So, for my twentieth blog post, I thought I should actually ‘ramble’ about something that is directly relevant to the purpose of this blog and to the reason that I am on social media: the promotion of my novel ‘Only an atheist can help God save the world’. That is, after all, the main (but not the only) reason that I write this blog and why I am using Twitter, and having recently reviewed several non-fiction books, I realised that I really should try to post on relevant topics more often. This time I am talking about the pitfalls that indie authors like myself can fall into when using social media in an attempt to find an audience and to convince said audience to actually read the work that they have produced. For it is not an easy thing to do so here are my thoughts on how to do so with a little grace.
Now, I am hardly an expert in the use of social media to promote your work, but I do feel that I have learned a thing or two since engaging with this medium and in the past few weeks I have had a few interesting exchanges that have increased my knowledge and actually changed the way that I have been using it. As many others do, but to a lesser extent, I follow accounts in the hope that they will follow me back and if they choose to do so, I then take the opportunity to tweet them an advert for my novel. So, I have carefully crafted this tweet to be upbeat and friendly and I have had far more positive responses to it than negative, but still it doesn’t always work out that way. On the positive, sometimes I will be told how stunning the cover is and that opens up a conversation nicely. But I do still I get the occasional bad reaction.
One such reaction came when I tweeted at one of my followers and they responded immediately with an unpleasant retort and then blocked me. I thought that was more than a little harsh when a simple unfollow would have sufficed but what can you do? Another reaction occurred when I followed a fellow atheist, they followed me back, I tweeted my greeting and they expressed their annoyance at me ‘shilling’ my book to them. Now, this is not the only reason that I follow people, but it is the principal one, and I can hardly complain when I was doing exactly that. This person then asked me (somewhat indirectly) to unfollow them and I obliged for I am not trying to piss anyone off. Still, the exchange left a somewhat sour taste though I was still glad they didn’t block me. But it left me wondering how I could refine the way in which I use twitter and since then have I reduced the number of times per day that I send out my tweets about my book.
So, I am again struck by the delicate balance that Indie, self-published authors like myself have to strike between advertising their works to their audience, and not pestering them too much and thus driving them away. I followed an author in the past few weeks whose time-line was an endless stream of thank you messages to their new followers that completely dominated my feed and so I quickly unfollowed them. But I am also aware that the time immediately after someone has followed you is the best chance to say hello, let them know about your novel and to show them the book cover. I know that my cover image is one of the best things that I have when seeking to advertise my book, along with short excerpts and highlighting the reviews that I have been given, and I know that I have a truly memorable cover, but the line between someone seeing this image enough times to snag their interest and being annoyed can be quite thin. And no matter how good your cover image is, your followers are likely to get tired of it eventually. I know that I would in their shoes.
In the past few weeks I have also taken to trawling my list of people that I am following in an attempt to remove those who have recently chosen to unfollow me. I am still trying not to expand my following list too quickly and this allows me to remove those who no longer have an interest in my novel and replace them with others who might. I don’t blame those who do so as it must become tiresome following an author who is using Twitter for promotional purposes, and actually I am now more aware of how many times some of my followers must have seen my cover image, and so I am grateful to those who choose to stay. I recently noticed several of my followers had chosen to leave and I was very sad to lose a few of these accounts, including someone who is a tiny bit famous and who’s work I admire and who followed me despite having little reason to do so, but there is nothing you can do once they choose to leave.
As ever with these things, you have to take the good with the bad and accept that you are using twitter for a purpose and that sometimes people you follow will not like what you are doing. I am aware that popular opinion writers for newspapers and magazines that I read have it far worse than I do (though I have received a little bit of that flack from time to time when tweeting about their articles) and I know that I have relatively little to complain about. I am also aware that this may change as more people read my book and I am still waiting for the day when someone religious reads a novel in which God comes to Earth and the only person who can help Him is an atheist. I am certain that it will happen and also that that will be an interesting day for I am very curious as to what they will make of it!
Next up, either a review of the brilliant comic series Mind Mgmt by Matt Kindt or Owen Jones’ ‘The Establishment’, I haven’t decided which yet. And yes I know that my staying focused on writing about being a indie author didn’t last very long. Oh well 😉
My debut novel, ‘Only an atheist can help God save the world’, is available now from all electronic retailers. Also check out my other “Rambling” blogs posts for articles on being an indie author, comics, politics, and reviews of books and movies! Also follow me on Twitter @onlyanatheist1. Cheers!