Is the social media noise drowning out the real story for an author?

Today an author’s tale is lost somewhere amidst all other motives – fame, money, visibility, reach. The new fool proof formula apparently is write, get social, create a fan page and talk about yourself. A lot!
Is this what an author has reduced to or is social media adding more dimensions to a writer?

Social media engagement is a continuous journey between a writer and its readers. People now want writers to talk about themselves, give them a peek into their otherwise regular life. It’s like paving the way for long term loyalty.

Salman Rushdie, with 9M Twitter followers heavily roots for social media which has helped create his on-line presence beyond books. Even if it’s on a virtual space, readers almost know him as a person, an opportunity no reader would come close to otherwise.

The same goes for Paulo Coelho, who has been on Twitter, since 2007.  I quote him as I say this, “I could talk to people, who, by nature of having read my books, understood my soul.”

In India, Chetan Bhagat is the biggest example. He’s an active voice on Twitter who has gone on to even have his books being converted to movies.

His latest Book – Half Girlfriend may have received mixed reviews. But when it comes to Chetan Bhagat, you can love him or hate him but can’t ignore him. That’s the testimony to his relationship with his readers.

The bottom line is that social media keeps you connected with your readers even on a regular Monday, building on writer-reader relationship in the process.

Keeping connectedness aside, new media has also broadened the bracket for an author

A writer needn’t be restricted to only writing novels, but can be posting/tweeting one-line tales that probably packs a punch as much as a book.

Terribly Tiny Tales  cover stories of only 140 characters, crowd sourced from the users itself. This aspect makes it even more appealing as the readers are probably authors as well.

In other words, this online portal is a space for content collaboration. For example – a doctor, who is a Terribly Tiny tale teller can bring to his story, his medical expertise thus creating unique content.

Does this mean, anybody can be an author now? Is the glass looking half empty or half full?

Certain authors even resort to commercialisation of their new book in various forms, on-line. Promoting book merchandise is a famous revenue making option. Authors are ready to attach the same importance to their novel and its merchandise. It might help sustain the relationship with a reader but the novel is somewhere lost amongst other things.

All in all, social media is definitely setting up the stage for authors, both new and established ones, but is this noise drowning out the real purpose? What happened to writing for the love of freedom, free thoughts and beautiful stories? What happened to writing for writing, for the sake of art and not for making money?

Bill Watterson, the author of the renowned ‘Calvin and Hobbes’ refused to sell out and never allowed to be merchandised. Even after a decade of creating Calvin and Hobbes, he lives on in his readers only through his work.

On the other hand, R.K. Narayan let his books be converted into a serial. In fact the serial created an unforgettable tune which is an instant association to ‘Malgudi Days’ even today.

Are those who refuse to get sold out for fame, truer to their art? They say, great writing can market itself. How long can you cling onto the concept of ‘true art’? Does this make a writer who is active on social media less passionate about her/his work?

A successful writer or not, in the current world, there is no room for an idealist. We are all sub consciously driven by society who is writing down new rules for this digital era. (Un)Fortunately (as you wish to see it) even writing has a business model and new media is a part of it.

It’s time to get social.