As some of you will know, I serve in a voluntary capacity as a magistrate (perfect for crime research…). A large part of our work is sentencing, and at this stage in the proceedings a defendant will often say in mitigation, “But miss, I’ve got mental health”. We know s/he means just the opposite, but every time I hear it I reflect how grateful I am that, for almost all of my life, I have indeed had mental health. And in a bid to keep things that way, I have decided to stop using Twitter in my private and writing lives – although I shall keep a very inactive account for work purposes, so that people can find me.
When I realised that my narrator Constable Sam Plank would live beyond one book, I decided to hide behind his name and created the @ConstablePlank Twitter handle. I did this on the advice of more experienced authors, who said – without exception – that the key to selling lots of books was to have an active social media presence. And (like everyone else) I have no way of knowing whether that is true: it is impossible to know what proportion of readers were alerted to the Sam books via Twitter (or Facebook or this writing blog or Amazon searching or shop displays). But what I do know about Twitter is this:
- Anything that I post on Twitter can just as easily be posted on Facebook or this blog
- My tweets – like everyone else’s – disappear within hours, if not minutes
- Nearly all the tweets I read from the authors that I follow are – like mine – attempts to sell more books, which becomes rather dull quite quickly
- Too many tweets are unpleasant in tone
- Twitter sucks up too much of my time, as I seem to be addicted to scrolling through yards and yards of irrelevant tweets.
This is to take nothing at all from those of you who enjoy tweeting and/or enjoy reading tweets. It’s just that I have not got from it what I was hoping (over and above book sales), which was an insight into the writing process and the lives of other writers and therefore a sense of community. (Plus, if I read the phrase “hand sanitiser” once more, I may indeed get mental health.). So for now, @Constable Plank is no more.