13th June 2014
One of the topics someone brought up during my Q&A in Boston last month was about social media as a tool for promoting ourselves and our writing. She was an older woman, and clearly frustrated by the demands of building her online presence when she felt this to be an alien technological process. She wanted to know if I availed myself of this and how important it actually was. I didn't know at the time that an intern from my agent's office was present, one whose job it is to promote authors through the use of social media, so my answer didn't meet with complete accordance with all members of my audience.
Thing is, as I Tweet and as I blog, I do wonder about the good it does me. I spoke to another author at the writer's conference who said she refuses to blog because it takes too much of her writing time. It does take time, but I don't blog during the time I have set aside for my work. Those morning hours have become the sacred domain of my creative life and I don't let anything interfere with them. Not that blog-writing isn't creative - it is - and I have been grateful during this recent fallow period to have this commitment to my readers that forces me to put words down.
I Tweet at handle @Kilmartin1978 (Kilmartin is the nearest town to where I grew up rurally in western Scotland, and 1978 was the last year I lived there full time.) I feel that Twitter could occupy much of my time, because it is constant and draws you into an ongoing conversation. So I try not to engage in it like I do my blog (which I am working on in short bursts throughout the week leading to its Friday release.) I am quite happy to retweet others' comments and let that be my daily offering. It's not really an art form as such, and for me what tends to come out are my political leanings. I have been hovering around 160 followers for quite a while now - I seem to lose as many followers as I gain, because my interests are all over the map. I am fervently for gun control; I believe this country is not a democracy but an oligarchy; I think women are the answer to the mess we (I say "we" but I mean male hierarchies) have made of our world; I think the Republican party as it stands today is pretty underhand and sleazy and has not much but its own survival in its sight lines. More than this, I am a Scottish Independence zealot. Every so often, I retweet quotes about writing and sometimes, too, about life in general, particularly what humanity needs to do at this point to heal itself.
This is all a mistake from the promotional point of view, because Twitter works best when it slots you into a group of like-minded peers. But my peers on the Scottish Nationalist front don't want quotes about writing; my fellow Zen devotees don't want to hear about Republicans or the way Westminster is brain-washing Scots. So, I lose people. Twitter for me as an author is not that successful, because I don't focus on one thing. (You should be focusing on one thing, I hear my publicist say - on promoting your book :-)
The blog is different. I have devoted it to the topic of writing and publishing - that's its name, and I have stuck to it. I do have more hits than in the beginning when I first started, many more actually and from all over the world, but in the large scheme of things, does it really build any momentum? Not sure. This is what I told my audience in Boston, and this is when my agent's intern stood up and identified herself. Her perspective is different, but then she has the loud speaker of Zachary Schuster Harmsworth to her mouth. People pay attention to loudspeakers.
This is my 124th post on this blog site. I might be able to make a book of my offerings one day, and I think they are going to be interesting in hindsight, just as a record of how one writer came through the whole process of publishing, from being accepted at a major publishing house, through the grueling process of editing, through being published and now in the aftermath as I wait for the great Hallelujah.