The Role of Social Media in the Life of a Writer

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with social media. To be fair, it’s mainly a hate relationship. As most of the full-time writers will point out, you must have a presence in social media if you have any hope of being successful. So, why do I dislike social media? Mostly because it detracts from my own desire to lock myself in a small room, turn off the lights, and live exclusively in my own head.

There are other reasons. As the 2016 Presidential cycle demonstrated, social media seems to be a world filled with children who love to shout their own ill-informed opinions from the highest towers as loudly as possible. Lots of people talking but no one listens.

Building a social media following is difficult. Finding followers is like finding a needle in a haystack that is perpetually doubling in size and the needle shrinks every morning. Still, it is possible. Last time I looked, Stephen King had around 4,800,000 followers on Facebook. Dean Koontz has about 1,300,000. A few of the authors I personally know have followers ranging from 3,000-28,000.

Facebook and Twitter are like standing on the top of a proverbial mountain, shouting out to anyone who’ll listen while being constantly interrupted by the latest scandal or impossibly cute cat video. How does a guy who writes stories about serial killers and malevolent spirits compete with that?

The situation on Twitter is almost worse when you consider the word count limitations. When you write novels, the idea of putting all your thoughts into the space of a paragraph is hard. I think it’s akin to asking a chef who is used to cooking for eight hundred a night to cook one meal for a picky seven-year-old and ensuring there are no leftovers.

Social media can be a great tool to get your message out to the world. But it can also be a hindrance. I have a list of everything I need to do. It is constantly changing and morphing as tasks get done or become irrelevant so I take them off the list. Not once on that list has, “Reply to the vitriolic rant of a former professor” shown up on my to-do list. Facebook and the internet, in general, is a huge time-suck when you think about it. Sure, you have to be involved in social media, but participation in the actual fray is detrimental to success as a writer in some ways.

Responding to things on the internet can be toxic. I see tons of other writers who thought nothing about posting rants about their least favorite candidate. I have to wonder how those rants might have drowned out their intended message to the audience trying to decide if they wanted to read their books or not. While it is great to have an opinion, opinions are like buttholes, everyone has one. If you feel the need to try and shout over the din that is Facebook, I wish you the best of luck. You’re likely not going to be able to shout loud enough or long enough to make any kind of difference.

Just one my Facebook post and I’ll get back to editing.

I don’t have a good answer to the question of how to achieve success on social media. I wish I knew what the secret was. I guess I’ll just sit back and keep doing what I’m doing and pick up followers as I go. Who knows, maybe I’ll break the 1,000 followers mark by the end of 2017. Maybe that is the goal for Bryan the Writer. Let’s break the 1,000 followers on Facebook by the end of 2017.

-Your Humble Servant



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