I had considered continuing on with last week’s blog post and talking about showing vs. telling, but there are probably 3.7 million blogs and YouTube videos that can carry you through without the superfluous opinion of yours truly.
Instead, I thought I’d air some dirty laundry. It’s all fair game today. Strap in. Some of these opinions are not very popular.
Oh my gosh. I don’t know if there is some glitch in an algorithm, but it seems every day I see multiple tweets (not usually on FB or Instagram…but, tbh, I rarely check those.) about follower counts.
Either people are requesting mutual follows or someone is called out for massive un-following, or someone else is eschewing the need for big followings and claims all they want is a more “intimate relationship” with a smaller group of followers.
Here’s my pragmatic view on this:
Social media following is a factor for business collaborations. If you want to collaborate with businesses, as in you want them to offer you free or discounted products and services in order to do cross-promotion of your brands…they’re going to want to see some potential return on their investment in you, no matter how small. So if you aspire to attain a high follower count, go for it. But do it ethically and organically and the best way to do that is by offering valuable content.*
If you follow bunches of people only to get followed in return, then you unfollow so your ratio of follows/followers is “better,” don’t be shocked when others rightly peg you as being disingenuous. Because this isn’t about businesses or collaborations. This is about ego.
You can’t have deep, meaningful relationships with hundreds of people. So stop using that as an excuse for massively unfollowing thousands while keeping hundreds. On Twitter, especially, you can forge those lasting relationships by utilizing Twitter’s lists and direct messages while maintaining some semblance of social media integrity.
…all that said…
Numbers aren’t everything. So Jiminy Cricket please do not purchase followers. There are applications businesses (remember those you want to collab with?) use to see how genuine your following happens to be. Don’t expect companies to work with you if with the click of a button they can see that 80% of your following is comprised of dummy accounts.
I know I’ve given advice that’s hard for me to practice…mostly on productivity—no matter how much I believe in that advice. But there’s some really unhelpful help out there. Here’s some of my least favorite bits I’ve seen floating around recently:
If you aren’t writing every day, you’re going nowhere fast. Okay, but no. See, everyone has a different set of hurdles they face. Most people have no idea the sort of stress I’m under, nor do I know the kind of stress most others are facing. Don’t dare tell me I’m not working hard enough because I had to take a break from writing. I work 40+ hours per week, pretty much every evening is taken up with writing in some form, and I have a metric ton of obligations on the weekends. Stop telling people they’re not enough.
This is how I do it, so you should do it this way too. Again, no. I’m among the first to celebrate when someone achieves some success in this business, but it doesn’t mean their methods will necessarily work for me. For example, I have some dear writing friends who prefer to write longhand first, while I format in Word as I’m writing my first draft. I do some editing while I go, while others prefer to wait until the end.
Write for the market, or don’t bother writing at all. I think this was a FB conversation I stumbled upon and was geared toward selling written work vs. putting stuff on Wattpad or personal blogs. Listen, writing to market is fine. But you don’t have to. I don’t. I have friends who do. You’ll probably make money faster if you do, but then again…the market moves pretty quickly, so you may miss out on a trend. You may start a trend. Who knows? Regardless of whether you write to market, just produce the highest quality product you can before you hit publish. That’s pretty much the criteria.
Author-owned Self-Publishing Services
This is becoming wildly trendy and while I am absolutely certain there are some legitimate businesses out there, for every legit business, there are probably five sketchy ones. In full disclosure, I would some day like to offer some pre-made book covers. After I’ve gotten much, much better at making them. The problem is some authors aren’t waiting until they’ve actually mastered the service they’re trying to peddle.
Editing services: I’ve seen lots of posts lately advertising editing services. Ya’ll…please, please, please don’t spend your hard-earned dollars on editing services before you do your due diligence and research the editor. I’ve seen people offering to do edits for super cheap…but looking at the sample chapters of their own books…no. Editing isn’t a cheap venture. If you’re totally strapped for cash but you still want editing help, I suggest ProWritingAid, a critique partner or two, and patience. (Yes, that’s an affiliate link.)
Graphic design and formatting services: Not just book covers, but people are offering to make advertisements, websites, IG posts, etc. and the prices seem very reasonable, except often times the person is exaggerating their expertise and you wind up with something that is…let’s say underwhelming to be nice. Again, do your research and hire responsibly.
Self-publishing courses: Oh. My. GOSH. All I’m going to say is buyer beware. Do not spend hundreds or thousands of dollars without really knowing where and to whom that money is going. I’ve seen authors advertise classes in social media where one of the draws is that they will teach you what hashtags they use. For the love of…okay, all you’d have to do is have a look at their social media posts and voila! you can see their preferred hashtags. I just saved you $75. I’ve seen expensive writing retreats offered by writers who do not even have a single book on the market. Do not be fooled out of your money.
*Let’s circle back to something I said earlier, about offering valuable content. Notice I did not say expensive content, or even content with a monetary cost. It’s not necessarily wrong to offer goods or services beyond your books in exchange for money—but that doesn’t mean everyone should do it.
I totally understand the desire to make this writing thing a full-time job, to replace my 9-5 income with this creative endeavor. But do we really want to make money off the backs of our fellow indie authors? I know some of the patrons of these “businesses” are teenagers and young adults who are desperate to learn but have no money, so they use the cheap alternatives only to realize they’d have been better off spending that money on a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts.
Whew! That felt like a lot of laundry to dump out on the virtual floor. I didn’t even touch on the ghostwriting or plagiarism fiasco. Ah, well, another post for another day, I guess. After everything I said, I feel I need to say that most everyone I’ve met in the writing community has been lovely and wonderful. This post was not meant to call anyone out specifically, but meant to warn newcomers that not all services or advice are equal.
That’s all I’ve got for you today! Now I must go attend to some actual dirty laundry. ♥ Much love to you all. Happy writing!