I get it.
In the days before the internet exploded and took over our lives, a successful author attended a few book signings on a national tour, maybe a few radio interviews, and then he/she would go back to their own voluntary solitary confinement.
Back then there was no social media for authors, simply no other way the author could interact with his audience, so the mystery of the writer was kept intact, for better or for worse.
The scenario I’ve just described will have some of you thinking those were the good old days, while the rest of you will be thanking your lucky stars you live in an age where social media exists and where you can interact directly with your no-doubt rabid fans.
The introverted writer:
The problem is that, as a cliched and very general rule, most authors are considered introverts, myself included. We would quite happily go days without interacting with another human.
We thrive on it, we wallow in it.
We secretly feel our creativity is sustained by leaving our tortured minds free to roam with no interruption.
Not only do we shy away from being social, it sometimes feels as if, like a newborn baby, we have only so much capacity for external input before our brains want to explode. At best, we feel uncomfortable in social situations, at worst, we experience it like a prison sentence, watching the clock until we can leave.
Add to that the fact that the online experience these days consist of more “me-too” and sales type communication than actual conversation, it all serves to make us jaded in the extreme. Our integrity is at stake, we can’t possibly be seen as snake-oil salesmen, nor do we want to come across as egotistical and vain, with a desperate need for validation.
No time for actual writing:
It seems like the sheer amount of work and time involved to keep up with the marketing aspect of things, will leave very little time for the important bit, your writing!
Should you just throw your hands up in the air and close all your social media accounts? Should you leave social media for authors to those that love self-promotion?
Here is a fact:
Unless you are one of the outliers, where your book gets picked up by a big publisher and you become the next J. K. Rowling, there is a very real chance that you will have to do the marketing for your work all by your lonesome introverted self. Not only as a self-published author but increasingly, even as someone signed to a major traditional publishing deal.
The world is changing.
Just as it happened in the music industry, the public now discovers books and engage with their favourite authors in a very different way.
Don’t even get me started on the implications of Kindle unlimited.
You, therefore, have a choice: Adapt, or write your books and tell your stories to no-one, which kind of defeats the point.
You might feel that you don’t have the right personality to be bothering with all that modern stuff, (said in an old man’s voice) but the key is not to change your personality to suit engagement on social media for authors.
Instead, it’s to replicate your personality on social media.
So if you’re a miserable sod in the real world, by all means, be a miserable sod online. But be real first as this is what makes people engage. Just as in real life, no?
The evil of the internet:
Further, a lot has been said about the evil’s of the internet and what a bad impact it has on our society.
Personally, I’ve not seen this effect at all. Sure, it’s annoying when we all have devices at the dinner table, but once they’re packed away, it’s not as if no-one wants to talk to anyone else!
To go even further….can interacting on social media be good for you?
I think it can.
I’ve already confessed my introverted nature, so being on social media has in the past been somewhat of a hurdle for me.
Instead, over time, and because much of my day job demands it, I’ve started enjoyed interacting with people, almost as if a part of me that loves other humans had been awakened. This is a good thing, right?
I suggest the same can happen to you.
There is no denying that all of this takes time. Monitoring all social media platforms, engaging in conversation, keeping your profiles up to date, especially if you have a decent following, can leave little time for anything else.
Which is why it’s crucial to implement a specific strategy, one that is tailored to your personal capacity for all of the various activities that social media for authors demand.
Chris Syme in her excellent book Sell More Books with Less Social Media, makes a great point that an author should engage where he/she is selling.
For 9/10 authors this will mean they can engage and concentrate on one, maybe two social media platforms at most.
For the others, use what’s referred to as the Outpost method. This involves setting up a presence on other platforms, keeping it updated, but shepherding your audience away from there, to the place where you engage. For most people, this is currently, and looks to remain for the near future, Facebook.
Achieve the right balance:
Hate selling? Or coming across as selling? Make sure the balance of your posts are in the 80/20 range, that’s 80% of posts that provide value and only around 20% that promote your own work.
Build trust, not disgust.
I maintain that social interaction online can be good for the reclusive author, but try, as much as possible, to replicate your real-world communication in the online world.
What do you think? Is social media only for specific types of people?
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