I read an article this morning in The Guardian about “Why social media isn’t the magic bullet for self-epublished authors.” It makes a lot of great points and ultimately compares social media as a sales tactic to the tech bubble of the 90s and 2000s—and it hypothesizes that it will burst in the next 18 months. It’s a fabulous post. Go read it.
As someone who has been around since the early days before the self publishing market was flooded and before all the CONSTANT tweets and blogs and Facebook messages that you have to be on social media to sell books and that social media is more important than writing, this article made me want to stand up and cheer.
The author, Ewan Morrison, mentions the 80/20 rule advocated by self-styled social media “experts”. It’s not what you might expect. These lunatics are advising that you spend 80% of your available free time marketing and the remaining 20% writing.
So let’s take me for an example. I have a full time job, another part time job, a family, and a whole hoard of responsibilities and duties. So at a generous estimate, I have 2 hours a day of free time to devote to this whole writing enterprise. That works out to 730 hours a year (without deducting obvious days like holidays when I probably won’t do jack). According to these “experts”, I ought to be spending 584 of those hours actively marketing my stuff, leaving a mere, 146 hours a year to write that stuff I’m purportedly trying to market to death to sell. That’s a little over 18 8-hour days to write.
I’m not Amanda Hocking, so clearly that’s not going to work for me. In fact, it doesn’t work for her either, as she has left self publishing and self promotion behind for perhaps the sweetest deal we’ve ever heard of with a traditional publisher ($2 million for 4 books? Yes please.).
Now don’t get me wrong. I think social media has its place of importance. If nobody has ever heard of you, probably nobody is going to buy your magnum opus when you put it out there. But there is far too much noise out there about what writers should do regarding social media. Sadly very little of it focuses on the most important aspect: WRITING THE NEXT FRIGGIN’ BOOK.
Now there really is an 80/20 rule that I live my writing life by, and it’s the exact opposite of that espoused by these social media “experts”. I spend 80% of my time WRITING and 20% of it using social media. Only a fraction of THAT time is spent actively marketing because traditional marketing methods don’t work on social media. But that’s another kettle of fish. In the end, it matters NOT AT ALL how much of a platform you’ve built if you don’t have a product out there in the first place.
So ignore all the rigmarole, sit your butt back in that chair and WRITE YOUR BOOK.