A few weeks back, there were rumblings within the horror and small press communities about how a certain small press relieved long-time editor Don D’Auria of his duties. Most might have just read the headlines and went on their merry way…but because I am familiar with the name (I have gotten at least 2 rejections from him in my path to trying to do this writing thing full time), I started to pay attention.
The gist is this: the small press in question relieved Mr. D’Auria of his duties because they felt he was not a success in the social media aspect of publishing. They wanted an editor that was geared more towards social media to replace him. They let an editor with tons of experience and a fairly consistent following go because he wasn’t well-versed in Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
As I said, this is the very boiled down version. If you want the whole dark and seedy story, I suggest you check out this post from Brian Keene, as he is one of the few horror writers out there that will tell you how it is in the industry at the moment, warts and all.
But this isn’t a post about what that small publisher did to Don D’Auria. This is about the weird slant to the publishing industry that caused him to be let go.
Over the past three years or so, I’ve seen a huge increase in the number of publishing houses and agencies that ask what sort of social media following you have in your query letter. While I guess I understand the need for this information in a Facebook-driven world, I have to be honest here and say that I really resent this.
What this implies, when boiled all down, is that a growing number of agencies and publishers see it as a benefit to them if a new writer has a social media base already built. To go one step farther, it also indicates that a social media following for a new prospective author is attractive to these agencies and publishers.
But let’s be honest…where’s the sense in that? This makes one think that even if you have a great manuscript with tons of potential, it might be overlooked because you don’t have thousands of followers on social media. On the other hand, a writer that might not be all that great might be given more consideration than a much better writer just because they have a crazy number of Twitter followers.
Basically…if you’re a writer, that’s not enough any more. You also have to know how to navigate the social media waters. Apparently, the same is now true of small-to-mid sized publishers as well.
Again, yes,I understand the logic in this. It makes an easy sort of sense. And I have even had work published by a house that puts a lot of stock in your social media output.
But I also think that the increasing focus on social media savviness is a little demeaning to writers. In some cases, it also seems as if the agencies or publishers are looking for writers than can do some of the marketing haul themselves.
I for one am not a huge fan of social media. Sure, it’s fun, but I’d much rather be writing my next novel instead of tinkering around on Facebook and Twitter, trying to get more followers just so I might catch the attention of a publisher or agency that is more interested in the number of Twitter followers I have than the content of my manuscript.
Am I alone on this? All I know is that as a writer with barely over 1,000 Twitter followers, when I see a request for my “social media presence,” I automatically feel as though my manuscript, whether it’s good or bad, is not enough and I have to be this other thing, too.
Sure, I can spend a few hours on Twitter an follow random people that I don’t know, hoping they’ll follow me back. Or I could spend some time reading numerous articles about how to grow my Facebook friends or Twitter followers. Or I could buy one of the hundreds of e-books currently on Amazon about how to master the art of social media.
But as a writer, I’d rather be…well, writing.
If any agencies or publishers happen to read this, I’d love for you to leave a comment to better explain your side of things. Writers, feel free to sound off, too.