Like many others, I’ve seen my ROI on my Twitter investment decreasing at an alarming rate for the past several months. So, with no suitable replacement and impending burnout, I’m pondering what I get from this (or any other) social media platform anymore.
Why I Didn’t Quit Sooner
Back in the day, a writer needed a social media platform. Whether we self-published or queried traditional channels, a following was mandatory. But then a platform arms race ensued, and desperate writers bought followers or used alts and bot accounts to pad their numbers to appear more popular than they were. (I’ve even caught literary agents doing this.) While it’s true that some independent authors built healthy incomes from social media, sadly, this no longer seems possible.
Writers who want to be edgy and relevant increasingly engage in flame wars. Stans stalk writers, and writers stalk fans. When Elon started his shenanigans, I started thinking more and more about quitting Twitter. Many writers left in a Twitfit, proclaiming Mastodon would be the next best place. Others swore by BookTok. Still, others have left for Bookstagram. The grass is always greener on the other side of the social media fence–or is it?
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again; novel writers don’t have anything newsworthy to share with readers or reviewers on a daily basis. I don’t care if you Tweet the text, IG the photo, or TikTok the video; it’s all just fluff. Stop the hype. All anyone wants to know from a writer is when their next book is coming out.
After I prepared and reviewed my October 2, 2023 launch plan for Space Hysteria, I realized that social media was not a necessary part of my marketing strategy.
Elon Musk has done us all an accidental favor by exposing how incredibly fake engagement numbers are. When I examine the sources of my book reviews and sales, I can honestly say that almost nothing has come from Twitter (or any other social media site). Sure, people leave comments claiming they bought the book (while my Amazon dashboard shows me otherwise). I’ve spent years talking to people who pretended to have read my books, only to have them confess later that they never had. Why people do this is beyond me. Maybe readers are trying to seem more relevant than they are, too.
The Twitter Time-Suck
And yet the amount of time and mental energy I have wasted on Twitter is downright embarrassing. I’ve spent time tweaking promos, convincing myself wording and hashtags matter. I’ve spent time engaging with fans who never bought anything. I’ve spent time asking readers for reviews and have yet to get them. I’ve spent time thinking about how to tweet better, be funnier, go viral, etc. I’ve spent time coaching aspiring writers in DMs (the biggest of my regrets). I’ve spent time perfecting pitches for contests. I’ve spent time being interviewed by journalists and news outlets. I’ve spent time workshopping jokes in group DMs. I’ve spent time speaking in Twitter Spaces. But worst of all, I spent time doom-scrolling, hoping to find random readers.
Lies We Tell Ourselves
Let’s be honest. Your average book reader is not hanging out on Twitter (or Instagram or TikTok for that matter). Nobody ever thinks: I’d like to read a novel; I should search relevant keywords on Twitter to discover a fresh new voice. NOBODY. It just doesn’t happen.
And still, a part of me is afraid to quit Twitter because someday an important big shot might see my profile and want to contact me with an opportunity of a lifetime.
That’s never going to happen, either. Sure, people pretend to be literary agents, journalists, book publishers, and movie producers. They slide into your DMs, offering to help make you the next big thing. Sometimes they even pose as the aspiring talent looking for a kind mentor. Mostly this is animated. Increasingly, it’s AI chatbots. Sometimes these users are actual people. And there’s always someone real behind a bot somewhere. But be careful. Whether offering a hand up or seeming eager to learn, these people will only pump you for info. Why? Who knows? Many are narcissists just looking for attention, especially from someone they think is talented or more famous. Others are just farming followers and engagement. Some are straight-up scammers, hackers, or predators.
I’ve come to understand that do-gooders don’t go around on social media looking to raise talent to the next level. And healthy people don’t go looking for mentors online, either. What these types ARE looking for is people to exploit. Every single time I’ve fallen for a scam or con artist, it all started on Twitter.
Not-So-Quiet Quitting Twitter
I was going to pin a subscription link to my publication newsletter to my profile and save Twitter for formal announcements — you know, quiet quit. But by the time I got to the end of writing this blog post, I decided to delete my Twitter account entirely.
Guess I convinced myself to stop creating content for free while consuming propaganda and being targeted by predators. No brainer.