“Social media has moved to a new venue, that’s all”. The novelist and digital world commentator, Nick Harkaway, says social networking has always been integral to the job of being an author. As both a successful writer himself – and the son of John le Carré – he has witnessed how the role has changed since the emergence of social media.
Once upon a time, he says, it was about “chatting up the reps and book buyers, knowing the lit ed of The Times”. Nowadays, it’s about being ‘discoverable’ online.
Of the ten authors I contacted for this short thesis on the role of social media in marketing fiction, eight are active social networkers. What does all this blogging, tweeting, FBing and Pinning do for them?
“Virginia Woolf wanted to portray the ordinary mind on an ordinary day. Twitter is exactly that”, says Nick Harkaway. For him, social media is the author’s office water cooler, a chance to mingle with the outside world and avoid getting disconnected.
The independently-published thriller writer JJ Marsh also finds a strong sense of community online.
Self-published writers have always had to take care of their own marketing – more about that in my next blog – but now traditionally-published authors are also turning to social networks to get ‘discovered’.
Liz Fenwick publishes her second novel in May 2013, and also runs the blog of the Romantic Novelist’s Association. She gave a workshop at the Chipping Norton Literary Festival in April about the potential of online promotion.
Social media offers a kind of democracy to writers. The power to market fiction has shifted out of the hands of the big bookshop buyers and literary reviewers, into the fingertips of the author.
In the next blog, I’ll ask if self- or independently-published writers can teach traditionally-published authors a thing or two about social networking.