Sunday, August 13, 2017

What I Learned from a Month off Facebook

So, I spent a month off facebook. Here’s what I learned.

1. I didn’t much miss it on an emotional level. Quite a few times in the first few days I automatically reached for FB to post some comment or update. That went away pretty quickly.

2. I generally felt more relaxed and didn’t miss the drama that is often present on FB. A big plus.

3. I got more writing and reading done, and watched more TV. However, the increase in writing and reading wasn’t anything astronomical. It was substantive, though, and was the best part of being off FB.

4. Sales of my self published items took a nose dive. I sold exactly one thing during the time I was off FB. Generally, I sell more than that. I have no idea about how it might have affected sales of my Wildside and other publisher released books. A big negative.

5. Although I could have called family members and friends, I didn’t make a substantial increase in this. I did some and that was pleasant, and it’s something I hope to continue. However, I still end up wasting plenty of time, just in other ways.

6. I missed talking about books and writing on FB. This was actually most of what I did when I was on it, and I enjoyed it. A negative.

7. I missed some regular interactions with folks that I was used to seeing on FB. A negative.

8. I found that many, many publishers and contests and other writing related projects make FB their main platform and this was a big negative for me. I couldn’t access guidelines and quite a few other sources of writing information that might have been important for me. Most of this is marketing and that in itself can cause problems for production. But still, not having ready access to this material cost me potential markets. One call for submissions that I missed was definitely something I would have submitted to, and a place where I’ve sold stuff before. This was the biggest issue for me.

9. I got back into blogging and did more of that and found that a positive. I did not necessarily have to give up FB to do this, though. I could have simply shifted the time spent on these various activities around.

For these reason, with the negatives outweighing the positives, I’m going to renew my facebook profile. I’ll see if I’ve lost a step there, and let you know. However, I want to spend less time there and try to avoid leaping on and off it a dozen times a day. If I can do that, I can maintain some of the good things of being away from FB while keeping access to other things that I like.

So, see you on facebook within the next few days.


Greg S said...

That's a really good breakdown. I try to stay off Facebook as much as possible, but usually once or twice a day I'll get on and check for updates. But I don't use it for writing/promoting like you do; it's more a social thing for me so not as much downside to staying away from it.

- Greg

Charles Gramlich said...

Greg, it was a good experience to get away from it.

Angie said...

I've noticed that, about some publishers/editors using Facebook as their primary announcement/guidelines base of operations. I find it horribly annoying.

My main problem is that Facebook isn't meant to be an archive. It's meant to be an ephemeral record of what's going on Right Now, and when it's past, it's past, and you move on. Sort of like a long-form Twitter. (Although I suppose Twitter's actually a short-form Facebook.)

So what happens is some editor will post anthology guidelines on their Facebook page. Some folks will ask questions, or make suggestions, so the editor posts an update. This is what I meant with X. No, I'd rather you not do Y.

Then someone else points out whatever, and asks how the editor wants to handle that. They make a new post -- Okay, I thought about that and here's what I'd like to do....

Keep this going for weeks or months, and what you end up with is a long [scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll...] string of posts and comments and bits and pieces, and if you want to know what the frack is going on with their fracking anthology, you have to start at the very bottom where the original guidelines were posted, and read every word posted to the thread, and maybe take notes to untangle changes that might've changed back and forth a couple of times. Because the fracking editor doesn't think that it might be valuable to re-post the entire set of updated guidelines once they've changed or clarified something so that writers (or aggregators [cough]) who've just found their Facebook account can read ONE fracking post and get all the info. Which will be obsolete by the time they've finished their story and are ready to submit, but at least they have a running chance.

Yeah, I've seen this happen. No, I don't include this kind of project on my listings, because I'm not about to go on a fracking Easter Egg hunt, searching out and then assembling bits and pieces to post, and then linking the folks who read my blog to someone's fracking Facebook page, where they'll have to back up however far in the chain (if they can figure out approximately where things were when I saw it and posted to my blog) and read everything since then so they know what the latest word is.

Yeah, no.

In the days before Facebook, I also occasionally saw editors post guidelines to a topic in a forum somewhere, and then the same add-change-question-add-change-changeback-question-add process happened, over dozens or maybe hundreds of posts to the topic. So you had to start at the bottom and read the whole fracking topic. It's not specifically a Facebook problem, but Facebook has made it a more common problem. (I didn't list those books either, for the same reason.)

Dear Editors -- you can get a decent web site for free; if you have Gmail, you have a free web site. Post your guidelines in one place, a stable place, so people who want to refer to them, or help you publicize them, can bookmark or link to one place. If you make a new decision, or change your mind about something, update that one place, maybe with an [Edited 14 Aug 17] type note so it stands out. Making your Facebook page your Anthology Headquarters is like hiring a skywriter to publicize your guidelines; the more wind that blows by, the sooner your guidelines are unreadable and basically gone. Something a little more concrete will serve you and your project better, and you can always link to it from your Facebook page.

Angie, who was tired of this crap a long time ago

G.B. Miller said...

I once took a long hiatus from FB back when they were doing their monster change in '09 that totaled several months. Didn't really miss it but did lose some FB friends that I'd met elsewhere in the cyberworld. What I do now is limit myself to about thirty total minutes M-F on FB and a little bit longer on the weekends. Makes things that much easier, especially since I'm spending more time writing these days (which is why I write exclusively on an old XP computer sans internet access).

roth phallyka said...

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Charles Gramlich said...

Angie, Oh, definitely a hassle to keep up with that sort of thing. But I think the last couple of stories I sold would not have even been submitted without some kind of announcement on FB.

G.B., I'm probably going to do some things along that line, limiting it.

Roth, really, I didn't know that.

Jessica Ferguson said...

I wondered where you were. I beefed up my FBing time. But I have very little to market these days and not blogging at all. I can't figure out what I'm doing. Actually spending too much time "coaching" others. I hope to put that to an end very soon and get back to my own writing. Glad you're back!

Liane Spicer said...

Interesting. I've been wanting to do exactly that for some time.

The nosedive in sales might be completely unrelated. I have quite a few indie titles under various pen names and over the last few weeks sales, which had been consistent since the end of January, took a dive. So maybe it's some other factor at play?

Sidney said...

I have a friend who just took social media off her devices to get more reading done. It is, for me, always tempting while reading to pick up a phone and glance at what's new on the timeline. That harms the immersive experience of a book to be sure.

sage said...

I am spending five days without TV and limited internet and while I have done a lot of reading, writing and planning (my goal) I would have done more without internet! Good list of what you experienced and see you back on Facebook!

Charles Gramlich said...

Jessica, Coaching others seems to help me most times, but sometimes it can take a lot of time.

Liane, it's always hard to know. So many variables in sales.

Sidney, yes, I did a fair amount more reading but also ended up playing more video games, which didn't help.

Sage, see you there, my friend

David J. West said...

All good cases for for the pro's and con's.

Its funny but unless I'm releasing a book that day and FB about it with a new release - I never see much help out of facebook as far as book sales go.

I think the longest break I have taken from the platform since I got on was for my honeymoon - so maybe I was off for two weeks? It was weird at first not checking, but like you I got used to it and then was overwhelmed at the notifications when I got back.

Blogoratti said...

Being off social media is needed in this age and time. Not a very active user on Facebook though, but I see where you are coming from. Warm greetings!

pattinase (abbott) said...

This was an interesting post to read. I generally only intend to spend a minute or two on facebook and then end up spending 15. I too often use it to vent about politics. I use it the way I used to use my blog--to talk about books, movies, etc. Now my blog commenters are too few to bother with starting a topic. But on facebook I still can. I guess what I want is a talk show.

Charles Gramlich said...

David J., Now I also know that I'm not going to lose all the friends and groups I've found if I do take a break.

Blogoratti, gotta have some breaks indeed.

Patti, lol. Yes. but my talk show would be almost all about books

Bernard Lee DeLeo said...

Facebook is still the only way I can stay in touch with family and friends from all over the country. In the writing part, marketing on Facebook keeps your name and novels out there. Name recognition and the Amazon marketplace blend into an unending 'Catch 22'. Add to it the need to have a presence on all the other social sites, and the actual endeavor to do so, provides many opportunities to hone writing skills, thinking, and networking. I'm glad to see you back, my friend.

oscar case said...

I'm on Facebook, but barely able to keep it live. I've been thinking I'll add more stuff, but I just don't hae the time.

Charles Gramlich said...

Bernard, thanks, man. I don't know if I have the strength for more than fb

Oscar, it isn't easy to find that time.

Beauty Editer said...

So nice!

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Cloudia said...

Thanks for sharing the results of your research which resonate with my own findings, Charles

Del Stone said...

What you said here about your sales and your connections to other writers, editors and publishers is the ONLY reason I keep my FB account. I find it to be a generally negative influence in my life, but if I'm to sell anything, communicate with anyone or find out anything I need to maintain my presence there. Check out tumblr and ello for continued social media outlets without all the poison and dram.

Charles Gramlich said...

Cloudia, similar thinking, I imagine

Del, thanks, man. I appreciate the heads up.

WordsPoeticallyWorth said...

I was on facebook for a while - haven't been on it for years now. I like blogging, though.

Thank you. Love love, Andrew. Bye.

A Cuban In London said...

I ration my FB time. I always tell myself that I am in control. :-)

Greetings from London.