The Implications of Staying Off Social Media

  • By: Jessica Faust | Date: Feb 11 2019

There are a lot of opinions about the good, bad, and ugly of social media. There are people who love it and people who refuse to engage. I don’t know that there’s any right or wrong to either opinion, but I do know that social media is here to stay and avoiding it completely is difficult.

On our video recommendation to Tweet Wisely a reader asks:

For some people social media in all forms is social poison. I am one of those as I could not be less interested in the phenomena. Younger people thrive in it and for them it is air and water, but for older people, like myself, I just do not find the idea enticing. I have so many things to do with my time besides sitting or standing hunched over waiting for the next snarky comment from someone I will never meet as though my life’s worth hangs in the balance.

I am at the point of deciding between traditional and self-publishing but both seem to depend heavily on promotion through social media. If I do not engage in social media – and I just can’t see myself doing it – how much will that cripple me as a hopeful author? Will it prompt an agent to think twice before representation if I am unwilling mule to travel that road?

This discussion about using or not using social media is one that comes up a lot and one I recently discussed on the blog in Social Media as a Marketing Tool for Authors. Whether you like it or not, social media is the best way to reach readers and build a brand. No other platform allows you to tell thousands of people about your book. In fact, there probably has never been anything as far-reaching as social media.

You can opt to stay off all social media. I’m not going to tell you otherwise, but you might also want to consider that you’re selling yourself short by doing so. Social media might be a place where young people watch for snarky comments or a place to personally connect with others. It is a place where writers engage with agents and publishers and bookstores connect with readers and writers. It is whatever you want to make it.


13 responses to “The Implications of Staying Off Social Media”

  1. I agree. Social media may not be my favorite past time but, its here to stay. We writers need to learn to use it effectively.

  2. Avatar Sherri Shackelford says:

    I think we’re going through a shift. Facebook is contracting. Twitter is stagnant. Only Instagram is expanding.

    • Avatar James McGowan says:

      I think I’d agree, Sherri. Instragram is the fastest growing platform, and is great for reaching readers. Twitter is still great for the publishing/writing community, though.

  3. GOLLY! Don’t want to use social media? The how, how often, and why are up to you – but consider the advantages! I’d written for a living before a serious brain tumor took me down. The surgery that saved my life left my right arm (my WRITING arm!) fully paralyzed. Intensive physio restored most of its use, but the recipe blog my daughter set up for me as a birthday gift ( got my neurons snapping! I gradually relearned how to make sense of a recipe, find the ingredients in the kitchen cupboard, and start to cook again.
    Flash forward to now: With a new book in its nit-pick editing stage, I began a new blog four weeks ago (see Website, below). My blog exercises both my brain and my writing muscle, strengthening both. While I say “hi” to friends on Facebook, Linked-In, and Twitter, those forums also give me a chance to subtly promote my blogs – a plus when a future agent peeks at the numbers. Even THIS mention – sorry, Bookends! – is a plug! Don’t overlook social media! Ya gotta work it, baby, work it … as you practise for the promotion of your book. Even if your book doesn’t fly, think of the fun you’ll have had!

  4. Avatar Kathy Nieber says:

    My twenty-year-old daughter reminded me I hadn’t posted on Instagram lately. I was shocked she followed me. Good advice I need to take.

  5. Oops! I didn’t include the URL for my new blog! See

    Using social media can be like staring at yourself in the mirror … Too much and too often is unhealthy and unproductive. You’re a writer? Write until the beads of blood form on your forehead. There’s no easy way, but writers on social media tend to help one another.

  6. Avatar JOHN T. SHEA says:

    “Whether you like it or not, social media is the best way to reach readers and build a brand. No other platform allows you to tell thousands of people about your book. In fact, there probably has never been anything as far-reaching as social media.”

    Yet, we’re often told more books were sold before social media existed. How did we ever manage without it, as readers and writers? I use social media a lot, for a variety of purposes, but I’m wary of its becoming a kind of displacement activity, a busyness which produces much less than one might expect. Certainly, social media’s ‘conversion rate’ is notoriously low, i.e. the percentage of people who buy something or take some other action desired by a given social media post is tiny. In the case of ‘traditional’ publishing, I’ve heard it suggested that social media may be more a means of addressing industry professionals than the general reading public. But I will continue to socialize online, and many thanks for this piece.

  7. Avatar Lennon Faris says:

    I like social media, but I can understand this sentiment. I HATE wasting time, and social media is an absolute time sucker. It can also be a mental, emotional, and social drain if you’re not careful.

    OP (is that the right term here?), maybe you can think of social media as a ‘duty’ for your book. How about setting aside 20-30 minutes a day for social media? and not allowing yourself to go a minute over. 30 minutes isn’t nothing but it’s something most people can afford.

  8. Avatar Julie Weathers says:

    To the OP, I understand. I canceled my FB account. I was getting less enamored of it anyway because it seemed like a constant bombardment of stuff I wasn’t interested in and lo and behold there was a reason. Then Zuckerberg’s snarky comments in his testimony sealed FB’s fate for me.

    I’m thinking about locking my personal twitter account and just keeping my poor professional and neglected author twitter public. I’ll have to grow it all over again as it’s been neglected so long, but it can be done. But here’s the thing, you can interact with people who really are very kind and go out of their way to be helpful. If someone insists on talking politics or being snarky, hit the mute button and go on your way.

    Diana Gabaldon doesn’t discuss religion or politics very often for a reason.

    Think about starting a blog or a website. Blogging consistently and building up a following is also social media. I’m in the process of rebuilding my website now. A friend who’s doing a class on website building dragged me into it and I’m glad she did. I’ve been kind of disheartened since my site got hacked and have neglected it. Now I know why I was having problems with it. It was haunted. Who knew? Either that or the theme I was using wasn’t playing nice anymore.

    Will people come back? I don’t know. I’m going to start doing the posts about Civil War bits and bobs again that are interesting little nibbles of history. I’ll test out historic recipes. Hopefully, I’ll do some interviews. I was a sports journalist for 25 years so I used to know how to do that. That’s my bit. Now, what interests you and what would interest your readers?

    Jo Bourne doesn’t blog nearly enough, but you can read through hers and every post is a gem.

    Do you garden? Cook? Crochet? Social media doesn’t have to be daunting. Make it fun and people will want to spend time with you.

    I told Lisa the lady teaching the web design class that my site was dead and I didn’t think it was worth messing with.

    “Oh, really? Here are your stats. Sixty people have been to your site in the last 30 days to read the post “How to Starch Wranglers Correctly”.

    “I wrote that in 2009.”

    “Yes, and they’re still reading it.”

    Trust me, it’s a stupid post. You don’t have to write something brilliant to connect with people. Anyway, I wish you would reconsider. There are all kinds of social media and you don’t need to do them all.

    • Avatar JOHN T. SHEA says:

      Politics and religion can indeed create more heat than light, though there’s a time and place for both. I remind myself I am far from infallible and have been known to change my mind, so I avoid rants, while still commenting sometimes when I think I might have something useful to contribute.

  9. Avatar AJ Blythe says:

    Instagram is where my Barbarians and their friends (all teens) hangout. Social media is always changing so the best thing to do is to find somewhere you feel comfortable and use it in a way you enjoy.

  10. Avatar Hollie says:

    I love your positive attitude and drive to get back to what you love. I was knocked back physically, but the depression that came as a side effect of one of the drugs did the real damage. I’m now well on the way to recovery, mental health anyway and back at university. I’m doing an MA in creative writing and happily writing, and reading books outside my romance comfort zone.
    I’m proud of what I’ve achieved so far, thank you for showing me that the hard work does pay and there is still so much out there still to aim for.
    Good luck with your blog and the new website, building a new website is on my list of must do’s for this month.

  11. Hi, Hollie!
    Remember the movie You’ve Got Mail? Tom Hanks and adorable Meg Ryan are in the book business. His store’s large and hers is adorably small. When Tom wants to buy Meg out, she says to herself (quite adorably): “Ya gotta fight, fight, fight!”

    Well, that’s what ya gotta do. On the days you’re feeling low (and everyone has those), repeat Meg Ryan’s words. And then review what you’ve said in this space: “I’m proud of what I’ve achieved so far … hard work does pay and there is still so much out there still to aim for.”

    Way to go, girlfriend!