Guest post by Alice Kuipers
Psst. Let me tell you a secret. I probably shouldn’t tell you this because I’m supposed to be good at this stuff. It’s part of my job as a YA writer, surely? But here it is:
I find social media overwhelming.
I struggle to come up with witty repartee in 140 characters. I don’t love facebooking people when I have a book launch. And then facebooking them again. And again. Skype, Facebook, Twitter, Vine, Pinterest, Instagram, Wattpad, LinkedIn, Argh!! There is huge choice out there and not enough time in the day to spend online, write books AND look after my three small children.
But teenagers are my readers, and they reach out online. They don’t tend to write letters – although some of them do and those letters are always wonderful.
I love it when I hear from a reader. On Twitter recently, a reader posted a haiku inspired by one of my novels. A haiku! How cool is that?! On Wattpad the other day a Grade 11 student wrote to me to ask me questions for an independent reading project. She followed up with an email that detailed which of my books had moved her, and exactly how. A teacher found me on my website and asked me advice on how to teach creative writing to her students. A group in Scotland found me online and ended up doing a whole project with at-risk-teen-girls who were struggling with reading. And soon I have a Skype call with a student who wants to get tips for her writing group.
Teenagers are very comfortable sharing their opinions. An email last week told me that at first my book was kinda boring. But then, once this reader got started, she couldn’t put it down and she went and read one of my others immediately.
So, yeah, social media can be overwhelming. And in-your-face. And immediate. And scary. My heart is on my sleeve (I know, cliché, but true) when I write my books. Hearing from readers the second they’ve put the book down makes me feel exposed. And very, very lucky.
So, I made three decisions over the last couple of years to preserve my writing time AND to make myself available to readers.
✔ Firstly, I only use the types of social media that I enjoy – check out my Pinterest account (if you can find it) and see how that did NOT turn out for me. It’s a wonderful site, great images, lovely inspiration, but – turns out – I just don’t think like that. I like my website, Facebook, Skype (the kids get to see their grandparents, I get to talk directly to readers), and Twitter. Although some days, Twitter and I struggle to get on, and those days I don’t Tweet.
✔ Secondly, I give myself time constraints. Half an hour for social media every couple of days on the days when I have childcare. That goes up when I have a book out – blog tours are a big part of being a YA author and I’ll write about those in a future post. The time for social media goes back down to the half an hour rule when I’m writing a new book.
✔ Thirdly, I remind myself why I’m on social media. It’s not about me blasting my own horn (because that makes me feel uncomfortable and not like myself). It’s about me ‘meeting’ readers, and hopefully inspiring them to read, write, and create. When I tweeted the haiku writer back this is what he replied: OV Y GOS YOU TWEETED ME THANK U THANK U I LOVED THE BOOK SO MHCH I LOVED ALL THE TIPS AND QUOTES TOO IM PUTTING SOME ON MYWALL.
How’s that for connection?!
Alice Kuipers is the author of Life on the Refrigerator Door, Lost For Words (The Worst Thing She Ever Did), and 40 Things I Want To Tell You. Find out more about her and her work at http://alicekuipers.com
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