So, you want to use social media (or you really don’t, but you feel like you should) – Part 3

This is the third in a 5 part series whereby I try to persuade you (and me) that all this social media stuff is worth your time. Part 1 (But no-one’s reading it!) is here; Part 2 (But I don’t have anything of value to say!) is here.

3. But I don’t have time!

I get it. You’re busy. I’m busy. I have a spouse and 2 children under 4. A difficult job in a demanding profession. 2 dogs who need walking and playing and bum-scratching.* A garden with things in I’d like to eat before the snails do. A house that does not magically clean itself no matter how many variations of Harry Potter style Latinesque I throw at it. Judo and boxing and a deep love of food and wine. More books in my must-read pile than I can ever whittle down. Fingernails that grow creepily fast and necessitate cutting all the freaking time like I’m some kind of monstrous X-Files villain. You get the picture. It’s hard enough to fit in writing time without having to worry about all this annoying social media stuff, amIright?

Well, suck it up, pumpkin. You want this to be your career, don’t you? So treat it seriously and make the time. You made the time to write a book and God knows I know it can be hard to scrounge the time you need to do it. But you made it. You did that, you can do this.

By which I mean, find bits of time to do it regularly. Not hours and hours (as if you have any of those, right?) but little bits of time, often. Social media is social. That’s kind of the point. You can’t go to a party once a year then expect everyone there to remember you.** You might as well not bother – if you’re not going to do it regularly, don’t bother. Just stay at home and watch Game of Thrones.

Don’t get me wrong, you can ignore this aspect if you want. In the same way that you can open a cafe and serve coffee but not offer any food at all (not even a little biscuit or chocolate with the coffee, you cheap bastard) if you want to. And maybe you’ll be successful in your beverage-only venture. It’s just that, possibly, if you put a lot of care and precision and attention and flair into your coffee-making, maybe your patrons would be keen to also sample some food you make; say, a friand, or a salted caramel tart, or would it kill you to try your hand at a bacon and egg roll? Sure, it’s not precisely the same skill set, but if you can learn to make a great cup of coffee you can probably learn to make toast too.*** Novels are different from blogs and tweets and facebook posts. But they’re all words. If you’re a great writer (and you are, right?) then you can probably make more than one kind of content that people enjoy reading.

Sidebar: but what if you really can’t cook? Then it’s OK to stick to making coffee. It’s not a crime. People need coffee, and they can get food elsewhere if they want it. See more on this in Part 5: But I’m really bad at it.

Anyway, you don’t have to do any of this social media stuff. No-one will arrest you. People will still read your book. On the other hand, why not use every tool at your disposal to reach and connect with readers? If you’re serious about writing as a career, if you want to earn money from it, then don’t hobble yourself by ignoring part of the business.

Just like anything else, if it’s important, you make time for it. You don’t need to be tweeting in the shower or giving up date night with your partner or otherwise destroying your life so that you can be on facebook 24/7. But you need to devote some time to it because it’s part of the business.

To summarise: I know it’s hard, but everyone else is in the same boat. It’s one big smelly boat where no-one showers as much as you’d like. Deal with it and find little pieces of time on a regular basis, and you’ll be fine.

*That’s not a typo. That’s Brown Dog’s preferred form of affection.

** Unless you’re that guy. You know, the one you remember for the wrong reasons. The guy who took off his pants or the Tony Robbins addict who loudly and drunkenly demanded of everyone at the party ‘but what are your life goals?’ Get on twitter occasionally and be an arsehole, and people will remember you, just not the way you want.

*** A place where I regularly get coffee after the gym calls its toast on the menu, I am not kidding, ‘cooked bread’. That makes me want to punch the cafe in the face. Don’t call your toast cooked bread, OK?

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