Here’s some of the questions and answers given at the Social Media and Writers Panel held at Leicester Writers’ Club last week which I took part in. I’ve also added some questions that were raised in discussion outside of the panel.
Do you have a social media persona that’s separate from your real persona?
This question isn’t just relevant to social media, it applies in real life too where a writer might keep a controversial opinion quiet for fear of putting off readers or publishers. But being a bland, kind person that always says the right thing won’t get you many followers. How much you reveal about yourself and the effect that has on readership will always be a dilemma for writers.
I have a personal Facebook account, do I need an author page as well?
Whether you need an author page as well as a personal Facebook account depends on what you use your personal account for. If you use your personal account as a means of keeping in touch with friends and family, then you might not want to share your posts with readers so an author page would be useful. If you’re wary of friending people whom you don’t have a connection with in real life, then an author page is a good way of connecting with readers who won’t necessarily have a real life connection.
If you only use your personal account to post author-related updates, then you don’t need an author page as well.
What advice would you give YA authors whose readers shouldn’t really be on Facebook?
Some Young Adult (YA) writers have set up what are effectively private, small scale social media sites for younger readers where discussions were restricted to the books, their characters or their settings and moderated to create a safe environment. It would be worth setting up a blog and creating an interactive environment where readers can not only comment but also post guest articles.
Someone got a book deal after posting her novel in sections on Wattpad, should authors be on Wattpad?
There are numerous examples of publishers giving book deals to people who have built a following on social media platforms, not just Wattpad, but also YouTube and blogs. What publishers are looking for is someone who can build that following and therefore has a ready market for their books, rather than the actual platform. It is more important to find a platform you are comfortable with and could do well rather than trying to spread yourself too thinly by doing too many or doing a specific platform badly because someone who could do it well happened to get a publishing deal
Shouldn’t publishers help with their authors’ social media platforms?
Ideally all promotion should be a joint enterprise between a publisher and writer. In reality, how much help a publisher can give depends on marketing budgets and available time. Certainly publishers can help by featuring their authors and promoting links to their authors’ platforms. However, it’s not reasonable to expect a publisher to create an author’s platform for them.
Should writers be on Goodreads?
Whether writers should be on a Goodreads or not depends on how well you take reader feedback on your books. Some reviews will be good, others will be poorly written. Some publishers encourage writers to get on Goodreads because they see it as a useful vehicle for connecting with readers.
How do you find time to be on social media and find time to write?
It takes the same discipline it takes to be a writer in the first place. It’s also about managing expectations: if you are on social media at regular times, that’s when people will expect to find you on social media. If you really struggle, switch your internet connection off when writing or use an app or a system of alarms and reminders.
How do you decide on the right schedule for posting to your blog?
There are plenty of “social media gurus” who will tell you to post daily or more frequently to keep your readership. You do not need to post daily.
The only right schedule is one that works for you. The right schedule is where you know you can find the time to write and post regularly and will be available to moderate comments afterwards. Blogging is a secondary activity to writing your next poem or book so don’t let encroach on your primary writing activities.
Is social media a good place to find beta-readers?
Beta-readers are people who read and comment on a manuscript or work in progress before it’s sent to an editor/publisher so we have beta-readers in the shape of fellow Leicester Writers’ Club members. Social media’s a good place to put call-outs for beta-readers and I’ve seen that happen, particularly on fanfiction forums.
However, writers need to take care about posting works-in-progress online because some publishers do class social media posts as publication and would refuse to take a poem that had been published on a social media.
If I put poems on Facebook for feedback, is that OK?
If you put a poem on your personal feed where it was only visible to your friends, it would be regarded as ‘closed’ (because it would only be seen by people who’d friended you, therefore is similar to showing a poem at a workshop) and therefore not published.
If you put your poem on a blog that everyone could read, it would be regarded as published. This is why many writers’ groups on Facebook etc are closed groups so that shared work won’t be regarded as published
Urban Myths and Legends From The Emma Press
The Emma Press’s new Metamorphoses-inspired poetry anthology Urban Myths and Legends: Poems about Transformations launches on 1 June at Westminster Reference Library, 35 St Martin’s Street, London WC2H 7HP (private view of artwork from 5.30, readings from 7pm). Free entry, but please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
With readings from Sophie F Baker, Francine Elena, Ella Frears, Linda Goulden, John Greening, Jack Houston, Annie Katchinska, Emma McKervey, Richard O’Brien, Kathy Pimlott, Degna Stone, Jon Stone, Pam Thompson and Ruth Wiggins. The event will be introduced by Rachel Piercey and Emma Wright.
A review of “Urban Myths and Legends” will follow.