Monday, April 29, 2013

Your Social Networking Balance Sheet

I have a list of ELEW post topics as long as my arm (which is long; I'm an Amazon and have long arms, yo), high among them is getting back to Editing 101 with Mama Bitchstress and our fab discussion on rape culture in fiction.

But I got sidetracked this week.

Inspired in part by a post by our Bad Horse Lilith Saintcrow about how The Hard Sell Doesn't Work and a conversation with the Gothic Goddess, let's talk about social networking for a sec.

Message vs. noise.

I'm not even going to get into this; Monica Valentinelli had a recent post about that which sums it up: 
  • If everybody’s shouting different things, then no one is heard.
  • If everybody’s demanding a unique reaction, then no one will give them the one they want.
  • If everybody’s screaming “Help me!” “Fix this!” “You owe me that!” — then no one gives.
  • If you get bombarded with “Buy me!” “Review me!” “Share me!” from multiple people at the same time, then those acts turn into a chore and an obligation.
  • If you’re fully vested in what people do for you, especially in a social media context, then you get upset by the actions other people take online, jumping to the worst sorts of conclusions.
  • If everybody’s shouting, then they’re all competing. And that, my friends, can be very bad for the craft of writing and reading in general.
Anyone who spends any amount of time on Twitter knows this: the more everyone is talking about their shit rather than engaging with other people, the more it turns into noise and the less of their message is heard.

Pretty simple. And for those who object and think they MUST advertise whatever is it they have for sale daily, or @ people directly on Twitter asking them to buy, please answer me this: how many books do you buy this way?

Me? I buy none that way. I tune it out. Much like when I’m trying to shop and people zoom in, pushing products on me, I walk away. And if your potential audience is tuning out, they are less likely to hear it when you have something important to say (like a NEW release). 

To quote Lili's post on how The Hard Sell Doesn't Work:
The hard sell is filling the airwaves with your self-promotion. It’s consistently talking over other people to get your idea heard. It’s bringing the discussion around to you and your work every time you open your big mouth. It’s being so “cool” you literally don’t care about anyone who doesn’t register on your celebrity radar. 
It’s annoying. And it will lose you so many friends and opportunities it’s not even funny.

Also consider this for a moment: if someone is, say, following you on Twitter...that wasn't an accident. They had to click a button to do so. This means they know who you are and, chances are, know already what you're selling. You don't need to remind them all the time.

How do you know if your message is lost among the noise? You do math.

Now, writers, don't you get all "Math is haaaarrddd!" Barbie on me. Not with the amount of time I know you spend analyzing your fucking Amazon ranking, daily word counts, and time spent procrastinating watching cat videos. You know simple math.

You get ONE promo tweet for every NINE tweets.

That's 10% of your tweets. Maximum.

Having trouble understanding why this matters? Tolerance for self-promotion varies but you need to always be aiming for the MINIMUM people will tolerate, not the maximum (unless you don't care if everyone labels you a spammer; if that's the case, have at it). And an easy way to think about it is to realize your non-promo tweets are currency.

Each time you tell someone to buy your book, you've just used up nine non-spam tweets. You "bought" that promo tweet. You want to stay in the black, not the red.

"But Mama Bitchstress, now we can't talk about ourselves? Does that mean no word count updates? No picture of my cats?"

It means vary what you talk about and make an effort to a) engage with those you follow (and if someone @'s you), and b) pay it forward and talk about other things.

Here are some suggestions.

1.     Reply to other people when they talk (DUH).
2.     Talk about other people's books you enjoy.
3.     Or share entertaining anecdotes about something.
4.     Promote important issues or charities (careful, this can turn into noise as well).
5.     Tell us what TV shows you enjoy.
6.     Solicit your followers' opinions on certain subjects.
7.     Mention the hobo midget living under the bridge in front of your building.
8.     Cupcakes.

See? You're interesting. You have a fulfilling, busy life full of awesome things you can talk about that don't involve the words "like my book on Kindle" or "see my latest review."

But the issue of currency usage with your tweets doesn't end there. Remember my post about Negative Nancy being Douchey McDouchealot? The same principle applies.

No one wants to listen to someone bitch constantly.

A healthy rant is great and no one has to be cheerful 24/7. I'm not saying that. But, once again, when you're talking publicly, it's a 9:1 ratio. It takes nine positive tweets to buy one negative one. (You should know this from getting reviews; negativity stays with you more than the positives, so you need a lot more positive to balance it out if you're constantly bitching about shit).

Your close friends and family can handle a little more negativity from you but those in the outer sphere of your acquaintance? The readers you’re trying to attract? They have far less patience. Yes, you suffer from whatever malady; yes, life is hard; yes, woe is you. Shut down the damn computer and take a walk and stop inflicting your negativity on your fans. It is not their job to reassure you nor are they your therapist.

Yes, you have to be yourself on social networks, but if you're a professional writer then be professional

Tweet, blog, Facebook, etc with care. Do the math. STAY IN THE BLACK.


  1. 7. Mention the hobo midget living under the bridge in front of your building.

    Words to live by, baby! Awesome post.

    1. I should've added "and talk about Dean." Because I just can't stop staring at the gif of him at the end. *stares some more*

  2. I know, he should really be mass cloned.


Please feel free to leave a comment! Just don't be a dick. Or we'll hunt you down.

Our Theme Song