I logged out of my Twitter account yesterday. Yes, I knew the site was so broken that I wouldn’t be able to log back in. But two months after Elon Musk took over, I couldn’t stand being part of that drama queen’s captive audience anymore. Twitter shouldn’t be about the Chief Twit every damn day.
An Ugly Twitter Addiction
Over the years, I’d worked hard to curate my feed and practiced something I called algomancy – a type of technomagic where I attracted the exact content I needed while drafting my current novel. I became dependent upon this stimuli to focus. But this power faded as Musk’s team of tech hostages screwed the algorithm to suit his political agenda. Last week, the magic disappeared completely. I no longer had control of my feed, so I had to leave. Here’s how quitting cold turkey is going so far.
I miss the dopamine pump already.
Common Twitter Schemes
I’m facing some hard realities here. First of all, as an author, everyone from agents to indies constantly tell me I need a healthy social media platform to succeed. But Twitter had never been the ideal platform for writers to shill their books. What even is a healthy platform anymore? Over the years, I’ve identified four types of scammers who succeed at the social media hustle.
- Bot Lords with armies of fake followers that comment on their spam tweets, they make themselves look more popular than they really are. They get tons of retweets and likes on everything they post, but it’s all automated. All designed to pump their content into feeds of non-followers. All in hopes of going viral. Engagement never equals books sales or true readership, and aside from a few naive people who get swept up in the bot frenzy, they have no real fanbase.
- Ponzi Writers are self-proclaimed experts who wrangle aspiring authors into some kind of quid-pro-quo review-writing pyramid that I call a circle jerk. You spend a lot of time writing a lot of people glowing reviews, and they’ll give you a boilerplate one from their genre library with a few keywords changed. Amazon cracked down on this shit years ago and blocked these people from reviewing anything. But the networks still thrive on social media. You’ll see the same writers retweeting and commenting on each other’s tweets over and over. They’ll look like they’re friends, you’ll want to join them, but they’re really a gang. A lot of times, they look like writer critique groups, but it’s a review farm and nothing more.
- Social Media Junkies people with dozens and dozens of alt accounts. These writers have spreadsheets to track all their fake email accounts, profile pics, and handles. They actually sit at Tweet Deck interacting with real users all day and all night. Each of their alts has a different brand appeal. They basically catfish with different kinds of bait. They have no lives in the real world, but they do get readers. The problem is they spend more time on social media than they do writing, and their work sucks because of it. This method is impossible to scale because there’s only one person writing all the self-congratulatory content. They also tend to run Discord servers. The junkie will never really break through as a writer, and their entire enterprise falls apart if you discover (and expose) their dirty little secret.
- Troll Warriors constantly do battle with the competition online. They’ll be the ones to leave a one-star review on any book that they see gaining traction on social media, especially if it’s in their genre. They’ll leave nasty comments and attack your readers and friends online. They’re entire objective is to bait you into a flame war, thereby making them the center of attention rather than your book. They’ll recruit their friends (or alts) into their battles. And again, this is a writer who spends more time playing games online than actually writing good stories. They do get readers though. And those readers are usually fans of their online personae – a cult of personality.
The thing about these schemes is they also apply to politics, crypto, and any other industry that relies on eCommerce or digital distribution.
My golden rule for marketing is: Whatever you do to get popular, you’ll have to do to stay popular. So make sure you can live with that decision and still like the person you see staring back at you in the mirror at the end of the day.
Painless Twitter Withdrawal
I guess what I miss most is the idea that Twitter mattered. Because it really doesn’t. All in all, without using any of the schemes mentioned above, I might have gotten 50 hand-sells from Twitter. I hit the Amazon bestseller list in multiple categories with Alpha Bots, because I landed a BookBub. That’s it. Now, what it takes to get a BookBub is no easy feat. You need a quality product, at least 50 Amazon book reviews averaging over 3.5, wide distribution, and a proven sales record. To get there, I ran two NetGalleys and paid for multiple online promotions – so many promotions. After two years, I’ve sold over 2,000 copies of this title. It takes patience. It takes persistence. It takes money.
It’s a lot easier to commit to a true marketing campaign if you know you got a killer product. So, that’s what I’m going to focus on now – writing stories so addictive that they’re like crack. Crack books!
Blogging Instead of Twitter
And hey, this is the first blog post I’ve written in years – YEARS! At the end of the day, we’re all better off writing content for ourselves on our own websites. The billionaire space boy wants to hold our platforms hostage, use the content we create, and charge us for the experience. I say no! No, I say!
Crack books and AvaLock.com blog posts – this will be my new dopamine pump.
(And I’ll be cross-posting to my Medium account and PolkaVerse account too.)