Wednesday, October 14, 2020

I really don't want to be on Twitter-how do I tell that to a potential agent?

I've been querying and have a few fulls out. Fingers crossed I get an offer of rep, but if I do, I have a question. How do I tell an agent I don't want to be on twitter? 

I have an account where I post sporadically, with a couple hundred followers, but I hate using the platform. It's become a cesspool of hate/negativity/people trying to ruin strangers' lives. It has never felt like a community to me. I've done my best to carefully curate who I follow, and I only post non-controversial things, like pictures of my cats/baking creations/nature walks, but it feels like there's no escaping the hate.

I know things are bad for a lot of people, and I get frustrated and despairing with the way the world is, but, for my own mental health, I try not to let those feelings consume me. I've struggled for a long time with depression and anxiety, and I know the best thing for my own health is to avoid social media altogether. However, I know many agents expect a social media presence from authors. 

How do I bring this up to an agent? Recently, people have begun to make a lot of changes to help people feel valued and safe, which I fully support, yet we're still expected to be part of this platform I find so damaging. Does it ruin my chances of getting published if I don't want to be on twitter? I just can't imagine that the best/only way to sell a book is to bombard a very flawed social media platform with posts. 


I completely understand why you don't want to be a bigger presence on Twitter.
I had the lovely experience some time back of being the target of a TweetScrum, and it was no fun. I am as tough as an old boot, and it was still unsettling. For someone not used to getting hate mail or public insults, I can see how it would have been devastating.

I'm glad you realize this is not the social media platform for you, and you're not trying to change that. Your mental health is worth more than book sales.

But, the first thing to remember is Twitter isn't the only game in town.
There's Instagram, and it's a much more friendly place.
It takes a while to build a following, but it doesn't have the cesspool aspects of Twitter.

And there's Facebook which is  more problematic. I don't use it anymore. My frustration was they curated who I saw, rather than showing me everything from my "friends." I wanted to see the Rockettes, instead I saw the political rants of a writer I'd met casually at a writing conference.

The second thing to rememember is the reason an agent says "be on Twitter."
It's to promote books.

There are other ways to promote books, and the best one is a robust mailing list.

Query with "I'm not on Twitter but I have a 3000 person mailing list" and you're not going to get much pushback.

A mailing list, a curated list of people who want to read your work, is pure gold.


KMK said...

All good advice! Just offering a little insight from the trenches of a lockdown debut: Writer Twitter helped. Note that I said WRITER TWITTER. I was afraid of Twitter because of my day job in radio news, but I've found that the #writerscommunity (stay away from anyone who is not a writer!) has been mostly supportive and welcoming...and I've found a LOT of promotional opportunities there. My experience with Insta, though highly recommended by one Very Successful Writer, has been difficult and even unpleasant. I had to switch from my author pic to a cartoon avatar because I kept getting inappropriate DM's. As for FB, I ended up as an admin on a group for a genre-related group and that has also been helpful. What -- if anything -- any of this did for sales, who knows. But at least I'm out there trying every day.

Melissa said...

This is my social media experience:

Twitter has been great for me to chat with like-minded people. All of my books have an outdoor adventure theme and I connect with that group there through chats and things. I've found great new trails and places to go. I have not sold a lot books but the ones I did left great reviews. It's not really an advertising platform. I also have a ton of political words muted and block anyone who posts a lot of political stuff.

Facebook is where I connect with authors. I'm in tons of groups where we share tips, ask questions, and swap reads. I have a page but again I don't think it works well for me as a selling platform. Also, a lot of people are leaving Facebook.

On Instagram I post pictures of my adventures and do okay with likes. The second I post a book, my likes plummet. I know people have luck here selling but me not so much.

Pinterest. My author friend encouraged me to set up an account because Pinterest is more of a buying platform. People interact more with it as a search engine. It's also easy to set up and run ads. I'm still building an audience. My ads get lots of clicks but I'm not quite seeing sells yet. This is still new for me.

PAH said...

This is a tough one for me. I think all social media is a net loss for society. It has some benefits but we'd be better off if it didn't exist. I really do think it is that bad. How can I justify using it, for any reason, let alone for personal gain?

Bottom line, for me, I'd rather not use something I think is so very bad for society and the future of the world... even if that means selling fewer books or selling no book at all.

Maybe I'm just old (36 lol)...

The Noise In Space said...

Here's my experience with social:

Insta: Since FB bought Insta, the algorithm has changed significantly. They now choke organic discovery, which makes new growth very hard. In one year I got a fair number of followers, but it was an uphill struggle. In April of this year, when it lost the title of "most popular platform," growth got harder as a huge chunk of people had left the platform. RESULT: about 2,500 followers in 14 months

TikTok: Far and away the best platform, in my experience. Really fun to both make and consume content here, plus the FYP algorithm is legendary among developers for being so well done. Growth is easy, but comes in big jumps. Lots of great communities on here as well. RESULT: 92.7K followers in 4 months (!!!)

YouTube: The best platform for monetizing content and often the most respected among content creators, but also the hardest to build on. Since subscription videos are no longer pushed to subscribers, many people no longer bother with subscribing. Additionally, YT will not display your content in searches until you hit a minimum number of videos. Algo favors regularly posting content at the same time every week, which means your production schedule is rigid. Personally, I love video and having a show makes me feel like I have a little more to show for my work, but it's not for everyone. RESULT: About 550 followers in 14 months (My fault, I did not post nearly often enough)

FB: like Janet, I gave this up a few years ago. It's a cesspool.

Twitter: Conversation is easy, earning followers is hard. People go there to shout into the void or to be heard, not to listen. I do find it's much easier to talk to people on here, but building up an audience seems difficult. I have not tried to grow on this platform.

It's also worth pointing out that the standard for "influencer" changes with the platform. On Insta, the bottom level for micro-influencers is about 10K-50K followers, and if you hit 50K, you're doing great. On TT, micro-influencers regularly have 450K, with major influencers having numbers in the millions.

(Sorry for the long post!)

E.M. Goldsmith said...

I wanted to quit Twitter as well. I stayed only to follow writers and fans of Liverpool FC and that is all. There are a couple of people I know from the Reef on Twitter that I like to keep up with as well but it is a cesspool. I respect contrary opinions but not when they are expressed with such hate and vehemence that it closes down all chance of respectful debate. The Reef (here) is a good place for proper and respectful debate.

Facebook makes me nervous but I rejoined to be part of a writing community (also an offshoot of this wonderful blog) for encouragement and advice about writing, querying, and all that jazz. It's wonderful. I keep my profile super private but that doesn't stop Facebook from being the gigantic jerks and showing me what THEY want me to see and not what I choose to see.

It will be sometime before humanity adjusts to social media.

I am very nervous about building the marketing I will need to sell books. Although I am confident I can get at least 100 people on my mailing list and maybe build from there. But I need to get an agent, a publisher, you know...the minutia to make it at all appealing.

Ok, it is a crawl under a rock sort of day for me. I have one of them old-fashioned colds. Apparently, wearing a mask will not stop the common cold. Oh well.

S.P. Bowers said...

Hmmm, I'm going to have to start with the mailing list. I'm on twitter but don't do much. I also avoid it many days. Same with FB. I won't go on TikTok. In fact, my husband's company has said employees are NOT to get on it because of the whole China spying on us thing. We have a you tube channel, but it doesn't have anything to do with writing or what I write about.

nightsmusic said...

I think social media has been society's downfall in many ways. There's almost no post on any of the social media platforms that isn't open to scrutiny, no matter how locked down you think your profile/account/comments are and all it takes is one person to take exception to something you've posted and suddenly, you become the next scapegoat in a world of people just frothing for a scapegoat. It's made people angry and obnoxious and entitled to type for the world to see what they wouldn't say to someone to their face. And unfortunately, for a lot of people, it's a necessary evil. And that's too bad.

And yes, I'm old enough to remember when there were no computers for public or business consumption.

I also don't put my real, personal information out there. I've had a stalker for years and it became second nature to hide myself. That carried over onto the interwebs. If you try hard enough, you can find me, but I had no intention of making it easy so while I tried them, I rarely use FB and don't use Twitter or Instagram or any of the other platforms out there, at least I'm not me. I would have to be a pen name if I was expected to go back to that.

Can someone tell me what a TwitterScrum is? I tried googling it and didn't really come up with a definition.

Emma said...

I settled on Facebook. I already have my friends on it and I still interact with them. There's a way to mark up to 30 people so you get to see their posts first, and I did that. I've only recently began growing on Facebook, and my main goal there is to make connections and find out about writing community events, not to sell books. I don't really understand how social media can help you sell books if you're just starting out anyway. I've made friends though, and that's gold.

But if it's an inappropriate DM or someone only posts about politics they get muted or unfriended very quickly.

I gave up on Twitter. I'm poking my head into Instagram, but I have hardly any platform there.

In other words, if my writing career takes off, it won't be because of my social media efforts. Once it takes off, I'll be happy to maintain it on social media.

At least that's where I am now.

Barbara Etlin said...

I'm on Twitter and I've made some writer friends there. Twitter is also the only way I can keep in touch with writer friends who I know from abandoned blogs on LiveJournal and other places. I've joined #WritingCommunity. We sometimes retweet other writers' pinned tweets (often a blurb for our books). I've found Twitter to be a good source for new, interesting books to buy.

I mute people who get too political and I've blocked certain words and people, which eliminates threads I'd rather avoid.

I'm on Pinterest. I use my book's cover as my profile pic there. I don't sell any books through there, but I think it is a good source of people with common interests. People who like owls as I do, in theory, could have been good people to whom to market my first novel about owls. But mostly I find it soothing to look at pictures of things I like when I'm trying to destress from the news.

ADGraves said...

Social media is draining to say the least. I barely use my personal accounts. I set up author accounts to get a one up before querying, but it is stressful having social media.

I like the writers community on Instagram, but gaining followers is so difficult. I can’t seem to get in the flow with tiktok, I watch tiktoks, but I make terrible ones. Twitter... I threw that away years ago. And Facebook pages, no one cares about unless your famous.

I have friends with podcasts and I know people from the writers community that promote books and have very large followings where I could set up a marketing deal with them, something simple and most likely without money involved. I’d much rather talk on a few podcasts than post on social media.

Eileen said...

The book THE NEWSLETTER NINJA has some great advice on building a list. (And I am not the writer nor do I get any kickbacks- it's just good.)

Luralee said...

So a social media presence of whatever platform is :

quite helpful for a few people,
somewhat helpful for some people,
a major pain in the tookus for many people, and outright harmful if you don’t do it right.


How many people who sign up for mailing lists of debut writers they don’t know personally actually end up buying their book? I’d really like to know.

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

Social media is definitely a personal thing regarding which platform appeals to different people. I can't stand Twitter. To me, there is more hateful pile-on than anywhere else. Hate it.

But I love Facebook. My posts are uplifting and fun, nearly always about the positive things going on here at the sanctuary. I have nearly 15,000 followers (between personal page and Proud Spirit page) I get 100s of "likes" and comments and (almost) zero BS. Now and then I have to post about the loss of one of our horses, or I rant about animal abuse I must contend with, and my followers are always kind.

I'm constantly humbled by the wonderful feedback about my books from FB followers, and many people encourage others who they don't even know to buy my titles.

Brenda said...

I’m on insta, FB (love one particular page), and twitter. Moderate success on insta, better on twitter, terrible on fb, all with the same posts.
My newsletter has 35 first cousins and five complete strangers. Sigh.
I’ll check out TikTok. My daughter-in-law has 100k plus following. How hard can it be?
Double sigh.

Katja said...

Social media and lots of followers really can mean a lot (I did find Twitter useful, absolutely!) but it can also really mean nothing. Next to ZERO.

I'm still very new on Instagram and I'm spying on a few people and what they do and don't do and how many followers they have and how many likes and COMMENTS they get.
No, Brenda, it's not you, LOL - relax!

I just happened to do this also because THEY actually made contact with me on Instagram.

There is a woman with over 8K followers. She recently self-published 2 books. One is a guide on hospitality and one is a novella. The lead-up to her releases were both flanked by the most colourful virtual pomp poms on the platform. I found myself intimidated, given I had about 60 followers etc.

This woman's posts got well over 100 likes EVERY time, and 20 to 30 comments. People congratulating, expressing excitement, saying "this is going to be a bestseller" (for both books)!

I monitored the Amazon rankings for both books from the moment of pre-order availability. It is possible to roughly guess how well a book sells if you check regularly. I did. For my own research and PANIC.

The books sold at most 5 times, each. Probably less than that (for the second). I was so puzzled!!
Then I checked the guide on hospitality on Amazon, using the look-inside button. It explained everything...
The guide on how to make your host feel good at your home started out with advising that you pick up books and toys from your carpet and don't leave dirty dishes in your kitchen sink.

People like and comment on whatever. Followers don't always mean much. Sometimes nothing at all. Followers, apparently, can be bought!

My advice, really: make sure you write a really great book. The rest isn't everything. Don't panic about social media. (Although I know it's hard not to - I'm not saying I never do...)

KMK said...

Katja, thank you so much for the insight on Insta! I've been really feeling inadequate because I can't seem to figure it out, despite doing pretty well with FB and Writer Twitter. I'm coming to the conclusion that the Very Successful Writer who talked up Insta would be selling boatloads of books with or without it...and it may or may not be worth the effort for me.