The writer and social media

May 14, 2013 § Leave a comment

Some months ago, a writer, speaking at a self-publishing event, took a very negative view of Twitter. As some people tweet, along the lines of, ‘home now just putting the potatoes in the oven’, she had no time for it.

We all know that means of communications are used in different ways. To the  farmer in Africa, without any landline, a mobile phone is a lifeline. Londoners may say ‘my life is on my phone’ but their livelihoods do not depend on their phones in the same way an African farmer’s does.

We can tweet trivial things and we can tweet serious things and we can do both.

Mel Sherratt, best-selling writer on Kindle, had a social media presence before she self-published Taunting the Dead. She wrote a blog High Heels and Book Deals, and she was on Twitter.

Initially Mel Sherratt had not been that keen on joining Twitter. However, a friend persuaded her to sign up for an account (@writermel), and since then, Mel Sherratt has grown to love Twitter.

Writing can be lonely work. When Mel Sherratt takes a break from writing, she often goes to see what’s happening on Twitter. She might throw out a query to her followers: How would a frightened child call out for its mother? Would the child shout Mum or Mummy?  Her followers favoured Mummy.

Mel Sherratt stressed that her use of Twitter is largely social. Of course, she will let people know when she has posted an article, what event she might be speaking at, and she might retweet some news about a writer friend, but she will tweet about her dog too.

Tim Cooke, self-published author of Defending Elton and Kiss and Tell, was slow to join social networks; he felt they might not suit his personal style. But he started a blog (T J Cooke) and joined Twitter (@timscribe). Contrary to his expectations, he found that writers on Twitter could be very supportive of each other. And his attitude to social media changed.

Both writers were speaking in April at this year’s London Book Fair. At the question and answer session after their talk, one attendee told us that she had written books, cosy crime. (I think she had self-published but I am not sure in what form.) The books were selling but her being on Facebook and Twitter did very little to increase her sales. She wondered why.

Neither Mel Sherratt nor Tim Cooke could throw any light on that. Should you be fully engaged in all forms of social media? Will your presence on Twitter boost your sales?  Will you succeed just as well without Twitter ? You might. Mel Sherratt writes women’s fiction using a pen name and, despite having no presence on social media (in her pen name), these novels sell.

If only we had the answers!

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