This was sparked by a comment on one of Dean Wesley Smith’s posts (the one from Jay on December 10).
It was along the lines of “Do I really have to put myself out in social media to sell books? I’m not comfortable putting out information about myself.”
The comment could have been written by me.
I started out doing actor David Hedison’s website. We wanted to keep a barrier between his personal life and the fans. The fans? They would have asked for his underwear size and what type if they could.
And I was seeing people put everything out. One writer started listing the medication she was on in her blog, and it wasn’t cold medicine. Way too much information!
Having been in the military, this level of information flow bothered me. We’re trained over and over “Loose lips sink ships.”
But I kept seeing that Twitter was the big thing. Everything I saw said to post 10 times a day to get any kind of visibility—when the heck did anyone write anyway?
So I tried Twitter.
Then, it was about the numbers. You had so many followers, or got a certain score. Services allowed you to follow people and hopefully they followed you back. And it was all shiny and new.
There was one writer I ran across who had 8,000 followers. I was astounded. How had he managed that? His books must be selling up a storm!
His books were riddled with typos and poorly written. Everyone liked him on Twitter. Couldn’t give him the time of day with his books. He eventually tried short stories because they took less time to produce and disappeared eventually.
I tolerated Twitter for a while. I quickly found that if you’re a writer, you get followed by other writers who spam you about their books. Or if you’re on a hashtag associated with writing, you’ll get spammed. I did a social media class on blogging and Twitter and we had a nice discussion on the hashtag. Then a writer started sending autotweets promoting herself to the group. The members tried tweeting her. Then they tried email. Then they reported her as spam to Twitter and got her suspended. She got back on and started right up with more spam. One of the members finally joined her Facebook group and openly posted to her board where everyone else could see and asked why she was spamming us. She denied it, but the tweets stopped.
By then, I’d had my fill of Twitter. Way too hard to keep up. Definitely not fun, and I’m sure it showed. I’m an introvert, and Twitter made me feel like I was dragged to a party for mandatory fun (it’s an Army thing).
During this I took a writer’s social media course. I’d been blogging for several years at that point but I wasn’t getting much traffic. The course was kind of a cheerleading session more than anything. We all came up with log lines to fit our blog. I had a lot of trouble with mine…I suppose because it felt too personal.
Then it was blog three times a week, and all the other writers would visit and comment. Cheerleaders.
I was the first blog everyone dropped off from. It was humiliating. Was I really that bad?
(In hindsight, it was likely because I was trying not to post writing how-tos.)
But within about two months, all of them started dropping off their blogs. They said blogging was interfering with their writing. They were writing 2,000 word blog posts, revising them extensively….well, you can see how it self-destructed. A lot of them have disappeared. A few are still writing.
Since then, I’ve seen writers saying that writing a book is 90% market and 10% writing. There ain’t a lot of writing going on with those numbers.
I like Joanna Penn’s idea of marketing much better—marketing should be such that you only have to do minimal work. More time for writing.
Whatever I do–writing, social media, etc.–I do because I enjoy it. Anything else is a waste of time. Case in point: my Journal at HEStanbrough.com is almost daily. It almost always consists of several hundred to a thousand words. I enjoy chatting with my friends and passing along possibly valuable (vetted) information. That’s in addition to my writing, on average, 2800 words per day for the last five years. Just sayin’.
Absolutely true that you have to enjoy it. And that’s always missing from most of the discussion on any kind marketing. It’s always about how to game the system.
A wonderful post, Linda!
For me one of the most frustrating things is that writers seem to attract other writers more easily that readers on their various social media pages. I don’t post writing how tos because I don’t have anything to offer that hundreds of other writers who are out there are offering.
Thank you so much for your openness and honesty! 😃❤️
It also amazes me that these writers think other writers are their audience or that they OWE reviews because they are writers.
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