Today, I make an announcement. A declaration. A promise to myself: I am giving up on the Almighty Social Media machine.
Yes, I am well aware of the irony of this statement… which I am addressing on my blog, and will be posting to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram (and which, thanks to this nifty little feature called an RSS feed, will be pushed to my author pages on both Goodreads and Amazon Author Central). But before you roll your eyes at my melodrama and click away to another platform, please allow me to explain.
Ever since I have been an author, social media has been hailed as THE way to advertise and engage. When I became published, I was encouraged to have a blog (which I already had) and to get onto Twitter and Facebook (which I’d already done). Online wisdom said that I would need to make connections with other authors, host online parties/contests/giveaways/Q&As, join the rat race of authors looking for guest posts and book reviews, and grow a social media following that I could rally each and every time I had something new to announce.
That is still the prevailing wisdom, and I fully acknowledge that it is not wrong. But here’s the thing… that doesn’t work for me because I am an introvert. I live within my own little shell of existence, and emerge only for short periods of time until I have expended my mental energy to keep up with all this extroverted social activity, at which point I crawl back to recharge. So the prospect of liking and commenting on tweets and posts and reels and shorts and… am I even using the lingo right?… well, it’s downright exhausting. And because it’s not natural to my personality, the social media game leaves me with an uncomfortable sense of anxiety. I get so caught up in what I should be doing on social media, what the right way is to attract and interact with an audience, what I need to be doing to grow my followers… that I lose the one thing I love, the one thing about which I am passionate: my writing.
When it comes down to it, I simply don’t enjoy the process of chasing after engagement. I just want to write my stories.
I am of the opinion that social media for authors works a little backwards. For many business models where you are selling a more traditional product or service, you want to be on social media to attract potential customers. Lots of informative content on your catalogue of platforms means drawing people to you so they will buy whatever it is you’re selling. But readers are a different bunch—this I know because, first and foremost, I am one. We readers tend to engage only after we have found an author. We find them and their books through our local libraries, through book lists and through recommendations from a wide variety of sources. If we like what we read, we find the author on social media and engage with them because we want to know them better.
I know this. I have always known it, and I have lived it. Yet still in my head I’ve become tangled up in the social media hype that encourages me to chase after engagement, but leaches away my reason for being on social media in the first place… my books!
Now, that’s not to say that authors can’t also be content creators and badass social media influencers (I am talking only about myself and my own uniquely typical personality… and yep, that was a deliberate oxymoron). Take Joanna Penn of The Creative Penn. She is positively crushing social media through informative and engaging content at the same time that she is writing her books. If that is what she enjoys doing, then all the power to her. That’s awesome. But that’s not me. And the one thing I know is that in order to be successful at whatever you do, you have to enjoy the process, not just the outcome.
Well, I don’t enjoy being active on social media.
All this is to say that I am giving up without actually giving up. I am letting go of the ideal, and will let the chips fall where they may (to use the cliché). I am not going to spend all my time and energy climbing up the wrong ladder. Henceforth, I will still be on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and obviously I am still blogging. But my use of these platforms is not to “grow an audience.” I already have an audience—they read my books (an outcome for which I am eternally grateful). Anything I post to social media is there for anyone who wants to seek me out and get to know more about me if they’ve enjoyed what I’ve written. No worries if you don’t. I’m around. You know where to find me, and I’ll be thrilled if you do. However, I’m giving up the process of actively chasing engagement.
What that leaves me with is time and mental energy to focus on what I love: my writing. That is what is most important to me.