Talking about social media—because we were, weren’t we? Twitter’s a funny thing too. A few minutes ago I saw that a gentleman wearing full Saudi sheik gear was following me. I went to his profile and saw just scrolls and scrolls of arabic script so I didn’t follow back. I mean, why would I? He could be ranting off about anything and I wouldn’t be any the wiser. A minute later he’d gone. He’d given me about two minutes to decide to follow back or he wasn’t playing.
It made me think that I really don’t understand what makes twitter users tick. At first I just watched in consternation as the jumble of ads, spams, and incoherent, meaningless messages scrolled past. Then I discovered twitter poetry prompts and settled into a little backwater of the twitter stream full of little gems of poetic imagery. It’s fun, useful, and entertaining. I slip in a plug for my own books every couple of weeks but since I don’t believe it makes one iota of difference, it’s not something I do with any conviction or perseverance.
I follow back many of the people who follow me as long as they’re not selling anything or promoting hate or some religion or other. Often these followers come through the poetry connection. Others though seem to be simply working their way through the entire twitterverse starting with the letter A. What good does it do me in any way whatsoever to be followed by a Saudi sheik or a computer programmer in Seattle, or a lady who knits lace doilies in Hong Kong? Often their twitter feed is just a constant dribble of : Thanks for the follow. What intellectual stimulation is there to be got out of the kind of messages that are composed half of hashtags and half of single letters or contractions and numbers instead of words? Why do people follow twitters who don’t even use the same alphabet? How the hell do you know what they’re tweeting about?
So many questions. Any answers?
I wrote that a few days ago. That was before I reached the tipping point with spam demands. I know this strikes a chord with a lot of people. You accept a friend request or return a twitter follow and your inbox or DM box starts pinging away like crazy with messages like: Thanks for the follow, now follow me on FB/ follow this Amazon link and buy my book/ go to my profile and RT my book ads. Who do they think I am? A social service for wannabee best sellers? Do I really have nothing better to do with my time than spend it puffing up complete unknowns who won’t even say thank you? I’d have to be suffering from terminal boredom to do half what these people expect.
I’m quite prepared to admit that there is a way of using social media to get readers for my books. I just haven’t found it yet. I have though found lots of ways in which social media would drive potential readers away. So far away they would never come back. I have a theory that the advocates of using social media for saturation spamming have an evil ulterior motive. By encouraging other authors to jump into the spammers’ black hole, they clear the way for themselves to gain readers using the more subtle methods they aren’t letting on about.
As we all know by now, selling books isn’t about the quality of the writing, it’s about the way you put it over. There are quite a few popular expressions to describe the process—none of them very complimentary. As Susan Toy points out in her excellent article I have just taken the liberty of reblogging, if what you are looking for is readers not sales, the tactics are completely different. Then, you just have to write a great book, offer it to people, and thank them heartily if and when they enjoyed it and tell you so. That’s maybe how we authors should count our success.
End of rant.