When asking someone a couple of days ago how you market a book, they said to me that social media has made it easier and more acceptable for fans to stalk their favourite writers on a daily basis.
The comment was very amusing, though it did get me thinking about the people who follow my Facebook author page. So far I've published one novel ('Daughters of Nazareth') and my Facebook fan base stands at around 137 followers. That doesn't sound very large at all, but several of these people interact on my page on a frequent basis and many of them have not only read and loved 'Daughters of Nazareth', but have gone the extra mile to recommend me to all their friends and family.
A writer is nothing without readers and that social media has made us so accessible to them is, in my opinion, a very good thing. Having social media pages can give readers an insight into who the author is, which is why we seem obsessed with them. Having said that, I am not a computer guru but I have managed to set up a Facebook Page, a Twitter account, a Google + account and a Pinterest page although not without some degree of panic and questions like 'do I know what I'm doing?'
Years ago, when I initially learnt that you had to press the START button on the computer to shut it down, it began to lose its credibility for me. And then, just when I'd almost finished typing a project, a window would open up and say 'A fatal operating error has occurred. The operation will shut down....' and then the seconds started ticking down to zero. That's when I knew I was cactus. And I'm sure I'm not the only one who has gulped in terror when I've wanted to delete something and the machine asks, 'Are you really sure you want to delete this document?' Typewriters were so simple. If you hit several keys at the same time and its seized up, you just had to reach in and pull apart the arms that had bunched together. The worst that could happen was you'd get ink on your fingers. Typewriters will always be monuments to a less stressful time before firewalls, spyware, google, instragram and blogging. But I've persevered and succeeded.
Previously, writers were something of an enigma and unless they were very famous, the only clue you had to the person behind the name on the front cover was a mini biography and, if you were lucky, a snapshot of them somewhere at the back of the book. Giving readers a chance to engage with an author creates an opportunity to build a stronger fan base.
Writing a novel is a lengthy process and it used to be a case of out of sight out of mind, but this is no longer so. Authors are able to keep in touch with their readers by regular blogging, letting them know what they are up to and whetting appetites before the release of the next book ... hence my 'snippets'.
Fans who are regularly interacting with an author and getting to know the person behind the books are more likely to keep recommending your work and spreading the word to friends and family. You can advertise all you like, but nothing beats personal, word of mouth recommendations.
Knowing people are enjoying your books is the best feeling in the world and I believe this is the same for any author. For me personally, my confidence in my writing was at an all-time low when I began the process of finding a publisher. After years of knockbacks I had clawed my way back and was on the verge of a deal with a few publishing houses, only for them to take their carrot back that they were waving in front of me to decide my book wasn’t for them. Even after scoring a deal with Austin Macauley, there was a part of me convinced that they would laugh and say 'Ha ha. Only kidding'. It is thanks to my fans and being able to hear from them personally how much they have enjoyed reading 'Daughters of Nazareth', that my confidence has been restored and I truly believe I can do this writing thing.
Whatever your view on the positives and negatives of social media, I think it is worth remembering that a writer is nothing without their readers and it is high time I thanked each and every one of you.
The publication of my baby 'Vikings to Virgin' is looming and as the day goes by, I am getting more excited, and apprehensive. Will the years and years of research and writing pay off in the end? Will someone even buy my book? It IS after all about history and history is definitely not everyone's cup of tea. But even after writing these words here, I feel a little proud of myself. I love this writing lark and I love history. I'm not a historian but I am passionate and I hope it shines through in this first instalment on British monarchy.
I'm hoping someone sends me a comment. I'd love to hear from you.