Jilly: Dunbar’s Number for Writers and Readers

How many authors are on your mental auto-buy checklist? How many are on your keeper shelf? And how long have those authors been at the heart of your reading universe?

I’ve been noodling around with these questions for some time—a couple of years, probably—ever since I first read about Dunbar’s Number. If you’re not familiar with the concept, Wikipedia describes it as a suggested cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships. Or, to put it crudely: there’s a limit to the number of people your brain has space for.

Dunbar’s Number has been around since the 1990s, but I came across it when I started writing fiction with an eye to publication and realized that meant I’d have to get to grips with social media. If you’d like to know more about the idea in the context of online relationships, click here for a Youtube link to anthropologist Robin Dunbar’s 15-minute Tedx talk: Can The Internet Buy You More Friends?

If you’d prefer the short version, it goes something like this: we humans maintain social relationships at various levels of intimacy, and the number of people we have the capacity to manage at each level is more or less predictable.

  • We have a very inner core of intimate friends and relations, people we would turn to in times of deep emotional stress. Typically there are about five of them.
  • We have a group of best friends, people we know well, confide in, trust, spend time with. That group would likely be about fifteen people, including the inner five.
  • The next closest layer, good friends, would be about fifty people (including the first fifteen);

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Elizabeth: Author Branding

brandA few weeks ago, we took a break from our usual discussions about the craft of writing to talk about social media and the business side of writing. Today, again driven by things that are going on in my day job, I want to continue that discussion and talk a little about author branding.

First off, what exactly is an author brand?

At its simplest level, an author brand is about communication. It is how your readers (existing or potential) know you and it’s what makes you stand out from all of the other writers out there.  You want readers to recognize your name and know what you write so that when you have a book out they’ll read it and then tell their friends, who will read it and tell their friends who will . . .

So I just need to write a good book (and another and another and . . . ) right? Continue reading

Elizabeth: Social Media for Writers

Hand holding a Social Media 3d Sphere sign on white background.Today we’re taking a break from our usual discussions about the craft of writing to talk about the business side of writing.

At my day job, I recently attended a conference about the use of social media. It was aimed at small businesses, but a lot of the information that they covered is applicable to writers as well.

First off, there’s nothing to say you have to be on any social media platform.   Time spent on social media is time that you’re not able to spend on your writing. Depending where you are in your writing career, you may want to focus your limited time/resources on writing now and leave social media for a later time, and there is nothing wrong with that. If you do have the time however, and if it is managed effectively, social media can help you increase your visibility, connect with readers, network with industry professionals and, once you’re published, sell books.

  • The 55-64 age-group is the fastest growing social media segment
  • 81% of consumers are influenced by their friend’s posts on social media

If a social media presence is something you want to pursue, Continue reading