The post below is meant as a joke. I wrote it to underscore how sometimes people misuse social media and the idea of promotion and marketing in general. Finding a readership and using social media is not about “influence” and “leverage,” it is about genuine connections with the right people. There are plenty of folks who put pressure on authors to try to reduce the complexity of these relationships to a simple number. This post pokes a bit of fun at that.
Thanks. – Dan
Sometimes, an author comes to me with the expectation that an agent or publisher requires them to have a certain number of Twitter followers in order to be considered for publication. They wake up in the middle of the night screaming: “Thanks for the follow!”
Today, I want to provide a concise guide to help authors understand how to calculate the value of their social media following, in order to comprehend the proper role of social connections.
Put simply, this is how you judge the value of anyone you are connected to on social media:
X = (A*B)+(C*D)/E
A = number of Twitter followers you have
B = size of your email list
C = # of Facebook fans
D = # of daily repins on Pinterest
E = the likelihood that you can introduce me to Seth Godin or Malcolm Gladwell
X here, represents your value, or your “Base Author Recommendation Factor” or BARF score for short. In other words: exactly how valuable are you as a friend. What do you do with this X number once you have it? Oh, so many things, all of which are shielded from authors by the “powers that be” in publishing.
You may have heard that in Hollywood, there is a secret “hotness” rating to movie properties in development. The hotter a potential project, the more lucrative of a deal the owners can negotiate. Would it shock you to learn that the EXACT same thing exists in the publishing world? It’s true, and I will forevermore be known as a publishing whistleblower for telling you that.
Of course, the BARF score takes into account the quality of one’s writing. So, once you have your basic BARF score, our algorithms will analyze all of the online reviews for your books. If your book is deemed “meh,” then you add +1 to your BARF score. If your book is deemed “OMG Yowza Amazing,” you add a +2 to your score. Clearly, we take quality writing seriously.
You can even use BARF scores at conferences, events, and other in-person networking scenarios. For instance, how can you know immediately if someone you meet at a writing conference is really worth your time to speak to? I mean, is there ANYTHING worse than being stuck for three minutes in a conversation with someone who can’t land you a great literary agent? (*insert guffaw here*)
The BARF score is so flexible, that a few key questions can instantly give you a range of someone’s potential value. Consider asking questions such as these when you meet someone new:
- “Don’t you just hate it when you put a typo in a tweet that goes out to 50,000 followers?”
- “Isn’t it annoying when you publish an excerpt in The New Yorker, and all anyone wants to talk about is the cartoons?”
- “How many followers do you have on Twitter?” (Ask this one subtly, if possible, perhaps while coughing.)
Likewise, you can increase your own BARF score with a few subtle cues. While standing near a group of authors, publishers, or agents that you want to meet, drop some subtle cues of how important you are. Pretend to get a phone call, and say, “Oh hi, famous author JK Rowling… yes, sorry but I’m very busy at the moment… yes, I know you are still upset about being outed as Robert… Jo, let me call you back in a bit… looking forward to spending the weekend together… Buh-Bye, famous author JK Rowling.” Then turn to the people you are hoping to impress, roll your eyes, and say, “Some people…”
There are a few common variations on this, as well. Just the other day I was pretending to speak to Stephen King about his latest miniseries. Or was I pretending? (*wink*)
Now, just when you thought the BARF score couldn’t get any more useful, I am ready to unveil an entirely new twist… BARF Club International. That’s right, when you achieve a score of 80 or higher, you are automatically welcomed as a member, giving you access to our many BARF retreat centers, BARF programming, and the powerful BARF blurb club. You also get to choose 12 free books from other BARF Club International members, with only the obligation to purchase three more books within the next year!
We are also providing name tags at major writing & publishing events that ask this question: “Hello, my name is ________. Ask me about my BARF!”
Corporations are beginning to use a variation of the BARF score as well, changing the acronym to “Brand Authority Recognition Factor.” See – there is nothing that you can’t do with BARF!
Do you have ideas on how to make BARF even better? Please share them below! And remember: everything in publishing has changed, the world is different today, social media is EVERYTHING, and your career as a writer hinges upon being skilled at creating and leveraging BARF.
Dan here again. Yes, everything above was meant as parody. I hope none of you were eating while reading that. Anyhow, have you ever felt pressured to promote yourself or use social media in a way that felt hollow? Or have you ever gone to an event, began talking to someone, and immediately got the feeling that they are thinking “Is this person useful to me?” as you introduce yourself? I love how social media has afforded authors powerful ways to connect with readers, but always focus on creating meaningful relationships. I’d rather hear that you have 100 Twitter followers that love your books, than 3,000 follows that you “purchased” and have no real understanding of your work.
Please share your experiences below. Thanks!