Having only relatively recently become involved in the online world through blogging I’m intrigued to be featuring Nick Bryan with a guest post all about the benefits and disadvantages of social media and it’s interesting to see how authors can agonise over a tweet or two!
Nick Bryan’s novel The Girl Who Tweeted Wolf is published in e-book and paperback and is available for purchase here. The Girl Who Tweeted Wolf is a darkly comic crime novel with YA crossover potential. Nick’s second book in the series, Rush Jobs, is available for purchase here.
As well as finding out about Nick’s books and reading his guest post, you can also read an extract from The Girl Who tweeted Wolf.
The Girl Who Tweeted Wolf (Hobson & Choi #1)
“If we get 400 followers, John Hobson will solve that nasty wolf-murder case for free! Fight the thing himself if he has to! #HobsonVsWolf!”
Angelina Choi was only trying to drum up some Twitter followers and make a good impression on her first day interning at John Hobson’s one-man detective agency.
But the campaign went viral and now they have a murder to solve, no money coming in, and an unwilling Hobson faced with battling some enormous beast.
With both follower and body counts rising, can they crack the case without offending everyone or being eaten by a huge dog?
The Girl Who Tweeted Wolf is the first case starring Hobson & Choi, a bickering, mismatched detective duo for 21st century London. This book collects the debut storyline of the hit darkly comic crime web serial, extensively rewritten and improved for this definitive edition.
Rush Jobs (Hobson & Choi #2)
“Sometimes #crime feels like the Matrix. Or the #patriarchy or #porn. It’s everywhere, even in people you trusted, and there’s so MUCH of it.”
Angelina Choi returns for her second and final week of work experience at John Hobson’s detective agency, ready for anything after their first successful murder solve.
After all that online buzz, they’re in phenomenal demand. Can Hobson & Choi solve a kidnapping, play chicken with corporate crime, beat back gentrification, save a dog from drug dealers and head off violent backlash from their last case?
Or will grim revelations about Hobson’s past leave them floundering in the chaos?
Rush Jobs collects the second major storyline in the Hobson & Choi saga, #1 on Jukepop Serials and #2 in Dark Comedy on Amazon, adding brand new chapters and scenes to the case.
The Benefits and Disadvantages of Social Media to an Author
A Guest Post by Nick Bryan
I’ve been on social media since long before I was any kind of “author” and have had a while to get used to its benefits and disadvantages. Yes, it’s an amazing megaphone for your work, but on the other hand, it’s also a great amplifier for any half-formed thoughts or stupid ideas you broadcast and then hurriedly delete, hoping no-one managed to screencap them.
Nonetheless, as an “author”, yes, you’re pretty much stuck with social media, aren’t you? Especially if you’re self-published and therefore are mostly dependent on your own savings to fund promotion. Ignoring a major free channel like social media isn’t really an option.
To be honest, and this is such boring received wisdom that I feel almost guilty typing it out, the closest I’ve come to a social media strategy is: “Try not to be boring but also try not to be stupid”.
Which is to say: post something other than “BUY MY STUFF” but also steer clear of getting into arguments you can’t possibly win. For authors, those arguments often take the form of disagreeing with the opinions of readers or reviewers, which almost always ends badly.
For some, there might be a sliding scale here – if a reviewer makes a genuine factual error which has led them to misinterpret the book, is it okay to contact them? Honestly, I still wouldn’t bother. I tried to put an “unless” in this paragraph, but couldn’t find a single one that I felt comfortable leaving in. If they’ve obviously written about an entirely different author’s book and mislabelled it as a review of mine, I might chance an email. Maybe.
But for the most part, if someone didn’t read your book in the way you dreamt, probably best to just accept that interpretations are subjective and anything could happen between page and imagination. If they’ve found it properly offensive and you feel an apology is required, then fair enough, but avoid any phrasing that says/implies their opinion is wrong or invalid.
Otherwise, it’s better not to wade in. If you can avoid the temptation to search your own name on Twitter, that might be better for peace of mind.
Still, even if you avoid upsetting people, there’s still the pressure to actively self-promote. The problem with books as a product is that most authors don’t produce many, due to their fragile human minds and bodies. After the inevitable blitz around launch day, you start to feel awkward about pushing the same thing at the same audience. Even if many writers (including me, hi) weren’t a bit shy or awkward, this would be a pain in the arse.
My Hobson & Choi book series used to be a weekly webserial, so this was less of a problem. Regular new material! Every week, something different to plug without feeling too bad about it! I still miss those days, even though the book incarnation is better. I sometimes consider starting a new webserial just so I have something to easily shill on Twitter.
But that’s probably not the best reason to do something – which leads into my last point on social media. If you’re not enjoying it, don’t force yourself into it. People can tell. If you can only find one or two interesting tweets a week, people would probably rather have them than a torrent of empty rambling or pointless self-promotion. There are a lot of issues on which I don’t feel the need to comment – even though I might get a cheap retweet out of it – because other people do it better and I don’t feel like I have much to add.
Of course, some people genuinely can do a load of self-promotion and it still sounds natural and good, alongside their regular tweets about other issues. If only we were all them, but alas, we are not. All you can do is try to find what works for you, seems to engage a few people and won’t take up all your writing time agonising about it.
An Extract from The Girl Who Tweeted Wolf
Not only was there no name stencilled on the window of Hobson’s office door, it didn’t even have a window. Angelina was disappointed — what kind of crappy detective doesn’t have an office name stencil window?
Instead, it was a solid beige fire door. The only thing marking it out from the beige corridor was the change in texture from beige plaster to beige wood. Same old London office in a boring building. Clearly all her effort to dress interesting had been silly. The black floaty layers and purple tights looked ridiculous against all the nothingness.
Too late to change though, she was already five minutes late. She knocked on the hollow, cheap-sounding door, with the firmness of an adult, rather than a nervous sixteen-year-old. Or so she hoped.
“Yeah, come in,” said the hoarse yell from inside.
Angelina pushed the door open. Considering how long she’d spent staring at the tedious thing, it floated away easily.
The office behind was more interesting than the corridor, thankfully. Bright blue, two desks, a few filing cabinets. But no discarded whiskey bottles, nor a mattress round back where the detective slept.
“Good morning, Choi,” said a deep voice. The huge man behind the larger desk leapt up, revealing a pressed black suit and straight tie. Buttoned down to a fault, this guy could be a real veteran police detective, right up to the grey peppering his short dark hair.
And why was he calling her by surname?
“Good to meet you. I’m John Hobson, just Hobson is fine though.” And, when she didn’t immediately reply: “How are you? Good trip over?”
“Um, thanks, I’m fine, you too.” She forgot to punctuate any of that, blushing as soon as it finished.
“Good. Good. Well, welcome to our new work experience internship programme. I hope I’ll be able to show you something about the business in two weeks. As you can see, I’ve cleared a desk for you here.” He gestured at the smaller one in the room, with a wedge of papers recently shoved to one end.
“Looks nice,” she glanced down and nodded. “Lots of room.”
“So,” he was already standing up and hooking his jacket off the back of the chair, “I have to get moving for a lunch meeting, but I do have a job for you to get on with.”
Her ears pricked up, but expectations remained measured. She’d be filing all those papers away, wouldn’t she? Or running out to buy milk?
“I’ve noticed this social Twitter internet media thing seems to be taking off,” he said, gesturing widely at the computer on her desk, as if that explained everything, “could you create an account for me and get me some of those… followers?”
Angelina blinked. “I’m sorry?”
“Well, you know. I’ve just repainted my office, I want to be modern, and your lot seem to be familiar with this kind of thing.”
“My lot? What do you mean my lot?”
“No no no no no,” Hobson spun round, nearly whirling her across the room, “not Asians. Teenage girls.”
“Oh. Right.” Depressingly, she was relieved he’d even noticed she was Asian. “Well, sure. I’ll see what I can do.”
“Thanks, Choi.” He shrugged his massive coat on, composure back in place. “Just a couple of hundred should do. Cheers, running late, back in an hour.”
With that, he waved and dashed out the door. And then popped his head back round. “Oh, could you also go to the shops and get some coffee? Ain’t much left.”
Angelina nodded, and kept her sigh inside until he’d definitely gone. This office was the size of a rich person’s cupboard.
Picking up the coffee took a few minutes. The hardest part was checking out his machine and working out what type to buy. Now she was an intern, Angelina knew she had to do these menial tasks, so swallowed her pride and went to Tesco.
Not long after, guzzling a pack of dirt-cheap cardboard crisps, she plonked herself down in front of her computer. She had a job to do, so resisted the urge to head straight for Facebook and complain about her negligent boss.
Instead she went on Twitter and got to work. She typed, she schmoozed, she strived, she read blog posts about Social Media Success, many of which made her angry. Finally, several tweets and retweets later, something clicked.
Shortly later, so did the door to their office, as Hobson returned. His lunch meeting ended at a reasonable time and left him completely sober; again, both reassuring and disappointing. When did she get to sniff corpses and snort whiskey, delve deep into the underworld?
Instead, she had a presentable, clean shaven, punctual detective without a visible drinking problem. Should’ve been more specific on the form.
“So Choi,” Hobson said, his jacket flopping back over the chair, “am I… trending yet?”
He pronounced trending like it was the name of an alien planet.
“Um, sort of,” she said.
“Well, you’ve got 353 followers…” Angelina broke off mid-stream as a rectangular email notification popped up. “Well, 354 now. But I had to say some stuff to get them.”
Hobson fiddled with his own computer, not paying much attention. “Yeah? What kind of stuff?”
“I tried just creating an account and following people, engaging with other detectives, but it wasn’t working much,” she could hear herself talking faster in response to his blank stares, “so I found an interesting murder case and said that if you got enough followers, you’d totally solve it for free.”
And it sounded like a better idea at the time, she added silently, rolling her chair away from Hobson as his face turned red and he stood up, tie flapping wild. It was hard not to be scared when a man bigger than the room he was sitting in started yelling at you.
“You did what?” At least he’d noticed her. “Do you have you any idea how shitty that is? What if the press find out? What if the victim’s family find out? How do you know I even can solve it? How am I meant to pay my rent?”
“I don’t know, I’m sorry, I wanted to get it right and I just…” Angelina inhaled deep and snorted by accident. “I may have said something else too.”
“Yeah. If we get up to 400 followers, you have to fight a wolf.”
The email indicator leapt up again. Only forty-five to go.
About Nick Bryan
Nick Bryan is a London-based writer of genre fiction, usually with some blackly comic twist. As well as the detective saga Hobson & Choi, he is also working on a novel about the real implications of deals with the devil and has stories in several anthologies.
When not reading or writing books, Nick Bryan enjoys racquet sports, comics and a nice white beer.
More details on his other work and news on future Hobson & Choi releases can be found on Nick’s blog or on Twitter. You can subscribe to Nick’s mailing list here.