The past couple of days, I’ve been sucked into the huge time-sink of following the twitter feed involving the Digital Book World conference. I use twitter a fair bit. I follow other authors, publishing pros, and the like, trying to keep abreast of interesting publishing news and to just make connections. One thing I believe about things like twitter and facebook is that you don’t have to actually track down readers with it. For one, it doesn’t really work. It’s not useful for selling books either, at least not directly. I never follow people whose primary use of their twitter feed is to encourage people to buy their book. I feel strongly that if you work at making connections with a small group of interesting, like-minded folks, then gradually your web of connections will begin to grow, as their followers eventually connect to you and so on. It’s not about trying to attract 50k followers.
Anyway, aside from the hopeful side effect of finding readers, social media is a fertile grounds for learning. When things like the Digital Book World conference happen, the industry pros who attend these events like to comment on what is being said and what they are learning or not learning as the case may be. More often than not, this is happening in real time, as they tweet what speakers are saying. Tons of info to be had. Got a question? You use a twitter hashtag and presto, you’ve just put it out there for a few hundred pub pros to answer if the feel so inclined. You’ve also just put it out there for the thousands of others who are following along. The power of a well-asked question cannot be over-estimated. It tells people you are interested and that you are probably intelligent because you are thinking about what is going on. Also, people like to inform and answer questions they feel they know something about. You get a trickle down effect as people who are following, check out who this guy is who just asked the interesting question, and presto! Your web of connections grows.
This isn’t a venue to sell your book or even mention it unless the subject comes up. It’s a venue to interact and meet others, to build connections, and to learn a crapload of information about a subject you are interested in. For me, as a writer, digital publishing is a big topic. I’m learning tons. I’ve picked up a few followers and I’ve followed some too. If I’m lucky, that will lead to more down the road. If you have a web presence as an author, people will find it if they connect to you through others. You don’t always have to try so hard to find them. Social media is all about just being social. Connect to people that somehow can relate to you. But also, it’s an invaluable learning tool. Make the most of it.