Recently, I wrote an article in my ASK AJ column in the All Authors Magazine. You can find out more about the magazine here: All Authors Magazine
Kevin from South Carolina asks:
‘Not too long ago, I decided to submit my manuscript to a publisher. The potential publisher sent me an email asking how comfortable I was with social media. I’m familiar with Facebook but I don’t have a Twitter account nor do I particularly want one. After I answered, I got a response from the potential publisher, citing they are heavily dependent on Twitter for their marketing arsenal. Should I be willing to compromise in the hopes that I get in or should I withdraw my manuscript for further consideration and try another avenue?’
A great question, especially for anyone new to social media.
First of all, as I often say, congratulations on finishing your work! That is something that cannot be stated enough. It is, and always will be, an accomplishment. Everything after that is where we learn and muddle through the pitfalls and mine fields of promoting and publishing. And let’s face it, there is plenty to be learned, and unfortunately, trial and error are part of that process.
Submitting your work to a publisher, no matter how big or small, is a big step. You are putting your work out for others to read, critique, and say, yes or no. Being prepared for their words and response is hard to do. And when it’s your first work, it’s new territory and everything, good or bad, seems to fly at us from all directions. But the bottom line is you are ready to get it published, and you have received a positive response from the publisher.
Benefits of Social Media
In the question for this issue, Kevin was asked by the publisher if he was comfortable with social media. Social media is mainstream on the personal side of life. Each person is different, and what may work for one or many, may not work for others. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest are just a few of the many ways to get the word out, so-to-speak.
In the business world, social media is important as a marketing tool, and just about every publishing house has a Twitter account. They’ve done the research and made marketing plans based on the product they are selling…books. As the author, I feel it is a good idea to get familiar with twitter, the social media in question. Having an account and using as a business platform for your writing can help generate not only interest in your books, but more importantly, you!
The dilemma here is, should the author compromise and give into something he is unfamiliar and a bit uncomfortable with? – or something he might not want at all. Of course that decision, ultimately, will come down to what the author is willing to do. Jumping into something you aren’t familiar with – when all you hoped for was for a publisher to accept your work and publish it so you can get back to writing your next manuscript – can be a shock, or at the least, a strange turn of events.
At the point the author is now, he is faced with making a decision – compromise and work with the publisher on their marketing schemes or withdraw and present the manuscript to other publishers in hopes that there are not any expectations of doing social media marketing in the agreement/contract. There is a third option, to indie-publish your book, but that’s a topic for another day and one I have blogged about in the past.
From what I gather in the original question, the publisher is asking about the author using social media to market the potential work – potential, being the key word. I get the feeling that the publisher is indeed interested in the manuscript, and they are trying to gauge what the author is willing to do to promote the work. I almost get the sense that they are looking to see if the trio (the publisher, author, and manuscript) will make for a good working relationship.
Being that this may be the very early stages of building a partnership between the author and publisher, and well before any negotiations take place, I would say to go along with any suggestions for now, as there is always time to pull away before you sign any agreement.
I will also assume that you have an interest in the publisher or you may not have sent your manuscript there in the first place. At this stage, I would be patient and see where it leads, rather than withdrawing your work and possibly missing out on a potential opportunity. And in the meantime, you can always pitch your ‘script to other publishers or small presses.
In this business of writing, it seems that just when you think you are done and ready to move forward, there is always a new, unexpected twist that keeps us from getting to our next big novel. These twists are part of traditional and indie-publishing, with one of the differences being the freedom of choice you get going the indie route. Both roads have their own pros and cons, but on the traditional side, you have to play by their rules for the most part.
In closing, instead of making the ‘social media’ subject a deal breaker, it could be worth trying to work out a compromise, or find some middle ground, to make both sides happy. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and keep the lines of communication open. Remember, if they are interested in publishing your manuscript, then you may have a position to negotiate key points in the agreement. But we also have to remember, that a publisher has a business model set for running their business. As we enter their world, as authors, we may have to find our comfort zone within and make it an great experience for our premier novel.
So I say, give it a go, while keeping all of your options open. Once you get comfortable with Twitter, I think you will find it an asset to your writing and marketing plan. Good Luck!
(image courtesy of museumsandheritage.com)