The Gifts of Online Community

What’s important for an author to consider is once their novel is out in the world, the repercussive work that ensues becomes all about connections. It happens organically from the state of affairs at play in today’s publishing world, which is to say that authors are expected to be actively involved, not only in promoting their books, but in simply getting in the online traffic and more or less presenting themselves.

Readers want a face with a name, they like to discover similarities between themselves and the person behind the words, and they can find this via the social media community, where edges are often blurred. Pinterest, for example, is a great author platform on the one hand, but on the other, an author can establish boards that declare their love of dogs, their affinity with a certain region, the city or town in which they grew up, and a myriad other creative possibilities that give a follower something in which to connect with an author as a person first.

Twitter affords similar opportunities, and what is imperative to keep in mind about Twitter is that it is an ever-expanding network with endless connective possibilities that come in all manners. The ethos of Twitter goes beyond the act of following someone who follows you back; it’s all about staying engaged, promoting books by other authors, retweeting something that resonates with you out of the goodness of your heart, and basically staying in a flow that lets you present who you are as well as your interests.

I’ll venture to say it is the same with Google+, Facebook, the WordPress blogging community, Tumbler, About.me, Instagram, and a host of other platforms. All are online forums in which an author can make themselves known, and have it be about way more than just their books. The way I see it, with regard to authors, as long as they’re on these social media outlets, they may as well have fun.

I think there’s much to be said for authors coming to the social media table without an iron-clad agenda. They can let their contacts with people be about sharing, connecting, and supporting those with similar interests. Certainly social media is a great place to promote books, but at social media’s foundation is a sense of community, and this can be its own reward.

Of course, all this is not to say that authors shouldn’t come to social media without a plan; just that it doesn’t need to be a constant, self-orientated agenda. I think it’s best to consider social media and online forums as a place to connect with people who share common interests, and to stay engaged out of that sense of that commonality for its own sake.

Certainly, there are different vantage points from which to engage in social media. The good news for authors is that all of them create a ripple effect through the habit of that engagement. If your contacts regularly see your posts and like what they see, it stands without question that they’ll look into your profile, which is where they’ll get the great thrill of discovering your books!

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One thought on “The Gifts of Online Community

  1. What a great post Claire, it’s all truth. Like you said, ‘It happens organically’. We have to wear many hats and we can’t push our books around in people’s faces either. By engaging and being sincere with our readers, we grow more.
    Thanks for visiting the post at Sally’s. It led me back here, when I realized you were one of several that wordpress wasn’t sending me your posts! Several authors have had this issue lately. But I think I’ve rectified it now, I should be receiving your posts now. 🙂

    Like

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