Social networks and sea lions

20160424_111859Today stared off pretty well. Thorfinn was nice this morning. No battering mischief. No big fights. Just decent Daddy-time. I also posted another rambling bag of crazy over at the Tinker Point, this time on the subject of money, as in what is it?

Along the way, I had a thought about readers and writers. Writers are usually desperate to get reviews and word of mouth referrals from readers. Being a published author is such a fragile, fiscally self-defeating state that you often feel the feverish need to do something. So you struggle to try to make your books visible without becoming a terrible human being along the way. That’s hard, because word-of-mouth isn’t something you can access or tap. And no amount of screaming into the Twitter-void is likely to help—particularly since the social media algorithms changed to make benign self-promotion effectively impossible. So what can you do?

My best guess comes from this great TED talk by Nicholas Christakis, a network scientist I greatly admire. He points out that there are ways you can leverage social networks to do things like preventing the spread of disease.

So if you can use those methods to prevent the spread of flu, why not use it to help authors whose work you admire? Even if you can’t promote your own work, you can help others. Here’s how it works.

  1. You read a book you like and decide that the author is worth keeping around.
  2. You try to think of the most popular person you know who might also enjoy that book. The sort of person who seems to know everybody and gets excited about things a lot.
  3. You encourage that one person to read the book you like. Congratulations, you just activated your local social hub.


That’s it. You’re done. Of course, telling everyone you know is even better, but lots of really enthusiastic readers are introverts, just like the writers whose work they enjoy. It’s not reasonable for any author to expect their readers to become recommendation engines on their behalf.

I plan to start using this method myself for writers whose work I like. We’ll see how it goes.  And here, randomly, is a picture of the site of the longest and most acrimonious sea-lion fight I’ve ever seen, which happened yesterday. It was like an enormous, slow motion bar-brawl, with lots of lying down.