|A fine book I didn't write|
A few years ago, writers needed a lot of bullying even to get a website. The thought of promoting themselves online was anathema to most of them. Even those who were happy to go into schools, go to festivals, and do readings (ie not hermits) didn't like the idea of engaging with the online world. I've had a website since, I think, 1998. I got a Facebook page in the first weeks that it opened up outside universities, and a twitter account in 2007. I'm not against anything digital. Perhaps because I had these things long before anyone I might want to promote my work to had them, I've never been big on online promotion. I have a presence; I don't (in Nicola Morgan's words) bug the pants off people.
But plenty do.
There's been an explosion of writers, publishers, agents - and readers - on twitter, Facebook and blogging. This is lovely - we're a community and we can finally get to talk to each other, even though we live far apart. This is what I was waiting for when I joined up in 2007 and it was wall-to-wall geeks discussing Gnu and the arguments you could use with various HTML tags. But some writers have taken their publishers' injunctions to promote themselves online rather too seriously. They promote their books to death. [I am NOT suggesting any of the books pictured here were/are overpromoted - I just chose books I like so I could promote something I didn't write!]
|Another I didn't write...|
What is the right amount of promotion? I send a few tweets if I have a book out (if I remember), and I tell my Facebook friends once (ditto). I very, very rarely mention it in any of the online groups I'm part of. I know I do too little promotion, and my publishers probably grumble. I don't like it. I don't do school visits, either, or readings. At the other end of the spectrum are the couple of (male) writers I unfollowed the other day. They send several tweets a day about their latest book. And at least one of these books has been out for *weeks*. Get over it, guys! Write another book - that will take your mind off it and keep your fingers busy.
|A really good book - I didn't write it|
In the end, it comes down to the difference between push and pull media. Twitter is a 'push' medium - that means it forces stuff at you. A trailer on YouTube is a 'pull' medium - you choose to go to YouTube and watch it. Blogs are a pull medium - you choose to go to a blog and read what it has to say. Facebook is a push medium. I suppose the guideline I'm moving towards is - do as much promotion on pull media as you like, as no one will get annoyed (they don't have to go there), but limit what you do on push media or you'll push people away.
The very fine books featured here are Bog Child, by Siobhan Dowd; My Sword Hand is Singing, by Marcus Sedgwick (but it has vampires in); David, by Mary Hoffman; and Egg Drop by Mini Grey - buy them, they're good!