As publishing students, myself and my course mates were lucky enough to be granted access to the Bookseller Children’s Conference at the end of September. One panel in particular got me thinking about the way that social media has allowed authors to bridge the gap between themselves and their audiences – and for us, the readers, to be able to put not only a face but a wholly rounded person to a name we would have only previously associated with the fictional worlds they had created.
I am talking about the panel hosted by author, actress and influencer, Carrie Hope Fletcher. I have grown up, since pretty much the dawn of Youtube, watching her videos long before she began to make a living out of writing books and acting on the West End Stage, and so I have always seen her as being a normal person, living a relatable life, before I ever saw her as being an author, which before social media seemed to be such an intimidating and untouchable pedestal to be standing on. However with the development of sites such as Twitter and Instagram it is now easier than ever to feel included in a community of authors and readers without the two being so rigidly divided.
Carrie talks about how, as an influencer – and this applies also to authors who would not class themselves as being influencers – she finds interacting with her followers on social media invaluable in growing her audience, as with features such as polls or Q&As she can find out directly from the people who are interested in her work what they would like to see from her. It also gives her a way of sharing, aside from her work life, snippets of her personal life and relationships, which lets her audience feel as though they know her to an extent that they would not be able to without the inclusivity that social media allows. This is valuable for authors especially as it invites their readers to glimpse into the real world behind their work, and consequentially, attracts loyalty to them because their readers feel as though they are being acknowledged and included in the author’s life. In some cases it can even mean that an author’s audience is excited to purchase their work even if they are not the target audience or have no interest in the synopsis of their story, but simply because they want to support the author who they feel they have come to be able to know as a person rather than a name.
This exactly reflects my relationship with Carrie Hope Fletcher; I would happily purchase her books or go and view her shows given the opportunity not because of their content but because I like her as a person and want to support her work, all because of the connection that social media provides between creator and consumer.