A year-long diary set in LONDON
Why authors need to engage with Twitter and Social Media
10th December 2015
I recently started a dialogue with the members of #Bookconnectors over on Facebook, about the value of Social Media, and in particular Twitter. Furthermore, how the nature of Twitter can affect the relationship between bloggers and authors and the wider publishing industry.
It was prompted in part by a startling number of authors who do not represent themselves on Twitter, and I began to wonder about the impact their lack of presence has, not only on their work but on the dynamics of the bigger picture.
On Twitter it is very easy to promote a book, both as an author and as a blogger. In fact, Twitter as a medium is where TripFiction often picks up the buzz about new books and we often go on to feature them on our blog – as do many other bloggers.
As an author one can engage in the social nature of the medium whilst keeping an eye on the bottom line – how to find a wider audience for your work. One author who gets it so very right is Mari Hannah, who provides engaging dialogue about a variety of subjects, but does not stray off the path which is talking to those who are keen on her work and bringing new readers into the fold. One of the friendliest accounts is author Carole Matthews, who is always full of sunshine and positivity and her open smile is enough to encourage you to follow, not least engage with her chatty banter. Other authors, however, still struggle with the medium, they will overtly promote themselves in a way that is redolent of me, my book, buy my book, which of course is an instant turn off. But at least they are there, building a following, and with practice, regular use and the careful monitoring of how others use it, it could become a very valuable resource for them. We have all made mistakes at the beginning of our Twitter interactions…. no-one can learn the subtleties and manners of Twitter in a short time.
Essentially, I was curious to see whether there are any book bloggers out there who would perhaps sidestep authors who are not on Twitter. The general consensus seemed to be that bloggers would not overlook an author for that reason, but overwhelmingly it was acknowledged that the synergy which inevitably springs from co-promotion across Social Media – the focus naturally and inevitably weighted towards the author’s work – is missing. That makes a big hole and to my mind it is a basic missed opportunity for an author to promote their work.Think of the statistics: just one in ten authors earns a full time living from writing, reports Hannah Furness in the Telegraph, so, surely, engaging with any resource to get a book on that powerful bookseller’s table, must be worth a shot?
An interesting article via the BBC, written by Hugh Schofield, a couple of years ago went on to lament the lack of sales that top French authors (or any authors writing in a language other than English for that matter) have been experiencing in the English speaking market “Why don’t French Books sell Abroad?” – especially historical ones, considering the universal appeal of French authors such as Flaubert, Voltaire, Proust etc. In fact the lovely people at Maclehose Press (a publisher devoted to the translation of literature and crime fiction into English, and to the publication of a very few outstanding writers in English) have just sent me a couple of review books by Patrick Modiano who apparently won the 2014 Nobel Prize for Literature (who knew that?), translated into English. But I bet my bottom dollar that if I look the author up in Twitter, he won’t feature there. His audience in the UK is small (in partial consequence of not being on Twitter, one wonders?) yet surely it could be so much bigger with a bit of Social Media presence…? Thus, in such circumstances, what hope does the community have, as bloggers, publicists and publishers, to get the work of a lesser known author out there? It is a mere drip on a very large pond, an esoteric non-starter.
OK, the author has found his/her way onto Social Media and Twitter, which is a massive first step. It can be very scary, of course. But then that author needs the proactive support of the publishers, agent and publicist to really build a solid base and get the books in front of an audience. At TripFiction we already have a mental list (it’s small, granted, but nevertheless very evident) of publishers who, on the one hand, rarely interact on Twitter, although they may have a strong following. As a consequence that then often leaves the blogger loathe to engage with the publisher, at the expense of their author. But some publishers, on the other hand, have the art of Social Media finely tuned. Consider Orenda Books, a relative newcomer but an absolute powerhouse when it comes to promoting their authors: engaged, funny and proactive, and you can hear the care and investment they have for their authors. And the are accumulating accolades galore….
As a side note, if you want to see how to engage well on Facebook, check out the Facebook pages of authors Rebecca Chance and Jane Lythell for starters. Facebook presence can be done, done well and it doesn’t take much to draw people in!
So, authors, time to appraise whether Social Media is for you and what benefits it will bring to not only your work but the wider platform of people who can potentially support and publicise your books!
Tina for the TripFiction Team. Tina is co-founder of TripFiction, the resource for both actual and armchair travellers “see a location through an author’s eyes”
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