Question #47 4/02/19
“You are remarkably accessible through email and on social media to the point that I see other authors copying the things that you do and was wondering if that’s sometimes annoying?”
What is it Charles Caleb Colton once said, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery?”
I have to admit that I have fun doing the posts on social media. Living in a place like Ucross, I don’t get the opportunity of hanging ‘round the water cooler or gabbing with my neighbors at the local café or bar like a lot of folks in larger metropolitan areas, like say, Moorcroft. So, I guess Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are my way of staying in touch. There are some authors out there that use this sort of media simply to sell books and their sites are generally managed by somebody other than themselves—and I think those are a bit painful in that all they’re ever conveying is “Buy my book”.
A few years ago, I was contacted by Facebook and told that I’d maximized my “Friend” list and would have to convert over to a “Celebrity Page” with unlimited enrollment, the catch being that I wouldn’t be able to access my “Friends” feeds and comment on their posts. I went with the “Celebrity Page” but kept my old one so that I could stay in touch with all of my “Friends”. It can sometimes be confusing for people who try and sign-up on my dormant page, but I think social media is like any other form of communication and needs to be a two-way street.
I also think it’s fun to come up with new things to try such as the Thirty Seconds of Zen videos or the 52 Pickup questions. It’s a challenge some weeks, but it doesn’t take that much time to do and generally I get it done pretty early and then move on with my writing day.
Staying positive is important to me, too. I never comment on politics or religion simply because I don’t think it’s my place to foist that type of thing on people on a day-to-day basis and prefer to keep an optimistic attitude that’s well… social.
The email newsletter I send out every month or so, The Post-It, gives me another opportunity to stay in touch with folks who have been with me since my first book came out back in 2005. Generally, they’re one-page short stories about something interesting that’s happened and allows me to do a little non-fiction work on the side. There’s also a contact button on my website at http://www.craigallenjohnson.com where readers can just hit it and are somewhat surprised that its my email here at the ranch and that I actually answer.
Imitation-wise, I never really worry about it in the media or novels. Every once in a while, a reader will contact me and say that they read something in somebody’s book that’s a direct copy of something I did or a movie or TV show that they think has taken liberties, but if that’s true then it’s something I’ve all ready done and I’ve since moved on to something else.
I think you can get into trouble when you start thinking that you’ve got exclusive rights to a place or much of anything else, really. The job is to take those things and do something different with them. If somebody is already trolling through other people’s work to make their own more palatable then they’re on a dark, non-creative road to begin with.
There was a popular TV show (not Longmire) that people kept getting in touch with me about, saying there were elements that kept popping up to the point that they were even using titles from my books. We knew somebody who worked on that show, so just out of curiosity I asked him and he said, “Oh yeah, all the writers on that show love your books…”