Dear I Have Notes,

Social media feels like a waste of time to me, but I’ve heard that you have to do it if you want to sell your book. How much do you think “having a platform” matters? Is it really necessary to have a “brand,” or to be on Twitter at all? How have you balanced the demands of self-promotion with doing the actual work?

— I’d Rather Be Writing in My Cave

Dear I’d Rather,

Your social reach could potentially signal to a publishing team that you know a bunch of great writers who will be excited to talk about your book, or help them determine how much online outreach they’ll need to do on your behalf if you don’t engage much there. Having a gigantic following has probably helped some folks get larger advances. I know a few authors whose publishers have asked them to give social media a go, or reconsider their decision to leave. But your online presence is only one of many factors involved in the decision to make an offer or not—and far less important than others, like the actual quality of your book, how many copies a publisher thinks they can sell, etc. If they love and believe in a writer’s work, a small Twitter following shouldn’t be a dealbreaker.

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