May 19, 2011
Nansi Kunze on Authors and Social Media
Welcome to the sixth interview in the Authors and Social Media series; where I interview some of Australia’s most acclaimed speculative fiction authors as well as some rising stars. Today we have Nansi Kunze, Victorian based YA novelist answering 5 questions on Authors and Social Media.
How important do you view social media to selling your books or interacting with fans?
In terms of selling books, I think it can be quite important. I write YA, so the ability to link to reviews and ratings of my novels on my blog or Facebook page means potentially reaching a lot of people in my target demographic. I’ve also seen quite a few readers of other people’s blogs comment that they’ll go out and buy a book that’s been favourably reviewed there – it can extend the concept of ‘word of mouth’ considerably.
As far as interacting with fans goes, I haven’t experienced a lot of that, but then I don’t really write the kinds of things that make readers want to tell me how my book changed their life! I’m not sure that I’d want a lot of fan interaction on social media, though. I think an author’s books should remain by far the most important thing about them.
Do you or would you want to receive any guidance from your publisher/agent on interacting via social media, both in a technical sense or in a 'professional presentation' sense?
The main reason I’ve been using social media in my author persona for the past year or so is because I’d seen my editors’ discussions on the importance of having a web presence as an author. While I didn’t feel the need for technical guidance when I set up my social media accounts, I’ve been glad of the snippets of advice on professional presentation I’ve gleaned from editors and other people in the biz. I think there’s probably a level of guidance that would just feel restrictive; nobody wants to be told how to behave all the time. But I can’t imagine any of the agents or editors I know ever getting anywhere near that level!
There have been some recent examples of inexperienced authors reacting badly on the Internet in response to blog reviews e.t.c., what are your thoughts on being social media savvy? What advice would you give to new authors?
Well, obviously common sense has a big part to play there! Personally, I think it’s usually as simple as reminding yourself that every time you post something on a social media site, many, many people could see it. You might be alone at your computer when you type it, but in terms of potential audience, it’s the same as addressing a packed lecture hall or discussing something at a large dinner party: you need to consider the breadth of views and backgrounds that your audience might encompass. If you’re a new author, I’d suggest asking yourself if what you’re typing seems too offensive, too personal or too revealing to say to a crowd of strangers in a lecture hall. If it is, maybe you should hit Delete instead.
In my experience Social media breaks down normal communication conventions. People can be more familiar and 'take liberties'. Have you experienced problems where this ease of communication has lead to followers/fans 'crossing the line' or has your experience been entirely positive?
Nansi:I’m certainly aware of instances where that’s happened: emerging writers sending direct messages to editors and authors telling them to buy their book and the like. I’ve been very lucky, though. I’ve found Twitter in particular a wonderful way to interact with other authors, editors, bloggers and so on. That familiarity helps me feel that I’m not alone in my field, even though I live in a relatively isolated rural area (so in a literal sense I actually am alone in a field …) The one instance I’ve encountered of someone ‘crossing the line’ came about through a charity event I was involved in, rather than through social media. No real harm was done, but I learned the importance of making sure my personal email addresses aren’t made available to people I don’t know.
How vital is social media to the genre in which you write and how do you think social media will effect the way you write and interact in the future?
Given that the vast majority of teenagers use social media sites, they’re clearly of considerable importance to YA writers, but good writing is still more crucial. I’d like to think that the existence of social media will mainly affect the way I write by teaching me things: how to improve my writing technique, how the strange things that happen in life change us, what makes different people tick. I don’t envisage that I’ll be writing in a way that’s calculated to work well for social media purposes or anything like that! Hopefully, what Facebook, blogs and so on will continue to offer is a way for YA readers to become aware of books and writers that appeal to them, and to keep reading on their agenda.
I’d like to thank Nansi for taking time out of her busy day to answer my questions. You can find Nansi at her blog. Or on twitter under @NansiKunze on twitter.
Nansi’s latest book is Dangerously Placed available from Amazon in paperback and kindle format and from all good Australian book stores.
If you would like to see more in this series you can subscribe to the blog through a reader or Follow me on twitter.
Nansi Kunze on Authors and Social Media
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