Writers are a particular group of people who are more likely than not, introverts, but also at the same time are expected to engage in near constant self-promotion in order to be published and succeed.
In the days when social media makes this free and faster than ever, the pressure is on for writers to promote themselves and their books. If you don’t, as they say, you risk never succeeding at all.
And so, therein lies #writerlifts on Twitter. The near constant hashtag where writers shamelessly self promote themselves every chance they get.
And having only been involved in the past several weeks, I can say, I am annoyed even now. Don’t get me wrong, I love that authors are doing their best to promote each other, although it gets to be a bit too much.
Am I the only one who is super annoyed by all these writerlifts/tag games? I’m dealing with stressful life issues & just want to connect more with my followers-without scrolling endlessly for real tweets. What do you think of them? #writingcommunity
— Elizabeth doesn’t do writerslifts/tag games (@AuthorEGray) May 14, 2020
I dislike them too. What irks me is seeing a thread of people defending them, saying “they’ve increased their sales this way”. Why are they even here, to really connect or find buyers among the writing community? That says a lot.
— Fátima Carrero (@FatimaCarrero_M) May 14, 2020
Ppl, stop the numbers game. I’ll no longer Retweet any writer lifts. People are just in it for the numbers. Most everyone is literally kick-starting their account with lifts. W.T.F.
Anyhow, what do you think of lifts? Exploitative, numbers game?#Writingcommunity
— Ahmed G. Writes (@agletterman) May 14, 2020
So to illustrate, other people are also finding the hashtag to be a bit much. But other authors really do like them because they increase their follower count. As Fatima pointed out though, it seems like a lot of authors like them because they are turning it into sales rather than actually connecting with other writers in the community.
But I do think they’re helpful for writers who are concerned about building a following and are not sure how else to start. Sometimes tweeting into the void doesn’t seem to help much.
Other writers within the community do find them helpful for this reason. As the following tweets illustrate, especially when they get retweeted by other people with large followings, it really does help them grow.
Same. My sales have gone up and stayed steady since I began participating in #writerlifts. We have to be reaching more readers, for sure. When #writers with over 100K #followers RT my pinned post, they generate more sales. It’s fantastic!
— Carmen Baca, author (@carmen_author) May 14, 2020
Posted #writerlifts are how I’ve found a lot of great contacts and subsequently learned a LOT about the ways of writers, specifics about various genres, related people (editors, publishers), and newfangled tools of the trade. However, I don’t personally initiate them. TY Twitter!
— Deana Rodriguez (@ItalicBoldDKR) May 14, 2020
Although I’m glad that the community is very willing to follow each other and promote other writers, I also believe that a lot of this results in false engagement. Ahmed actually said that since he stopped sharing writer lifts two weeks ago, his engagement actually increased.
I believe a lot more people would better benefit from getting followers organically. Although it obviously takes a while longer to build a following this way, I would rather follow and be followed by people who actually enjoy my content.
I think perhaps maybe writers could instead engage in something similar once or twice a week. But I’ve seen writers engage in every one they possibly can. Which clogs my feed and then I unfollow them.
I enjoy learning about new stories and talking about books and publishing. And while I understand the drive to stand out and make sales, I don’t want a constant stream of self-promotion in my feed.
Just create a bot for that instead and focus on the people who really enjoy your content instead if you can’t part from those kinds of community follows. Try to limit it if you must.
Not to mention the fact that these kinds of tweet behaviors are actually against the rules.
That’s right, you could get in trouble with Twitter:
You can’t artificially inflate your own or others’ followers or engagement….reciprocal inflation – trading or coordinating to exchange follows or Tweet engagements (including but not limited to participation in “follow trains,” “decks,” and “Retweet for Retweet” behavior);
Misuse of Twitter Product Features
- “follow churn” – following and then unfollowing large numbers of accounts in an effort to inflate one’s own follower count;
- indiscriminate following – following and/or unfollowing a large number of unrelated accounts in a short time period, particularly by automated means; and
- duplicating another account’s followers, particularly using automation.
- aggressively or automatically engaging with Tweets to drive traffic or attention to accounts, websites, products, services, or initiatives.
- aggressively adding users to Lists or Moments.
- using a trending or popular hashtag with an intent to subvert or manipulate a conversation or to drive traffic or attention to accounts, websites, products, services, or initiatives; and
- Tweeting with excessive, unrelated hashtags in a single Tweet or across multiple Tweets.
I believe Twitter wouldn’t ban a bunch of writers over it, but I could see them cracking down on it and starting to aggressively shadowban users to continue to do it a lot.
If you read Ahmed’s thread a lot of writers complain about the lack of community engagement within the writer community. And while I do think the majority of people complaining on his thread are there to complain, I do think they have valid points.
I’ve only been back on Writer Twitter for a couple of weeks and it’s a problem I’ve already recognized. For newbies absolutely new to the community, I could see this to be a very confusing problem to have.
Perhaps instead of focusing on artificially pushing up our follower counts, we instead focus on real engagement. If we want to promote, promote to your reader base. If you want to interact with the writing community, focus on writing and reading.
The biggest advice I can give to people (having a certificate in digital marketing) is if you want value out of the community, you must give value first. Find ways to be an asset to the community and the engagement, likes, and follows will come with it.
That’s one of the core tenets of digital marketing, you must give to receive. A lot of writers are especially struggling during this time as the world around us turns into a sci-fi novel.
So look for ways you can give back to the community.
- Share other books
- Ask questions about their writing
- Share quotes from your book
- Participate or start a Chat
- Buy a book from an indie bookstore
- Buy books directly from authors
- Buy books from Amazon or Barnes and Noble if you must
- Host a virtual book club
- Host a virtual workshop
- Offer to give edits
- Offer to beta read
- Interact with writers in other places online
- Share swag related to your book
- Share extra content related to your book
- Offer temporary discounts to those struggling but who could use a book
And finally, WRITE YOUR BOOK.