As promised, here is the first summary of one of the panels I attended at FantasyCon 2011. There is one more to come in a later blog because there were two panels that were particularly useful to me, being a genre writer and a student.
The first was ‘maintaining your online presence’ moderated by Adele Wearing. Other speakers were Lee Harris, Scott K. Andrews, Stephen Hunt and Adam Christopher. This was a fascinating panel for me. Having launched my online presence earlier this year, it has become a constant learning curve and work in progress.
The advice was far too much to capture in one blog but the essence of the panel was that the necessities of an online presence, particularly for authors, are to make it work for you and to be yourself – or as much of yourself as you can be in a public form. There was an interesting discussion about what to do if you say something in public that you shouldn’t have said. General consensus was to apologise, then walk away. Cyber arguments and responding to negative reviews was a definite no.
The panellists recommended that authors should have at the least two online platforms – a website/blog and twitter or facebook for example, and then use cross feeds to reach a wider audience. But they are not there to do a hard sell. By all means promote yourself and your work, but not in every update and not constantly. It is ok to talk about other things. In fact it is ok to have a blog that isn’t about writing. Writers and readers don’t always want to be discussing technique and industry – yes it is hard to believe but true!
At one point the merits of social networking were discussed. It was established that it is well worth doing. It may not have a direct link to success, and many followers does not necessarily equal many books sales, however, it does reward fans, promote writers and many people do read books based on an online recommendation.
So the general advice: have an online presence, use it to your advantage and make it accessible to fans, potential fans and the industry.