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Debunking Writing Myths: Blogging & Social Media

Monday, October 18, 2010

I have a workshop I teach occasionally called “Debunking the Myths of Writing,” and I thought I’d start sharing some of those with you occasionally, starting with the newest one that I’ve added to my list.

You MUST be involved in social media through blogging, Facebook, and Twitter if you want to get published.


You MUST write a great, well-crafted story, and you must study the market/industry if you want to get published.

Though you’ll hear authors (and editors and agents) talk a lot about how important it is to begin building name recognition (last year called your Platform, this year called your Tribe), you need to keep in mind that all of that is a load of hooie. When it comes down to it, there are two very important pieces to getting published that leave the others in the dust: writing a great story and getting to know the industry so you know how to get published. (How many authors’ books have you bought and read and loved without having had any contact with them on social media—or without ever having heard of that author before?)

Agent Rachelle Gardner said on her blog once that unpublished authors should spend at least 90% of their writing time writing their story, and less than 10% studying craft, studying the market, going to conferences, and marketing (which includes all forms of social media).

Believe me, if I’d been able to spend 90% of my writing time in the past 10 months actually writing, I wouldn’t have ended up a month late on my first deadline, spending five days writing the bulk of the book on the second deadline, and now facing both of those issues on the third deadline (of course, having only ten months to write three books doesn’t help either).

But as a published author whose livelihood depends on the sales of my books, I must spend at least 50% of my allotted “writing” time every day (after the four to eight hours of time dedicated to my freelance editing work, which actually pays the bills) doing the marketing stuff: blogging, Tweeting, FBing, responding to reader e-mails, filling out blog interview questionnaires, participating in e-loops for the different groups I’m in—and let’s not forget the 7,600 miles I’ve logged traveling to book signings, speaking events, trade shows, and conferences this year. And then there’s also the technical stuff that goes along with the books: cover art info sheets to fill out, back cover/marketing copy to write or edit, coming up with ideas and writing proposals for my next series (both historical and contemporary) while still trying to stay in the story world of the books I’m actually on contract to write, revisions and editing of manuscripts, proofing galleys, negotiating with copy editors to maintain my voice/unique phrasing, and so on.

Don’t force yourself into a must-do-this, must-do-that kind of mentality before you’re published—because now is the only time you have the freedom to be able to say no to those opportunities that become obligations once you’re published, if you want to be successful (and, in reality, there are plenty of successful authors in both the general and the Christian markets who don’t blog, who aren’t on Twitter, and who are rarely on Facebook).

Now is the only time when you can actually just focus on the pure joy of writing your story. So enjoy it while it lasts!

  1. gwyn weyant permalink
    Monday, October 18, 2010 4:04 am

    kaye: you have done it again. You are keeping me straight on so much. Thank you for taking time at conference to talk with me. Loved your book love remains.
    falling asleep while trying to write is a requirement I do believe. (I’d hate to think it’s something dumb as just no sleep or *Gasp* our age. No must be a requirement.)
    thanks again from a fellow sleeper.


    • Monday, October 18, 2010 12:43 pm

      The reason the falling asleep concerns me is because this has never happened to me before. I think my body remembers all too well what I just put it through at the end of July to get Ransome’s Quest finished and it’s rebelling. (I know it’s really because I haven’t been getting any physical activity over the past couple of weeks with the workload I’ve had. So I’m trying to get out and walk in this beautiful fall weather at least 20 minutes each day.)


  2. Robert Samuel permalink
    Monday, October 18, 2010 9:55 am

    Great article Kaye. I just came to the realization of this myth earlier this year. Social media is supposed to assist your publishing and content, not steer and control it. 🙂


    • Monday, October 18, 2010 12:45 pm

      It’s crazy, isn’t it? We spent so long without these things—blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc.—and were productive and creative. Now that we have them, they’ve taken over our lives so that it’s hard to get anything done, and creativity? Out the window!


  3. Monday, October 18, 2010 11:19 am

    I’ve come to the conclusion that my laptop dying and my work computer basically on crutches has been a blessing. I took two days off last week, and in the span of about three and a half days, I cut nearly 5,000 of the 6,000 words that needed cutting. I hogged the desktop computer in the family room, wasn’t distracted by the television (the good one is in the living room), and just kept slogging away. Oh, and did I mention that while we have Internet on the desktop, it’s SO SLOW that it’s just not that much fun. Result? I actually got work done. I didn’t follow any blogs except mine (OK, I checked yours and Laura’s and Seekerville ONE DAY), and didn’t even answer all my emails.

    Thank you for the myth-debunking. I needed to hear that, needed to concentrate on MY writing instead of everyone else’s!

    Praying for you, Kaye. I want to READ “The Art of Romance!!”


    • Monday, October 18, 2010 12:47 pm

      I hope the computer issues get worked out soon. And, I’ve said it before, there’s nothing wrong with picking up a pen and writing longhand . . . 😀 In fact, sometimes, that’s the best thing you can do.


      • Sylvia M. permalink
        Monday, October 18, 2010 1:16 pm

        That’s what Sarah Sundin does. She says that she writes all her books out longhand curled up on her couch.


  4. Monday, October 18, 2010 1:19 pm

    Ouch, Ouch, Ouch! You’re stepping on my toes today! I am so guilty of this obsession over twitter, FB, and blogs. It’s so weird how it just sucks you in and wastes so much time. And really, if you only have 200 followers like me, then it’s not like it’s going to make much difference in marketing. And then, there’s no guarantee that I’ll ever sell, so do I really need it anyway? Well, I really won’t if I keep this internet interference around and never write.

    It has been a great way to educate myself and meet wonderful people like you. So I don’t regret ALL the time I spend on it. Just the silly stuff….

    So, I’m doing NaNoWriMo to challenge myself to finishing my new story. The rules are you have to start a new project, so I quit writing it. But now that I think about it, I could just count my words from where I left off. You are right, I need to keep writing. Every day. Just write. 🙂


    • Monday, October 18, 2010 2:10 pm

      Hey, I’m published and I have just under 300 people who “like” me (or my author page) on Facebook, so even being published doesn’t guarantee people are going to flock to you on social media sites. I have more on Twitter (over 500) partially because I’m so much more active there, and maybe because it’s easier for people to find/connect with me there.

      In discussing this with others, I realized, I MUST have social media in my life—mainly because I live alone and work from home. For at least 90% of the time, these discussions on my blog, and then Twitter and FB are my only connection with the outside world. Sad, but true. (Which is why even now, when I’m supposed to be on complete blackout to get this book written, I’m still blogging and responding to comments.)

      My local group does our month-long marathon in October. Of course, this month, I’ve been unable to lead them with daily motivational posts the way I have in years past, because I’ve had to go no-mail on all of my e-mail loops, just to redeem that time to try to put it toward writing. For the next couple of days, though, I need to go as internet-silent as possible and just rock on some word count so that I don’t end up a month late with this manuscript, too.


  5. Kav permalink
    Monday, October 18, 2010 1:32 pm

    Amen!!!! I still don’t have a Facebook account and I don’t tweet…unless I’m communicating to the birds in my backyward…I do enjoy visiting author and writing blogs but I am fast learning that there are a billion good ones out there and I can’t possibly read them all! Good luck with your deadlines…I hope you meet them because I can’t wait to read the next in the series. 🙂


    • Monday, October 18, 2010 2:17 pm

      My personal Facebook account is reserved for people I know—and even still, I have more than half of them (writing acquaintances and friends from high school, mostly) hidden from my main feed so that I can keep up with those I’m closest with, mainly family and close friends. I don’t accept friend requests from people whose names I’ve never heard, no matter how many “mutual friends” we have—because if I haven’t communicated with them in some meaningful way, I really don’t want them seeing some of the more personal stuff I post to that account (sure, my Twitter feed is set to update my status on that account, but there are some other things—especially more personal ideas/opinions—that I need to express but aren’t necessarily things I want the whole world to know).

      As far as keeping up with blogs, Google Reader has been a lifesaver for me. I started with a list of those I wanted to read, then went through their recommendations based on those blogs and, at one point, had almost 200 blogs to which I’d subscribed. But then I discovered that there were a bunch of them that I’d click on and then right back off of without reading it. So I started unsubscribing from those. I’m now down to 58 subscriptions—and not all of them post every day. I also love it because I can “star” posts that I comment on and go back and see if there’s been any further discussion (since the Blogger sites don’t have the ability to receive e-mails when new comments are posted like WordPress sites, like mine, do).


  6. Monday, October 18, 2010 6:53 pm

    We’ll I’ve got all my social media ducks in a row, but like you said, add them all up (twaddle, twaddle) and I wonder what percentage of my “friends” will be interested in reading my novels when they come out. *cough* cough* Oh, yes, I almost forgot, I don’t have any novels coming out. I have been writing quite a bit and have something pending publication, but I’m not counting my chickens (or ducks) before they’ve been hatched. What I have learned is that the more time I devote to my writing the less time I have for blogging, so I’ve cut down my posting significantly. But I must say, since I’ve had the benefit of living in several states I have friends all around and have a good starter network of those who are waiting for my first book to come out – no pressure here!

    Praying for you, Kaye!


  7. Monday, October 18, 2010 8:44 pm

    Thanks for this reminder, Kaye. It’s so easy to get caught up in things we think we’re supposed to do. I think I’ll settle in with the work in progress. Oh, and I’ll definitely pray about your energy level.



  8. Lindsey permalink
    Tuesday, October 19, 2010 10:29 am

    This is a great statement, Kaye:

    “Don’t force yourself into a must-do-this, must-do-that kind of mentality before you’re published—because now is the only time you have the freedom to be able to say no to those opportunities that become obligations once you’re published [. . .].”

    And yes, we’ll be praying for you. Keep the faith. God being your helper, you will make it through, and what a victory it will be! 🙂


  9. Tuesday, October 19, 2010 11:44 am

    Praying that the words/story will come in a deluge and no more fatigue! You are a wonderful writer. Thanks for the great post.


  10. Wednesday, September 21, 2011 11:25 am

    I’m so glad to have come across this post, Kaye. I’ve been working on balancing everything, but have found that the blogging and social media does take a lot of time that could be used for the process of writing. All in good time…

    Thank you for sharing this gem! 😀


  11. loridee21 permalink
    Wednesday, February 15, 2017 11:02 am

    Thanks for posting this. I’ve been torn between building an author platform and finishing my first draft! There’s so much hoop-la about building a reader base before you’re published! Your post has given me perspective. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wednesday, February 15, 2017 5:11 pm

      You’re welcome!

      Building a reader base is important. But if you’re pursuing traditional publishing, remember that the average time between signing a contract and the book’s release date can be anywhere from six months to a year or more. It’s great to already have social media accounts in place and to have spent that 10% of your time on cultivating relationships/building a potential readership. But, really, until we have books under contract and/or actually out, there’s no true “readership” to build.

      This could be approached differently by those going the self-publishing route. However, I’m still of the feeling that there must be a span of time between finishing the manuscript and actually putting it out there—time for editing, polishing, cover design, formatting, and pre-release marketing/readership-building prior to the book’s release.



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