So, you want to use social media (or you really don’t, but you feel like you should) – Part 1

You’re a writer. One day, you hope people will read your stuff. And not just your mother or your partner or your friend who accidentally showed a glimmer of interest or that door-to-door salesperson who tried to sell you a cleaning product and you felt guilty because they just moved here from Italy so you bought the ridiculous product and then you took revenge by forcing them to read ‘just this difficult passage here, do you BELIEVE the character would do that…’ what? No, I would totally never do that.*

Anyway. You wrote a book. (Yay you!). You’d rather like to get it published. And then someone told you (or you read, or maybe you just thought it up independently, if you’re some kind of insightful business-minded genius – but if you are, spoiler-alert, you don’t need this blog) you might need to start thinking about having *gasp* a Social Media PresenceTM.

But, you splutter, but, but, my book isn’t published yet! What’s the POINT?

Thus I present to you, a series of blogs: 5 reasons why you should bother with social media. Or, more accurately, 5 reasons why your arguments about NOT using social media are bunk. I present these with the honesty of a person who has thought all of them at one point or another (some as recently as during the typing of this blog post). I am, it barely needs saying, no expert. This is just based on my digestion of social media as a reader and a fan, and things I’ve learned from writer friends and people in the industry. Originally I complied this as one list, but it was too long even by my standards. Here are the 5 excuses and I’ll do one post on each.

  1. But no-one’s reading it!
  2. But I don’t have anything of value to say!
  3. But I don’t have time!
  4. But what’s in it for me?
  5. But I’m no good at it!
  1. But no-one’s reading it!

If a tree falls in the wood and no-one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?

Absolutely. Rrrrrrrrrrrrreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee boom!

But Bart, how can sound exist if there’s no-one there to hear it?

Wales - Scotland 290

Possibly that reference meant nothing to you. Possibly you started clapping enthusiastically with one hand (listen up, Lise!). I’m going to warn you in advance that if you’re from the former group, that vague WTF expression on your face is going to recur. Probably frequently. I was struck earlier today by how much of my sense of humour is tied to pop culture references that only people from a very particular age group will get. This is an extract from an actual What’s App conversation I just had:

Bro: Prince Adam doesn’t live in Castle Greyskull. He lives in the Palace.

Sis the Younger: Why does he invoke the power of Greyskull then? Who does live there?

Bro: He’s the defender of the secrets of Castle Greyskull. Not too specific what they are but universe mastery is implied. The sorceress lives there.

Sis the Elder: Greyskull is a pretty imposing creepy place. The Palace is a lot nicer for entertaining.

Me: Two solariums.

This caused much frivolity. I mention this to warn you of two specific things.

  1. If you didn’t find that funny, fair warning, there are a lot more 80s and 90s pop culture references coming. Sorry. On the other hand, these are iconic bloody shows. Don’t you have a DVD player? Or a computer? Watch some TV.**
  2. I’m assuming from past experience that this blog will end up reading much like one of my super rambly letters to my friends and family while travelling. Which means you’re going to see a lot of stupid lists, footnotes, and random asides that go nowhere. I may or may not make up some words. If this is going to bother you, best to quit while you’re ahead. Well, not ahead, since you already wasted your time getting this far. But that’s a sunk cost. Move on.

Anyway, back to the original point (I do get there eventually. No, that’s not true, I don’t always. As an old boss of mine used to say, best to ‘manage expectations’). The point is, sure, no-one’s reading it NOW. No-one’s reading this either, at the point that I’m posting it. But *spooky music* now you’re reading it.

Sure, you’re an unpublished writer, and you’re probably not famous for anything else (if you are, good for you. You don’t need this list. But hey, stick around anyway, famous person! Are you Amy Poehler? Please be Amy Poehler). So maybe no-one is reading your website right now. But one day you’ll publish that book, and write another one, or maybe this one won’t get any bites but you’ll write another one or another 6 and eventually you’ll get published and someone will like your writing and go to your website and BAM! Someone’s reading this blog. Your blog. You know what I mean.

You’re a writer, so you must have at least a smidgen*** of confidence – or at least enthusiastic optimism – because you’ve decided you want to share stories you make up with random strangers. That takes a particular kind of person. If you can imagine a future where you’re published, you can imagine one where your fans might want to read your non-booky-ramblings. Look ahead to that time and imagine that people like your book and go to your site and find…what, one post? If you wait til you’re published, it’ll take you ages to fill up your website with anything. Might as well start now so that there’s a backlog for people to read when they eventually discover you.

To summarise: no-one’s hearing the tree fall right now (except your Mum). But back yourself and eventually your readers will find your own little patch of forest and all the lovely fallen tree trunks and they’ll be really pleased you started chopping ages ago. How did this turn into a pro-logging slogan? But anyway, you get the point, I hope.

Next time: But I don’t have anything of value to say! (In which you complain that your word-things don’t add to the important body of world literature so you shouldn’t share them. Comes with a free side serving of passive-aggressive judgment of ‘them teenagers’ and their obsession with ‘trash on the internet’).

* OK, not the part about forcing the salesperson to read stuff. But I did guilt-purchase a cleaning product last week. I suffer from crippling politeness. It’s a thing. Shut up.

**I’m not one of those writers who tell you not to watch TV. Oh, you don’t have time to write? [smug self righteous expression] Then why don’t you turn off the idiot box? I don’t watch TV. I don’t even have one. Don’t give up TV. TV is awesome. It’s definitely better than nature (given it’s the worst hayfever season I can remember, and I’m sitting here itching and snivelling like a coke addict mouse stuck in a poison ivy patch, I’m a little down on nature right now) and it’s probably better than your loved ones. What high quality dramas have they given you recently?

***Growing up, my Dad always used to ask us whether we would prefer a ‘smidgeon or a smur’ of Vegemite on our toast.**** I am still unsure whether this is a word he completely made up (definitely an option) or just a little-known Australian colloquialism.

**** God, could I be any more Australian? *pats pet wombat while chewing on a tim tam*

9 thoughts on “So, you want to use social media (or you really don’t, but you feel like you should) – Part 1

  1. I have definitely heard of, and used the word smidgeon. Although I was not sure how to spell it, so thank you! And all side tracks aside (which were entertaining), I still think you made a very valid point. Someone will, eventually, read your stuff.


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