Social media Q & A with writer Richard Skinner

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Richard Skinner authorMy guest today is Richard Skinner who I had the pleasure of first meeting at the Vanguard Readings which he organises in London each month, attracting big name readers and a loyal audience. Vanguard also has its own publishing imprint, Vanguard Editions. Richard is the author of three novels, all published by Faber & Faber. His work has been nominated for prizes and is published in seven languages. His poetry has appeared widely and his new pamphlet Terrace will be published by Smokestack in April 2015. Richard is Director of the Fiction Programme at the Faber Academy.

Do you have a blog or blog(s)?

Richard Skinner blog

I do have a blog page on my website but it is not a standard blog, it is more of a place to post essays and reviews and anything else of interest to me. I think of it as both an archive and a resource. I have recently taken a lot of these posts down because they will be collected together into a book of essays, reviews and interviews that will be published in May by Zero Books.

How often do you update it? Do you follow other blogs?

I don’t update my blog in any regular way, just when I find/write something that I’d like to share. I follow a few other blogs, mainly by other poets, for example And Other Poems run by Josephine Corcoran, and Spectral Lyre. I tend to follow blogs when someone posts/tweets that a new post is up.

Tell us what other social media platforms you use regularly. How do you manage the time you spend on social media – do you have any rules or tricks, for example?

I am a regular user of Facebook and Twitter, which I use for both personal and professional purposes — the two often collide.

I put time aside first thing in the morning to catch up on social media and then stop at a particular time in order to write. When I’m at home, I use my MacBook to post/tweet. When I’m out and about, I use my iPad mini (I don’t have a smart phone), but I can only use my iPad in WiFi hot spots, so I’m limited to when I can post/tweet (which isn’t a bad thing, I think). I just use the Twitter/Facebook interfaces. I did have Tweetdeck for a while but I didn’t find it particularly useful.

Richard Skinner on Twitter

How do you balance social media activity with your actual writing – any advice?

When I’m in the middle of a novel, I try to be strict with myself and only deal with social media at particular times. It doesn’t always happen though!

One tip that works for me: I have set Notifications as my Twitter homepage, not Home. I have a large enough number of followers that it would be impossible to read every single tweet on my feed, and so, by setting my homepage as Notifications, I don’t miss tweets that have my handle in them. They are the more important tweets to respond to, I think.

Some people find social media stressful. What do you most like about it what do you most dislike?

I think there’s a lot of very dull/trivial stuff on both Facebook and Twitter (kittens!)* but there’s also some amazing stuff there, particularly on Twitter. I have come across some incredible photos, links, articles and so on, none of which I would have found otherwise.
The Mirror by Richard Skinner
I think the key is to tailor your Facebook timeline and Twitter feed by stopping notifications or muting anything you don’t like so that you’re only seeing what you want to see. Be ruthless about that. The other golden rule, I think, is not to use social media solely for promoting yourself and your work. Use it to share your likes, loves and interests. There is no greater turn-off on social media than someone who only says ‘Buy my book. Buy my book. Buy my book.’

*I quite like the kittens! – Robin

Social media Q & A with author & poet Claire Dyer

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This is the first of a new series of blog posts in which I ask writers questions about how they use social media.

Claire Dyer novelist & poet - homepage

Claire Dyer is a novelist and poet, with two novels and a poetry collection to her name. Her website clairedyer.com combines a blog with details of her published work, what she’s reading and where she’s appearing. She also displays her Twitter feed.

I first met Claire at a magazine launch at the Albion Beatnik Bookstore in Oxford – she is widely published in poetry magazines – and I was interested to hear how she approaches social media.

Tell us about your blog…

My blog is part of my main website and can be found here…

I blog when I have something to say about my writing, other people’s writing, the writing life or just to say how nice or difficult the whole business of writing is!

How often do you update it?

Roughly every 4 to 6 weeks, although I haven’t updated it for a while just recently (I blame Christmas!)

What do you do if you’re too busy to blog?

I pop stuff on Facebook (my personal and Author pages) and Twitter. I also use Pinterest but not very regularly.

Do you follow other blogs, and if so, how? (eg by email, in a reader etc)

Yes, I’ve signed up for a couple (by email) but normally just keep a watch out for interesting blogs by people I admire and will retweet or share them when I can. I have made a private list of ‘People who Tweet Interesting Things’ on Twitter which I monitor so often discover blogs there.

Tell us a bit more about how you use Twitter and other social media platforms …

Claire Dyer on Twitter

I regularly use Facebook and Twitter and try and steer the tricky line between being ‘Claire Dyer the person’ and ‘Claire Dyer the writer’. What I’ve found is that the private and public sides to being a writer are very different and it’s not always easy to manage this in the right way. Someone once told me that using social media is like being at a party so it’s not a good idea to arrive, shout out your own news and not listen to others’. Therefore my guiding principles are to be interested in other people, be supportive of their initiatives, be funny, not moan too much and let people know what I’m up to but not in a pushy way.

How do you manage the time you spend on social media – do you have any rules or tricks, and do you use a social media dashboard eg Hootsuite or Tweetdeck?

I mostly use my ‘People who Tweet Interesting Things’ list on Twitter. I belong to a number of Facebook Groups so that’s helpful in tracking what’s going on but usually I dip in and out so do risk missing things. A friend did mention TweetDeck to me but I haven’t managed to get my head round downloading it yet!

How do you balance social media activity with your actual writing – do you have any rules you abide by, or any tips/advice you would give to other writers?

Log out of Facebook and Twitter when writing otherwise you WILL get distracted!

Some people find social media stressful. What do you most like about it what do you most dislike?

I love social media when it’s positive and supportive and when it serves to disseminate news and information. I do, however, find it hard to deal with it when it is used for negative reasons or when an online discussion gets personal. My tenet is that if I don’t have something nice to say, keep quiet!


Claire’s latest novel is available in paperback and as an e-book, The Perfect Affair – it’s been described as ‘A beautifully told, absorbing romance,’ by the Sunday Mirror, and it’s currently a Sainsbury’s Winter Read.

You can find out more about Claire and her books on her website and blog, via her Amazon Author Page, on Facebook, on Twitter and on her Goodreads Author Page.