Writers: Don’t Get Trapped By Social Media


by Lev Raphael


For the last few years, at every writers’ conference I’ve attended, the hottest topic has been social media.  Writers crowd these sessions like medieval pilgrims seeking miracles at a shrine. They seem convinced that with just the right piece of information, they can use social media to promote themselves into writing stardom.

Any why shouldn’t they be? Session after session, book after book, writing blog after writing blog all seem to promise that if you figure out the way to use Twitter or Goodreads or Tumblr or Instagram or Facebook or Amazon algorithms and SEO you’ll hit the jackpot.  Just read X’s blog or book and see how she did it. Your books will be in the Top 100, you’ll have tens of thousands of followers and customers–if not more.  Hell, you might even develop your own lifestyle brand.  You won’t just have a platform, you’ll have a ziggurat.

But it’s not possible for every writer to score big, is it?  And just like all the other other promotional fads of recent years–like blog tours and Skyping to book groups–this heavy focus on social media might end up wasting an author’s time.

Americans love quick fixes and snake oil, they always have.  It’s not surprising, then, that so many writers are following what’s going to be a false lead for most of them.  It’s really tempting to imagine yourself just a hashtag away from fortune and fame.

Writing is intensely competitive. It’s hard to have a writing career of any kind and not compare yourself to other writers–that’s endemic in the business.  You’ll always find  someone else selling more books, appearing at more venues, winning more prizes, making more money than you are, getting better reviews (deserved or not). But things have only gotten worse now that publishing is easier, and more and more people just like you, it seems, are getting rich because they have the secret.

According to the New York Times, “A small but growing body of evidence suggests that excessive social media use can lead to an unhealthy fixation on how one is perceived and an obsessive competitiveness.” We writers have enough ways to make ourselves miserable without even getting out of bed–hell, some of us probably can do that in our sleep. Honestly, who needs more help?



Guest post contributed by Lev Raphael who teaches creative writing at Michigan State University. Lev is the author of Writer’s Block is Bunk and 24 other books in genres from memoir to mystery which you can find at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Check out more of Lev’s work on his blog, Writing Across Genres.

26 thoughts on “Writers: Don’t Get Trapped By Social Media

  1. I personally don’t mind a little blogging, but no other social media. And if blogging starts to demand too much of my time, it just distracts me from actually coin any serious writing. Honestly, where do people find the time for social media and still put out books like they’re a dime a dozen?

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I stopped social media use with the exception of WordPress and posting some photos on my private Instagram.

    As a new writer, fresh out of college, I need to focus on improving my craft. I felt like I was putting “the cart before the horse” by fixating on Twitter, or FB, or whatever. Yes, I was gaining popularity, but no, my writing was not improving.

    Happy to say, I now enjoy reading blogs sometimes, sharing on IG, and focusing mostly on writing 🙂

    Take care,

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I like to @ authors on Twitter when I review their books. It always surprises me when they aren’t on a platform that I use. I think having a presence is good if someone wants to look you up, but for most of the authors with HUGE followings, they were famous before they joined (think Stephen King, John Scalzi, JK Rowlings).

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I used to post a lot on social media but stopped. Now, I only post when I’m running a sale or have a new release. While I’m doing this, I feel it’s a waste of time, but I still do it.


  5. So far I’ve avoided the trap. I’ve only just signed up for Twitter and I don’t post every day on Facebook. I’ve had Instagram since the summer when I decided to branch out into photography. I certainly haven’t let these things distract from my paid work, and neither should anybody else.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m not a writer and just started my own blog, however, I do think social media is a good thing. I like to follow my favorite authors on social media to see new books, their tour guide, and just generally what they are doing in their careers. This lets the readers get to know them and keep up with what they are currently working on.


  7. […] One I’ve been following for a good while now. The Writer’s Path by Ryan Lanz focuses on sharing writing tips, information and advice. There’s also a writer’s club you can sign up for to get plenty of benefits. They have certainly helped me along the way and I still read there posts regularly. One of my favourites is ‘Writers: Don’t get trapped by Social Media‘. […]


  8. Nice! I agree with social media taking over the writer’s imagination on how to get fame. They work less on their craft and more on networking. I am discovering this now and think that if I work more on my craft and use a small fraction of time to network, I’ll be fine. Word of mouth also works well too.


  9. I just realised I have spent the last twenty minutes staring at my Twitter feed and not writing. Maybe it’s time to take a social media break!


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