(A short piece written partly in the form of notes – sorry, busy week! But the info should be of use I hope!) Recently I’ve been asked this question a lot by new or about to be published writers: should I have a Facebook page? What’s the point of Twitter? What should I blog about? Should I have a website?
And the answer is yes – but only if it suits YOU as a person.
Here are the pros and cons of each as I see it. This is mainly for newbies to all this – it’s all pretty standard and I don’t pretend to be an expert or even proficient at any of it (as David Maybury will attest). But I do my best – and if I can do it (and I’m useless with computer stuff), then the good news is – you can too!
Seems to suit children’s authors and popular fiction writers the best. It’s a heady mix of personal bits and bobs, funny stories, jokes, photographs and general information. It tends to be less political (or work related) then Twitter. A lot of children and teenagers are on Facebook and love being a ‘friend’ of their favourite author, or liking an author’s fanpage (which is another type of page – you can have both a personal page and a fan page. I have a Sarah Webb page and also an Ask Amy Green fanpage.)
Pros: easy to use, fun, very sociable. Perfect for posting quotations, jokes, bits about your books, links to songs on You Tube, and giving people an insight into your life. Can be run from an iPhone, although is easier to manage from a PC. Fantastic way of connecting with readers after an event – you can just ask them to Facebook you! You can put up new book covers, competitions, links to review of your books, launch details, even launch invites – it’s great for writers.
Cons: you have to be yourself. Lots of authors pop up on Facebook when they have a book out and then disappear for the rest of the year. This is not what any kind of social networking is about. It’s about making regular connections with other people, treating them as you’d treat a friend. It’s addictive – once sucked in you can easily lose an hour reading other people’s links and looking at your friend’s pics and photos.
If you join Facebook, make Philip Ardagh a friend – he’s the Stephen Fry of Facebook and never fails to make me laugh!
Must for: children’s authors and popular fiction authors. I love it!
I’m only a recent Twitter person – I starting tweeting in January and I find it very different to Facebook. For a start you can only use 140 characters – but this does make you think about what you want to say. It’s more political than Facebook and more grownup. I’ve yet to meet a young reader on Twitter – it’s mainly adults. Teenagers in particular don’t get the ‘point’ of Twitter. (Yes, gross generalisation I know – but the teens I know all feel like this.)
Pros: Good for connecting with other writers and journalists. It’s like a freelance journalist’s water-cooler at times. Good for posting links to your blog or You Tube clips. Judy Blume is on Twitter! There are a lot of agents and publishers on Twitter and it’s most interesting to read their tweets. Gives you an insight into their work (and their clients!!!).
Cons: Tends to be more serious than Facebook. And it doesn’t have Philip Ardagh! Not as visual – you have to click on links to get the pics/photos.
Must for freelance journalists or anyone who likes to get insights into book trade matters – eg publishing.
I’m a huge fan of good, well written, targeted blogging. I don’t want to know what people like about kittens. I want to read something interesting and informative, and sometimes funny or sad or punchy. I have two blogs – on www.sarahwebb.ie and on www.askamygreen.com The sarahwebb.ie one runs on WordPress and I write about writing, books, publishing and children’s books. It’s written for older teenagers and adults. The askamygreen.com blog runs on Blogger. I find it easier to post photos on this one. I write about the Amy Green books and also things that might interest young readers – music, fashion, book reviews. I also answer problem letters that readers have sent in (with their permission, not using their real names obviously and changing some details). I enjoy writing both, but do more sarahwebb.ie blogs as I have a lot to share about writing and it’s a subject I enjoy discussing. I get a lot of traffic to the site because of the blog and I get regular comments from blog readers.
Whenever I blog, I post a link on both Facebook and Twitter – in fact my Twitter account is linked to my Facebook account (you can’t do it the other way around as yet), so when I post a Tweet, it appears on my Facebook page also.
I would suggest picking something you are happy to write about and you think would be of interest to people (and if possible that hasn’t been done to death before) – travel, sailing, climbing, books, writing – and blog about that.
Pros: It’s fun, makes you think about subject and lets you connect with readers on a variety of topics.
Cons: Time consuming.
Must for: writers in general – but only if you have something to say.
You must update your website on a regular basis to make it relevant. You can do this by running a blog, or a link to your blog on the home page. A static website isn’t great. You can also link your Tweets and your Facebook page to your website.
Pros: Great place to gather together all your book bits – interviews, book covers and information, press pics, reviews, contact details. It’s your online calling card. When people google you, it’s what they should find. You can decide what goes up on the pages. You have control of what you want to tell people.
Cons: Can be expensive to set up – shop around. You don’t need fancy graphics, you need a clean, easy to use site with lots of good, up to date content.
Must for: writers in general – but only if you are prepared to update it regularly.
Remember – as with all writing, the more time and energy you put in, the better it will be.
Yours in writing,