippets of your own! ;)

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    • I’ve released the whole of Dark Energies and two-thirds of the sequel via snippets on G+ – where have you been??!!

      Heh :) Just kidding. No snippeting from me, no sirree! I was talking about other people and quietly suggesting it as a marketing tactic – not one I’ve been using myself though, due to being far far FAR too precious about my WIP.

      Ain’t no-one getting no snippets until that baby’s perfecto!

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      • EERRRGGH.

        You HAVE heard of the deep dark pit some writers get stuck in called “novel perfection”, haven’t you?? What happens is that would-be writers spend all their time editing a work to death, and end up never publishing it because they are never 100% happy with it. Be fair to your novel, sir, and know when to stop!!!! ;) Have you had any outside eyes on it at all? If not, you probably need some. The thing could already be the greatest work of genius the world has ever seen, but the world will never see it if someone else doesn’t convince you of that and slap your hand away when you come at it yet again with a red pen. ;)

        So. You have my email. Send me snippets, privately! …. or else!!!!

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        • Help!! I’m stuck in the deep dark pit!! And someone’s shouting at me!! Help!!

          Yes, I fear that syndrome does have something to do with the lack of completion. Although, in absolute fairness, I have had a writer friend read and critique the whole novel, which has led to the current round of edits. It was a frank, honest, brutal review, albeit ultimately complementary.

          Once this round is done – which includes some significant “structural plot edits” – I am planning to call it a day and publish, regardless.

          Seeing as you asked so terrifyingly, some snippets may well appear in your inbox in the foreseeable future… but don’t tell anyone, or they’ll all want some!! Ssssshhhhh…

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          • Oh well good then! Both about your writer friend who read it over and about the snippets which will soon appear in my inbox! ;) I shall keep the Badgers chained until Monday …

            And my lips are sealed! ….

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  8. Fan here too, because another great thing about Google+ is it helps your Google search ranking. If you are in the UK & type ‘female comedy author’ you get me on the first page. If you type ‘comedy author’ I think I’m there somewhere too. It’s all about keyword use in your updates as well as your blog. PS I am NOT yet a published comedy author :-)

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    • I know what you mean – I’d like to keep up with Twitter more actively but you have to choose where you put your energies. It’s a tricky balancing act sometimes. G+ is definitely worth investigating though.

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