I cannot miss the opportunity to comment in today’s post on the social networking session yesterday morning at the London Book Fair. First, may I thank the very many people who attended and made the event very special indeed; you were a lovely, attentive audience and we all valued your interest and contributions.
Secondly, I should like to thank Elaine Aldred (@EMAldred, Strange Alliances blog), who very generously agreed some time ago to chair this session and, with her characteristic attention to detail, introduced the panel and provided a succinct summary of the key points arising, as well as modestly managing us and our timekeeping!
I was very pleased to meet and honoured to join my much more experienced social networking fellow panellists, Katy Evans-Bush @KatyEvansBush) and Elizabeth Baines (@ElizabethBaines), and to be able to listen to the social networking supremo, Chris Hamilton-Emery, Director of Salt Publishing (@saltpublishing), all of whom provided different perspectives from my own. However, though we may have addressed in various ways the topic of how to make the most of the best of social networking, I felt that we were unanimous about the terrific value of what Chris called ‘the confluence’ of such media as Twitter, Facebook and personal blogs in creating author presence and profile. I believe that we also affirmed the essential need to be ourselves (however uncomfortable it may initially feel to present our private side, as Elizabeth very pertinently explained) and to interact with the people we ‘meet’ in a genuine way. We shared the view that ramming our books down the throats of our online audience in a ‘hard sell’, as some people do, is counter-productive; it is much better for us to engage with others in discussion of the things which matter to us, such as the business of writing, literature, topical issues and so on. Katy pinpointed the effectiveness of social networking in creating a global family of friends and followers, something we also all felt.
All in all, the session emphasised that participation, helping others, reciprocating generosity and showing real interest in people whom we come to know online are crucial to creating a lasting author presence. It is really important that authors recognise that they need to have such a profile; with it, books certainly do sell and, as Chris put it, without it they don’t.
Finally, we all accepted the inevitable consequence of managing all of the personal interactions online: it is extremely time-consuming and we have to find our own ways of handling that; if we succeed, the benefits are very clear to see.
My thanks again to all concerned in what was for me a very memorable occasion.