All the time they tell you to network. You’ve got to build your brand, build your author platform, build your body of work. To make it as an indie author you have to get to know your audience. You have to get to know your fellow authors. You have to put yourself out there. It’s a different world. A different time. People want engagement. Don’t just sell-sell-sell. Make relationships. Make friends.
You don’t want to, you just want your work to speak for itself, you want to write, you want to tell your stories, but you have to network.
Where else to go but social media? Social media sucks. Twitter’s stupid. You don’t know what Instagram is, except a platform for starlets to show pictures of themselves in bikinis and later complain about Hollywood’s objectification of women. Pinterest’s an online photo album for homemakers who can make intricate fondant Power Rangers statuettes for their kids’ birthday cakes. Facebook, though: Facebook you understand. You’re on there already.
So you make a few new friends. Join new groups. They accept you. You comment on genre-related threads, you like all your new friends’ book links and share them to your timeline, knowing that the vast majority of Facebook friends you already have are NEVER going to buy your new friends’ books because they’re only there to see dumb memes and pictures of your kids and grandkids, but you do it anyway because you remember how good it felt when someone did it for you. And you’re making those connections. You’re engaging. Making friends. Being part of the community.
Hey look, one of the bigger names likes your status. He likes your comment. He thanks you for sharing his book link. He’s successful. You’re not, but you want to be, so you play it cool. You’re smart. You don’t just sell-sell-sell. Do the soft pitch: if they like you, if they think you’re funny and smart and incisive, once you do decide to put your own book link up there, maybe they’ll link to it. Or, even better, buy your book.
But you’re not ready to do that yet. You wait. Your old friends and new friends rarely interact, but it’s okay. What you find with your new friends is that they’re leftists. They’re moderates. They’re independents. They’re apolitical. Whatever they call themselves. That’s okay too, because you’ve got lots of Facebook friends who don’t share your beliefs. Litmus tests are for assholes. A person’s bigger than his political beliefs. Especially a close friend. Or a former close friend. Or a relative.
Your new apolitical friends post their political stuff on Facebook. Check Out How Trevor Noah OBLITERATED Ben Carson on Last Night’s Daily Show. Right-Wing “Family Values” Homophobes Get Trolled on Twitter, and We’ve Got the Screenshots. John Oliver: America’s Most Incisive Pundit (and He’s Not Even American). Rainbowize Your Profile. Here’s a Vox link to look at. A Kos link. Feminists Make the Best Husbands.
That’s fine. You can ignore it. But you don’t want to. They’re promulgating bullshit. They’re wrong on the internet, which is a joke, but here it’s demonstrably true. You’ve got facts to back it up. But if you disagree, it’s bound to get ugly. And you can’t disagree with the big-name people in your genre. It’s a small world. Word gets around. You really want that early reputation as the troublemaker? The right-wing troublemaker? The one who makes everything political? They might not badmouth you, but they won’t share your link when it’s time for you to mention your book.
So you bite your tongue. You’ve got to watch yourself now. This is a business. Don’t alienate your customers and colleagues.
Another big-name in your field talks about how he’s sick of all the partisanship, and if we all work together, things will get better. But later he posts a link to Tom Toles’s Takedown of Ted Cruz. And he likes that other new friend’s meme of Dr. Evil making finger-quotes with the words Fox “News” pasted over it. You don’t stalk him, but you see it, because Facebook wants you to see it. Okay, you think. Maybe he won’t understand that partisanship and conflict were written into the Constitution itself. We have three co-equal branches of government precisely because we’re supposed to disagree on the small stuff and (perhaps) agree on the really big stuff. Maybe that’ll go over his head. But he won’t take it well if I gently point out that when he says he hates partisanship, he really means that he just wants everyone else to agree with him. Especially if I prove it by pointing out how often he links to leftist memes and left-wing causes, and consistently insults the right.
You know that if you do it, he’ll hate you for it. Forever.
So you bite your tongue. And you can’t just unfollow him, you can’t unfollow any of these people, because what if they post something genre-relevant that you want to get in on? Do you really want to have to visit their pages once a day to find the book stuff to like and share? No. Not worth it. They’re friends with other big names. You have to stay connected. Stay engaged.
So you bite your tongue, and it tastes bitter, and you tell yourself that when you get big like them, with fans and a hundred likes on every stupid status, you’ll be free. You’ll say what you want where you want. You’ll have your own group of people to support you. When they can’t blackball you, that’s real power. Oh, you can vent right now on private forums and groups, but it’s not the same.
So you bite your tongue and hide yourself a little bit and bide your time. Hopefully by then, by the time you’re successful, you won’t bother with political bullshit on Facebook. You’ll leave it to the petty ones, the MSNBC-watching true believers. You have to get comfortable with knowing you’re right on the inside. You learned that in your first year of marriage.
But someday, it’ll be nice to get there. To make it. To say what you want and have people laugh at it and like it even when you know it’s not worth the attention. To have people want to curry favor with you for a change. Yeah.
For now, bite your tongue. Your time will come.
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