Yesterday, I received a missive from someone I hadn’t conversed with in nearly a year. He’d been compelled to criticize me about a Tweet I’d composed a few days prior! The offending Tweet: “So, who’s giving up Twitter for Lent?”

Among other things, the man wrote: “Steff- Who really gives a shit about what others are giving up for Lent? 

Too many posts, dude. You’re starting to get the reputation as a maker of white noise. 
Might want to be a bit more selective on what and where you post. Right message, right audience, right time, right place, etc.”

Wow. With friends like that…

I remained calm. First, I told him I don’t often use Linkedin but that my Twitter feed is linked to it. (I realize Linkedin is a professional network. To his point, personal Tweets might be out of place there.) However, I also referred him to my 1,870 followers who seem to get a kick out of my tweets. And I out of theirs. Then I mentioned my blog and its growing readership. Not monster numbers but pretty good for “white noise.” Thank you, by the way.

In conclusion I told my critical friend that I get a lot of satisfaction and pleasure out of social networking. Some pain too. But that first and foremost I believe social media should be FUN. That’s why it was created. The feverish networking and self-promotion came later.

In my view, the Lent Tweet was a fun, mildly provocative question relating to addiction and social networks. Twitter is addictive. For many of us Twitter would be the perfect thing to give up for Lent! I first saw the question asked by another person I follow. I re-tweeted it. Later I composed my own version. In turn, that was re-tweeted. My point to him: others appreciated the Tweet. It was not “white noise.”

And so what if it was? I’ve gotten way more flack pimping my novels via Twitter than from random, silly Tweets. We live and we learn and we Tweet about it all. That is the peeve and promise of social networks. Perhaps my friend would prefer more links to innocuous case studies. Frankly, I prefer white noise to white papers.

Needless to say, I did not put that last paragraph in my reply. Why? Because offering unsolicited criticism via email or social networks is almost never taken as intended. I learned that the hard way. Hopefully, now he has too.

M.J. Rose is the international bestselling author of 11 novels, including Lip Service, The Memorist and The Hypnotist. The 2010 FoxTV series Past Life was based on her novel – The Reincarnationist.

She also co-authored Buzz Your Book. In addition, she is a founding member and board member of the International Thriller Writers and the founder of the first marketing company for authors: On top of all that, she runs the popular blog; Buzz, Balls & Hype.

Adding to these significant credentials, I’m delighted to report M.J. has agreed to help me choose a cover design for my new novel slash social media experiment, Sweet by Design.

As many of you know I’m publishing my third novel, Sweet by Design online, one or two chapters a week. In addition, I’m hosting a competition to find a cover for the inevitable paperback, the winner of which wins my Ipad. Fifty pretty terrific designs have already been submitted. Those designs, plus the novel and simple guidelines for entering the contest can all be found on the website.

Who better to help the crowd and me “source” a cover than Rose? In 1998, her Lip Service became the first e-book and the first self-published novel chosen by the Literary Guild/Doubleday Book Club as well as being the first e-book to go on to be published by a mainstream New York publishing house.

Since then, M.J. has become a successful author and a beacon to many other writers, particular those of us navigating the frontiers of new media. Furthermore, and adding to Rose’s unique qualifications for this brief, she was once the creative director at the renowned advertising agency Rosenfeld, Sirowitz and Lawson.

As of this post, the cover contest is about half way through. That means there’s still plenty of time for you to catch up on the novel and/or design a cover of your own. In the parlance of the publishing world, M.J. Rose is a stunning get. She and I look forward to seeing your handiwork. My Ipad awaits. Have at it!