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  • There Are No Rules

You Don't Have to Blog, Tweet, or Be on Facebook

Categories: Blogging, Blogging for Writers, Build a Platform & Start Blogging, Building Readership, Digitization & New Technology, Freelance Writer, Article Writing, General, Getting Published, Marketing & Self-Promotion, New Tools for Entrepreneurial Writers.

I’m often giving many reasons for writers to start a blog, be on Twitter, or use Facebook.

But the truth is, you don’t have to do any of these things to get published or to sell books.

(Sidenote: You’ll often hear stories of bestselling authors who don’t use social media, but that’s not what I mean. Those stories are deceptive. Let’s not compare aspiring writers today to established, bestselling authors.)

To repeat:
You don’t have to do these things. If you hate doing these things, stop. Stop now!

Do you feel better? Is the pressure off? Good.

Now envision what you would like to do.

  • Would you love doing a mother-interview series? That’s something I’ve done on my personal blog.
  • Would you love creating your own line of greeting cards? See this author, Andrew Shaffer.
  • Would you love creating inspirational newsletters? See Christina Katz.
  • Would you love posing Big Deep Questions to people, because you believe there should be no small questions? (See Al Katkowsky!)
  • Would you love weekly conversations where you learn something critical to your craft every week? (See #scriptchat founder, Jeanne Bowerman.)

When you do interesting stuff—when you have something to say, a message to spread, or a story to tell—then social media makes more sense. Because then, it becomes a tool to share what you’re doing and develop relationships with others who have similar interests. Social media is like instant access to the most customized party, conference, or classroom in the world—where everyone in the room shares your Ultimate Life Concern, including those above you in stature, those below you, and those on the same rung.

If you see social media as that thing you have to do because now you have a book to sell or promote, the game is over before it’s started. You’ll probably hate it, and you won’t last for the long haul.

See social media as a way to connect with people who matter to you.

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31 Responses to You Don't Have to Blog, Tweet, or Be on Facebook

  1. Mary Tod says:

    Jane – a personal thank you for your feedback on blog topics. I’ve been away otherwise would have responded earlier. Onto more about historical fiction!

  2. It’s not like I needed confirmation for the way I use my blog, FB & Twitter.

    It just evolved as I got involved.

    But, it is always nice to get a little confirmation :-)

  3. Erika Robuck says:

    Great post! I couldn’t agree more.

    If you find yourself dreading some aspect of social media, you probably shouldn’t be doing it. If you find yourself getting in trouble with the people* in your "real life" for spending too much time on Twitter or Facebook, it’s probably worth a balanced amount of your time.

    *This is, of course, a hypothetical situation. ;)

  4. See Elle Oh says:

    Thank you, Jane! This is reassuring. I like tweeting, and blogging, but there are moments when I find it to be more of a chore than a pleasure. When I’m socializing and connecting on things I care about, it’s a breeze. When I’m dragging my fingertips over the keys about something I feel I *should* discuss, I feel physically trapped and stifled.

  5. Yelly says:

    This is very encouraging! I’m a social media addict because it’s a way for me to keep in touch with my loved ones, as I live away from home. I must admit that I get most of my blogging ideas from Twitter. Am well and truly convinced that social media is a way forward, especially if one has just started writing.

  6. Jael McHenry says:

    So true. You don’t HAVE to do any of it. And if you do it out of obligation without knowing what your goals are, you won’t get anywhere. Sending off a few random Tweets into the ether doesn’t do you any good. Give some thought to who you want to connect with and how, and then if it makes sense for you, jump in with both feet. (I’m crazy for Twitter myself, as a way to connect with other authors as well as readers.)

  7. Page Lambert says:

    Great reminder, Jane. Thank you. My most popular blog post, just posted a week ago, was about struggling with what to do with my mother’s mink stole, which I inherited when she died. The topic was personal, but the questions posed were universal as I explored my own human ethics and morality. I had a tremendous response from readers.

    But even so, your reminder to have fun with the networking is much appreciated!

  8. Hi Jane!
    You have given good advice, but I’d like to add something. When I first set up my website, the good people laying it out, Monkey C Media, and especially Jeniffer Thompson, strongly suggested that I write a blog. I was fearful but have found over the years that it’s just another form of writing, like memoirs or short stories, and I have become addicted to it (it also gave me courage to comment on others’ posts, like yours).
    Similarly, my two children encouraged me to get on Facebook. While I’m not into expressing myself in 140 characters or less (Twitter), I decided to give it a try. My participation has gone far beyond sharing my blog posts and news about my writing. It’s been a great way to develop new friendships, especially important in these terribly isolating winter months.
    So, in conclusion, I would encourage authors to really try writing a blog and participating in social networking. I was a naysayer–now I’m a convert (and maybe less an introvert).
    Take care.
    r/Steve

  9. Dan Blank says:

    Love this topic, and especially love the conversation from everyone in the comments! Great perspectives and ideas. Just echoing what everyone else is already saying: smart to make this a personal decision, based on your goals, your audience, your personality, your LIFE! Oftentimes, "best practices" only benefit those who are trying to ensure everyone is using them!

    But I also like how so many people are saying things like ‘I don’t need to blog, but I do anyway, and I love it!" It’s not about the blog, but the connection to readers. And that’s always full of fun surprises.

    Thanks everyone!
    -Dan

  10. Lenny Manzo says:

    Well said Jane. There is a ton of mumbo jumbo in relation to social media. People are missing the simplest most important facet and that is to connect. Throw all the books in the trash and start connecting with like minded people.

  11. Lenny Manzo says:

    Well said Jane. There is a ton of mumbo jumbo in relation to social media. People are missing the simplest most important facet and that is to connect. Throw all the books in the trash and start connecting with like minded people.

  12. @Mary – Definitely option 2 is your strongest choice. Options 1/3 are done by everyone, and it’s tough to set yourself apart.

  13. Mary Tod says:

    Hello Jane and others … I WOULD LOVE SOME FEEDBACK. I’ve chosen to blog about three topics that interest me (1) the business of writing from the author’s point of view, interpreting change in publishing, agenting and technology as it affects writers; (2) historical fiction as that’s the genre I write with a specific focus on WWI and WWII; and (3) musings about the writing life. Points 1 and 3 are likely of more interest to other writers while point 2 (perhaps occasionally 3) could be of interest to readers. I enjoy each of these topics and happily spend time on them. I’ve only been going for six months and still have relatively few viewers … if anyone can help by checking out my blog and giving me some feedback I would be truly grateful!! TX, Mary

  14. V.V. Denman says:

    I love this angle. It’s so true. We need to use social media for who we are, not who we think we’re suppose to be. I wish I had heard this message several months back. :)

  15. Kit Domino says:

    Thank you Jane. Have been considering whether to blog or not. Now made up my mind and decided No! Writing takes time and I lose enough to Twitter and FB as it is. Why angst what to write in a blog when what I want to say goes into my books. Glad I read you this morning.

    Kind regards
    Kit

  16. Hi Jane,

    I’m in full agreement with you on this. I just wish I’d known before I (ironically) blogged about this subject last week as an Industry Analysis piece for my course. I spoke to several agents about it and I have included their opinions. It’s in three parts, so you’ll to work your way up.

    http://plantinglines.blogspot.com/

  17. Marly says:

    If a person hates Twittering, Facebooking, etc. as much as I do, then as you say, they’re not going to last for the long haul. Fortunately, I’m discovering there are lots of other ways to connect with other people. Commenting on others’ blogs, of course, is probably at the top of the list, as is offering to write guest blog posts.

    But I’m finding that writing lots of thank you letters is beginning to open some interesting doors. I’ve thanked several well known authors for articles they’ve written for Writer’s Digest that have helped me with my writing, and gotten some extremely gracious notes in return. One has offered to critique my work for me, and she has something like 72 books under her belt! Another has taken me up on my offer to write a guest blog post, and she’s a PH.D! I didn’t write them to get them to do things for me, so I’m flabbergasted by these offers, and extremely honored, and decidedly plan to keep writing thank you notes.

    I’ll probably never be a Twitterer, just because I detest it so badly. Fortunately, there’s more than one way to skin a guinea pig.

  18. Thanks to everyone for their comments.

    Regarding John Soares comment: You may want to check out a previous post I wrote that addressed this ROI issue: http://blog.writersdigest.com/norules/2010/12/13/WhenOrWhySocialMediaFailsToSellBooks.aspx

    A big question I have is whether writers (particularly freelancers) who are just *now* getting established can afford to ignore social media. If you’re already established, then it seems you’re more at liberty to ignore it if you have relationships that keep feeding you reliable work.

  19. John Soares says:

    And you don’t have to have an active presence on the Internet period. I’m sure there many freelance writers with successful careers and many happy clients who don’t blog, or tweet, or have a Facebook business page.

    I do the first two, and I think they do help me get clients and sell my books, but I still did well enough before I hopped into social media.

    And there’s also the ROI factor. What’s the per-hour return for the time spent on social media? Is it worth it?

  20. I love this, and am so glad you helped me find Andrew’s greeting card line…

  21. Wendy Hagen says:

    Thank you!
    I have a book to sell/promote and do a bit of social media. I have been blogging for years. BUT, I don’t have the time to really use social media it to its potential (especially twitter & facebook fan/like page stuff) and need to be reminded that it’s okay. I have three little ones at home who need a mom, not a social media guru. I actually do like social media (and real live interaction too) but at this season in my life I just don’t have the time for a ton of it.

  22. Thanks so much for the encouragement. Last week when I made the crucial decision that I wouldn’t allow social media to suck away so much of my time, I knew that my blog, http://www.memphiswrites.blogspot.com, was something that I wouldn’t give up. I enjoy blogging because it satisfies that longing to produce a magazine without the cost of printing. I interview authors, spotlight books I have read, and post a Monday Muse of encouraging words for writers, all in the form of a weekly magazine. And I enjoy it!

  23. Fun post! I’m loving that first example, Jennifer Lee. She has a totally awesome book concept. I am all over it.

  24. YES. I thought I’d hate blogging, and resisted for a log time, but I actually LOVE it. My blog is about writing (mostly), and I’ve met a load of great people through it.

  25. VERY well said!!! I started blogging because I thought it was something I had to do…to "build my platform". But along the way I found that I really liked it and enjoyed connecting with so many people. Posts used to be all about writing, and publishing, and getting there, but then they changed into what interested me and everyday type of stuff.

  26. It’s a very good post, I absolutely agree: social media without content, without trying to help others and only pushing promotion doesn’t work for any of the sides.
    Just a small remark: I’ve found the title very misleading. Great post otherwise!
    Andrea

  27. Rahma Krambo says:

    Thanks, I’m breathing better already. While I do love my blog, I made the decision long ago to channel all my writing energy into my book. I couldn’t come up with enough inspired or informative postings that didn’t seemed contrived just so I could stay present in the illusive blogospere. Besides there are so many great bloggers(like Jane)that I’ve surrended myself to mostly reading the pros blogs.

    I find Twitter invaluable for keeping up with all the subjects I care about, checking in regularly with #amwriting and #amediting.

    What I really love though is my Guardian Cats FB page which I created as a platform for sharing my passions: cats, books and libraries. My posts range from serious, sublime and silly. It’s a great way to relax in between bouts of editing. When I actually get my books published I’ll let everyone know but I try not to bore anyone with my snail’s pace progress.

    A side note: here’s the stats for my various platforms: I have a whole 17 blog followers, about 137 Twitters followers, but I have almost 2,000 Guardian Cat fans on Facebook!

    I think this might be what you’re talking about, right?

    Rahma Krambo
    "Guardian Cats and the Lost Books of Iskandriyah"

  28. Crystal says:

    Right there with you. The web is what we make it eh?

  29. THANK YOU, Jane!

    Small post and right to the point. I’m going to apply what you said because I hate doing social media but when you put it the way you put it then it makes more sense and actually can be constructive rather than just all fluff.

    BTW, I like the title here "There are no rules"

    I just did a guest blog about the rules in writing.

    Cynthia Vespia
    http://www.cynsights.blogspot.com

  30. Lisa B says:

    I’m a big proponent of Social Media. First began blogging 6 yrs ago. Met some incredible and inspiring people through blogging, Twitter and FB. Closed down the "mom blog" and began a site devoted to STL parents. And now have added a personal site about my writing journey.

    You’re right. The beauty of social media is the flexibility to turn your piece of cyberspace into what YOU want it to be. And connecting with people, sharing the journey is a most amazing experience.

  31. I LOVE this post, Jane. I would still blog, Tweet and Facebook, even if I didn’t have two books-in-progress that I would some day like to have published. I’ve found a community in the social media where an exchange of creative ideas goes on perpetually. It’s not just a marketing tool, and I agree with you that if you try to use it exclusively to promote products, you will fall flat. You will not be authentic. Thanks for all the great links–I’m loving following Christina Katz now.

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