There are two aspects to social networking, for authors. First, there’s networking with other authors. Second, there’s interacting with readers. Of course, there is a third – personal networking with friends and family, but that doesn’t really need discussing here.
There’s a growing number of ways in which authors can network with each other. There are the obvious ones, of Facebook and Twitter, but there are now many other sites offering authors the opportunity to interact with people who appreciate the many aspects of writing, getting published and getting readers. I could list them, but that would make for a very uninteresting post. Some of the sites offering the service are better than others, and the nature of such sites varies. You may just want to know you’re not alone, and maybe ask a question now and then about some ticklish problem. Then again, you may want a more active relationship, with critiques of your work taking a prominent place. I’ll confess to preferring the former. That’s mainly because I simply don’t have time to get so deeply involved.
Networking with readers is another matter. It usually starts with some simple means of getting feedback, progressing to things like Facebook pages and even forums. There’s an inherent danger, of course. Readers are entirely unpredictable! They may love some of your work but hate other pieces. The clearest advice is not what many readers would like: don’t get involved! Basically, this states that it is bad practice – unprofessional even – to get involved in reacting to the stated opinions of your readers! Essentially, the author’s side of the relationship should very seldom exceed posting announcements or thanking their readers for their support. You have to let anything negative simply wash over you, without comment.
This may make it sound like we must make clear divisions between fellow authors and readers. In actual fact, most of the successful sites provide a way for authors and readers to interact in one place. In most such cases, the authors do have ways to interact privately, but not always. Sites such as Goodreads and Book Blogs are very much involved in covering the whole of networking.
There is one thing every author must accept before they ever put any kind of book out there, digital or physical: you will be exposed to opinions that you don’t like or agree with. You are likely to actually be targeted by sad folk who intend nothing but making verbal attacks on you. And if you run your own blog or web site, there are the hackers and Spammers to contend with. The internet, for all the good it can do, can be a harsh environment. If you are thin skinned, you’re unlikely to enjoy yourself for very long.
Ultimately, whether you get involved in networking is your choice. But, remember that you really do need the free advertising that such networking offers. You need to get yourself known. Plus, most people now expect to find that their favourite authors have some kind of interactive presence on the internet. My best advice? Start small! Create a Facebook page, either for yourself as an author (the best option) or for each of your books (a lot of work!). Expand slowly into other sites.
- Tell Me Your Thoughts…Social Networking – Help or Hindrance? (poetaofficium.com)
- Social Media for Self-Published Authors (selfpublishingmadeeasy.wordpress.com)