Social Media Interaction

Social media interaction is absolutely necessary for any author these days. We no longer have access to the publicity department of our publisher. Book tours aren’t set up for us to hit 30 cities in 10 days, in order to sign copies of our book and meet the fans. The expensive luncheon with our publisher while discussing our next book is a long lost dream. What we have now instead is social media, and that can be a very tricky river to navigate.

Most of us have an author fan page on Facebook. Any author worth their salt also has a Twitter page and faithfully visits it, to update about our latest project, encourage people to buy our published books, or to converse with those who make comments we find noteworthy.

We’ve learned the taboos about being an author and sharing information. We now can navigate the waters of our public life while exposing what we want known about our private life. It’s all too easy, but then a pitfall no one warned us about happens across our path, and we’re not certain what to do.

This pitfall can be as simple as someone asking what we had for breakfast or to share an excerpt from our current work in progress. An innocent enough request, and not one that will cross the lines from public persona into private persona. The fan who asked the question might not know that we’re having a rotten day, the plot is coming apart, that fabulous chapter you outlined in your head is flat on the screen and you can’t fix it, or the muse has taken a walkabout and doesn’t plan to come back soon.

You see the post on your fan page and seethe. How dare this person interrupt your dark mood while you’re desperately trying to get the muse back in your corner so you can finish your current work in progress and move on to the new idea that erupted last night? Doesn’t this person know how “important” your life is? Well, they are about to learn a lesson and you can do that from behind the anonymity of the computer screen.

Before the fingers get to walking across the keyboard to deliver a scathing response, walk away. Get another cup of coffee. Go outside and take several deep breaths, enjoy the beautiful day for a few minutes. Even screech what you plan to say at the mirror.

Feel better yet? If the answer is yes, go back to that post and think over carefully what you plan to say. You don’t have to reveal details about your work. Just post an update on where you are. You don’t even have to say that you’re stuck. Tease your fans, don’t blast them.

Or you’re not feeling like putting on the public face and still want to bash this fan for having the gall to ask you this question. So, you hunch over the keyboard and deliver a punch the world can feel. And the world will indeed feel this punch.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a first book author working on the second while your first languishes in sales. You can be a New York Times bestselling author and still make this gaff. Once you publish that comment, more than likely you will be the center of a firestorm of commentary, and none of it will be complimentary or flattering. What sales you had, whether they be fabulous or small, will vanish in a heartbeat. And since sharing is an integral part of social media, the rest of the world will not only know about your temper tantrum, they’ll be talking about it for days.

Once that furor dies down, you will have that peace and quiet you so desired when you unleashed your rage on the fan who asked a simple question. In fact, you’ll probably have more privacy than you ever wanted as an author. In fact, you can probably say that you will have more than enough time to plot out a hundred books and get them written, as your fans will leave you in droves and they will be talking about why they’re leaving.

It takes months or years to build a loyal, dedicated fan base. It only takes one unguarded comment to destroy all of that in less than a day, as one author learned recently on Facebook. I won’t mention her name. That isn’t important, and she probably won’t thank me for bringing up a wound that is still healing. What is important is to learn from her action—fans are the lifeblood of being an author. We must interact with them in a positive way at all times. If we can’t do that, it should be one of those days where we don’t update our fan page and just hide out inside our latest project.


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