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This morning I made the (long overdue) decision to wave goodbye to Twitter. Last night it finally dawned on me that I derived no benefit from my presence on the micro-blogging platform, and that the time and effort wasted on it would be better utilised elsewhere. Yes, it’s essentially an admission of defeat, but it’s one less thing for my to worry about, and an opportunity to focus my energies in areas that will actually advance my writing career.

If you are now asking, what exactly is so wrong with Twitter to prompt me to abandon it? The answer is that there’s nothing inherently wrong with Twitter. The problem is that it simply doesn’t serve my needs as a self-published author who’s only a year into my publishing journey. My three principal reasons for using the platform were: connecting with other writers, connecting with readers, and marketing myself. Yet, despite its popularity and large userbase, Twitter never really allowed me to do any of those things in a meaningful way, and using it meant neglecting or ignoring other avenues that are much better suited to doing what I wanted to accomplish.

Starting with Twitter as a marketing tool, after four and a half years as a user I realise that it works so much better, in this respect, for people who are already established names in their chosen field. Such people, being known quantities, do not have to go to the trouble of trying to persuade Twitter users to show interest in them and whatever it is they are marketing; their audience will proactively search them out, follow them, and like or retweet their output. As an unknown author I didn’t have this luxury so my own efforts proved to be futile because I don’t have an audience of readers to market to.

Although I didn’t start using Twitter seriously as an author platform until last year, my four and a half years on Twitter has earned me a meagre following of less than 400 people, while an even larger number of people have unfollowed me in that time. I accept that it takes time for new authors to find their audience and build up a following, but it’s clear to me now that I won’t gain readers by wasting my time tweeting. Of the handful of people who are currently followers, I can pretty much guarantee that 99.99% of them have never read anything I’ve written, and have zero interest in ever doing so. That being the case, what reason is there for me to persist with Twitter as a marketing tool?

Next, Twitter proved not be very useful in terms of trying to make connections with other writers. Most of the authors who utilise Twitter do so for the purposes of marketing, meaning they are more focussed on engaging with readers, whether pre-existing or potential, rather than making contacts with fellow writers. There are better platforms out there, more conducive to establishing relationships, than a micro-blogging site with over three hundred million active users, all bombarding each other with tweets that only a handful of people will ever notice. So that’s two thirds of my reason for remaining on Twitter gone.

Finally, trying to connect with potential readers via Twitter is wasted effort for an unknown author just starting out. As I implied previously, readers don’t go on Twitter to discover new authors. They, naturally enough, want to follow authors whom they are already fans of. That reality obviously excludes me, thereby eliminating my final reason for remaining on a platform that doesn’t benefit me in any way―hence the decision to call it quits. I haven’t (and won’t) delete my account, but for the foreseeable future I am done with Twitter. I will only return when it makes sense for me to do so, whether that be two, three or four years from now.

So, what will I be doing instead to further progress my author ambitions? The short answer is that the time I once wasted on Twitter will now be devoted to building up my mailing list. It’s clear to me now that acquiring as many subscribers as I can is the best way to establish a readership and engage with those readers. I joined an author group on Facebook three weeks ago, and in the coming days and weeks I will be taking advantage of the opportunities it affords me, including newsletter swaps, joint promotion giveaways, and just connecting with other authors in my genre, generally. This will allow me to accumulate new subscriptions in a way that social media simply can’t match.

In addition to participating in activities to increase the number of readers on my mailing list, I’ve decided to blog more frequently. I will try to get in the habit of posting at least once a day on this blog, even if it’s just to comment on the weather or make an observation about something going on in my life (but I’m much more likely to post book, film, television etc. recommendations and reviews). At the moment I’m not sure what’s going to become of my book blog, Another World. I haven’t posted anything since the end of March, and while I’m focussed on the upcoming re-release of my novel I just don’t have time to keep it updated on a regular basis. I think I’ll make a decision about its future this autumn, though I’d rather it didn’t become defunct after five years of maintaining it.

To end, although I’m abandoning Twitter, I do plan to increase my social media footprint on those platforms that I do have a use for but have neglected. This means I’ll be making more of an effort to keep my Pinterest and Tumblr sites active even though I don’t expect to gain anything from this in terms of building my readership. Nonetheless, I do like the fact that the userbases on both platforms aren’t geared towards trying to acquire the most number of followers while simultaneously following as few people as possible, as is the case on Twitter which is plagued by people following users they have no interest in following just to gain a reciprocal follow before promptly unfollowing once they’ve got it.

Finally, I’m waiting to get approval for my author profile on BookBub as I eventually plan to make use of this great platform for authors, in the not too distant future.

 

Thanks for reading,
Ian