Last week another sock-puppet fell, this time at Pan Macmillan, where one of the marketing heads was caught faking reviews for clients. It’s hard to feel aggrieved about this, given the pressure everyone’s under to perform and get out there online pushing books. Over-enthusiastic writers and publishing PRs have simply overstepped the line, and at least RJ Ellory apologised. But there are many more out there who have been doing the same thing for a while now.
It’s getting very complex. Contrary to public belief, much of publishing is robust and many sectors are doing nicely, but the emphasis is still on the writer handling most of their own PR, which means that they have to do social networking. I have Facebook (personal) and Facebook (publishing) accounts, Twitter, Goodreads and my website to deal with, but I usually only post when I have something to say. Plus, I enjoy doing it and have the time. Not all authors feel the same way. And I frequently step out of my depth when attempting to do stuff online.
The public ignore sales techniques if they’re overused – that’s why the internet didn’t end up merely a welter of trashy ads – and there’s now a generation coming up that doesn’t automatically feel the pressure to minutely detail their lives online. Indeed, I have a few friends in their twenties and thirties who aren’t interested in being online at all. After the peer-pressure of school stopped, they realised they were free to choose. And so things find their own equilibrium again.
It must be wretched for anyone who does not enjoy the geekiness of heavy screen time in a job where they have to use social networking constantly. Situations must arise like the ghastly one in the first episode of ‘The Thick Of It’s new season, with out-of-their-depth ministers trying to make sense of social networking before embarrassed teenagers.
The trailer below doesn’t cover that awful moment but I have no idea how to download a streamed clip from iPlayer and
upload it to YouTube, or if it’s even possible, which I suspect it’s not. Or may be if I was savvier. See what I mean?