I may not (as yet) be a published author, but I can relate to many of my clients on just how isolated a ‘work-from-home’ job can be. I work mostly from home and apart from the hundreds of emails and odd phone call I deal with every day, it can be at times a lonely career path. Admittedly, working the hours you choose and doing a job you love has its advantages, but its often the silence and need for human interaction that hits home when you spend days in isolation, working on your manuscript, or in my case designing websites and book covers for you lovely people.
In doing this, we all have that blessing of doing something we love, but do you not find that you have those days when your characters are just not enough company? Perhaps it’s just me who talks the ears of the postman or window cleaner when they call, just to have some sort of conversation?
It is for this reason that I don’t understand the reluctance that some authors and writers have for Social Media. Some declare it’s a lack of time, which is understandable as we are all very busy people. Some use technophobia as their excuse, which is again understandable and sympathised by many. Others claim it’s the intrusion that it brings which puts them off.
Now, as understandable as these reasons may be, all of these explanations may be overcome. Lack of time for instance – it takes on average a maximum of a couple of minutes to log into a account and read through or post a tweet or message. It doesn’t need to become an essay or a chore in the slightest. So whether you use Social Media sporadically throughout the day for two minutes at a time or set aside some time each day to interact with the world, it need not take up so much of you time that it becomes unrealistic to keep up.
If you’re not great at using a computer or if you’re not up-to-date with all the latest apps and gadgets, you still don’t need to fear Social Media. Once you’ve learnt the basics of logging in and finding out exactly where everything is, you can think of it as an online filofax or journal, where you jot down your thoughts and keep hold of contacts. There are many guides available to teach you how to use your accounts, but if you really are worried about getting started, talk to someone who deals with social media (such as myself…plug plug), who can hold your hand through each and every step until you’re comfortable. We’re not all going to ‘tut’ and sigh at your lack of ability on a computer. Far from it. Trust me when I say that I’ve most probably helped others less capable than yourself. It’s simply a case of being shown the very basics and familiarising yourself with it before taking another step.
Intrusion is a big turn off for a lot of people, not just authors and those who don’t want to be identified or who write under a pseudonym. However, just as you write under a different name, so can your accounts be. You needn’t display a neon sign of your true identity, nor are you required to include your latest photo. So in actuality, the intrusion level is entirely managed and measured by yourselves. If you don’t want to ‘tweet’ or ‘post’ updates about your personal life, then don’t, but do use Social Media to engage your readers and interact with other people in the industry. Think of it as going to a huge coffee morning for a quick chat before work. You wouldn’t expose your personal details there and you don’t need to on Social Media either.
Social Media is valuable. Not, just to the sales and publicity of your work, but to your sanity too. Some great friendships can be seen on the likes of Twitter through people who have never even met. And this is because you share a common interest, be it between author and reader or author to author. We all share that passion for the written word and along with that comes some empathy and understanding of each others struggles and desires.
You can also benefit hugely from the support and advice that the writing community has to offer. On the ‘off days’ it can be like receiving a bunch of virtual pat’s on your back and a cheer of ‘you can do it!’. It’s an invaluable piece of my daily interaction and millions of others too. It’s nice to know that someone is out there ready to listen, encourage or cheer you up.
Social Media is so often referred to as marketing and promotion by those agents and publishers sitting behind a desk, surrounded by co-workers. I of course don’t deny it’s ability to increase interest and sales as readers will quickly complain nowadays if authors don’t have Social Media accounts. It’s a fantastic way of reaching readers and sharing news of your latest work in progress and releases, but in truth, for people like us, it’s company. It’s offering a kind of interaction that authors before you didn’t have.
It seems that a lot of authors feel as though they are giving into a new phase and leaving the traditional love of writing and being an author behind. Perhaps it’s the way our world is heading, albeit a shame if face to face contact were to completely cease to exist. A bit like pen and paper were replaced by the computer, but I bet you still readily jot down notes with your favourite pen from time to time? In fact I am drafting this article the old fashioned way, ready to type out at a later time.
So whether you’re still wondering whether of not to join or you’re already an active user, there are so many more Social Media ‘friendships’ out there to be made, and I thank each and every one of your comments, likes, re-tweets or even for just reading my thoughts and I know you’ll all enjoy Social Media for a long time to come.