Once upon a time, there was a much bigger divide between ‘ordinary’ people and ‘famous’ people. The internet has largely ended that because many of us get opportunities to enter into conversations with people who are more famous than us. Sometimes this is wonderful, and sometimes it brings out the worst people are capable of. People online are, basically, people, with all the diversity that implies.
My background includes a lot of folk music, and in folk there has never been that hard line between performer and audience. You can go to a session or a singaround and be sat next to someone whose name is on the posters. I think it’s a lot healthier for all involved when we treat each other as people and approach each other in a more equitable way.
One of the things I find really entertaining is the people who aren’t famous, who attempt to use social media as though they were. They just come in and talk about their writing, and their book. It does seem to be novels more than any other thing. Although a surprising number of people calling themselves social media experts seem to do it as well! Why anyone thinks that endlessly shouting about their own work will engage people and sell books, remains a mystery to me.
I’ve nothing against people trying to sell their own work – it is a challenge. We accept adverts from big companies with little question, where lone creators trying to promote their stuff can be given a hard time for it. If your job doesn’t have a marketing department or a sales team, you have no choice but to promote what you do in order to make a living. But there are questions about how to do this well.
Being social is not an optional extra. If you are a human trying to deal with other humans, being social is key. It’s how we get things done. To be social, you have to engage with other people. You have to be both interested and interesting. Have you ever bought a book because you accepted a friends request from a stranger and they sent you a direct message about their book straight away? Anyone?
We don’t think about things enough, often. We don’t think enough about other people’s motivations and inclinations. We don’t think about how to connect with each other – not if we’re bombarding each other with sales material. As someone who does a lot of promoting and marketing in the day job, I can say that this is a thing. If you think about what people might want from you, it’s a lot easier to sell stuff. If you don’t assume that of course they’ll all want your thing, it is easier to sell stuff. If you treat everyone like they are at least potentially valuable and interesting, you are on a better footing.