Yes, it’s October and I’m still talking about stuff I did over the summer. I know, I know. But in July I quit twitter and I think it’s important to talk about why I did so.
Why is this such a big deal? Isn’t twitter just another massive waste of time like Facebook and Instagram and Snapchat? Among who knows how many other social media crap comes out every week?
(“Waste of time? Not on my 80’s Mac! I can do anything on my 80’s Mac. Except wear clothes.”)
Well yeah, it’s totally a waste of time. I mean, this stuff can be good for keeping in touch with people, making new friends or business contacts, and so on, but if these sites started tracking how much time we were spending on them, 99% of people would understand that the majority of the time is not spent doing any productive.
And that’s something I’ve known for years. The thing is that I’m a writer and whenever I’ve gone to writer conferences or read interviews with literary agents they talk about how important it is to have a “web presence” and part of that is having social media stuff so readers can get in touch with you.
So I joined twitter back in 2009 to see what it was all about and KEPT IT because agents want you to have a web presence. But I think that with twitter specifically it’s really hard to stand out. When I tried self-publishing a book a few years ago, I figured I’d use my twitter to promote it (because without a publishing house’s advertising muscle the advertising is on YOU) and it winded up being a massive waste of time.
(That’s it, boys! Just keep tweeting nonsense until you stand out. Noise! That’s what will get people’s attention and eventually sell crap—NOISE!!!)
I started by putting a description of the book and a link to the amazon store page in my twitter’s description box. Then I started by following other self-published writers, the VAST MAJORITY of which were double, and often TRIPLE my age. Then my twitter feed, for years to come, became just a stream of these people shamelessly begging their followers (other “indie” authors) to buy their books, because “it’s on sale!” or “it has x number of 5 star reviews on amazon!” and the like.
Ugh. What a mess.
I’m not saying this can’t be effective, and certain authors do rise to the top of this pile by leveraging their social media and website, but it’s a ton of work. One more time: a TON of work.
In fact, one of the very early success stories of self-publishing was Amanda Hocking, who published like nine small novels online over a period of three years or so and made a nice chunk of change, eventually landing a publishing contract.
(And then she went nuts and married her giant sock monkey. #Justkidding)
But it’s a ton of work. (Did I say that already?) So much so that during an interview she said that all the promotional stuff she used to do is now handled by a TEAM of like ten people or something like that.
But all the long hours involved with self promotion is not why I left twitter. It’s why I kept it for so long, but it’s not why I left. I left because it’s kind of…boring. And pointless.
It just seems like a stream of fleeting messages about stuff that really not important. It’s like the culinary equivalent of spending an hour eating popcorn: you know you’ve been putting food in your mouth, and the taste was okay, but you’re not satisfied. In fact, you kind of feel a little sick.
(“Does this analogy apply to cheese? Because I love cheese and cheese never makes me sick. CHEESE.)
It’s the same thing with tweeting: I have no interest in throwing out pieces of popcorn when my time could be better spent cooking a thick, succulent steak packed with flavor (a novel) or at the very least serving up a decent side dishes to hold people over (these blog posts).
So I quit twitter in July, and to be honest, I don’t miss it. I know that if and when I get an agent and they’re gearing up to release my book they’re going to want me to open a twitter account, but to be honest, I can’t see myself doing it. I’m not saying I won’t, but if I do, I’ll probably just have someone else manage the account for me. I’m sure there’s a service that outsources tweeting.
Hmm…I don’t know. Just thinking out loud here.
(Yeah I was a bit alarmed too when I found myself interviewing a humanoid bird, but what can I say? The dude was BORN to tweet.)
All right, that’s all for this week. Let me know your thoughts on twitter as a platform by leaving a COMMENT below, and as always be sure to SUBSCRIBE by email so you don’t miss a post.
See you next week,
J. F. Seegitz