I am a writer (outside of the day job that actually pays the bills) and I am on Twitter, so I appreciate that I am in a glass house. However, what I don’t do is endlessly tweet “extracts” from my novels with purchase links attached, or endlessly tweet and re-tweet ego-laden review quotes that I am sure the reading public view with suspicion anyway.
Twitter is considered by many as a marketing tool, and that is the problem. I joined Twitter because I wanted to interact with some truly creative people. I was lucky enough to do so. I have met artists, musicians, film-makers, writers, photographers, poets and creative free-spirits who are not shy in being who they are or in sharing their views on life, art and all that goes with the creative mind-set. What they don’t do is endlessly bombard the twitter-feed with pointless and repetitive self-promotion.
But wait, I have the right to “unfollow”, surely? This I have done over the course of this week, losing hundreds of “followers” in the process. I am left with a small (in comparison to others’ accounts) following but everyone I now follow is an artist in their own right in their own way doing their own thing quietly and self-assuredly without the need to ram their product down the open-twitter throats every five minutes. Where I find that not to be the case I will continue to unfollow, and if I end up with zero then so be it. But the point is this: Shrinking in such a dramatic manner reinforced how valueless I (and presumably others) are/were in the great Twitter machine. To many it is a numbers game – the purpose being to peddle a product to the widest possible reach regardless of who may be in that “reach” and, worse, regardless or not of whether they might be interested. What bigger an insult can a writer give to readers?
Maybe it’s me. Maybe I just don’t get Twitter. I do not think this is the case because I genuinely enjoy the output and the feed from my new streamlined existence and all I have lost is a raft of intense self-promoters. To me, such activity is an abuse of Twitter, salvaged only by the right to unfollow.
I do not need to self-promote. I write good books and readers find them all by themselves and that is how I like it. The sadness here is that many writers are treating their readers like mere sales-opportunities and self-publishing is largely to blame for that. I just wish people would follow the advice in my Twitter profile: “Do your own thing in your own way in your own time. The rest will follow”. We don’t need things rammed down our throats. Force-fed people have a tendency to throw up, and never go back to that restaurant again...
On to Facebook. My followers, a collassal 33 in number, would surely horrify most writers seeking at least “likes” in three figures… but that following is precious to me. The facebook following is born out of genuinely like-minded people, mostly from Goodreads, who have enjoyed my work and are agreeable to following it as it develops. That is fantastic to me – but it is a private thing between reader and writer, as are the reviews that my novels have attracted. I have no need or desire to trumpet my five-star reviews. Those reviews humble me and I am embarrassed to receive them, but they validate my writing in a way that nothing else can and I am honoured by them.
So why am I ranting on? Well, I was late to Twitter and to Facebook and to Goodreads. All I did was self-publish my writing on Kindle in order to see if it stood up to the barrage of public scrutiny. What came out of it was a series of reviews and sales and when I received an email from a reader commenting that they couldn’t find me on social media I quickly sorted myself out. The fact that there were reviews and support already there completed the circle. My work stood up to scrutiny. A small group of people remained interested despite the daily tsunami of new self-published novels. I do not tweet, re-tweet and constantly peddle small successes. I do not take initial compliments as some unassailable mandate to teach the world how to write. That is arrogance. I do not seek falsely high numbers to justify my writing existence. The reader writer relationship is a gentle one of trust and I would rather interact with my 33 facebook followers and my deeply creative Twitter friends and the respected people of Goodreads who started the support in the first place, than I would trumpet my own vanity from the center of a numbers game in the hope that another faceless wallet opens.
AND FINALLY, (yes, I know I have gone on a bit), to me Goodreads is a READER site. I interact with it as a reader and that is how it should be. I am only listed as an author because it would be odd for my books to be listed without a corresponding author entry. I received a disappointing email recently asking me how to “leverage” social media as a writer. I replied that I would not know, as I have no interest in doing so. The faceless aspect of the internet has done the self-publishing industry no favours whatsoever. You wouldn’t walk into a party and say to the first person you met “Read this 5-star review immediately and then buy my book. I’ll come back in five minutes to say that again regardless of whether or not you’ve done it”.
Just because the system is faceless doesn’t mean it should be devoid of the usual human respect.
There; Rant over. Back to your books, everyone. There is nothing to see here. This is not the author you are looking for…