Super excited to be welcoming Nick Quantrill onto the blog this week. I met Nick last year at Lincoln Inspired, which prompted me to read his books – crime novels based in Hull but with the twist of being from a PI’s perspective rather than a detective. This week Nick is talking about Social Media and as always hits the nail on the head.
Being social on social media…
I read a really interesting piece last week about why online self-promotion as an author doesn’t work. It left me wondering exactly how a writer should conduct themselves on social media. Are there are any pointers to follow so you don’t make yourself look like a total arse? Facebook and Twitter are the only have two social media accounts I have. Should I have more? I have no idea – Instagram (I can’t take a decent photograph)? Google + (even my cat knows that’s for losers)? LinkedIn? Pinterest? Is MySpace still going? The choice is varied, plentiful and baffling.
A wise man once told me that Facebook is for interacting with people you know, Twitter for talking to new people. In that spirit, I operate an open house policy and all are welcome. Does that make me weird? Am I wrong? I have no idea, but I’m going to assume people act in good faith until proven otherwise. I like to mix things up a bit. In return, you may have to wade through a few posts about football (Hull City), music (three chords and the truth) and what my daughter has been doing (usually making a mess and/or noise), but that’s kind of the point. It’s social, we’re sharing, but we’re connected because we love books and the written word. I’ll always throw in what’s going on with the books, but I hope it’s interesting in its own right, not just something I’m hurling out in the hope it sticks.
Can you sell books via social media? Wrong question, I think. Maybe it works for some writers, maybe it does sell books in relatively small numbers, but I’ve found social media works better in a wider professional sense. If you need contacts, want to find events or seek advice, it’s all there if you take the time to look and interact. It’s a place to meet readers, writers, bloggers and other industry professionals. Friendship is its own reward.
Can an author be without a presence on social media? Of course you can, but the chances are your publisher won’t do it for you and it ignores the reality that the online world is very much part of our lives. It’s not just a place to discover book news, it’s where we increasingly go for breaking news and opinion, a place to socialise. Why wouldn’t you want to be in the mix? Besides, if you come into contact with a keyboard warrior, it’s no harder than blocking them. It’s one of life’s small pleasures, though I don’t think it’s a bad thing for an author to step out of their echo chamber and hear a range of opinions.
I have no golden nuggets to offer, but however you choose to use social media, the way you should conduct yourself seem fairly evident to me. Be generous and genuine, share good news and be part of your community, however you define it. Don’t be a spammer, it’s cheap and artificial in all its forms. Don’t moan, being a writer is hardly comparable with putting a shift in down the mine. Don’t pre-programme your tweets, I don’t think it’s engaging with people. Maybe it’s just me, but that’s cheating in my book.
Essentially, it can be summed up by saying whichever social media platforms you choose to be on, don’t be a dick. No one likes a dick. Maybe it’s true that the harder you try, the less visible you actually become. Slow and steady builds something worth having, so enjoy engaging with people and ensure you give as much as you take. Embrace the opportunities and friendship it offers, but don’t let anyone tell you how to do this stuff because we’re all just guessing.