Writing a book is no longer just about writing. It now involves wearing multiple hats: writers have to be publicists, digital marketers, and social media managers. They must be enthusiastic about self-promotion and consistent in personal branding. Creating viral tweets, engaging TikTok videos, and optimizing Instagram accounts has become just as crucial as producing the book itself. In today’s world, writing the book is the easy part!

This approach to self-promotion and branding isn’t new. In the 18th and 19th centuries, authors had to pull off daring stunts to garner attention. Legendary names like Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway, and John Steinbeck engaged in unconventional marketing, and personal networking also played a major role in the 1900s. It’s clear that effective self-promotion has always been vital for authors.

Today, the stakes are even higher. According to a 2018 study, artists with expansive networks had higher chances of fame, irrespective of their creative output. As the world becomes more interconnected through social media, writers and artists are held to an even greater standard of networking and connection. While social media has torn down some barriers, it has also added a new requirement for success: virality.

In this age of self-promotion, authors face enormous pressure to maintain a social media presence. Platforms like BookTok have significantly boosted sales for those who have gone viral. However, such pressure can backfire, leading to some unwanted consequences, as writer Nate Lemcke experienced. His attempt to leverage BookTok resulted in an intense backlash, leading to one-star reviews and accusations of exploitation.

But here’s the irony: despite the negative attention, Lemcke’s book sales surged dramatically. This incident sheds light on the current necessity for authors to go viral, even if it means exposing the worst parts of themselves. While damaging one’s reputation can strain their relations with publishers, for self-published authors like Lemcke, the gamble paid off.

Social media presented a direct line of communication, allowing writers to better connect with their audience and cultivate a sense of community, something readers crave. This puts pressure on authors to maintain a constant online presence, a burden that can be overwhelming for many.

Indeed, many authors now find themselves in unspoken agreements with publishers to maintain an active social media presence. The absence of direct feedback on the effectiveness of social media efforts only adds to the pressure. However, despite the challenges, a strong social media presence can substantially impact book sales, creating visibility for both new and old works.

Posting frequently, however, detracts from the precious time and creativity needed for writing. The metrics-driven nature of social media can be disheartening, sometimes overshadowing the true essence of writing and causing self-doubt. Yet, amid the challenges, social media offers a platform for authors to form relationships and build online communities, connecting with those who truly understand their struggles.

As authors balance the demands of social media and their writing, the digital landscape continues to evolve, posing new challenges and opportunities for those seeking success in the literary world.

Topics Books, TikTok

Christianna Silva
Senior Culture Reporter

Christianna Silva is a Senior Culture Reporter at Mashable. They write about tech and digital culture, with a focus on Facebook and Instagram. Before joining Mashable, they worked as an editor at NPR and MTV News, a reporter at Teen Vogue and VICE News, and as a stablehand at a mini-horse farm. You can follow them on Twitter @christianna_j.


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