14 Dec 2011

How Social Networking Can Help Establish Authors

Good afternoon, Storyslingers readers! Today we have a blog for you about social networking and how it can benefit new or up-coming authors. As always, discussions are welcome, and if you have any questions or comments about this post, feel free to drop them below.

The Importance of Networking

Reaching out to your readers and potential readers both offline and online is majorly important if you want to draw in the crowds. With an ever-widening market for e-books as well as print books, it's easy to sink beneath the ocean of other writers struggling to be seen and heard, and most importantly—read. A good place to start building your author presence is online, particularly if you're a busy writer or can't afford to attend book and writing conventions.

To someone unused to social networking, the sheer amount of websites, blogs, and forums can seem daunting. The key thing to remember is you really only need to pick one or two (or a handful, depending on your free time) to visit regularly, at least at first. It's about cultivating a presence in your niche, not spreading yourself too thin. When you're relatively unknown, it might be tempting to create accounts on multiple websites, but realistically, it'll be difficult keeping on top of everything.

Choosing the right social networking sites for you is a little bit down to personal preference, although there are a few biggies that you should be aware of. These are generally the best places to create accounts due to their immeasurable popularity and how current they are. Facebook is one. Twitter another. I'm sure you've heard of them, even if you haven't visited them.

There are also a number of busy forums dedicated to writing and reading. An excellent example is Litopia Writers' Colony, a sprawling website that hosts discussion boards, podcasts and radio shows, interviews, reviews—just about everything a reader or writer could hope for. For similar sites, please refer to the links below.

Getting Started

Again, social networking doesn't have to be a stressful endeavour. You can put in as much effort as you want, but bear in mind, you'll probably get out about as much as you put in, sometimes less, which is why it's advisable to log in at least once a week and drop a note to update friends and connections on what you're up to. Take a moment to check other people's statuses, too, and comment on anything that catches your eye. As nice as it is to have a ready audience waiting to hear from you, there needs to be some give as well. If you rarely post and never comment on anyone else's blog or page, you may find people will stop commenting on yours. The secret is in the name: social networking. Give and take. Communication. These are the things you'll need to build up a solid network—and hopefully a solid fanbase.

Handy links:

Social Neworkingfor Writers - These are all writer-specific, rather than the more general (and often busier) venues like Facebook and Twitter.

Social Networking and Message Boards for Writers - Similar to the above, though this one covers the lesser-known boards and forums.

Goodreads - One of the more popular books and writing websites. Goodreads is a cunning amalgamation of different things: a virtual library, book club, discussion board, blogging platform, and a place where authors can connect personally with their readers and hold competitions/giveaways.

Shelfari - Similar to Goodreads, this site is dedicated to books and reading. It also gives authors the opportunity to reach out to readers and vice-versa.


That just about covers the basics, but if there's anything else you want to know, ask away. If we can't help, we might be able to point you to a website that can. There will be a follow-up post sometime in the New Year covering social networking tips, tricks, and etiquette, so keep an eye out for it.

And finally, thanks for reading!

7 Dec 2011

Bridport Open Book Festival Part 2

Continued from the last post: http://storyslingers.blogspot.com/2011/11/bridport-open-book-festival-part-1.html where Simon and I went to Bridport Open Book festival, heard Joe Dunthorne read from Submarine, Wild Abandon and some poems, sat behind PJ Harvey in the audience and appreciated Gretta Stoddart's excellent poetry. 

We returned to Bridport on Friday afternoon, had a little wander around the town, ate some amazing cake at the wonderful Beach and Barnicott, and bought some cheap shoelaces at This ‘n’ That.

This time we were in for a more informal reading from past Bridport Prize winners. The name that drew us to this event was Adam Marek, writer of Instruction Manual for Swallowing (Comma Press). After our knife and fork themed prompt at Storyslinger HQ, I handed around Marek’s story, The Thorn, in which a splinter in a boy’s foot turns out to be a silver dining fork. And now we’re raving Marek fans. Marek’s writing style is hugely original, marked by the clashing together of the impossibly bizarre and the mundane routine of reality. He takes magical realism one step further than the typical canon.

The evening went very smoothly, with multi-award winning Vanessa Gebbie acting as compere for the evening. Also present was Judith Allnatt, who has two books published by Black Swan. The three writers chatted about their work, routines, inspiration-points and career-to-date, as well as how important being placed in the Bridport Prize was to their careers (very important). Allnatt and Gebbie read out extracts from their novels, and Marek read a complete short story, as yet unpublished.

Afterwards I chatted to Adam Marek about the process of writing. It’s nice to know that one of my all time favourite short story writers was once in the same position that I am in; in possession of a stack of rejection letters, wondering why I spend so much time and energy on writing, and feeling that wherever the end of the tunnel is, it’s sure not shedding any light yet. Marek’s advice: keep on going, you’ll get there someday, maybe pretty soon.

Here’s a really interesting interview with Marek at this year’s Kikinda Short story festival in Serbia wherein Marek talks about how he fuses fantasy and reality. 

And here he reads from Fewer Things, shortlisted for Sunday Times short story award: