Do We Need It?

A few weeks back, MG Miller (no relation as far as I know), a member of the writers group I attend, pointed out that he’d had quite a weekend of downloads for his book Bayou Jesus. He talked about how he’s been blogging, tweeting, and who knows what else. But with this promotion, he said all he had to do was click Promote, then sit back and let it do its thing.

Over 4,000 downloads.

“That convinces me that I don’t need to do all the social media stuff,” he said (and I’m paraphrasing).

That makes me wonder: Do we really need all this?

Sure, all the so-called experts tell us we do, that in this Internet-saturated world, we have to have our name out there. We’ve got to blog, tweet, do LinkedIn (do you call that LinkedInning?), all that. Maybe do some LiveJournal while you’re at it. That’s how you get your name out there. Your Facebook page will get you noticed. Your blog will attract publishers.

Well…I freely admit that I don’t know many published authors. I’m not an industry insider who can drop names. But I know a few, and I’ve read the stories of many, many more.

Can’t think of a one who got a publishing contract thanks to his/her tweets. Or Facebook staus updates. Or even blog posts.

They got it by approaching publishers and/or agents, either online or at conferences. And conferences seem to be the best method. I know of one who pitched a space opera in an elevator with this line: Big ships go boom.

“Send me the draft,” the editor said.

Maybe there’s someone out there who got noticed through social media, but I’ve never heard of it happening.

Okay, so maybe we need to give it a chance. It’s still a kinda new thing, and it’s a little hard to keep up with all the new fads and tech. I hear everybody singing praises to The Almighty iPad, but I doubt very seriously that I’ll ever own one. Laptops are my idea of portable computing. I’m old-skool: I like real keyboards, not virtual ones, and even the ones you tend to see on laptops piss me off. They’re too slick for my blunt fingers to tell the difference between the keys.

And don’t even get me started on their mousepads.

Besides, I like pulling up my ms and seeing about half a page. That was one of the things that irritated me to no end about my old Canon StarWriter word processor: I could only see part of a line at a time.

Sure, I can write without seeing the page. But I’m a visual person, and being able to see at least a part of the layout helps me see how my writing is going. I try to avoid long paragraphs, but have a bad habit of writing them during first draft mania. When I revise, being able to see most of the page helps with that.

I don’t see how you could do that on an iPad when you’ve got to make room for the touchscreen keyboard.

But I digress.

If doing the social media thing is so important, how did authors of the past make it? Mark Twain probably would  have had some very choice words to say about tweeting. I won’t even try to speculate on what they’d be.

And how about Poppa? Can you see Hemingway wasting his time on Facebook?

Like I’m sure a lot of people do, I have my blog set up to post to Facebook the moment I publish. I don’t know that it’s done me a bit of good. Granted, I don’t monitor the traffic to my blog very closely, but I sure haven’t seen very many likes on my blog links.

I don’t pretend to have the answer to this question. I will tell you that there are weeks—a lot of them, actually—when I have trouble thinking up something to post here. And I only do it once a week.

Yes, there is the fact I try to limit myself, for the most part, to writing and storytelling. My friend M Keaton (see the Speaking of the Mad blog in my links) doesn’t post very often, and you’ll see a lot of them around the time he attends one of the sf conventions, where he’ll talk about the panels he’s been on and the random encounters in the hallways with various authors in the field.

I don’t get to go to conventions or conferences, and I doubt anybody wants me on any of their discussion panels. Which is fine with me. Not sure what I’d have to offer, to be honest.

Sometimes I manage to see something in a movie that helps me illustrate a point about writing, and every now and then I can’t keep from going off on a rant about something I see in society. But my original intent for this blog was to discuss writing and reading. I wanted to keep politics and such off here as much as possible. Yeah, I’ve bent and broken the rule, but if you knew how irritated society in general makes me, you’d probably be flat out amazed at my self-restraint.

But there are only so many things about writing that you can talk about without getting repetitive, so maybe I do need to branch out more. I just don’t know what I would talk about. I’m not someone who gets into celebrity, so the latest crap that’s going on in Hollywood won’t get it.

All beside the point. The question is: do we need all this social media?

What do you think? Has it done any good? Do you know of someone who’s been noticed thanks to his/her blog/Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn/Fill-in-the-blank account?

Or are we wasting our time here, maybe even letting ourselves think this is all a great thing when, in reality, it’s just a way to proclaim I’m great to the world at large without them contradicting us?

Let me know what you think.



PS. I ‘d like to add here that, when I had to give up my online connection at home, I suddenly got a lot more writing done. Imagine that.


One thought on “Do We Need It?

  1. Russell

    I think some people make a job out of it. Coming up with posts that are timely, revelant, (and in my case) and humorous on a regular basis can be a headache. I do enjoy the Friday Flash Fictioners. It’s only 100 words and is like playing hide &seek with other writers. It makes for an easy post without taking up too much time or brainpower.


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