the kinetic pen

wired by words

For Writers, It’s All in the Numbers – Or Is It?


As if writing a book isn’t enough, writers are expected to maintain a blog and manage multiple social media accounts to build a following for the wondrous time said book finally gets published. Nothing new to authors there. What is new, depending on the week and source, is the regularity apparently required to impress agents and, ultimately, win a contract.

Last week I read an interview with an agent who wants to see at least 3,000 “likes” on Facebook before representation (and she hopes writers will double that number before publication). Months ago I read that writers should have at least 1,000 Twitter followers to look legit. I’ve been able to achieve the latter with daily tweets (and have made wonderful connections in the process), but haven’t done much with my professional Facebook page, which links to my Twitter feed, because I simply don’t have enough time or new material to build it up. I only started this blog recently, four years into the writing of my book, when I finally figured out how to incorporate weekly posts into my work schedule. Meanwhile, invites to join Google + languish in my e-mail.

My mentor once told me that every writer’s path to publication is different, and that I should focus on what matters most to me. But does it matter in the traditional publishing world that my professional Facebook page doesn’t matter as much to me right now as my book, blog, and Twitter account? 

What matters most to you? Do you have a favorite source for keeping tabs on what the traditional publishing world wants? How do you manage it all? Would love to hear from you.


Author: thekineticpen

Freelance journalist working on a narrative nonfiction book about a woman who, after the freak death of her husband, decides to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro to deal with her grief and finds a second chance at love.

8 thoughts on “For Writers, It’s All in the Numbers – Or Is It?

  1. Robin,

    You have asked a relevant question for anyone who wants to get published these days. The good news is that this is the best time to be a writer seeking publication because we have so many options, including self-publishing. As far as the numbers, I feels strongly that what matters most (beyond writing a good book) is to make meaningful connections one follower at a time. I’d rather have a smaller group of engaged followers than high numbers of disengaged ones. That being said, I do agree that working on one’s online presence is essential. Choosing a few that work well makes more sense to me than trying to get it all. I’ve had agents tell me I need to have X number of followers on my blog or X number of Facebook likes, etc. I figure I’m a work -in-progress and growing. BTW, I’m more active on Twitter than Facebook,too. The demands are never-ending so I say do what works and don’t try to do it all. Everyone has to find their own balance in this noisy world of social media. Thanks for a thought-provoking post. You really got me going. 🙂

    • To this day I think of you telling me, when we met for the first time at your cottage on the lake, that you’d rather have meaningful connections with a smaller number of followers than no connection with a larger number. It not only makes sense, but often informs what I do (and do not) tweet about. Thank you for your thoughts on this, and for sharing it with your followers. We are all works-in-progress!

  2. Anita Moorjani, author of the Hay House bestseller “Dying to Be Me,” says that when she wanted to write a book about her near-death experience, everyone told her she’d need an agent and to work really hard to get visiblity. She refused to believe it. She had a message. She shared it on message boards and her story found its way to Wayne Dyer. He contacted her and got her a contract with Hay House. She’d never written a book before. I like this story – and I also don’t like it. I like it as a writer and a believer in the law of attraction. I don’t like it as a teacher and consultant dealing the other 99.9% of people this doesn’t happen to. I hate seeing a writer receive rejection after rejection because they have no platform.

    It’s my job – and has been since 2008 – to think about these things as they pertain to writers and artists. I am in the middle of preparing for this weekend’s workshop Articles, Press Releases, and Media Pitches at Writers & Books. It’s good to be armed with knowledge of how to get publicity – and it can be exhilarating. But I always teach my students and clients this: “shackles on” versus “shackles off.” Something I learned from Martha Beck. You have all these options. You could build a website, a blog, spend your evenings on twitter or facebook, go to writing conventions, write articles, do blog tours, create a podcast… you could do all these things to build your platform. So, how do you make wise decisions? You ask yourself if the activity feels like imprisonment (shackles on) or freedom (shackles off.) Go day to day, item to item. This is where I think intuition has to be given the lead. But your intuition may tell you to learn everything you can about effective press releases. And that is where common sense and practical action come in.

    I know too many aspiring authors with an author fan page with 6 followers. It’s just sad. Shackles on versus shackls off is a good tool. It reminds us, “Don’t do something unless you have enough energy and love to do it well,” whether this is building your Facebook fan base or writing the book itself.

    Thanks for the great question. Nina out.

    • I love the image of “shackles on” versus “shackles off.” I’ll visualize that as I keep reminding myself that I’m doing all I can – and I’m proud of what I’m doing. I have you in part to thank for that! I have a feeling that once this first draft is finished (hopefully by February 2014) and sent off to beta readers, which is the time I’ve set aside to do extensive research on finding the right agent, I’ll become even more overwhelmed…It helps to read that I’m not the only one struggling with this. Now to figure out how to be that 0.1%!

      • I think you have a lot going for you. You are a professional writer, you will have no trouble pitching articles, you have a strong publication background, and you have a deep desire to do this. Stay with what feels like joy. And have confidence in what you’ve already built. It is significant.

  3. Shackles …love this. More writing, less concern for social media would be shackles off for me right now. Thanks for this!

  4. …err…not concern so much as addiction. I do genuinely love my followers and I feel that I owe them content worthy of their time. It is still fun to blog and the pieces fit together for my (future) project. The conversation helps keep the writing going. The addiction comes when I don’t feel that I’ve kept up with everyone, and I suspect I should be writing more and reading less, if possible.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s