A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.
Social media: I admit it, I am a fan. So expect this post to be a rallying call to the shy and the soc-med refuseniks among you. I want you to open your mind.
I used to be anxious about it all too. Around three years ago, when my first book was due to be published, I spoke to a fellow aspiring writer, who I knew was something of an expert when it came to twitter. She told me that in order to really get interest in my novel, I should have started tweeting around two years earlier. This, I can honestly say, was the least helpful advice ever – it’s like saying, ‘You can’t get there if you start from here.’
The point she was making, though, is a valid one: any form of social media is a slow burn. It takes time to build up followers. You have to find lots of the right people first and be prepared to do a bit of groundwork – holding virtual conversations, finding reasons to connect with others on a human basis and sharing/retweeting/ liking posts – before you can expect the same in return.
But it does work. I now have two twitter accounts: a personal one and a writer’s one. I have a personal and an author’s Facebook page. I have boards for all my books and works-in-progress on Pinterest. I am getting there with Instagram, though I am not a naturally image-oriented person, so this is tougher for me. I can see, though, the real joy in finding the perfect picture to tell a story without an epistle to go with it. Snapchat is on my To Do list.
So I get a little impatient with those who will not join the twenty-first century in this respect. There are some silly fears around about social media. For example:
Fear #1: I often hear questions along the lines of ‘Why should I tell someone what I am having for breakfast/care what other people are eating for tea?’
You shouldn’t. So don’t. Where’s the rule that says if you join Facebook you have to post pictures of your daily diet?
Fear #2: ‘I don’t want everyone knowing my business.’
But you are in control. Post only what you want others to know, nothing else. You can even re-create yourself as much nicer/funnier/cleverer than you really are. Lots of people do, I promise you.
Fear #3: It takes too much time.
It only takes the amount of time you want to give it. Every now and then, I get sucked into something interesting online and waste a bit of time (OK, it’s often a cat video), but usually I spend ten minutes in the morning and ten minutes in the evening, doing a bit of posting, sharing and following. That’s really not much, is it – to connect with people around the world?
Fear #4: It’s a scary place and I might get trolled.
True. There are some horrible people out there. But you can block them. Just don’t give them your home address and your phone number. In other words, behave like an adult and you should be fine.
When I first started using social media as an author, I wasn’t all that comfortable about it either. It felt a little like grooming people to do what you want at a future date. But I’ve come to realise that most of us don’t join social media just to sell books, in the end. We share information, we offer support and we make each other laugh, every day. We connect, just like real people and it’s no less real because it’s online. It’s fun. Do it. In the twenty-first century, the shrinking violet will not survive.