Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Golden Age, social media and a Pre-order button

Well, it's sort of about the Golden Age of Detective Fiction. Recently on Facebook I commented on a post by another author. This developed, as they so often do, into a conversation, where the poor lady suddenly realised she'd been not only preaching to the converted, but teaching her grannie to suck eggs into the bargain. This had been about the Golden Age, about which I know Quite A Lot, and an American commentator on the subject of whom I'd never heard.

This is one of the problems of social media of all kinds. If one is not mega famous, most people will not have heard of you. But with the easy familiarity of "Friendship" on Facebook and "Followers" on Twitter they can be lulled into thinking that they know you inside out. (Blogger changed that to ionised. Interesting.)

This was amply demonstrated only the other day, when another friend of mine (a proper friend, this time) was complaining about the rejection of a novel which had actually been commissioned. I happen to know all about it, because, not only have I followed its progress over the last year, but I was immensely privileged to read it before it set out on its journey.

The flurry of comments was astonishing. Many were from brand new authors, aspiring authors, only self-published authors and even some established ones. All giving my friend advice. Now, this was all meant in a spirit of friendship and support, I don't deny that, and authors, in the main, are very good at that, but had any of these people actually looked at my friend's profile? Had any of them realised that she is actually a published novelist (by the Big Six) , a published poet and a successful self-publisher, she has written in several genres (including erotica under a false name, of course!) and is the daughter of one of the most successful romantic novelists of the last century.

Eventually, becoming quite angry with some of the commenters (commentators?) I took it upon myself to explain. The one which finally tipped the balance was someone who advised my friend to give up worrying about the money and just write for enjoyment. As my friend, like me, writes for a living and has a large family to support (I only support mine part time, thank goodness) this infuriated  me. So I explained. You could almost hear the humiliated silence over the airwaves. Or the ether. Or whatever it is.

So my advice is, before offering advice to someone on social media, please actually look at their profile. If there's a link to a website or a blog, look at it. Do not assume that you are in a position to offer advice unless you are sure you are.

And, in other news, here are the pre-order links for Murder In The Blood on Amazon UK and US. Release date is now June 18th
Murder In The Blood

And the lovely picture at the top is by artist Susan Alison, who also created my map of Steeple Martin.


Victoria Lamb said...

Quite right too! There is a kind of Facebook tendency to leap in and offer advice without considering whether the person may have already tried that or it doesn't apply in their case or whether in fact you know what you're talking about! Though it happens in Real Life too. I spoke to my daughter's head teacher on the quiet recently, whose very rural school is so small it may have to close soon, to explain that we were moving and she would have to leave the school mid-term. He asked where she would be going to school next, and I said that we would probably keep her at home with her brothers who have learning difficulties and are both home-schooled. He then told me to be very careful because it was illegal not to do this properly and I could face a fine etc. Quite wrongly, of course. I pointed out, as politely as I could, that he knew NOTHING about the law, and that I had in fact been home-schooling my large parcel of kids since the 90s, and knew precisely what was legal and what wasn't. He then argued with me, 'mansplaining' that he knew better than me. Of course he doesn't, and it is perfectly legal to home school so long as your child is not or no longer registered at a school. Sigh. I gritted my teeth and tried not to tell him what a jackass he is, though I was sorely tempted. But yes, people do often think they know better than the person they are addressing, and a little research and humility goes a long way ...

Thanks, by the way. Jane x

David Robinson said...

Ooh! Problematic and irritating, and I know how you feel. With a range of novels/novellas published (albeit with a small independent press) I'm still plagued with well-intentioned advice on "how to get your novel published".

Why don't people check out the author before commenting?

Good post, Lesley.

Martha Dunlop said...

At least this person knew enough to recognise which comments to ignore. I am an aspiring novelist and have got caught out in the past, following advice from people who seemed to know what they were talking about online. It's important to read the profile before taking advice as well as offering it! Still, lesson learned!

Lesley Cookman said...

Don't think I've ever blogged and received so much immediate attention! Martha, you make a very good point from the other side of the fence. I remember one person - before the complete takeover of social media - who was suggesting helping people write their novels when she had never written one herself. A very well known friend of mine and I both took her to task over this, but it didn't make a lot of difference! Every time I see her name come up anywhere these days I want to warn people about her.