Saturday, August 4, 2012

Rethinking social media

How should a writer spend his time?

Writing books or Tweeting, Blogging, Facebooking and updating the old website? How much of your time should you spend doing what you do and how much time advertising it?

How's your platform?

I'm getting bored with this.

For years we've been told the only way to sell books, especially ebooks, is by maintaining a high profile online, but it's beginning to look like that Internet bubble we watched pop at the turn of the millenium. It's getting out of hand. Would you like to read a novel written in 10 days? Current wisdom says that's all the time you've got if you want to turn out a book a year.

Here's how I figure it: Take one of the lucky few who, like myself, don't need a day job and can write full-time. You're advised to spend 80% of your time in social media on topics that have nothing to do with selling books. If  more than 20% of your Facebook presence is about your books, your friends will feel like they're being used. And they might be right. Okay. You're also advised to spend 80% of your writing time promoting yourself, 20% actually writing.

Hasn't Amanda Hocking switched over to a traditional publisher so she can actually have time to write? I have news for her. The traditional publishers also expect you to promote yourself. Agatha Christie, too shy to speak in public, would never have made it in today's market.

Back to the numbers: Let's say I work a standard 40 hour week, and I don't take any vacation.  52 weeks X 40 hours/week = 2080 hours/year pursuing my dream. 80% of my social media time is stuff like photos of my dogs, what I did last night, happy birthday to friends, etc. and 20% is stuff like photos of my new book cover, check out this review, etc. But 80% of the time I spend with my laptop on my knees, is spent on these pursuits vs 20% on making up stories. What is 20% of 20% of 2080 hours/year? It's 83.2 hours/year. Working 8 hours/day that's 10.4 days per year. To write a book.

Who's actually doing this? Nobody much, I think. I've recently discovered how very naive I am. Other writers are making up alter-egos (called "sock-puppets") to toot horns for them. They're hiring agencies to tweet for them, often several times a day. They're hiring people to write reviews for them and post on Amazon. The more honest ones are hiring people to teach them how to tweet. Isn't that like "tutoring tooters to toot?"

I promise I'll never do that. If you read something I allegedly wrote, you can be sure I wrote it. If you read a review of one of my books, you can be sure I had nothing to do with it. But I'm seriously considering stopping this lunacy and writing a book.