Life After Twitter

This is a follow up to the blog post that put me on the map, thanks to a push from Dean Wesley Smith who directed his followers to my site for the post, many of whom ended up staying.

In less than 48 hours, my post The Great Social Media Flim-Flam received over 8000 views, 80 comments, and the blog, itself, gained 500 new followers.

Dang.

The vast majority of commenters—some from New Zealand, Germany, the UK and Venezuela—all said the same thing: “Thank God! Let’s quit this idiocy and get back to writing books.” It was like they were waiting to hear some kind of argument that would allow them to pack it in, close the Twitter account, sign off of Facebook for good.

I heard from one guy who I had noticed on Twitter several times spamming the crap out of everyone and who I’d always been annoyed to see because he was doing exactly what all the social media experts tell you not to do! He was obnoxiously repeating over and over again to “buy his book.” When he wrote me after the post he said, “I wouldn’t do it if it didn’t get results. Dramatic results.” My annoyance dissipated immediately when he told me that. I don’t blame someone for using a tool to get the result we’re all going after. If anything, he’s just more honest than the rest of them who tweet what they had for breakfast as some form of “relationship-building” but really they’re just waiting to slip you their books when you get all cozy and unsuspecting. He says he spams every hour. But he also retweets more than he spams because, let’s face it, he’s the guy the social gurus warned us about and it rankles being considered an untouchable by much of the Twittersphere, even if it does sell books. He said this internal conflict, spamming and then trying to make up for it with treble the re-tweets, has resulted in him spending so much time on Twitter that it’s taken him a year to finish a book he should’ve finished in three months. He says if he can stop the compulsion to watch his numbers rise, he’s going to quit social media and go back to putting his effort into writing again.

I also heard from one woman who was very testy and said that social media absolutely worked for her. She claimed to sell 10,000 books a month (at 99c). I can only imagine she’s a little friendlier in her other social media channels than she was defending herself to me!

I think the thing I’d want to stress is that, especially after talking to Jim (the spammer guy, who has decent books, I might add), I don’t feel judgmental about people who use social media to sell their stuff. If they can do it, power to them. Even if they do it by using a sledge hammer to the head—and it works—go for it. And if they can do it and sleep at night? Mazel tov. I think the thing that bothers me the most is all the people pretending to be friendly while keeping their not-so-hidden agenda in the background (“buy my book!”) Let’s face it, if that’s not the case and you really are trolling the internet to find friends, you have more problems than getting people to buy your book. I mean, come on. You do know you cannot really have ten thousand friends, right? Not in real life, not in cyberspace. (You can call the singles in your wallet twenties if it makes you feel better but they’re still singles.)   So where is the word of mouth coming from if these friends aren’t real?  Last year, I’d heard hundreds of people rave about “The Help” on Kindleboards and Twitter and never once thought it sounded like something I’d like to read, until one (real) friend of mine on Facebook mentioned she couldn’t put it down. And after I read it, I bought it and sent it to two other (real) friends. (Yeah, yeah, I wish it had been an indie book.)

And while it’s only been a couple of days, I can already make some things add up from this blog post experience. The biggest take-away has got to be so clearly viewing blogging as a mechanism to enlarge friendships with other writers. Their input, their way of looking at the same problems you’re wrestling with, their empathy, their experience—all of it is invaluable as shared Intel. (FYI: after 8000 views and a virtual outpouring of affection and “likes,” I sold not one book more than I have been averaging all along.) If you blog because you like to do it, or because you want to meet other writers, and you’ve got something to share, I think it’s a great way to spend your time. If you’re expecting a monetary ROI, probably not.

What an astounding experience these last two days have been for me. I sat at the dinner table last night listening to the steady stream of “dings” that heralded the email notifications that continued to come in (until my husband made our son get up and mute the volume on the computer) and I felt such a part of the larger writers’ community. Between that feeling and the fact that I wrote 3,000 words yesterday on my book, I’d say this whole Life-After-Twitter campaign is off to a great start.

I will get around to answering everyone who left a comment from the first post and I wanted to thank everyone who took the time to write me. Any and all sharing of experiences and information is much appreciated, so please let me know what you think. After all, we really are all in this together.

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26 thoughts on “Life After Twitter

  1. As someone who has been on Twitter for, well, just about 24 hours and has exactly one follower and two posts and, steady yourself, was a 43 Year-Old Blogger Virgin until last week, I’d like to simply state that your approach to this experience seems spot-on. If expanding “friendships” and building a supportive community network with those who seek inspiration for the same purposes (writing) is not the motivation for participating in cyber-conversations or “relationships” (and I am SO using that word cautiously) then perhaps one might spend a few minutes asking themselves why they are so distracting themselves from their writing to engage in these conversations. I’m TRYING to write, but I’m not a “writer”, and I’m not sure what qualifies someone as such. Is it being published? Is it a particular number? As one of the my two pathetic little tweets states, “Credibility resides in volume.” So, I suppose writers are seeking one ultimate goal; to sell books. And there’s a very real chance that I’m embarrassingly stupid and childishly naive, but it seems that social media and the mere act of typing on a connected laptop changes one’s perspective on how and why and even what they write. But most importantly, as I write on a laptop and I hear that “ping”, I STOP writing, at least for a moment. It’s Pavlonian. I go straight to the source. I write something else, perhaps, but I stop writing what I’ve set out to write. Gears shift, and I’m off in a different direction. This cannot be productive. I’ve quit my job- just resigned in the midst of one of the worst job-markets in recent history after fourteen years as a high school history school teacher. I’ve got a Master’s degree I’ll do nothing with and we’ll have to pay for healthcare for the first time since I was in my 20s. All so I could try to “write”. And those PINGS are the enemy of progress. I’ll never have the opportunity for self-promotion because I’ll never finish a book! Those pings. I’ve decided to get a typewriter, and no, not to kick-it old-school and not for my love of nostalgia, but simply to keep my motives in check. What am I doing and why am I doing it? It seems like a typewriter has, in its innards, the ability to keep you more honest. Whatever means necessary.
    I admired your position and your stubborn insistence on viewing what happened as a teachable moment, not so much for others, but for YOU. Your take-away was the only one that matters and you summarized it perfectly.

    • I admire your determination to not let the “pings” interfere with your writing efforts. Looks like Susan’s personal “teachable moment” may be a teachable moment for quite a few of us willing to listen.

    • My hat is off to you, Kristen! It’s incredibly brave to quit your job in this market to pursue your dream. When “play” time is over for the morning, (ie checking online banking, emails and seeing what my friends are doing on Facebook) I turn OFF my browser, minimize my e-mail window and mute the computer so as not to be distracted by those tantalizing “pings.” We’d never get any writing done otherwise!

  2. I discovered you through when I set up my WordPress account yesterday and clicked on “Books,” “Food,” and “Photography” to get suggestions on blogs I might find interesting. I was THRILLED to see that you actually discuss the writing craft on your blog, as I have recently begun to write again (after a much-too-long sabbatical). I’m not a published author (unless you count high school and college literary magazines), but I did participate in NANOWRIMO this past year and have about 7500 words towards something that shows some promise. According to the few people that I’ve shared it with, anyway. “Intrigued” is a good comment, right?

    I look forward to reading your blog, and you’re more than welcome to stop by mine (even though it’s a bit sparse, since I just moved the first post in yesterday – I’m sure it will begin to fill up with time). Have a great day —

  3. I got here by accident and gulped down 3 different posts with my coffee. I don’t know much about Social Media but I see your point, stretching word-of-mouth to include word-of-electronic-mouth may not be the messiah for writers. I’m not sure how it works but I love your take on it.

  4. I’m laughing at myself! With myself? I started blogging in October, because I needed to write stuff down, and I figured, if I was interested, others would be as well. I just got on Facebook and Twitter on Friday, yes, Susan, to drive more traffic to my blog! Before that I was utterly resistant to Social Media. What very big teeth the wolf has! Who knew? I just know that I’m thrilled to be along for the ride. Thanks for reminding me to buckle-up and for your awesome posts!

    • Thanks, Anne–V sweet! I think we blog for ourselves, first, and if other people listen in, that’s great. I see blogging as fellowship first and foremost and totally separate from how those relationships might affect book sales.

  5. I must admit, I didn’t like the endless merry-go-round of social networking. It just never appealed to me, even as a writer. I opened and closed my FaceBook account twice, GooglePlus twice and Twitter three times. After reading your previous post I finally closed Twitter for good.

    I was one of the sheep who followed the Social media writing shepherds. I feel so liberated not having to check the damn things! I had a life before all this stuff came along; I’m going to have one again. My blog is enough for me, and that can be a bind some days.

    Great posts! 🙂

  6. I’ve never seen a twitter-tweeter, I never hope to see one. But I can tell you anyhow, I’d rather see then be one. Twitter is so beyond me, I just don’t get it. To me, it’s like shouting at someone as you drive by, not exactly all that friendly. Blogs feel more like a coffee-chat. Twitter – not so much so. Enjoying always, T

  7. As someone just getting into this whole sphere, I found this very interesting! First book just about to hit the e-shelves, and yes, I’ve been told that I have to get out there in every media possible. Somehow I can’t quite face what seems to me the terribly banality of Twitter (maybe that’s just an outsiders view – I have been told it’s great), but I do have a blog now.
    And I have to say, although I started it because of the upcoming release, I have found such a lot of interesting people out there (not just in the writing field), that I think I am hooked!

      • Thanks Susan! And I’m really impressed that you have taken the time to respond to everyone. The book (it’s called ‘The Artemis Effect’) is still in the final stage of proofreading and cover design, but my little team hope to have it out there in the next month or so. It will feel a bit weird leaving links to it all over the place – most people I have met blogging are so friendly it feels odd to bring it up!

  8. I got on to Twitter because my publishers, Random House, insisted that I should as a way of selling my books. I’m not convinced it does (certainly not the titles I write ,published via the trad system). I’m not sure about e-books either, though your comment about the twitter-spammer is interesting. I hate spammers myself and try to ignore them -which is why I don’t do it on twitter. The fact that this fellow gets results is intriguing; it runs against all the ‘do and don’t’ advice on twitter. I am, like you, not convinced that the super-soft-sell approach required for social networking actually works to sell anything. I’d be delighted if it did. Thanks for your thoughts – provocative, interesting, and causing me to put my thinking cap on!

    Matthew Wright
    http://mjwrightnz.wordpress.com
    http://www.matthewwright.net

    • Thanks for your comment, Matthew. I know the trad publishers push social media for fiction writers too. I’m just not sure if they do it b/c since nobody really knows what works it’s at least something to do. If it were just 15 minutes a day, it might be worth the time, (who knows?) but too often it morphs into much longer. A read of a social media panelist commenting at a recent conference that “social media seems like a big waste of time until something happens.”

  9. Susan,

    I have never twitted, the technology doesn’t accomplish anything I need to get done.

    But, blogging? I LOVE it. I love to write. And blogging lets me do that. And it even attracts the occasional reader, ok, maybe a little more than the occasional.

    I think you will agree with me, but any social media should be about your enjoying writing in that genre. I only write where and when it will make me a better writer AND I enjoy the experience.

    Do you agree that writing for the long haul means you should enjoy writing?

    Wayne

  10. Pingback: Dear Twitter, The Honeymoon is Over | Merry Farmer

  11. Interesting articles — this one and the last. I think if you’re only blogging, tweeting & FBing to sell books, then it isn’t worth it. I blog because I enjoy my topics, I learn as I research and write, it’s good writing practice, and I build relationships. I also tweet for the relationships as well. While I have thousands of cyberfriends, I have an inner circle on Twitter that I keep up with more than others; however, I enjoy popping in and responding to tweets which interest me. Would I be on these sites if I wasn’t a writer? I don’t know. But I don’t think that being there will sell my books. A good book will sell my book. Maybe a blog or tweet will spark someone to read the book and then get word of mouth going, but if I haven’t written a good book, it won’t matter. Which I why I turn off my social media to write.

    • I agree,it’s key to turn off social media and get the important stuff done. I consider writing my most fun part of the day and I reserve it for the time of day when I’m at my best, most alert and rested. (Social media I can do with two glasses of wine in me, after a long day, and the television on.) I, too, love blogging and reading other people’s blogs (mostly other writers’ since that’s my passion) and don’t expect or hope for anything beyond information and fellowship from them. Maybe that’s another important key: refining our expectations.

  12. Pingback: Does annoying twitter spam sell your books? « M J Wright

  13. Pingback: Do annoying tweets sell your books? « M J Wright

    • Thanks for the tip, Maggie. It looks like a great group (and right up my alley.) I typically found pretty good equine articles retweeted on Twitter but struggled to meet actual people who were horse lovers which, after all, is the needed connection: like-minded people. I won’t turn off Facebook or even quit looking at Twitter now and then. I’m just not using them anymore as marketing tools to sell books. Like I said, I don’t believe in social media as a viable avenue for that, but neither do I believe I can make or maintain 10,000 “friendships!” I guess, for me, it’s more about smaller numbers, higher quality. 🙂 Like so much in life!

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