Is Social Media Overrated for Authors?

Seth Godin thinks so:

In Godin’s view, the emphasis on building author platforms has gone too far. If so many authors now approach social media as a part of their jobs in the digital era, it’s at least partly thanks to their publishers, who have assiduously told them it is.

As have a great many others.

But does it really work? From a talk at the Digital Book World 2015 conference this morning:

For one thing, that can make it hard to build a following, Godin says, and for another, doing so isn’t just about driving engagement on social channels, anyway.

Establishing and maintaining a loyal audience is by its nature a long-term investment, and what loyalty looks like online can sometimes differ considerably from what it looks like offline, “where the real work” gets done.

I’ve previously offered my thoughts in this vein.

I’m not sure I agree author platforms are unnecessary or pointless, but I think Godin is 100% right that they’re not an end in themselves. Bottom line, you’ve still got to write good stuff.

FWIW: Godin has a pretty impressive platform.

FWIW2: I came across the DBW piece in my Twitter feed.


  1. This makes me think of the most powerful promotion: word of mouth. Hearing a friend who’s opinion you trust say, “You’ve got to check out this [book, TV show, movie, etc.]!” That suggesion may come in saying it one on one, in a tweet, in a Facebook post, etc. And I think that’s much stronger than the author himself or herself saying, “You’ve got to check out my book!” BUT the that trusted friend had to have heard about it somewhere. Just like you heard about the Godin piece from somewhere.


    1. Right, a platform is just a tool, not the point of it all. At the end of the day, your work has to create that word of mouth. You can’t let social media and platforms get in the way of producing the best quality stuff. I’ve found that’s a challenge—it can turn into just another writing-avoidance technique, since writing tweets and blog posts is a lot easier and quicker than writing a novel. But a great blog can’t make a weak book a success.

      Liked by 1 person

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