Would Anyone Notice if I Quit Social Media?

Guest post
by Emma Meade

In the past 12 months I have spent countless hours of my life on Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads. I’ve roamed around the blogosphere reading posts, leaving comments, tweeting links to interesting articles and writing for my own blog. If I were to delete every online account of mine tomorrow, would anyone notice or care? Being honest, I’d have to admit few would. And why should they? I have many blogs I enjoy, people on Twitter whose tweets and links amuse me, but if they upped and quit the virtual world and I never read another blog post or tweet from them again, I wouldn’t be broken-hearted, at least not for very long.

There is a pressure nowadays for authors to have a constant online presence, but I wonder how much it really influences book sales. Yes, it’s good to have exposure, but running a blog and posting links to your books fifty times a week on Twitter and Facebook may not necessarily lead to an increase in book sales and new readers. So, why do we do it?

For me, it’s very simple. I like having my blog. It’s my own small piece of virtual space where I can share what I’ve been reading, writing and watching. I love to interact with readers in the comments section. I also write the odd post about my own writing if I happen to be releasing a book or doing a guest post on another blog. Quite simply, blogging is fun. But what about other forms of social media? Are they just as entertaining and enjoyable, or a marketing necessity?

Twitter is probably my favourite social network. I meet so many people from all walks of life and I do feel a sense of community when I’m logged in. I use Facebook less, mostly to post links to guest articles I’ve written and my latest blog posts. I log in daily, as I do on Twitter, but I don’t stay very long. Facebook just doesn’t have the same draw for me. Then we have Goodreads. I didn’t learn about Goodreads until a year or so ago. As an avid reader, I find it strange now that I didn’t know it existed. I uploaded my books and found readers happy to review my work. It’s also a place where I can keep track of the books I find on blogs and want to read, as well as post reviews of novels I like. Overall, I enjoy these social networks, but even if I didn’t, I’d probably make sure I put in sufficient time on each site to keep my name out there.

The more hours I spend on Twitter, Facebook and blogging, the less time I have to knuckle down and do the real work or writing my next novel or short story. It seems marketing oneself has become as important as the product you are hoping to sell. I tell myself all the time to tweet less and write more, but Twitter and blogging can be addictive and hard to walk away from.

There are days when I want to quit: stop reading blogs, posting on Twitter and Facebook, plug out the internet connection so I don’t have to deal with a full inbox every morning. But you know what? I’m scared. What if being silent online does affect me adversely? So for the moment, I persevere, but perhaps one day in the near future, I’ll say goodbye to Twitter and Facebook and retreat into my writer’s cave.

I’d like to hear from other writers. I’m curious to know how important you think it is to have an online presence and if you believe it’s helped win you readers and led to an increase in book sales.

Emma Meade is the author of Under the Desert Moon, Night Sighs and the soon to be released paranormal anthology, The Awakening & Other Stories. Learn more about Emma from her author website, blog, and Amazon author page.

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60 thoughts on “Would Anyone Notice if I Quit Social Media?”

  1. Thank you so much for writing this post, I’ve been wondering the same thing myself for a while now. I know I sell books through Twitter because readers post or email me and tell me they found me through a re-tweet but I wonder about the effectiveness of Facebook, and Good reads just scares me. I just don’t have the time to devote to it, so I don’t.
    There are a couple of Facebook groups that I genuinely enjoy and I do like posting on my own wall sometimes, but the rest of the time it feels like work participating in other groups.
    I think of Hugh Howey and his “Wool” series and how he says he did almost zero promoting on social networks yet his book still went into the stratosphere in terms of sales. You have to wonder what would happen if we quit all of them. Do we need to be there? I’d love to know but I tell you what, it’s not going to be me who tries it first, lol.

    1. For Goodreads I mostly review books. Well I have 2 unwritten books up for people to add to their TBR but suggest people not hold their breath waiting. I have started helping one group in my genre as a moderator on their review process. Figure this helps get my name known and should take 5 or less hours a month where I’m actively involved with readers helping them get free books and authors getting those needed reviews 😀

      I’m spending less time on Facebook groups and cutting down the ones I belong to based on my goals as a coach to others and hopefully a budding author.

      Twitter is similar I pop in a few times a day (when I’m not on break) and keep it short and sweet.

      I’m trying to practice what I preach to my clients although my situation is different but that just means I have more excuses for goofing off using social media. By limiting when I see notifications and how long I’m on each I’m getting better at using my time wisely.

      1. Hi, Tasha. I like the groups on Goodreads. I’ve joined a few and we mostly talk about the latest books we’ve read. Those groups are a great way to connect authors with reviewers. I hope to spend my time more wisely on social networks in the New Year. We shall see.

    2. Martin, it’s not going to be me who tries it first either! Word of mouth is what sells books and some authors get very lucky. There doesn’t seem to be any evidence yet that social media helps with sales. But we’ll continue to hang in there for awhile.

  2. Personally I think I have had more success with Facebook for my last promotion than with Twitter. However, it wasn’t only writer’s groups that helped me. A Sons of Anarchy group was really helpful too! But I don’t know what exactly works.

    1. Some people much prefer Facebook to Twitter. I see a lot of authors having launch days on FB. I wonder how effective they are. Anyone know? Lol – Sons of Anarchy.

  3. I have been wondering about all this myself. I know I spend way too much time on the media platforms, but since it is hard to track where our sales come from, how do we know they come from being on line or word of mouth. If we were to get off the media platforms, how would we sell our books? I’ve so been tempted to give them up, but in the back of my mind I wonder if some of my sales come from the media platforms. And I’m one of those people who think I am missing something if I weren’t on them, though I have to say, lately Facebook has gotten rather boring for me. I am in a lot of groups, check to see what is up in them and get off as quick as possible. I don’t get on Goodreads as much as I used and have tons of books I’ve read I need to update my read list. I’m on twitter on spurts and maybe that is why I don’t get much interaction from that one. But I am not ready to give any of them up.

    1. I’m not ready to give them up yet either, Jacqueline. Hopefully someone will work out the ratio of book sales to online presence soon for all of us. My TRB list on Goodreads needs to cleaned up also.

  4. I regularly disappear from social networks and I know I’m missed… I don’t have a book for sale yet but i do run a social media business over the net. I am constantly reminding people that you have to schedule your time, social media should take up to 20% of the time you have daily/weekly to devote to your writing career. The time needs to be used wisely, with specific goals set, and a strategy for reaching those goals. Use timers to keep yourself from getting sucked in.

    Will being involved on social media sell books? For some the answer is yes for others no and others its unknown whether it sold any books. Will people who are not involved in social media sell books? Some will, some won’t.

    Publishing, what readers want, discoverability, word-of-mouth, what makes one book sell well and another not is still an unknown. Why are so many best-selling books considered drivel/poorly written by many authors while “better” written books sit in obscurity? Luck, something undefinable, and not repeatable.

    All we can do with smart use of social media is increase our chance at getting lucky. But to increase your luck you also need to be building a backlist of well written, well edited, well packaged books.

        1. It’s a tough balance to find. I have my clients document what they do for a couple of weeks and then we try to schedule it based on goals we’ve made and the use of timers… Teaching hoe to do it is easier than doing it. And there are always unscheduled things that throw everything off.

    1. The “convential wisdom” is that a writer must build a following while writing the book, so the “fanbase” is ready the moment s/he publishes. But this is time diverted from the writing and we know that the majority of the Likers and Followers are not actually potential readers. It’s a tough call on how to divide one’s time, but if there will be only a 1% conversion of followers to readers, the bigger the following must be…

  5. Good on you, Emma. I am 66 and I reached this age without social media! For me, the solution is read books … not online … and write … not online. Then, set schedules for allowing yourself to become contaminated by the lazy way to stimulate the brain … read the www say once every three months; set aside say one wet miserable afternoon and within no more than two hours one’s wish to be satiated by the drivel will have passed and been consummated. Then … go back to what is really productive … your real life! I think of Anne Perry, who has a rather dark past relating to my country, New Zealand; she wrote untold numbers of books, crime novels, before she struck pay dirt. But her passion was to write, not sell books; it just so happened that she struck a time, a place, a genre, a style that worked … one moment in time and her whole life changed. That’s what it is all about enjoying one’s life not being injected with the vicarious experiences of people one will probably never meet.

    1. You’re right. More time spent living, less time travelling the virtual world would be much better. But these days, the internet is such an essential part of everyday life. I need it for my day job, I think I need it to establish an author platform. It’s hard to walk away.
      Anne got lucky as so many good writers do. It’s all about the right place and right time.

  6. Before ePublishing and taking advice (from many quarters) to utilise all forms of social media, I can honestly say that I was not involved, at all. Now, I wrestle with this dilemma constantly, Emma, and I don’t have any clearer idea on the subject than when I began taking part in this whole social media thing, about eighteen months ago. One thing I do know is that I produce considerably less, actual work, now than I did eighteen months ago. I keep hoping it will find its own natural level but it hasn’t balanced out, yet. Excellent post, Emma, and well timed.

    1. I think we’re all in the same boat. We should be writing more and tweeting less. But it’s easier said than done. Perhaps if we got into a routine of checking in online for one hour, max, each day, we’d all be releasing more work.

  7. Very nice post, Emma, thanks. I actually did this, in February this year. I had 2k followers on Twitter when I shut the account down, then shut down my FB and Goodreads accounts. I had been very active, especially on Twitter, interacting with tweeps as well as promoting my two novels and other tweeps and their blogs/books.
    As it turned out, four people noticed, who’ve sinced become my best digital friends.
    The only absolute is that if you don’t promote, you won’t get anywhere. Whereas if you do promote, you probably won’t get anywhere.

    1. Oh, Chris, you make me smile. I think if we go into the world expecting not to sell any books, we’ll be pleasantly surprised when we do!

  8. There is an increasing questioning of self-promotion via social media. I’ve read a few blogs recently on this and various writers have tracked the results of posting bursts and silences. I read their reports with interest, as I started writing SF stories to, er, write SF stories and would prefer to spend my time on that rather than follower-harvesting.

    Like-swapping runs counter to the whole idea of Likes, where someone has actually read your stuff and genuinely likes it (in the old meaning of “like”). But without a “following” a writer appears insignificant, so everyone has to join in to gain “credibility”, even though everyone knows it’s fake. To me, imaginary friends are what children have, but I get flamed when I mention this.

    My compromise is to turn my blog into a series of stories about trying to write stories and getting them into readers’ hands, so I will be writing stories, just different ones to the ones I had intended.

    Maybe, one day, a book will be again judged on its merits and not by the cover of a massive unreal following statistic. Or is that more science-fiction?

    1. I’d like to read those authors’ posts. Can you remember what blogs they were?
      It’s probably more science-fiction, Andy – just kidding. All we can do is keep writing and enjoy it.

  9. I have made lots of cyber friends being an author on Facebook. I value this perk with social media. I am NOT going to Tweet, no matter how many authors tell me it sells books. But I must admit I do LOVE FB. I have a personal page to talk with old friends and family and to share photos and an author page to keep a presence online.

    1. I was so against Twitter until last autumn. I thought, who in their right mind wants to be on there? And now I love it. It’s great to stop in for ten minutes and chat to random people. I’m not into Facebook that much, not sure why that is.

  10. As a writer-to-be, practising my skill is becoming as important as reading and i’ve been using my blog as my practice turf. I’m drawn to see if anyone reads what I write; to gather what they think about my mutterings.
    It is early yet, but I am sadden when no one stops by or leaves a comment. In the past, I wondered why only to discover you have to make your presence know/felt… marketing yourself by using the social network. I’ve started and recognise that the time spent is often rewarded with a visitor.
    Having a great post is good but it would be better with someone reads it. Gathering an audience is the reason I post, otherwise I would have confined my thoughts, my expressions to my locked diary.
    I am confident of that, now iI trying to figure how to balance writing for an audience and being me.
    Thanks for your post.

    1. Hang in there. It takes time to build up a following. If you comment on other people’s blogs you’ll make some online friends that way. Keep posting and do it regularly. You should blog because you enjoy it. In time, readers will come.
      Heading over to your blog now 🙂

  11. Emma, I didn’t start writing books until I was 60 and now have three out in the world. I,like most everyone else, join any social media that will possibly help promote my books, but it all seems so futile. I don’t do anything on most of them except set up what I hope is an attractive presence then get back to writing. Then this morning my son announces to the world on Facebook that social media is devoid of content and has become boring. Oh, the humanity! Maybe I’ll just keep my blog and let the rest wither on the vine, I think there is a reason so many writers in the past built huts out in the woods and locked themselves away from outside influences.

  12. Since the release of my first two books in late 2010 I’ve focused on social media daily because the experts deem it a career necessity.

    Super in theory, but the definition of a career for an author involves writing books. For me, the sad reality is I’ve not written a bloody thing since my debut release. Oh, I’ve blogged, tweeted, commented, and chatted in many forums and online groups, but I’ll never be a social media queen. Nor do I want to be.

    What I want. What I really, really want is to write.

    For that reason I’m taking a hiatus from social media beginning January 1, 2013. Oh, I’ll pop in now and again just to see what I’ve missed, but for the first part of the new year I’ll be in that hut in the woods Marvin mentioned. Writing. 🙂

    1. Let’s all say this together now, “tweet less, write more”. Maybe one day we’ll follow this advice.
      Enjoy the hiatus, Anne. You’ll have another release in no time and the rest of us will be withering away on social media. 🙂

  13. Emma, people – or shall I say authors – who make an impression, not only with their hard work and marketing, but in how they come across in their interactions with their readers and potential readers, will not be forgotten should they decide it’s time take a break from social media to concentrate on writing their next book for a while.

    I know an author who has marketed her book till the cows came home, and decided that it was time to ‘black out’ from everything for a few weeks, and she has. She did however make it fun, and posted about it letting everyone know why she’d be MIA. I’d certainly miss certain people *wink*, as they have become part of my daily life/routine. Knowing that they are writing their next amazing story, though, is surely worth the wait! It is for me. 😉

    1. Nice to see you here, Sandra.
      I hope that’s true about not being forgotten. I think many writers, myself included, are just afraid that if we disappear for a weeks or a couple of months, we’ll be back to square one in terms of having any sort of fanbase. I like the idea of having an MIA party day. Sounds fun.
      Thanks for popping over.

  14. Personally, I’ve been trying to spend more time writing and less time socializing. The way I figure it is this: the more books you have out there the more people will talk about you. This is the one thing that always leads to sales…word of mouth from the readers.

    Great post!

    1. You’re dead right, L.J. The more work we have out there, the better. Hopefully readership will grow in time then.

  15. I can see how trying to promote yourself through so many different outlets can cut into your time, into your life. I have my blog and I don’t particularly care to use any other outlet at this time, although Goodreads looks interesting. I say do what you’re comfortable with. For me, less is more (I can be obnoxious if overdosed on).

  16. Emma,

    I have been in your shoes more than once. It seems like every few months I consider deleting all my accounts and being a hermit…at least where the digital sphere is concerned. But then I realize I if I did, I would miss my blog and social media connections I have made.
    There are so many distractions out there that I think the only way to have a shot at both being active in social media and still leave yourself time for writing and a life is to implement some form of time management that works for you. For instance, I have recently started reading the blogs i subscribe to on designated days of the week, sometimes I’m a little behind when commenting, but I figure it’s much better to read a blog post a few days late than to let blog reading cut into my writing time.
    Like you, I also love Twitter and think it’s one of the best ways to get a message out there and to connect. On the other end of the spectrum, I think that Facebook is not that “author” friendly. It just seems like it’s easier to get lost in the shuffle over there. Even though i don’t dig Facebook, I don’t want to totally cut it out as a social media presence, so I am only active there a few times a week.
    I definitely don’t have all the answers, but I think in social media, just like everything else in life, persistence pays off. Don’t let the frustrations get to you, keep at it until you get the results you want :).

    1. I’d definitely miss my blog most of all. I like the way you designate days of the week, Amanda. That’s a good idea for keeping it all tidy and not letting yourself become so overburdened.

  17. Sometimes I DO unplug and I think it’s good for my sanity. Don’t be afraid to take a day or two, or even two weeks off if you need it. Yes, your inbox will be insane, but you can always delete, delete, delete. Again, don’t be afraid of doing that. There are days when I just can’t get to any blogs and I feel very guilty for it, but my writing has to come first and with a busy family, sometimes that’s the choice I have to make.

    Find a routine that works for you and don’t stress it too much.

    1. I must try unplugging. Last time I did was in July when I was away for a week and had no access to email. Surprisingly enough, the world didn’t fall apart from lack of access to the internet. 🙂
      Delete – what a lovely word.
      I get the guilt thing, but when you think about, it’s ludicrous to feel guilty about not blogging or commenting.

  18. I’ve wondered the same thing, and I’ve come to the same conclusion as you. It’s probably better to make an appearance than drop off completely from social media. And yes, I would miss you if you stopped being socialable! 🙂

    1. Thanks, Emerald. I enjoy reading your posts, and even if I don’t comment on them all, know that I am reading 🙂

  19. Such a great post, Emma! And I feel the same way. It’s why I shut down my personal blog (which for me was a little bit of hell on earth). That being said, I now enjoy FB for old friends. And love twitter, blog reading/commenting and our writing blog for the online writing community. I love when I realize I’m not alone and that there are tons of people out there who feel about writing like I do.
    I no longer am trying to gain followers which is a huge stress off my shoulders, but I also haven’t tried self-pubbing yet. Mostly because I’m terrified of all the blogging, commenting, tweeting, etc… that everyone says you need.
    I loved how everyone here is also wondering if all this is really truly necessary for a successful career. It’s something I’m struggling with. Because no part of social media comes easy to me and it will take away much more than the 20% of my time that Tasha recommends.
    Sigh. Please let us know if you come with any answers.

    1. It really is hard to limit yourself to that 20%. Keep in mind that the goal is to build relationships which take time and are about quality not quantity. You are a writer and need to be producing stories for your readers which you can’t do if you spend too much time on social media. I recommend:

      1. blog/website: 2+ posts a week, these can be short/sweet & should be something you you enjoy talking about that is also of interest to your ideal reader. This will be miserable to maintain if you spend too much time a week on it or write about things that don’t interest you. Up to 1/2 of you social media time.

      2. Goodreads (books listed and short reviews of books you’ve read and enjoyed) . Maybe join a group or two in your genre and join discussions about books you’ve read/are reading. 1/8th of your social media time.

      3. 1 or 2 other social media. 1/4 of your social media time.

      4. blogs you enjoy reading. 1/8 of your social media time.

      The %s are NOT set in stone. When I’m blogging regularly I spend about 1/4 of my time on it. For me I’m currently at about 1/4 for each category as that mix is working for me right now. The mix changes from month to month.

      Right around book releases your social media time will increase but don’t let that become your default for more than a month. When you 1st set up your website/blog it will take up more time, cut back on other social media activities. Is it easy to limit your time? No. This is what timers are for. This is why you need goals for what you want to accomplish (blog to attract readers, get them familiar with my voice, turn them into my word-of-mouth sales team; Goodreaders to connect with readers, let readers know my book is available, get book reviews).

      We are in the digital age. We have time to build our platform and attract readers as our books stay for sale. It’s no longer a 1-3 month sprint unless you are in trad publishing and the hard cover release. With ebooks and self-publishing we have time to be discovered.

    2. Thanks for popping over, Trish. I enjoy the blog you share with the girls. You hit the nail on the head – it’s being able to connect with other people like us that makes blogging so fun. Real life friends often don’t get it and are probably sick of hearing about our blogging and writing :). If I learn anything, I’ll pass it along. You too!

  20. I know exactly how you feel. I love my blog, I do try and keep up with regular posts, but some weeks it just doesn’t happen. I’m not so into Twitter but I do use it, Facebook is my preferred social media, but I’m kinda sporadic about that. Goodreads, haven’t the time although I do have a profile, and I can see it’s benefits. Mostly I’m online when I have time off. For example, you’ll probably see a lot more of me at the end of this month, I have a fair amount of vacation time coming up.

    I don’t log in so much when it’s a work day because…well, I’m working, and it doesn’t stop just because I get home. So I learned to let go of the guilt, and keep up when I can. There are some bloggers I follow regularly, tweet their posts, and I enjoy catching up when I do come back to the online scene. I look forward to the day I can be a full-time, stay at home writer (It’ll happen, I know it!) and then I’ll be a good little blogger, tweeter, social media maven and go to all those cool conferences I read about. Until that day though, I’ll keep plugging along on my own schedule. I look at it like this: electronic media is a tool. A good tool, but the user determines it’s usefulness, not the tool itself. I’d rather be a sometime user, and build my skills and friends slowly.

    And yes, I’d miss you. 🙂

    1. Yourself and Tameri are right. Let go of the guilt. Reading blogs is meant to be fun, not another something we HAVE to do. I look forward the day we can be full time writers too. I must re-read The Secret and get in the right frame of mind.
      Thanks, Serena.

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