This social media is a funny kettle of fish, and no mistake.
Fish. (No kettle)
I have my blog (you’re reading it), which is pretty straightforward. I write about the history behind my books, or historical things that I think might interest my readers, or writing, or completely random stuff like tango. It is a mystery to me why some posts attract a lot of interest and others, which seem reasonably similar to me, are much less well read, but month on month it ticks along with a fair few readers (and, I suspect, quite a lot of bots) and it makes sense to me and all is well with the world.
To get readers on my blog, though, I need to let people know that it is there. I do this partly through Facebook. I have a Facebook author page. This mainly lets people know what’s on my blog that week but I may use it for bits of news that don’t really justify a blog post but which may interest readers. Sometimes I just share stuff because it excites me and you might like it.
I recently posted a photo of my son’s wedding, which I expected would get quite a few visits and Facebook says that it has – partly, I think, friends (real-life friends rather than Facebook friends) who hadn’t seen any of the wedding photos yet. Last week, though, I also posted a photo of a fire flickering in the grate in our front room. I don’t know why I posted it really: it was just that I’d had a day doing no work at all and I was putting in my excuses, I guess. It turns out that this picture is (apart from the wedding) the most popular thing I’ve posted for ages.
You liked it so much I’m posting it again.
Would you like more scenes of domestic life? What, and, really, why? I’m all in favour of giving the public what they want, so do let me know and I’ll try to oblige.
“Let me know,” I say, which brings me to another strange thing. There is a comment box below my blog every week so that you can, well, comment. I generally reply to comments and it lets other people join in. But very few people comment on the blog. This isn’t because they don’t have opinions on it. They post their views on Facebook and Twitter. Very occasionally they may e-mail or message me directly. But hardly anyone puts comments in the ‘Comment’ box. I’d love to know why not.
The third social media channel I use is Twitter. Again, I let people know what’s on my blog and I even suggest occasionally that they might be interested in reading one of my books. Otherwise I re-tweet stuff that has amused or interested me, respond to other people’s tweets and generally maunder on. As we’re restricted to 280 characters, the amount of maundering is quite limited so I don’t have to worry about being too boring. Twitter is also where I post photos I think people will like. Some people have suggested, reasonably enough, that I should post photos on Instagram but, seriously, you have to restrict the number of social media channels that you use and I think three is enough for me.
Prettier than the Twitter bird, I think
I used to hate Twitter, but I’ve come to quite enjoy it, especially as people seem to be deserting Facebook as a way to keep in touch. I’ve met lovely people on Twitter, though they are overwhelmingly other writers, which seems odd as I went on Twitter to try to connect with readers. I’m also confused about what people read on Twitter. Why do some tweets seem to attract a reasonable amount of interest (none of mine have ever attracted an enormous amount of interest, but I’m cool with that) while others remain unloved and unre-tweeted?
Does any of this matter? Nowadays writers are told that they have to have a social media presence and they tend to be judged by the number of followers they have or the number of Facebook page likes they have, so many people spend an amazing amount of time on social media. Often people suggest that it’s time that would be better spent actually writing the books, but without the social media presence it seems unlikely that they will sell their books, because nobody will have heard of them. On the other hand, most writers sell so few books anyway that the hours spent on social media per copy sold might more usefully be applied to standing at a crossroads with a box of paperbacks and hawking them to whoever passes by.
It’s a quandary or, as I said at the beginning, this social media is a funny kettle of fish.
A Word from our Sponsor
All this social media can be quite fun, but ultimately I’m trying to sell books. This time of year is really important as far as persuading people to part from their money is concerned especially if, like me, your books are available in paperback and hence make ideal Christmas gifts. All my books are available in the US as well as the UK. You can find out more about them on this very website (click on ‘My Books‘ in the menu at the top of the page) or have a look at my Amazon author page (author.to/TomWilliams).