The lousy part about being an author now is that the landscape is so much different than it was even two years ago.
It’s not the wild west anymore, with social media companies clamping down and only allowing their approved content to be seen by the masses.
At this point, Facebook has become a near-useless platform. If a post has a link in it, it’s killed and not shown to anyone, if a post seems to be a sales post, they do the same. Their algorithm is so strong they can detect the content and you’re stuck if it’s something to promote your book. Even with 3000 friends now on FB, I can tell that only about 50 people see the posts, and around 10 if it’s a promotional post.
All the charm of the platform is gone. Even groups don’t get shown to people in the groups unless the person’s ACTIVE in the group. It leads to a scenario where it’s impossible to get seen without pouring into their ad platform — which is the worst ad platform I’ve seen. It blows through money and doesn’t seem to net returns very well.
Twitter isn’t much better. Over the last year they’ve clamped down hard on shadowbanning and throttling content. A recent update to their terms of service actually states that they’re not necessarily going to show your content to anyone else.
They’ve started to do the same as Facebook — which I’ve A-B tested posts to find out.
Links now get 1/10th of the views as other posts. They also do the same if you tag someone, or if you have a quote tweet in it.
The effects may vary depending on what level of shadowban your account has seen — though I notice that authors who are mostly “spam” and don’t do much else get very little engagement at all.
Twitter also throttles posts on another level — they often don’t allow some people’s content to be seen unless you’re already following them. My “viral” posts I test get out, but they don’t get seen by many people who don’t follow me. It’s another way to hide posts where I can’t get seen.
Twitter also seems to put “follower limits” on certain accounts. No matter what, I can’t get my twitter above 5,600 followers. If I look like I’m punching through that ceiling, twitter will remove followers from my account. I’ve seen it happen so many times now that it’s become an obvious trend.
YouTube in a lot of ways is the best of the social programs, but it’s also the worst. They censor content that they might deem offensive, hit with copyright strikes, and have a system where it’s easy to abuse “reporting” people.
I put out a book called RoboToad: Rekt Manlet, and ran a stream promoting it. Because there are some angry comic book people who don’t want me to be able to produce books, several people false reported the content as abusive (it’s just a comic book promo stream) and got my streaming privileges taken down.
YouTube is also notorious for hiding certain content much like the other platforms, dropping subscribers off of platforms, and not giving notifications for new videos and livestreams DESPITE peoples’ asking for such notifications.
While not a social media platform, Amazon is suffering much the same problems. Amazon is the great “equalizer” – or at least it was. Now, Amazon’s become pay-to-play. In order for people even to find your book you have to use their advertising system, otherwise, much like other platforms, it doesn’t get seen. It means you pay Amazon for a space on their shelves — and it means that only the people who can afford to do so can really make money on the platform.
Amazon also is a hole for “also boughts”. Your book doesn’t get naturally promoted except for outside the circle that already buys it — so if your friends buy your books and your friends buy one other author’s books, the only folk Amazon will show it to is your friends. Which means more promotions need to be done to bust out of a bubble even to get seen, increasingly difficult.
Folk always tell me about new platforms I “have” to get on. Subscribe Star, MeWe, Gab, BitChute, all of these platforms exist and don’t “throttle” but there are no users on there actively, and very little interaction. Posts on these platforms are almost more useless than the ones listed above.
It leaves a situation for authors where there’s really nowhere good to promote.
I’m not sure what to do with it or what a solution is. Obviously, I recommend folk get on my mailing list in case these companies really take it to the next level of silencing.
But what can we do to get books seen at this juncture? Without in-person convention sales and word of mouth because of COVID, we’re more reliant on these platforms than ever.