Pondering Social Media

Is social media a productive platform for authors?

Every author is told that they will fail without social media. Also, we are told that the more social media sights we partake in, the more success we are likely to have. However, I am finding this is not necessarily the case.

I have been writing for almost two years. I have two books out that are small anthologies of short stories. I have a suspense novel published, and I am about to release my second suspense novel in just a couple of months. I have used social media and those who influence social media to try and boost book sales. At the end of this period, I can honestly say I have seen little to no benefit in using these resources.

However, I will narrow this down a bit, so I avoid painting every social media site with the same broad brush. I tried Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr. Of these four sites, only Facebook has given me any sort of value. So, let’s take a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The Good

Facebook has been great for me. I will start off with a caveat by saying I have been on Facebook for a long time, and so my first one hundred or so followers on my author page came from my personal list of friends. This number expanded out as I did my first book shows and shared with people about my author site. Additionally, I used awareness ads to get even more people involved. I try and post something on my author page daily, and many times it has nothing to do with writing. Often it will be memes or something else humorous. Also, I do livestream videos as well as connecting to Youtube videos. This interaction has helped me start to grow my base of readers. Readers who I know buy and read my books.

The Bad

Let me start with the low hanging fruit. Twitter is horrible. It is quite possibly the worse social media site on the internet if you are looking for positive interaction. For all the post promotions, and focused, constant promoting, I have never found a single reader who closely followed my work or interacted directly with me. Those that do interact usually are people who are trying to sell their services to authors. Then there is the entire subculture on Twitter that can pounce on you if you post a topic they do not like. I have avoided this scenario, but I don’t want to hang out in places that force me to walk on eggshells. For this reason, my twitter account is inactive most of the time.

Facebook carries its own set of issues. The company has allowed itself to be bullied by the news as well as political and special interests of all stripes. As a result, it is now trying to police the social community rather than encourage interaction and bring people together. This means most posts are seen by fewer and fewer people unless you pony up some money to pay Facebook to introduce your content to the masses. This pay to play model is very discouraging, and frankly, you are better off spending your ad money on directed ads to your books on Amazon and other vendors.

Tumblr is a dying platform. It was once a great place to post your blog and get discovered. However, its user base continues to shrink as people spend more time on social media.

The Ugly

I mentioned Facebook’s pay to play format that it seems to be pushing. In addition, all social media platforms now practice censorship. In an alarming twist, authors and writers can find themselves once more being ousted from the global society for “dangerous” views. Anyone who studies history and the inhuman treatment of creators during the reformation and enlightenment periods should feel alarmed.

Politics has become the new religion, and both sides wield it to silence those who disagree with them. Much like the Catholic church tried to stop the printing of the Bible in everyday language, large swaths of political fanatics try to silence any point of view that differs from theirs. My advice is to use social media where necessary, but do not tie yourself to it. Make sure your website stays up to date, and that you crosspost to places like Goodreads and others should your social media account suddenly be found suspended one day for a book, or point of view you innocently shared that someone found offensive.