I’m Going to Post it For the World to See*
Subtitle: Reading and Writing in the Age of Social Media
One of the most important changes we’ve seen in the last ten years has been the advent of social media. It’s had a profound impact on the way we communicate. If you keep in touch with friends on Facebook, or catch up on news and sports stories through Twitter, or check out someone’s Goodreads reviews, you know what I mean.
It’s no secret that social media has transformed the way people buy, sell, review, and share crime fiction books. For readers, social media has made it possible to learn about books from all over the world in ways that would’ve been impossible just a few years ago. Choosing what to read isn’t just a matter of going to the local bookshop anymore, and being limited to that store’s selection. Now, readers can choose what they want from among many thousands of different places.
Social media empowers readers in another way, too. It used to be the case that readers relied on professional reviews from sources such as newspapers, Publishers Weekly, and so on. Today, readers do their own reviews, and publishers pay attention. Reviews on outlets such as Goodreads, Amazon, and book blogs play a major role in determining which books sell well. And that impacts what publishers choose to publish. If you keep a book blog, you’re already aware of this because chances are you’ve been asked to do reviews. Publicists, agents, and publishers know that people often base their reading choices on those reviews, and they tap that source of publicity.
What impact does this have on the genre? For one thing, it arguably makes the genre more diverse. More people have more access to more information about more books than ever before. This gives readers many options when it comes to what they will read. Of course, with so much to choose from, it can be harder to plan one’s reading – and budget. But social media has arguably empowered readers to learn about, read, review and discuss books in international communities, something that wasn’t possible just ten years ago.
Let me, if I may, offer one example. I was involved in an online crime book club for a couple of years, and it was a really positive experience. Each month, the group would vote on the crime fiction book to be discussed the following month. Then, we’d meet via Google Hangouts for our discussions. The group included people who lived in the UK, Australia, USA, and France, and could easily have included plenty of other places, too. It was a global discussion, set in motion by crime fiction readers, and it shows the ‘grassroots’ power that social media has when it comes to putting readers in contact with one another.
And it’s not just readers. Social media has also made some dramatic changes for crime writers. For one thing, it’s easier than ever for quality crime fiction to make it to publication. Authors can quickly connect with agents and independent publishers. And Facebook and other social media outlets have made it possible for authors to learn about conferences, workshops and other opportunities to meet people in the crime and mystery publishing field.
There’s also the matter of self-publishing. Even as recently as ten years ago, it wasn’t easy for authors to publish their own work. Today’s social media has meant that authors can connect with professional cover designers, editors, and publicists. And modern technology allows authors to quickly make their work available, and put the word out about it.
Of course, all of this has come at a price. Ask any crime writer about social media, and you’ll probably be told that it takes up a great deal of time. Maintaining a quality blog/website, connecting with readers, and being active on various social media outlets can eat away into writing time unless the author is very careful about it.
And there’s the matter of all of the choices available to today’s crime writers. It’s not just a question of choosing a publisher and hoping for a contract. Social media presents crime writers with a number of options for publishing (traditional publishing, independent publishing, self-publishing, etc.). There are also lots of choices to make when it comes to one’s online presence (Facebook author page, Goodreads author page, Twitter account, Instagram, etc.).
Social media does have its complications at times. But it’s made it possible for readers and writers from all over the world to get together, as we are for Mystery Thriller Week. It allows for rich, interesting, fun discussions of what’s going on in the world of crime fiction. And it opens up all sorts of opportunities for those who love crime fiction to work together. I wouldn’t want it any other way.
What are your thoughts on this? How has social media impacted the way you decide what you’re going to read next? If you’re a crime writer, how do you use social media to help you do your work?
Margot Kinberg is a mystery author and Associate Professor as well as a participating MTW author.
NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Dec3 ‘s We’re All Friends.
19 thoughts on “I’m Going to Post it For the World to See* by Margot Kinberg”
Wonderful post as always, Margot. I agree. Social media has had a huge impact on publishing and the way we’re able to reach new readers.
Thanks for the kind words, Sue. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I think every author really needs to take social media into account, and find ways to tap its power.
Could not have expressed it any better Margot, Social Media has had a huge impact on the world and for authors and creative peoples in particular. It has been nothing short of an Industrial Revolution in terms of the technology and its life-changing opportunities – another ‘age’ to add to those gone before such as The Age of Enlightenment – this is ours.
Thanks for the kind words, Jane. And I really do like your choice of the word ‘Revolution.’ Social media has changed everything – a real paradigm shift, I think.
I think so too.
For a writer, social media is definitely a two-sided coin! I get on Facebook, and it’s like the laws of physics change! Time just goes faster. I recently watched a GreatCoursesPlus video on monotasking in which the instructor said it helps to turn off all the distractions and focus on one thing, but so far I haven’t had that much willpower. But on the plus side, I’m able to promote my books and connect with other writers/readers throughout the world. Plus…it’s just plain fun!
It really is Kylaurel! And social media does help those of us who are authors to get the word out and promote our work. That’s to say nothing of the access to support, help, and professional services that it provides. It’s best used in a disciplined, moderated way, like everything else. But it’s a most powerful tool. A better servant than master, one might say.
As always an interesting and a good reminder at how social media has transformed the world of books for writers, readers and publishers alike.
Thanks very much, Cleo. I’m so glad you enjoyed the post.
As a reader, the blogosphere has changed my reading habits completely, introducing me to all kinds of new-to-me authors, some of whom are now regular fixtures on my reading list, so I can see why authors see it as important. Personally, although I have a Twitter account, I try to avoid getting sucked into that and Facebook – I already find blogging and reviewing cuts into my reading time, fun though it undoubtedly is. Great post as always, Margot! 🙂
Thank you, FIctionFan – so glad you enjoyed the post. And I know just what you mean about the time-drain that social media can be. I have to discipline myself, too. But you’re absolutely right about its value/importance for authors, publishers, and so on. And as a reader as well as author, I agree completely about the way social media opens us up to new writers and new sorts of books that we might not otherwise know about. It’s truly been a game-changer when it comes to reading choices.
Margot: Social media has broadened my contacts immensely. Residing 185 km from the nearest bookstore and living in a province with a million people it was actually rare for me to able to discuss books outside our local library. Social media has led to blogging friends around the world. And I have had the chance to learn from knowledgeable crime fiction readers such as yourself.
Thank you, Bill. I’ve learned a great deal from you, too. And you make a really important point. For people that don’t live in populated areas, it really is difficult to connect with other book people, be they authors, readers, publishing people, or reviewers. Social media has connected so many of us who wouldn’t be able to connect otherwise.
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Great post, Margot. It is amazing how social media impacts what we read now. I think it’s great because we are able to find new books and authors that otherwise wouldn’t.I can see how it would be hard on authors trying to write and keep up with all the posting.
Thank you, Mason. And it really is amazing how much social media impacts so much of what we do, isn’t it? I agree, too, that it allows readers to find so many new authors and books they wouldn’t otherwise have known..
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