Welcome to the third interview in the Authors and Social Media series; where I interview some of Australia’s most acclaimed speculative fiction authors. Today we have Thoraiya Dyer a rising talent in the Australian Speculative Fiction scene, answering 5 questions on Authors and Social Media.
1.How important do you view social media to selling your books or interacting with fans?
At this stage, with the short fiction I have out, I find the social media activities of my publishers, Twelfth Planet Press, Fablecroft, Aurealis, ASIM and others to be the vital ingredient in the sale of my stories. I think most people who buy TPP books are people who have encountered Alisa Krasnostein's personal blog, twitterstream, or business blog and who trust her taste in speculative fiction, so social media is obviously vital for Australian small press.
I have a website which I maintain, but no personal blog, Twitter or Facebook presence. I comment on other people's blogs and potential fans can sometimes get to know me that way, but more often I will get emails via my website and respond to those.
2. 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?Thoraiya:
I haven't so far. Guidance would be fine, obligations would be not so fine. I think any agent or editor who instructed me to get on Facebook would be shocked by the vehemence of my reply. People are too careless with their personal information on social networks. I have only grudgingly recently joined Goodreads because books are one of my greatest joys and I can't
resist the site's usefulness.
3. 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?Thoraiya:
Remember that the internet is forever, and know your self. If you are an easy-going extrovert, an interesting blog with frequent updates can garner you an enormous audience and it would be crazy not to build yourself a Scalzi-like internet presence. If you are an introvert who lets your anger build slowly and then explodes in a fury at innocent onlookers, well. It is not helpful to a writing career.
There are lots of passionate people on the web, and Cat Valente is a good example of someone able to articulate very personal views so they are not offensive generalisations, but that is not my superpower. I am one of the people who, if they were on Twitter, might get wound up about climate change and the logging of old growth forests in Tasmania and suddenly screech, "EVERYONE WHO DIDN'T VOTE GREEN MIGHT AS WELL JUST STRANGLE MY BABY WITH THEIR BARE HANDS!", and then, hooray, I've alienated 90% of the planet who will never buy my work. Even if I try and delete it later, with RSS feeds, your one blog post can have hundreds of duplicates everywhere within seconds and you can never get rid of them all.
A tweet like that is patently not even true, because I didn't vote green in '07. Plus I have dearly beloved family members in Tasmania who are farmers and loggers and spit on the ground when a Greens politician walks past, but have clearly never tried to strangle a baby. The key is recognising my irrational outburst-type personality and not setting it amongst the pigeons. Blogging is not for me, but it probably is perfectly fine for you!
4. 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?
I'm too new and unfamous for my own line to have been crossed, but I have been guilty of making others uncomfortable by being too familiar. You follow a person's blog, you start to believe that you know them. In some cases, it is just a person's facade that you know and sometimes they pour so much of their heart into it that you really do know them, but whichever one it is, they still don't know you.
Please allow me to publicly apologise to Richard Harland for running up to him at Worldcon with an excited grin, bellowing, "Hi, Richard, how are you?" with no explanation of who I was. I may even have said something like, "have you brought your Steampunk outfit that you wore at your London book signing?" which is something a stalker would say ("I KNOW WHAT YOU WEAR AND WHERE YOU GO!") But in my defence, it's not like it wasn't there on his website for everyone to see (I am still SO, SO sorry!), and people who put their home address and date of birth on their Facebook page might want to consider that the national imprisonment rate in Australia is 170 per 100 000 adults, and if you are a bestselling author with a million fans your chances of getting at least one felon are pretty good.
5. 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?
Oh, it's vital now for small publishers (See question (1)) and in the future, as e-books become the norm and more and more speculative fiction is bought on the basis of recommendations from social networks, the bigger a person's social media presence, the more searches they are going to turn up in and the more sales they will generate. To me, the more important thing for is that I not look back on the legion of potentially uninformed opinions I have splashed over the internet and cringe. I'm aware of the drawbacks of having my own website (which is under my control and not particularly easy to update); it is like holding up a business card on a park bench while everyone else has a skyscraper blazing with neon lights. But I hope that my fiction will speak for itself. I hope that anyone who is touched by my stories will come and sit on that park bench beside me.
I’d like to thank Thoraiya for answering my questions and congratulate her on winning Best New Talent at the Ditmar Awards. You can find Thoraiya at her site.
Her award winning novelette The Company Articles of Edward Teach, can also be found paired with The Angaelien Apocalypse by Matthew Chrulew in a Twelfth Planet Press Double, in both printed and ebook form -here.
You can also purchase other titles including Thoraiya’s work via Smashwords.
While I have your attention : It’s Aussie Author Month and the folks at Australian Science Fiction and Fantasy News Site are doing some fundraising for Indigenous Literacy, check out their competition and donation pages.