Last week I facilitated a workshop for writers starting out, and there were questions at one stage about the importance of Being Active On Social Media, and one of the things that came up was the super-self-promoters on things like Twitter. “Stop following those people!” was my advice there. But there was still the worry of needing to do all these things in order to be a ‘better bet’ as a writer.
I also came across this piece from Gillian ‘Gone Girl’ Flynn’s agent talking about social media. My favourite quote from this, re: whether it’s worth investing in social media marketing and digital promotion:
…it is not always the author’s investment. There has certainly been a lot of social media chatter ABOUT Gillian’s books, although it’s true that for the most part she was not out there participating in or generating the conversation.
I love twitter, as some of you may have noticed. But I don’t think of it as a ‘self-promotion tool’ at all. It’s like going to a nice big coffee shop and yapping to people, and getting to know some of the regulars who sit near you a bit better. Sometimes you might invite people you know from somewhere else to come join you, and there’s a fair few people there you’ll see outside the coffee shop, or invite to a party.
There are great discussions and some mundane ones too, and while you do hear about people’s work and stuff that they have going on, it’s still weird and inappropriate if a stranger who’s just walked in comes up to you and starts shouting in your face ‘buy my book buy my book buy my book!’ That’s a world away from someone you’ve chatting to, whose face is familiar, going, ‘oh, I’ve something new out now’ or (even more effectively) someone you know recommending you something that’s just out.
(Along similar lines, it is weird when you’re discussing something political and a stranger comes up and shouts ‘you’re wrong and going to hell’ – there’s a big gap between open debate and being hostile to people you’ve never spoken to before in your life.)
I think social networks are pretty darn cool at least some of the time, and facilitate both new and old friendships and connections, but they’re too unfocused and messy and human to be The Best Book/Self Promotion Tool Ever. And that’s kind of a good thing. I see people get stressed out about ‘keeping up with’ all these things, like it’s about putting on a suit and going to work. It’s not. You probably want to brush your hair before going to the coffee shop, yeah, and it’s best not to stumble in drunk or in your pyjamas, but it’s okay if you’re not there all the time and it’s even okay if you decide it’s just not for you at all. There are other places out there. Really.