Social Media Week & Authors

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“I’m vibrating 24/7 and I hate it.” So said a panellist at Tuesday morning’s Social Media Week session on content overload, and he wasn’t even trying to be funny. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Flckr, YouTube – the list goes on. Yet if you want to be present in today’s world, you have to be present on social media – and this is especially true for self-published authors who want to spread the word and engage with their audience. So how can you make social media your best mate?

Here’s a sobering fact: there are 500m tweets sent daily, 1m WordPress blog posts and 100,000 hours of video uploaded to the web – content overload is very real. But social media is here to stay, so the trick is to use it to your advantage, filter it so it doesn’t take over your life and love it like your own. Social media can be your friend if you want it to be.

For self-published authors, social media has broken down the barriers between authors and readers, with authors ever-more contactable via Twitter, Facebook and the rest. Readers want to interact and feel part of the creative process and it’s a bonus for authors too, with their audience letting them know what they want and how they feel about their books. A two-way conversation is a great social and learning experience for both parties.

What’s more, authors can use social media to build anticipation of their next novel, to share their passion with readers and readers can share theirs back. Authors have decided on their book covers via social media, as well as running competitions and giveaways. If there’s a lesson to be learned from Social Media Week, it’s that genuine conversations between authors and readers are great for both. As a writer, I know it always brightens my day when a reader takes the time to get in touch.

There are some authors out there who see social media as a chore, a bind they don’t want to engage with. But social media is a creative act – it’s writing or engaging with your readers, just like when you write your book. More importantly, social media makes things personal and puts the reader front and centre. The message from Social Media Week is to listen to your readers, talk to them and learn from them: be genuine, be personal, take risks and connect. Your work will be richer for it.

Clare Lydon is the author of Amazon No.1 best-seller London Calling. Her new novel, The Long Weekend, is due out in November.

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