Saturday 25 September 2021

To social media or not to social media? by Holly Race

Anyone who has stepped foot in Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or TikTok will know that they can be perilous places. It's so easy to get sucked in, either arguing with someone whose mind you're never going to change, or comparing your own success (or lack of) with others who are on the same path. It's a drain: of time, of mental energy, of emotion.

But I can't pull myself away! I love being able to keep in contact with my readers and with other authors, to keep abreast of what's happening in the book world and to applaud my peers' successes.

I've been wishing for a while that I could find a better balance with my social media use: being smarter, spending more time engaging with others instead of firing off every random thought that comes to me when I've inevitably had too much coffee and too little sleep. Thus I found myself on Neema Shah's incisive and practical 'Marketing for Writers' online course. I won't share exactly what she taught me, but her guidance has led me to both realisations and a much more fun and fulfilling social media experience.

Here are a few insights I got into my own personal online experience:

  • Facebook is going to remain a platform I use to connect with other writers rather than readers. My audience - mostly teenagers and people in their 20s - don't really use Facebook anymore.
  • Twitter doesn't enjoy me talking directly about my books - in a month when I had a lot of events lined up, I actually lost followers! It's a much better site for getting and giving recommendations of all kinds.
  • Instagram, conversely, much prefers me to post pretty pictures of my own books to anyone else's! I love sharing photos of my latest book haul so I can't see myself changing my posting habits, but it was interesting to note the difference with Twitter nonetheless.
  • TikTok. Ah, TikTok. I'd avoided doing anything more than scrolling through this newest platform until recently, because it makes me feel very old and uncool. However, I dipped my toes in last week and had a surprisingly pleasant experience. I had more fun on social media than I've had in a long time. TikTok seems to love a bit of sass, and with an endless stream of prompts, it's not as creatively draining as I'd feared it might be. The Bookseller recently reported a 61% uptick in sales of YA books, largely thanks to TikTok. I don't know whether it's a coincidence or correlation, but my own book leapt up the Amazon rankings a day after I posted my first video...

I'll be interested to see what else comes out of my new, hopefully more streamlined, way of thinking about how to use social media. I never want to chase followers, but given my work is largely solitary, I'd love to be able to reach more like-minded readers and writers across the globe in a meaningful way!


Holly Race worked for many years as a script editor in film and television, before becoming a writer.

Her YA urban fantasies, Midnight's Twins and A Gathering Midnight, are published by Hot Key Books.

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