I know I complain a lot about how busy my life is, but I somehow manage to scroll through social media even on the days I have no time to breathe. I’m sure it’s the same for everyone else out there too. If you enjoy books, you can definitely find like-minded people just about on any platform, but the most interactive ones (to the best of my knowledge) happen to be Twitter and Instagram. While it is very simple to express an opinion and have the entire world pay attention to what you have to say, I for one am not a fan of putting forth every thought to cross your mind on public display. I don’t tweet or post often on social media, but watching from the sidelines has taught me a lot about what to say, what not to say and how to get your message across effectively. I decided to share my learnings with you all here today and I hope you take away some valuable lessons as well.
1. Avoid spoilers
This is one of those no-brainers that people cannot seem to follow. If you know anything about this world, you probably know that not everyone is currently reading whatever book you have on hand. It may be on their TBR pile or you may have jumped the queue and gotten an ARC. Whatever the reason, sharing spoiler-y thoughts about your current read is most definitely NOT a good idea.
TIP: Of course you’re allowed to share your thoughts on social media, but it’s just good manners to be responsible about it. For example, on Twitter, you could do a thread of your spoiler-y thoughts by having the first tweet warn others about it and tweeting whatever you please from the second one onwards. On Instagram, you can separate out the spoiler and non-spoiler sections with white spaces or ellipses or emojis in your caption. If it’s in the photo itself, use two different ones so that interested people can swipe left to see the spoiler-y picture.
2. Don’t tag authors in reviews
This was something I didn’t know at first, but I was lucky enough not to learn this the hard way. New bloggers especially aren’t aware of this unspoken rule, but it’s rather obvious when you think about it. It is not the reader’s responsibility to point out what they didn’t like in a book hoping that the author will improve in the future. After all, reviews are subjective opinions. Authors are always advised not to look at reviews since it’s practically impossible for every reader on this good earth to love their book. When you @ them with a link to your review, chances are they’ll be tempted to look. That has led to several messy situations in the past (to the point of stalking) and it’s something best avoided, trust me.
TIP: If you want to tell an author that you loved their book, just @ them in a post that doesn’t contain a link to your review. It is best to do it right after you finish the book. Chances are that the author will be touched by your support and show your post some love by liking or replying or retweeting. Please note that this should not be used as a way to get famous or attention from the author, but a genuine appreciation for their work.
3. Don’t quote someone without permission
I feel like I’m stating really basic etiquette rules, but this one need reiteration for the simple reason that it’s violated so many times. I have lost count of the number of times there’s been a bit of back-and-forth over being misquoted or having words taken out of context. Unfortunately, social media makes it very easy to steal someone’s words and spin it into a click-bait post.
TIP: Be nice and ask someone before using their words. DM them if they are comfortable, or get hold of their email. You can reply to the post from which you want to quote asking for permission as well. Always provide the correct context for the quote and you can even go so far as clarifying the intent before using someone’s words publicly.
4. Be sensitive towards #ownvoices authors
Recently on Twitter, one of my favourite authors was questioned about the kind of names her protagonists had and whether they were “real”. Her debut book came out last year and she’s an Indian-American author writing about Indian-American teens. This little incident had me so frustrated that this got a bullet point all of its own. Representation is a tricky topic in the book community these days and one that seems to be shrouded in controversy all the time. Not every type of identity in a book will represent you, so obviously it’s okay to read or comment on or review books that are diverse, but please exercise some caution when it comes voicing your opinions. If a character does not reflect your identity and you know nothing about it, you have no right to criticise an #ownvoices author for what they chose to write about in their book specific to that identity.
TIP: Always link to an #ownvoices reviewer’s post or quote their opinion (with permission, as previously mentioned) if you feel the need to talk about it. Also keep in mind that not everyone has the same experiences, so it’s better to just keep silent rather than indulge in impulsive speech.
5. Stay away from trolls
These abominable creatures lurk around in every corner of the internet and it’s inevitable that you run into one in this lifetime if you’re on any social media. I know that some people may disagree with this, but I firmly believe in not indulging in a conversation with people who are out to drag you down at all costs. Chances of getting defensive, abusive and hostile are quite high and you also risk losing followers who might actually enjoy your content.
TIP: If you do have to deal with trolls, just remember it’s Levi-O-sa, not Levios-A.
What social media do you use? What can Book Twitter and Bookstagram do better? Do you have any more tips to add? Let me know in the comments section below.