Social Media and Writing

Social Media Writing

Social media writing? No, I mean both of them. Not the combo.

Social media and writing go together.

Kind of.

I read Chuck Wendig’s post on the two and I want to comment on it.

Basic Info That Can Help Anyone (Really!)

Let’s start with the basics.

Social media will not save a bad book

Unfortunately, it’s true. We have all seen the Twilight tropes, e. g. “still a better love story than Twilight”. My apologies to Stephenie Meyer, and to the people who enjoy her work. She caught fire because she hit a particular market extremely well. Her success was not social media-fueled, at least not in the beginning (although it probably was later, as people shared their joy on Facebook, Twitter, etc.). Rather, her work did well, at least in part, because it hit the teen/tween girl market like a bull’s eye. Ever wonder why Bella Swan is so undeveloped and is barely described? It’s so any young girl can dream of being her. Any girl of any race or height or weight or hobbies.

The Twilight novels were also very well-marketed by her publisher, Hachette Book Group. At the time the fourth one came out, I was given it (it’s called Breaking Dawn) as a bonus because I was working for Hachette in their IT department.

Some people get Thanksgiving turkeys. Some people get ….

Er, sorry, Ms. Meyer. I don’t want to turn this into a bash session.

Rather, the point I am dancing around is that if Ms. Meyer had blasted everything on Twitter and Facebook, and hadn’t had a good marketing department behind her, she probably would not have gotten as far as she has.

Social media did not improve her works. It did not worsen them, either. Her success came about, for the most part, outside the realm of social media. And it did not save her work from being savaged by critics.

Converting from one platform to another is exceptionally difficult

You may be fantastic on LinkedIn but stink on Twitter. You may be killin’ it on Wattpad but limping along on YouTube. Or you may even have tons of Facebook friends but few followers on your Facebook page.

True story. I read a lot (duh!). It’s all sorts of stuff. I read fanfiction, I read original writing, I read free stuff, I read NaNoWriMo novels. And I read the classics. What is often interesting is seeing works which are highly rated on GoodReads which have so few sales on Amazon that they aren’t being recommended. Get enough sales, and you start to be mentioned in those, “If you like __, you might enjoy ___” kinds of notifications.

I see people who are Wattpad gods and goddesses, cranking out tons of super-appreciated chapters and adored by hundreds of thousands of (presumably) screaming fans. Then they try to monetize their work, and it falls flat. New York Times bestselling authors, for real, only sell a few tens of thousands of works in any given week and they make the cut. So why don’t these Wattpad writers who are getting read counts to an order of magnitude ten higher than that?

Social media is a daily tsunami

Part of the reason is this right here. We are all inundated, every single day. Over twenty-four hours of new YouTube content is uploaded every second of every day. They have over one billion users. Facebook has over 1.7 billion registered users and over one billion of those people access the site on a daily basis. Therefore, they are considered to be ‘regular users’. The average number of Facebook friends currently hovers at around 150 or so. Twitter’s users also number in the hundreds of millions.

Given all of these big numbers, you can’t blame organic reach decline on a platform trying to hide posts so you’ll pay for the privilege of advertising (although that’s part of it). It is also a sheer numbers game. If you have 150 friends on Facebook and it’s your sole platform, you still can’t keep up with it all. If you go on Facebook for 150 minutes (e. g. two and a half hours), that won’t be one minute per friend, as you will inevitably read a headline, take a survey or quiz, like a comment, post a picture, or watch a video.

How does this apply to you, the indie author? Stay tuned; I’ll cover it in part 2.