Saturday, 13 June 2015

Alison Morton - Is social media any use?

Today I have the talented writer Alison Morton as guest on my blog. I asked for her view on social media as I know you seem to prefer this sort of post to just straight promotion. If you haven't read her first three books then you have missed a terrific read.
Over to you Alison:
Alison - looking rather scary.

Is social media any use?
Without the firm social media base built up over several years, I could not have launched my fourth book, AURELIA, last month. It’s that simple.

Dial back five years when I started mixing with book people – writers, editors, agents, publishers, literary consultants and commentators. I was still writing the first draft of my first book, INCEPTIO and quickly realised it would be a slog to make it known to readers. A website was obvious – I’d written and used them during my business career, but what else was there?

Although I had no published book to promote, I decided on World Book Day in 2010 to blog about my newbie journey as a writer. Shortly after, I plunged into Twitter then Facebook, both a little unwillingly.

But something unexpected happened - I fell in love with social media. Yes, it’s publicised my Roma Nova thriller series but more than that, I now enjoy talking to warm, witty, insightful and generous people on every continent. And many of these virtual friends and acquaintances have not only bought my books, but actively help me promote them to others.

What benefits do blogging, tweeting and posting bring?
Writing blog posts hones short-form writing skills like nothing else. Now, I have five years’ worth of posts on alternative history, writing life and craft and Roman life which readers can discover and hopefully enjoy; my post on the Antonine plague in the late second century is even used as a student resource! ;-)
Worth remembering:  your blog belongs to you, you control what goes on it and how information is presented.

Tweeting widens your reach, gives you the opportunity to connect instantly and discover useful articles that can help your career, find new books or just entertain you. Sophisticated tools like Tweetdeck allow you to reach people in other time zones with scheduled tweets. I like Twitter for building relationships and following trends and news as well as retweeting useful articles from other people and, very importantly, from my own blog. Other tweeters will retweet yours if you reciprocate; your book is then in front of their followers’ eyes.

Facebook allows you to contact people in specific interest groups and, in my case, to talk to my readers as well as to other authors and experts. Using an author page allows you to be more commercial and concentrate on your books and writing life without driving your non-author friends on your personal profile insane with book talk!

Amazon author sites are essential and simple to use; readers can find what other books their favourite author has written, watch trailers and check author events.

Goodreads, sometimes called ‘Facebook for readers’ runs an author programme where authors can promote their books. Most popular is the giveaways where authors can put their books before hundreds of readers and readers have the chance to win free signed paperbacks!

A few tips
Not a numbers game – Don’t count ‘scalps’ or pure numbers – all social media is a gradual business which accumulates and you should look for quality of your contacts, not quantity. Paid likes or followers aren’t worth it – they’re usually 14-year-olds in a bedroom doing it for pocket money.

Interact - You don’t have to follow everyone back, especially if you have no shared connection and they’ve popped up out of the blue. Have conversations as well as promoting your books; readers and authors are people first!

Have fun but be prudent – Once you’ve put something on social media, it’s in the public domain and can’t be withdrawn.

Facebook – If you receive a friend request from somebody you don’t know personally, check the subject matter on their page, their other friends, any mutual friends, the groups they belong to and their interests before accepting the connection. Just because your friends have accepted the request doesn’t mean the requester is abona fide person…

Content - Keep all posts specific, on message, entertaining and informative. Restrict promotional tweets to about 15% of your total tweets.

Bad master, good tool – Decide how much time you will spend on social media, and when, in the day and do not exceed it. It’s very alluring… I check each morning for posts in other time zones and to say good morning to fellow early risers, then allocate more time in the evening, which is when most of my contacts are about. 

Blogging – How often you blog is up to you, but once a week keeps readers’ attention. Posts of 600-800 words are best plus at least one picture. Regular blogging also gives you an opportunity to discuss research, host guests and highlight how your work is going – all interesting to readers.

Other social media are available, as they say – Pinterest, Google+, Tumblr, Instagram – but I’d start with the ones I’ve mentioned.

In brief, what do social media deliver?
For me, it’s been, and is, support, insider knowledge, interaction with readers, reviews, sales, endorsements, strategic and personal friendships. And my ability to write succinct prose quickly and to deadlines has improved no end!

Alison Morton bio (AURELIA)

Even before she pulled on her first set of combats, Alison Morton was fascinated by the idea of women soldiers. Brought up by a feminist mother and an ex-military father, it never occurred to her that women couldn’t serve their country in the armed forces. Everybody in her family had done time in uniform and in theatre – regular and reserve Army, RAF, WRNS, WRAF – all over the globe.

So busy in her day job, Alison joined the Territorial Army in a special communications regiment and left as a captain, having done all sorts of interesting and exciting things no civilian would ever know or see. Or that she can talk about, even now…

But something else fuels her writing… Fascinated by the mosaics at Ampurias (Spain), at their creation by the complex, power and value-driven Roman civilisation started her wondering what a modern Roman society would be like if run by strong women…

Now, she lives in France and writes Roman-themed alternate history thrillers with tough heroines.

INCEPTIO, the first in the Roma Nova series
– shortlisted for the 2013 International Rubery Book Award
– B.R.A.G. Medallion
– finalist in 2014 Writing Magazine Self-Published Book of the Year
PERFIDITAS, second in series
– B.R.A.G. Medallion
– finalist in 2014 Writing Magazine Self-Published Book of the Year
SUCCESSIO, third in series
– Historical Novel Society’s indie Editor’s Choice for Autumn 2014
– B.R.A.G. Medallion
– Editor’s choice, The Bookseller’s inaugural Indie Preview, December 2014

Fact file:
Education: BA French, German & Economics, MA History
Memberships: International Thriller Writers, Historical Novel Society, Alliance of Independent Authors, Society of Authors
Represented by Annette Crossland of A for Authors Literary Agency for subsidiary and foreign rights.

Links (Please adapt to your preferred format!)
Connect with Alison on her Roma Nova blog:
Twitter @alison-morton

Buying link (multiple retailers/formats):

AURELIA book trailer:

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for hosting me, Fenella.I hope your readers enjoyed my thoughts on social media.