I’m having a rant. Want to know why? Because people are being bullied. Being threatened. Being made to feel unwelcome and unwanted in the #WritingCommunity.
I wish this wasn’t the first time I’ve spoken about how I’ve seen or been guilted in the #WritingCommunity about what I do with my Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages, but I’d be a damn liar.
Anyone who’s followed me would know I have been very verbal on the reasons why I do not follow everyone who follows me.
I follow people who interact, who talk to me, who have interesting things they tweet, and some of these people none of you know. I like them, they talk to me, we help each other out. No, I’ve never met them, they aren’t on my webpage, we just have a good connection and I like what they have to say.
You know, what social media is for?
But when I first joined I didn’t know that.
I joined in on these follow trains and met heaps of great writers. And then I met some writers who weren’t so great.
So break out the popcorn, and take my hand as I walk you through my most reviled Twitter experience that has made me the person I am today.
I had a small following of less than 2k followers about 2 years ago now, when I got a message that went something like this;
“Hey! I see you’ve got a book out, that’s cool! I do too, we should follow each other!”
Great! Thinks I, anther person to interact with, talk about writing and books and all that good stuff.
“Oh, and if we buy each other’s books, we can swap reviews!”
Wait, no, what? You can’t do that, its against Amazon’s T&Cs I’m pretty sure (I am now very sure and talk about how people game and manipulate Amazon in this blog post based on a personal experience. It also prompted me to give more reviews but be honest about them). I declined the invitation to swap, stating the rules and why I made that decision.
“Aren’t we supposed to be helping each other? What are you doing if you aren’t helping the writing community?”
This was before the #WritingCommunity tag had become as prolific as it has now, *especially* in the self/indie publishing industry on Twitter. I felt really bad, but I had to stick to my guns, because if we reviewed swapped we’d get into deep, deep, dodo. I could lose my whole eight reviews!
And then it got really scary.
“If you don’t follow me back and review my book, I’m going to buy your book and give you a one star review and everyone will know what a trash person you are.”
What now? You will fucking WHAT?!
I panicked. I legit burst into tears and sat there for about an hour debating what to do. Do I break Amazon T&C’s and begin down a dark and twisted path that I’d previously condemned? All to save my measly reviews from being down graded just that little bit further?
But I had to ask myself a question. Was caving into the threat going to be worth it? I didn’t want to review swap because of Amazon’s rules, but also because to be honest their book looked terrible. From the cover to the sample read it was clear this person had done little to no work. And I knew they’d want me to give them a great review and I’d have to lie about it.
It’s a subject I’m very passionate about, but if you expect someone to PAY for your book you better damn well do what you can to make it the best it can be.
My book wasn’t perfect, but I’d gotten a professional cover, a professional editor, beta readers and I had worked my substantial ASS off to afford it all because I wanted to do the right thing. It had taken me YEARS.
I dried my tears, girded my loins and said something akin to the following;
“Do it. Do it. I fucking dare you.”
I wish I was that cool. *sigh*
I sent a short apology that I wasn’t willing to involve myself in the communication, blocked him, and then got really freaking angry. And I wrote a tweet about it. I wish I still had it because I was getting likes for it over a year later, but it was something along the lines of THIS ENTIRE BLOG POST.
You don’t have the right to black mail people into review swaps.
You don’t have the right to bully people into following you.
You don’t have the goddamn right to make people feel guilty for following you and those of you that do, you are the underbelly of our community. You are the wolf at the door. You are the corruption, the ones who will cheat to make a buck. You are happy to scare a novice away from Twitter with your lies, your bullshit and your fake famous accounts.
People in the publishing community no longer give nearly as much of a shit about your public follower account, and ask me, I know. I have been doing this for years. I have watched accounts with less than a hundred followers get a big five deal and do you know what? I’ve been fucking HAPPY for them because it proves that it doesn’t matter what you do on Twitter, what matters is that you write a good story.
“Yeah but Ejay, you have like, 12k followers? Doesn’t that make you, like, an attention whore?”
I wish this was a god damn joke but that was pretty much the private DM I got about 6 months ago I decided NOT to tweet about because I wasn’t going to give THEM the attention.
I am grateful for those of you who follow me, I do what I can to enrich and help your writing lives, either with how silly I can be, writing encouragement, sharing my failings, or sometimes, my success. And I try to celebrate yours too. I buy your books, some of you have never heard of me and I buy your books and review them. Self-pub all the way through to traditional. I review them all. I offer book tours and author interviews. Blog posts on my journey, marketing tips, how to get reviews. I do as much as I possibly can and it takes away time from my own writing and editing and I don’t care because I want to help you get there. I genuinely do, and I don’t believe a follow is how you do that.
And if you’ve ever noticed in the comps I throw I don’t ask people to follow me to be a valid entrant, because I don’t believe in follow for follows anymore. Yes, you can follow for follow while you get used to the community, but its okay to pick and choose who you follow when you are more familiar with everyone’s opinions and how Twitter works.
You should never be made to feel like you don’t belong or that you are alone…
You can always reach me, through a tweet, a DM, my website, for whatever you need. I might not follow you, but to be honest all that noise gives me anxiety and I hate muting people. I think its wrong to follow someone and mute them because why are you following them then? No, REALLY, why are you bothering? You follow someone to see what they say.
I follow back accounts I know, who I interact with, who’s opinions I want to read, and not all of them follow me. But its my feed, just like this is my social media platform. I will do what I damn well please with it, and while I’m grateful for all of you who do follow me (still amazed), who you follow is up to you.
Its your feed. Its your time. Its your life.
So the next time you feel attacked, guilty or threatened into following someone, remember this;
YOU DON’T HAVE TO.
And the person who is making you do it? Those of you out there guilting people? Blackmailing them into following you only to mute them because you aren’t interested in them as a person, and you gloss it up with the bull shit like publishers only take writers with large platforms seriously?
You’re fucking lying.
Go ahead. Unfollow me. Block me.
But don’t you damn well threaten me, and don’t think I’ll allow you to get away with threatening newcomers to the community. I will speak out. I will not let the real people behind the tag feel like they need to join an amorphous thread of follow for follows for their voices to count.
There is so much more to being a writer than to be demeaned by the abstract and unnecessary pressure for a follower count that when it comes right down to the publishing mark… doesn’t matter.
Your writing matters. That’s what I’m here for. What the fuck are you here for?