To billion or not to billion…

I should know better… I am on social media mostly to hang out with my readers. My family isn’t there, I’m not much of a group joiner, I certainly don’t need social media to acquaint me with the news…. but there I was, scrolling along on FB, and I saw a meme along the lines of: I am so glad I wasted my time learning about parallelograms, though it sure would be nice if I knew how to do my taxes instead.

I about sploded, because that kind of “joke” is so wrong on so many levels. It subtly bashes public education, which is one way to make me start snorting and pawing, and it more specifically bashes general education–subjects you ought to study at a basic level simply to be a well-rounded thinker.

And the meme is wrong. The data we have says that people who take more high school math–Algebra II, trig, calculus (all of which come after dear old geometry), tend to be BETTER at applied math (doing taxes, managing a check book), than the people who enroll in consumer math, life skills, or other applied courses. The basic general education stands you in better stead than the “practical” education.

But the larger issue for me is, “What am I doing on Facebook in the first place?” Authors who maintain a social media presence supposedly sell more books, directly or otherwise, than authors who avoid social media. Selling books has become a necessity for me, as royalties are now my only income.

And yet, my prime directive is, “Be kind; tell the truth.” Facebook takes huge sums of money (from any and everybody, few questions asked) to propagate what it knows are lies, and–worse, from my perspective–celebrates this behavior by calling it, “Standing up for free speech.” Newsflash, Mr. Zuckerbucks: The first amendment does not protect lies. The Supreme Court is REAL clear about that. You aren’t standing up for anything except the next $1 billion added to the $85 billion you already have.

And I’m helping him make that next billion. Is he helping me sell books?

Does that even matter? I lean increasingly toward no, selling a few books  more or less does not matter, when measured against the great harm resulting from handing a huge megaphone to falsehoods favoring those with ad money. Be kind, tell the truth, and don’t lend any traction to people who ditch the truth for the next $1 billion in personal net worth.

Or am I being impractical and self-sabotaging? How do you reconcile yourself to social media–or do you? And in happier news, A Woman of True Honor goes on sale at the major retail platforms on Tuesday. (You can already snag a copy from the web store or in print.)

 

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23 comments on “To billion or not to billion…

  1. 1
    Teenie Marie says:

    I am ONLY on social media to promote my chamber choir. That is truly the ONLY REASON. I hate it. My kids and spouse are nominally on; one kids deleted his FB account a few years ago and he’s happier since doing so.

    I don’t use my complete name, only the middle two of my four names. I am friends with a few close friends from high school, grad school, one of my singers and two folks who work with the organization which is bringing some of my father’s work alive. I tolerate a of couple folks who brag constantly about their kids and grandkids but have unfriended a person who RANTED about politics a couple of years ago. I don’t post anything on my own Facebook page but respond to folks happy/sad news and when I do, make a point of being kind. I DO post what I want on Facebook and Twitter for my chamber choir.

    I don’t reconcile being on social media AT ALL; it’s simply the way we all do business in the 21st century. I hope something better and less hateful comes along soon. What that will be, I have no idea.

    • 1.1
      Grace Burrowes says:

      “Better and less hateful…” I’d settle for less hateful, which is what I think we had without social media. I really don’t see how life has improved for most of us because there’s FB or Twitter or IG. Maybe I am old and grumpy? Nah…

  2. 2
    Sarah says:

    I don’t have any social media presence. I value my privacy, my leisure time, and the intentional consumption of information from trusted sources. I am very much an introvert and I suspect that has a lot to do with social media holding no appeal. So there is no sense of missing out on anything and a real belief that social media would impact my life negatively. When you hear/read something over a certain number of times, your brain leans toward believing it. For this reason, I consume as little advertising as possible and no unverified news if I can help it.

    • 2.1
      Grace Burrowes says:

      What you say is the absolute truth: Familiarity breeds a halo, and this is true even if you don’t realize you’re being exposed to an idea, image, message. This is the whole point of the right-column ad feed on Facebook, and the little puzzle-y games that tempt you to stop scrolling and just stare at the screen. While you’re staring, your peripheral vision is being saturated with ads, and you don’t consciously notice it. Subliminal ads were made illegal decades ago, but this almost-subliminal manipulation goes unchecked.
      Now I’m getting mad all over again.

  3. 3
    Susan G says:

    I am on Facebook to stay in touch with people. I have unfollowed a lot of people in the past two weeks due to the political conversations.
    My Facebook feed is now about books and dogs. Much more peaceful.I post my book reviews and family events on Facebook, too.

    I enjoy when you post the book chapters for your upcoming books.
    Most of your posts are positive and informative and I think you have a good mix of author and personal messages.

    I think most authors view Facebook as a necessary evil. You need to have a presence to sell your books. Do you need Facebook for your personal life? Maybe not.

    • 3.1
      Grace Burrowes says:

      I don’t have it for my personal life. I can’t see why I would… but is selling my books an adequate excuse for enabling FB as an author? I dunno.

  4. 4
    Rose Blue says:

    I am passionate about books, and my reviewer profile is there to follow authors I love to read, to get book information, and to post links to books I review. I promised to never get into political or controversial topics, as that’s not why I’m there. I know that so many authors are frustrated and angry with the state of the country, and feel compelled to post their feelings. I truly wish authors would have a personal page AND an author page, and keep the author page solely for their book information. I’ve honestly had to unfollow certain people because their rage is so intense that it can’t be healthy for them. I do hope you don’t desert FB, as I get much of your book information there.

    • 4.1
      Grace Burrowes says:

      Rose–that’s the dilemma. Some readers will only find an author on FB. Those readers like FB and have it under control. Other readers will only drop in on Twitter and won’t set foot on FB… Wish there was something like AuthorBook, where we could hang out and compare HEA’s without the rage. I’ve unfollowed plenty of people I agree with because, as you say… too intense and too negative.

  5. 5
    Mary T says:

    I don’t know how much your presence on FB effects your sales. Personally, I found (and fell in love with) your books in the public library. I then checked Anazon (I can no longer do book stores) and the rest is history. I haven’t counted, but I bet I have more of your books on my kindle than anyone else.

    Although I have no social media presence myself, I’m not totally against FB. I know people who use it for perfectly joyful and healthy reasons. I also know people who use it as a personal diary. I am frequently amazed and appalled at the personal things people are willing to expose about themselves.

  6. 6
    Beth says:

    I’m leaning toward stepping away on weekdays to see if there’s much impact on my ability to find authors & keep in touch with a few people in private groups. Already gave up TV in the house for a similar reason.

    I suspect as long as you keep this up so we have a place to come + the newsletters so we know to nab the next one, we’ll be a stable population. But you’ll have to advertise somewhere to keep finding new readers. Hard not to support one of the billionaires when you do. Even La Nora has to advertise.

    • 6.1

      That’s the heck of it, Beth. I do use BB and AMS ads (FB ads have become worthless), and those ads do not result in readership growth. People are turning in droves to streamed content (much higher profit for Amazon, who makes sure to hold the door for them), and to piracy. The same outfits that make tons of money off advertising (Facebook, Amazon, Google) do absolutely nothing about piracy. They feed, clothe, and house pirates, while the typical author just peddles faster and faster. I would not want to be an author just starting out in this market!

  7. 7
    Pam says:

    I use Facebook primarily to keep in almost daily contact with friends and family. I also post regularly humorous things that will make my relatives and friends laugh (Scotsmen in voice controlled elevators and animal stories), paleontology, and ancient earth. I also post about climate change consequences because I feel that people do need to be scared.

  8. 8
    Karen H near Tampa says:

    I’m not convinced that having a FB page actually helps sales for an author. It certainly doesn’t influence me since I find new authors at the library or bookstore, usually based on a hunk on the cover or stepback and a well-written, interesting blurb on the back. I first picked up “The Traitor” at the library because of Jon Paul’s lovely artwork. I loved your writing so immediately went through all the books the library owned (and recommended purchase of those they didn’t).
    I have a FB account that I created years ago in order to enter authors’ contests. But then I stopped using it for that since I never checked it anyway. I still have it and log in about once every couple of years (it’s been a while so I cannot say if it’s still active). If an author asks me to visit FB to enter a contest, I will do so UNLESS said author requires a log in just to view her page. If the page is for advertising, that’s a very poor way to go about it, at least for me. I only check in on a couple of author’s FB pages (yours, obviously) and don’t follow anyone. Once I found out that if I friended anyone, I then was friended to all their friends, I quit and deleted everything. I decide what I see, not somebody else! The other reason I prefer author newsletters is that they come to me and I don’t have to go around finding them. I’m lazy that way.

    • 8.1

      You make a lot of good (and comforting) points. I like writing my newsletters, I like doing my blog posts. I don’t like messing around on Facebook except on rare occasion when I come across interesting content to post. And Instagram honestly scares me. It puts Facebook on my phone, and those people plunder privacy and sell it to the Forces of Darkness. No thanks.

  9. 9
    Susan Chapek says:

    Thank you for this post.

    I never did like Facebook. Too random and bossy. “Here’s a friend for you.”
    Instagram (Bookstagram) is fun, but owned by Facebook.
    Twitter’s too noisy and distracting.
    Goodreads is owned by Amazon.

    I still get most of my book recs from friends (in person!) and genre-focused blogs.

  10. 10
    Marianne says:

    I do have Facebook, but really don’t know how to use it very well. In our rural area it is the source for a type of news… “What’s the smoke coming from Lakeview?” “Are the above pictured cows supposed to be up Kettle Creek?” “Pictured, lost cat.” It is also the best place to post classifieds. The ranters are kicked off the sales sites pretty fast as are commercial salespeople. Ranters and businesses have their own groups.

    I do read the advertising, too, to some extent. I was told as a beginning teacher that if I couldn’t/wouldn’t watch TV, that I needed to read the TV guide so I knew where my students were coming from. It annoys ME that I no longer get a wide variety of advertising, pinterest posts etc., because they’ve tailored my views to what “they” think I want to look at.

  11. 11
    Lynn says:

    I follow facebook for information sharing purposes.I keep in touch with friends whom I do not see on a regular basis as well as others with whom I have common interests such as authors. I do not post anything about my personal life. I do post articles of interest on a variety of issues. One of these issues is politics. I find it necessary to share opinions and information with my friends. I live in the deep South surrounded by people who have beliefs that I find non Christian and hateful.I left my Church four years ago and stopped going to my hairdresser of 20 years. In addition to the political crisis in our country my Church denomination is in crisis and will be splitting into at least two and maybe more denominations. Facebook is a way to share information about politics and faith as well as thousands of other topics.

  12. 12
    Becky Beach says:

    I know the hate I have for Facebook has to be close to what you are feeling but my family, who are flung all over the U.S., only use facebook to communicate with each other and share pictures. I have pared mine down to just family and a handful of friends while only checking every other day or so. I even asked the family to come up with another way to share like email or text but nope they stick everything on FB and I hate it. 🙁 Until there’s a better alternative that’s used by my family guess I’m stuck using FB but not liking it AT ALL. I honestly don’t think you’ll lose anything by not being on there. But that’s your decision. Looking forward to another great read. Thanks for all your lovely stories.

  13. 13
    Brenda says:

    Love, just love that you stand for truth….on FB who knows what the truth is never mind photoshop. I no longer access FB as I consider it a huge waste of time (fortunately my family lives close). love you books and keep track of you via the internet (and amazon….)

  14. 14
    Donna McMaster says:

    I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with Facebook, but around the 2016 election it became so toxic that I pulled away almost completely. I dropped all the “friends” who weren’t actually direct personal friends or family and stopped following anything remotely political. These days I visit Facebook about once a month to catch up with a few friends and family members to find out who’s acquired a new dog, grandchild, hobby or health issue.

    On the other hand, I love Instagram as there’s an active, supportive calligraphy/lettering community that I’ve enjoy a lot. I actually have two Instagram accounts: a personal one where I follow some friends and family members plus a few amazing photographers (e.g., https://www.instagram.com/paulnicklen/). And my “donna.creates” account where I can post all my lettering nerdiness.

    I don’t follow any authors on Instagram or Facebook. I do read newsletters from a few authors. I first picked up one of your books because it was recommended by another author but I’m afraid I don’t remember who. I follow you and Courtney Milan on Twitter and have tried at least two new authors (Kennedy Ryan and Margaret Locke) as a result of your recommendations. Unfortunately Twitter is so rabidly political that I can only tolerate it about once a month, so I miss most of your posts.

    The best ways to get me to try a new author are author referral (newsletter or author’s note in a book), anthology with an author I already enjoy, or a Kindle Unlimited test drive (the 1st one’s free). It probably helps to continue publishing at least some books in paperback as I regularly scan the used bookstore for new authors, and will sometimes pick up a paperback on a whim at the grocery store. You don’t make anything on the purchase of a used paperback, but once I find an author I like, I’ll gobble up their backlist even if it means buying a bunch of Kindle books. 🙂 The best way to keep me posted on new releases are newsletters, Goodreads, or BookBub, though all of those require me to sign up to follow so that’s a higher bar.

    Hope this helps!
    Donna

  15. 15
    Linda Byrd says:

    As usual, I’m late to the party.
    I do have a Facebook page and occasionally post something there. Mostly it’s to keep in touch with people who live far away, college friends and family. I have found lately that I’m not visiting it very often. As you say, the lies and vitriol found there are annoying, at best.
    Since I’ve been one of your biggest fans since The Heir (and have purchased both ebook and paperback copies of everything you’ve published), I look forward to your emails alerting me to new books being published. However, I don’t know how much worth (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) Facebook is to you as an author.

  16. 16
    jean Whiting says:

    If I weren’t a member of two quilt sites I wouldn’t be on fb any more. ever since “Mr Zuckerbucks” (love it) refused to vet comments for truth I’ve been disenchanted. I’ve answered a couple of posts, but there is such a tide of vicious language thag more moderate posts are in the minority. I have posted milder arguments but they never reach the screen. Their criteria are skewed.
    I got the nook book and read it until 2 a.m. Finished it next day. I’m glad Valerian is now a happy bridegroom and Oak is on the runway for takeoff.
    Unfortunately, the last 2 books I downloaded never made it to my nook, but they’re omnibuses so I deleted them. I hope the three he three Burrowes novellas are coming soon! llive long and prosper!