When I started to experience some success as I writer I heard it from colleagues, from friends, from my agent, and from my publisher: you need to have a presence on social media. But what is a presence? Facebook updates twice a day, ten or twelve tweets a day, and a new blog at least once a week seemed to be the common wisdom. There have been times when I have actually tried to do this. There are three reasons why I won’t be doing it in 2015. Not that I won’t have a social media presence; I will. I just think that it should be a presence that respects both my time and yours, and here are my reasons why:
1) My life is just not all that interesting. Maybe you do twelve things every day that are worth sharing with the whole world, but my annual Christmas letter (which includes everything I did all year that I think is worth sharing with my closest friends and family) only takes up two pages. Do you want to know that so far today I have been to the gym, eaten a piece of sugarcake, and fed the dog? If you do, then I think you need to get out more often. Just because social media allows us to share the minutia of our daily lives doesn’t mean we should.
2) I’m trying to write a book here. Presumably most of the people who follow my Twitter feed or Facebook page do so because they have some interest in my writing. They may have read, or at least heard of, The Bookman’s Tale or First Impressions or maybe one of my children’s plays or nonfiction books. Implicit in this interest and in their following me is a desire that I create more such writing. But if I write blogs, tweets, and Facebook posts all day long, I won’t have much time to work on the new novel that people keep asking me about. It’s a balancing act for authors these days. I love connecting with readers but I don’t feel the need to constantly tell you that I wrote another ten pages today. If I did that, I wouldn’t have time to write the ten pages in the first place.
3) I respect you. I think it’s really cool that you took the time to follow me on Twitter or like me on Facebook or read my blog. It’s a commitment on your part that I take very seriously. So, if I see an article that I think might appeal to you or if I have some thoughts about rare books or some publication news—I’ll share that with you. But I respect you too much to bombard you with meaningless posts just because a website tells me I should tweet ten times a day.
I’m not an old curmudgeon, I’m really not. I want to provide you with content and make it worth your while to check out my blog and my social media feeds, but to me that means trying my best to provide interesting and meaningful content. So, every week you can check out my “Throwback Thursday” Alice in Wonderland covers on Facebook; I’ll write a new blog whenever I think of something worthy of a few paragraphs; if I see a great article about old books, or new writing, or Shakespeare, or Jane Austen, or Charles Dickens, I’ll share the link with you. But if you want to know what I’m having for lunch . . . I’ll just leave that to your imagination.