I would argue that for a writer there is no such thing as wasting time on the Internet, because entertainment is fodder for stories, and we use the Internet a lot for research and for planning our writing days, etc. So this is really more a catalogue of where I am most likely to be spending my time on the Internet. If I weren’t a writer, would I visit Facebook several times a day? I honestly have no idea because I was an author before I joined Facebook. The Internet, whether you are using email loops or forums or Facebook groups, provides a way for writers to get together and brainstorm and exchange ideas and experiences about publishing houses, editors and agents. It really is an invaluable tool. So that’s my caveat!
- Facebook – Yes, I do waste a lot of time following links on Facebook that have nothing to do with writing. I love being able to stalk my kids online using Facebook, and it’s a great way to keep in touch with friends both old and new. I spend more time then I should following links to quizzes and news items that I know are just going to irritate me. I could just open up my USA Today app instead. But of all the social networks out there, Facebook is the one I go to most frequently. I belong to an author support group and also to a group of publishing folks who are really into paper planning, and I just joined a group for authors who are interested in doing their own formatting. All that I find absolutely necessary. 🙂 As I look at my list, though, I realize I haven’t even included Twitter. I have tried really hard to get into Twitter, but it’s just not in my top three. Same with Pinterest. Unless I’m looking for renovation ideas, which is when I usually visit Pinterest, I don’t go there. There’s only so much time in the day!
- Trip Advisor – When we are planning a big trip I usually start out by buying a Frommer’s book on the country and reading it cover to cover. But then I follow up with months of research on Trip Advisor. It’s hands-down the best place I know to get advice on where I want to go. I tend to pay the most attention to reviews from travelers who live in my province or Alberta, because we have similar expectations. Whereas, folks from Ontario and folks from the UK have different expectations, I’ve come to realize through reading reviews on Trip Advisor. So while I might check those reviews and those ideas, if I really want to know how I might feel about a place, I depend on the residents of BC and our neighbours to the left, depending which way you are looking at the map of Canada. I consider Alberta to be on the left, because I am standing inside British Columbia looking out. 🙂
- Instagram – This is a new one for me. I discovered Instagram basically because I decided to participate in the spring #listifylife challenge and Instagram is the primary place where the challenge is occurring. I discovered that I really like Instagram. Maybe it’s because participating in the challenge coincided with me blogging about our trip to Patagonia, because I realized I could start posting pictures of the trip to Instagram. 🙂 So, on Instagram, instead of networking really with just other writers, I have started networking with other travellers. I follow a lot of travel bloggers and photographers on Instagram, and honestly it is what I am mainly there for, the travel photography, not the social networking.
- Romance Divas Forum – Easily the best, in my opinion, support and industry and research and brainstorming forum for romance authors on the Internet. And… It’s how I discovered my paper planning group on Facebook, and that paper planning group is my happiest place on the Internet right now. 🙂
- Stock Photo Websites – This one wouldn’t be on my list if I weren’t an author. What reason would I have to visit stock photo websites? You would probably more likely find me on shoe buying websites… But because I am mainly independently publishing right now, stock photo websites are super important in the book cover brainstorming process. While some book cover artists will look at the stock photo websites for you, others want you to search for your own stock images or at least provide them as an example of what you’re looking for. Believe me, I can spend hours and hours and hours on stock photo websites when I am brainstorming a book cover.
- Amazon and Chapters – Chapters is a Canadian online bookstore, and I buy paper books mainly from Chapters or Canadian Amazon. I buy e-books from American Amazon, and because I am an independent author I am on Amazon a fair amount checking sales rankings, etc. But I also check sales rankings on Kobo, iBooks, and other places. Actually, I don’t really check sales rankings all that much unless I am running a promotion or have a new release, which hasn’t occurred in too long. But when my next release does come out within the next few months, I know I will be stalking my Amazon dashboard. Kobo is also easy to stalk, but I don’t buy books from Kobo. I buy the odd book from iBooks, but I prefer the lighting on my Kindle to reading on an iPad, so therefore I spend the most time buying books on Amazon. I had a Kindle before the Kobo came out, and I still use my original Kindle (sorry, Kobo, but as an author I love you!)
- Cover Artist Sites – I have used the same cover artist for all my books as Cindy and under my pen name except for two short stories. Even though I keep going back to the same cover artist, I like to visit other cover artist sites just to get a taste for what else is out there. A lot of cover artists also run their own photography shoots, so I get sucked into those rabbit holes very, very easily. 😉
Where do you waste time on the Internet? Is it time wasted? Or is it…a necessity?