Writers Stink at Social Media (And Why That’s Bad if You’re Self-Publishing)

socialmediaandwritersI’ve talked about how bad writers can be at Facebook before. It’s pretty obvious if you just take a look around.

There are exceptions to the rule, of course, but in general it seems that us writerly folks tend to not like social media that much, particularly the insta-smile networks of Facebook, Twitter, and their even more photo-oriented ilk.

The reason is simple:

Writers aren’t that social

There’s a very telling stereotype of writers and it begins with someone huddled over a desk in a cabin in the woods.

Sure, the desk may have turned into a table, the cabin into a café, and the woods into a major metropolitan center that caters to a writer’s dream of being A Writer in the City… but the principle is the same.

Writing is not a social activity. It’s one of the most introverted activities on earth and it requires a certain state of mind that can be interrupted by a tweet, a phone call, an email, an anything-on-the-internet.

Thus, social media is antithetical to what it is to be a writer.

But if you’re self-publishing, you need social media

Of course, the problem is that a lot of writers these days are deciding to self-publish at least some of their work (myself included).

What this means is that the Traditional Writer, the person who looks at anyone who doesn’t seem as artistically cynical or as uniquely attuned with Emotion, has to actually reach out to people.

A lot of authors who are starting to market their books understand this. They’ve made Twitter accounts and Facebook Pages. They’ve started to blog.

It goes against all of our instincts, but writers are starting to share. That’s good. Some of us have overcome Snooty Artist Syndrome, to a point.

But most writers are only using the media part of social media

Writers are content creators. We’re the ones who write the blog articles and share the insights and, consequently, get rewarded for our brilliant insights.

On social media, that model is twisted:

Social media is a give-and-take exchange, reversed.

The Taking is expecting people to read, comment, and like your stuff and the Giving is reading, commenting, and liking other people’s stuff.

Sorry, Snooty Artist Syndrome sufferers, but on the internet, there’s no reason for people to give your stuff the time of day, and vice versa. You’ve got to use social media to create a presence, and you do that by appreciating other people’s stuff.

You can’t just share your own art, you have to interact and engage with other people’s.

That’s the big misunderstanding when it comes to marketing books and articles and art in general on your own behalf:

You can hope your art speaks for itself, but on the internet it probably won’t even be heard

Without the sheer power of a publishing house behind you, you’re on your own. Understand what that means when you self-publish.

I know that “KDP Select” has been marketed very heavily as a cure-all to this problem (i.e. Huzzah, Amazon will promote your book for you, as long as you give it away for free and don’t dare sell it anywhere else!) , but the market seems saturated.

Not surprising, considering a bunch of authors predicted that 2013 would be the year of ebook saturation.

Amazon has even tinkered with the model a bit to, ahem, kind of… you know, ensure that self-published books get barely any exposure at all.

The glory days of KDP Select are fading, because everyone’s in on the secret now. People have drunk the well dry.

The breakdown

  1. The market for ebooks is going to change rapidly if there’s no better way to filter top-notch, self-published material.

  2. You are the filter for your own work. Prove that people should read your stuff by using a blog.

  3. Saturation may be good news for writers still holding out for an agent, editor, or publisher. It may be good news for all of those entities in general, because if you self-publish a masterpiece and there’s a good chance it will drop into the empty well without so much as a splash

Photo Credit: IvanWalsh.com via Compfight cc

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