Authors MUST Use Social Media?

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I’ve seen a lot of posts recently advising authors to stay away from social media, that it’s a time-waster, a drain on them, and that it actually doesn’t help sell books.

I can’t be bothered finding them, but there have been studies done that say spamming your internet followers with advertising for your books (or other products) actually achieves nothing.

However, out of interest the other day I went to the website of an up-and-coming romance publisher, and they spell out a laundry list of rules prospective authors must be willing to sign up for.

One – disturbingly in this day and age – was that authors must agree to ONLY publish with them.

The other one was that they refuse to publish anyone who doesn’t have a huge social media presence.

Perhaps in a few years we’ll be laughing that authors didn’t think social media was important, but right now I find that rule utterly ridiculous, and extremely unfair to writers.

Here’s the thing: authors who advertise their books on Twitter or Facebook often lose me as a follower or a friend. Additionally, many authors’ social media accounts are also their personal accounts. They’re more than just their books. Twitter spamming achieves zero sales, according to many sources, and I believe them. I have never, not once, EVER bought a book from Twitter advertising.

Interestingly, Facebook routinely goes through and suspends accounts that aren’t under people’s legal names, and many an author with a penname has been caught out by this.

A lot of readers don’t want to know about their authors’ lives. Sometimes with good reason. A number of authors have lost me as a reader because of some of the things they’ve said on social media.

What’s crazy is that plenty of bestselling authors don’t use social media, or if they do it’s infrequently. A look at the Twitter accounts of the likes of Robyn Carr (last posted in June) and Cindy Gerard (posted once since April) show me they don’t need to tweet nonsense all day to be good at their jobs.

I get that smaller publishers want to get exposure, but threatening your authors and tying them into crazy contracts doesn’t seem the way to build a quality business.

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