Raquel: Welcome to Rite Gud, the podcast that helps you write good. I’m Raquel S. Benedict, the most dangerous woman in speculative fiction. In this episode, we’re talking about social media.
We are all online, excessively online. For writers, social media can be a valuable tool for networking and self-promotion, but is it really necessary? And can the [00:01:00] drawbacks outweigh the positives? In this episode, we’re talking about the difference between writing and posting.
We are joined by our producer Matt Keeley, and self-published novelist, Megan Cubed. Thank you both for coming back.
Matt Keeley: No problem. How’s it going?
Raquel: It is going okay.
magencubed: I’m just glad to be back for like non, well, not necessarily shit poster reasons, so I mean, I had a good time last time, but I might actually have something more useful to say, but we’ll see. It’s still early in the episode.
Raquel: Yeah. Yeah. So both of you have a history of, of using social media with writing. Matt, you’ve worked for some online magazines and been heavily involved in the social media promotion of that. Megan, you’ve been a lot more involved in the sort of fandom sphere than I have and, and are a lot closer to that.
I’ve sort of been on the edges of that and looked at it with shock and and terror, and [00:02:00] you’ve been in the trenches, you’ve been in the swamp. So you have an insider’s perspective as much as anyone can to fandom that I do not have.
magencubed: Yes, for, for good and ill, yeah, that’s, that’s very accurate. Like, like, uh, my, my 15, 10, or 15 years in the trenches. So,
Raquel: My God.
magencubed: yeah, unfortunately.
Raquel: Yeah. So why don’t we just start off discussing, do writers even need social media? I mean, you can definitely get published still by just sending a story to a publication and it getting accepted. But more and more these days, writers and any kind of artists, we are expected to have an online platform.
You’re expected to have a social media presence. You’re expected to have a personal brand. You’re expected to be on multiple platforms, you’re expected to have a website of course. How necessary do you think that is and does it depend on the [00:03:00] kind of writer, I guess?
Matt Keeley: My background is mostly in journalism, so I’m, I’m coming at it from a, a different angle, but I know that with, with at least journalism, There are a lot of journalists who’ve done really well with social media. Like Liz Dye comes to mind, who is, uh, following the Alex Jones schadenfreude trial.
Raquel: Hell yeah.
Matt Keeley: So you can get a lot of juice with that if you can go viral. And I think at least in the before times, having a blue check helped with that. I mean, now,
yeah, now, now all now it’s probably more of a hindrance than anything else.
Raquel: Yeah, it’s a dunce cap now, man.
Matt Keeley: exactly. But I think with journalism a lot of times it’s more useful in terms of the outlet, unless you’re a superstar journalist and have your own following. Because I, I know that like I could [00:04:00] post stuff, from the magazine that I worked on and it would do really well. But then I would put, I would, re-share or, or tweet myself. And I think the only thing I got was, uh, the one dude who was really, really mad about my Satanic panic article because I didn’t actually reach out to him because he was a nut.
magencubed: so yeah, the reasons, it’s not on the table.
Matt Keeley: Yeah, it was.
Raquel: Well what about for fiction though? I mean, short story fiction writing or novel fiction writing, and I’m sure there’s obviously, there’s gonna be a massive difference in, are you trad pubbed or are you self-published? I don’t know if a self-published author can even hope to sell without having some kind of online presence without sort of hustling and promoting yourself.
magencubed: Yeah, in my experience, cuz I started, I started publishing about a decade ago. Back in the ancient times when like, Facebook was still a thing that people were on. [00:05:00] And when I first started it was, I was kind of deep in the indie horror, bizarro like weird tales scene. And I, I, I started off running short stories, started placing in some weird offbeat outlets at the time and getting into some anthologies and stuff.
So starting from nothing, it was. Yeah, you absolutely had to, cuz you wouldn’t even know where to begin unless you, you found a group, a Facebook group or, and started following authors, started following editors, started following people who were organizing short story anthologies or, or things like that, or magazines and uh, and, that kind of thing.
Since I’ve shifted towards self-publishing, fortunately I had just enough of a following from my old, indie publishing days and then my, failed attempts at journalism when I was doing in criticism, when I was covering comic books and movies and I had a podcast briefly and, these were dark times, the, the 2010s, you know.
But, um, I was able to make that transition from having [00:06:00] mediocre success in like the very, very small independent horror scene and then comics, film nerd kind of culture, and then shifting over to just publishing my own fiction full-time. I had to go through a lot of different routes to get, to have a following, from fiction to reviews and criticism and all that stuff, to get people along with me, as I shifted to fiction, and both in some short stories and, my own anthology stuff and then novels, you know?
So, um, yeah, I would, I would say that yeah, I, you would absolutely, you’re a totally able to get, I think traditionally published to some capacity or another. Would you know even where to begin? Probably not unless you’re online, at least not in the very, very early days. And then, yeah, from the self-publishing perspective, it is, you gotta be on there hustling 24 7 or like, you don’t exist,
Raquel: It looks exhausting.
magencubed: Yeah, it is. This is actually the first, the first time that I’ve, I stopped [00:07:00] hustling from December to like a week ago, and it was just like, I did not, I didn’t post sales links or anything, and it was, it was beautiful.
It was like I had a life again and I didn’t, I didn’t realize how much I’m, was so burnt out on constantly hustling. People are always telling me like, oh, you have such a great work, work ethic and, you know, you’re always promoting your, the stuff is so interesting and whatever.
And I’m like, yeah, I’m so tired. I’m so tired. I didn’t, I don’t care if the posts are funny, I’m dying.
Raquel: Yeah. So I, I know you’ve definitely written that you’ve been deliberately stepping away somewhat from social media and from fandom, just for your sanity. Can you talk about that a little more?
magencubed: Yeah. I, I have been through some stuff on the old, on the old internet, especially on, on the, the, the, the bird app, a lot of just nasty kind of harassment type stuff. I ran a foul of kiwi farms and yeah. And then ended up running a foul of like, [00:08:00] fandom-y type people who decided I was the devil or something, and talking about cartoon characters and shows
I’ve never heard of it, you know, whatever. It’s Twitter. That’s just what it is. Yeah, I’ve had to kind of take a step back from how I use it, because like everyone on Twitter, I’m, I’m very depressed and anxious all the time, so the more I’m there, the worse it gets. I’ve had to take a step back and try to become more deliberate in how I kind of present my work and myself, and the kind of people I wanna engage with, not just in terms of, excuse me, not just in terms of authors that I want to talk to and a network with, or like, even people. Cause I, I talk a lot to a lot of people on comics Twitter, you know, I come from, I have kind of a comics background and so trying to figure out who is your friend and who is the person who’s trying to use you as a stepping stone or you know, if as long as they can use your name to sell a [00:09:00] couple books, all of a sudden you’re their friend until you say the wrong thing and then you’re like, I don’t know, dead to them.
And I’m like, we were never friends. I don’t understand.
magencubed: We just knew each other on Twitter. Because especially with Twitter, And I, it’s interesting that you bring up fandom because unfortunately, like kind of the circles that I’m in, because I’ve started off in horror and then I moved to like sort of a, sci-fi, urban fantasy kind of thing with my, my second book.
And then I moved into more like monster hunting para, I guess sort of paranormal romance sort of thing, which, I’m not actually in the romance, romance landia situation, but I kind of skirt the edges of it. So I kind of got pulled into some conversations, into some, some scenes that it was like, I just, ” I don’t belong here.
These problems aren’t my problems.” Which sound selfish, but these, these expectations are not expectations that I’m catering to, these fights, these [00:10:00] cliques, this drama. So I’ve, I’ve, it was very stressful and like a lot of the mentality of these sort of cliques and groups and things have kind of made my relationship to my work very fraught because it’s like, I don’t want to just be in a clique and hang out with certain people and talk about certain things because the trappings of certain, certain genres is, and their fandoms and such, just don’t apply to me.
And with Twitter, you end up in this sort of spiral of the writing community, especially sci-fi fantasy and, and ya and romance is so deeply embedded in fandom, hand in hand. So many people came from a fandom background and started writing fan fiction and then moved over to original fiction, which I did too.
I had a live journal for far, far too long and I wrote ridiculous amounts of stories. I ran groups, I had ran contests, like it was insane. So like I get that, you know, but at a certain point it’s like, this stuff is fun. But it’s not feeding me[00:11:00] emotionally, creatively, you know? And so I, I had my last hurrah, like, I think eight years ago, 10 years ago, and then I just never went back to any of that stuff.
With a lot of authors, they’re like really into fandom, be it their own fandom or the whole thing of treating your work. This is such a thing with women and queer people and genre spaces, but talking about your work in terms of fan fiction and AO3 tags and things like that, where it just like, people are hanging out with fandom accounts.
And so when a lot of drama starts happening in some of these circles, it sounds like you’re talking about labor problems or discrimination in publishing. And so, you know, you, I run out there like, okay, I’ll have a hot take about that. And then you are going through the threads and you’re clicking back through stuff and then someone’s just retweeting like a Homestuck account and it’s like, this is shipping drama.
You took shipping drama and told me that this was like labor issue, you know? Um, and, and [00:12:00] so, yeah. And so it’s just trying to figure out how to get, how to position myself in terms of my own work and, and things like that where you’re, you’re separate from these things that have, cuz fandom has nothing to do with me.
Other people’s fandom has nothing to do with me. And, and, and fandom drama has nothing to do with publishing. And yet if a Twilight fan account talks out the side of their head, all of a sudden New York Times bestselling authors because it works through the fan, the friend groups, are talking about it
like it’s a real threat to publishing. And I’m like, This has to, this has to stop.
magencubed: please tell me about contracts.
Raquel: point, when you become a professional author, you kind of have to put a wall between that. I feel
Raquel: It’s kind of like playing baseball in the neighborhood with neighborhood kids, and then you get into the major leagues and it’s like, okay, you can’t play baseball with these children on your block anymore.
You’ll fucking kill them. [00:13:00] You, you have
magencubed: of the children.
Raquel: You have to stop. You’re getting into an argument with a 13 year old girl about her favorite ships. You’re 40. You can’t do this.
magencubed: yeah, yeah. And I had to decide, especially as a self-published author and a queer person and someone whose work drifts towards love stories. When everything is just from the marketing to the discussions about it, to even just trying to get people to look at it and talk about it.
Everything has to be done in this terms of fandom. And I’m just like, I don’t go here and I, I feel alienated by this cuz it’s 10 years in the rear view, you know? I’m so done with that and while I do not begrudge anyone for their thing, whatever their thing is. Like, I spend way too much time talking about Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure on Twitter these days.
You know? That’s my, that’s my cross to bear. When the, the kids on TikTok doing dances about Gideon the Ninth has no bearing on the rest of this and neither does like Homestuck shipping discourse or anything [00:14:00] else. At some point you have to like, take yourself seriously and hang out with people who take themselves seriously because.
I don’t wanna talk about Homestuck ships. I don’t ever,
magencubed: I’m done. I, I cashed in my, I turned, I returned my card. I gave my keys back. I’m done.
Raquel: yeah, yeah. So, so in other words, bringing it back to the, back to the center, there is this double-edged sword of having an online presence. On one hand, you get a chance to network, you get a chance to promote yourself, you get a chance to get your name out there, get your work seen, get your work shared, which can improve your sales.
It can, and, and networking is incredibly valuable in any industry. And networking in person takes resources that you might not have. Maybe you don’t have the time and money to travel, but you can post and you can get to know people by posting. And I know, quote unquote, a lot of writers, purely by posting.
Raquel: And, and that I’ve made some very valuable connections through that. Like Matt and I [00:15:00] literally have never met. We’ve known each other for 20 years. We met on a Keen Spot message board many years ago.
Matt Keeley: Hounds Home forever.
Raquel: Hounds Home for life. So obviously, like you can really make some wonderful friendships from that. But there’s the double-edged sword of it is such a drain of energy.
It’s such a drain of time and it can make you fucking miserable to be in it. It can be a really toxic space. A lot of online writing spaces and in genre fiction particularly can be just fucking awful. Just really, really rough. And so it, it, it’s always this really difficult balance of needing to put yourself out there and promote yourself, but feeling frustrated, getting harassed, getting stressed out, spending all this time online that you could be spending writing or reading.
Matt Keeley: Yeah. And I think [00:16:00] on the journalism side too, there’s an extra, I guess an extra sword to potentially cut yourself on because I know, the outlet I used to work for, they had a policy where we had, we couldn’t really weigh in on political things uh lest we seem biased. And so when I was at that outlet, my, my Twitter and Facebook really basically became, a self-promotion, but also retweeting, cute kitty accounts and stuff like that because I wasn’t really allowed to, the only, the only exception that I allowed myself, was, pro-trans, uh, stuff just because that’s important to me.
And even then I would mostly, keep to the trans rights are human rights, that kind of thing. Although honestly, now, you know, if I were still at that outlet, I would still be posting the stuff, that because it’s become much more of a [00:17:00] culture war issue, especially, especially in the last couple years.
I I, I can’t be silent about that shit. But it’s still the, the, the fear that some CHUD is going to, go, “oh, well we have to discount everything this guy says, because he says that that gay people are human,” you know, or whatever nonsense. It’s, it’s so, charged.
And it’s maddening and it’s such bullshit. We’re recording this on the week that Tucker Carlson got fired, and I just saw a thing today where he posted, he, he broke his silence, quote unquote, and posted a video and he was going like ” the crying debates and stuff. Debates on tv.”
And I’m like, who the fuck’s problem is, who are you trying to fool here? I [00:18:00] mean, it’s all like, “oh, we don’t talk about real issues.” Which of course he put in a hella racist dog whistle about, uh, changing demographics as one of his big issues, but I mean, it’s like, dude, your entire career is bitching about that
you can’t jerk off to the fucking M&M anymore. You know? It’s like, get some fucking self-awareness, man.
Raquel: Yeah, I, and, and to bring it back, I think that is a potential and very common side effect of being too on social media. It distorts your idea of what the world is, how people think, what kind of media they’re interested in, and what’s important.
Raquel: I, I think we’ve all encountered a little too much fiction that’s written.
It’s written in post style and not in fiction style. Like you’ll read one writer and you think “this is a blog [00:19:00] post. This is not a story.” or “Man, this feels like a Twitter thread. That fucking sucks.” And then I think on the journalism side, there’s the, I understand why these exist because they’re, they’re really cheap and easy to put out the many, many stories of “this guy’s being a dick online.”
Matt Keeley: Oh
Raquel: “We’re gonna post a bunch of links and screenshots to some shitty things that some random guy said on the internet.” It’s like, okay, but why? Why is this really newsworthy? You know?
Matt Keeley: and that’s the the demanding thing is too, is because like, I mean, I, I, I’ve, I’ve written some of those. I’m not going to, I’m not gonna deny it, but I
Raquel: I have totally written those.
Matt Keeley: yeah.
Raquel: I am guilty.
Matt Keeley: But it, it’s that thing where that, this was always like a big deal at my outlet was like, well, if we write stupid stuff, like that, or, I, I was notorious for doing a bunch of basically repackaging Am I The Asshole threads, you
Raquel: Yes, there were. [00:20:00] So I remember you did so many Reddit threads.
Matt Keeley: and I mean, I, I hated doing it. And like, I even interviewed with somebody for another gig and I mentioned that, and they were like, “oh my God, I hate those.” I’m like, “dude, me too.” It’s like this thing where you don’t wanna do those because they’re stupid. But they’re also the only thing that, I mean, not the only thing, obviously, but they’re, they’re the ones that drive the traffic.
Raquel: God, they totally are. Cuz I am guilty of that. On the one hand, I’ll, I’ll think “this is just a repackaged Reddit thread,” but then when I see the headline, “man says he refuses to wipe his ass because it’s gay.” I’m, I am 100% gonna click on that because I’m an idiot. I will absolutely, I will keep drinking that garbage.
Matt Keeley: Yeah, I, I mean, and I would get like pretty good at figuring out how to best craft the headline to get clicks. Because the other, the other downside with those too, [00:21:00] is if you do it too much, ends up just getting people to shout at each other online, but they don’t actually click through to the story.
Raquel: Oh yeah.
Matt Keeley: gotta be a little bit of mystery to it. And I I, it’s this weird alchemy.
Raquel: believe what happens next.
Matt Keeley: Exactly. Yeah. I mean, it’s, it’s so bullshit. Click bait-y. But it
magencubed: It’s an
Matt Keeley: them clicks.
magencubed: Hey man, you know, hey, look, my day job is marketing. You gotta do what you gotta do, man. No, no shade, no judgment.
Matt Keeley: But
Raquel: it, it it sucks.
Matt Keeley: don’t, if they don’t click on it,
Matt Keeley: doesn’t work or it doesn’t matter because even that sort of, environment has changed where even if you get people complaining about it, it doesn’t necessarily, because it used to be that, engagement is engagement,
Matt Keeley: but [00:22:00] it, it’s gotten less of that.
So you might have people yelling at each other in the comment thread, but especially on like Facebook, it doesn’t really give you that boost anymore.
Raquel: Huh. I can kind of see that. Yeah. People who just don’t read the article or one person will post screenshots, so then nobody actually has to click through in order to read the thing.
Matt Keeley: yeah, but I mean, even, even before it used to be like, let, let, let’s say that, Raquel, you, you got caught up in a, you know, an argument thread. It, it like
Raquel: What? Impossible. That
Matt Keeley: I,
would never do such a thing. How dare you? How dare you, sir?
Matt Keeley: just a pure, con But it used to put that, since we’d be, Facebook friends, it used to put that on my feed and I’d go, oh, I can see the, the thing that you’re yelling at people about.
And it doesn’t really [00:23:00] seem to do that much anymore.
Raquel: Oh wow.
Matt Keeley: Or at least, you know, in my non-scientific… but it used to do that. So, which is why, I used to be really good about liking people’s posts about important things. Cause it used to boost it.
But Facebook has gotten so into, we’re only really going to boost your stuff if you give us money
Matt Keeley: that it’s not really worth it. So all you get is like, there’s a cartoonist I like that I follow, and I only see his stuff, but I’ll just get hit by the one guy who happened to see it shared on his friend who’s like a CHUD and is all like, oh, so I just have this one thing that I see anyway, and so I just happen to get an asshole attached to it instead of the assholes actually making Facebook go like, “oh, this is important.
I’m going to share it.” You know, like it
Raquel: Yeah. Yeah.
Matt Keeley: I mean, honestly with, with [00:24:00] with Kitty sneezes and Rite Gud, we, I don’t even post the episodes to Facebook anymore because.
Raquel: no, we both gave up on doing that.
Matt Keeley: Yeah, when, whenever I would, it would have the little metrics. They would be like three people able have seen your posts. And I’m talking like, episodes that have, that have done well.
It doesn’t matter how good or how juicy the episode is, three people are just gonna see the post even though we’ve got however many likes and whatever.
Raquel: We had a good number of followers on there, but our followers would just not see what we were posting because we weren’t paying to boost it.
magencubed: Yeah. Right.
Raquel: And so it’s just not worth it as a platform. And we can talk about it more about individual platforms later, but, uh, there’s, there’s
Matt Keeley: the gun a little.
Raquel: Yeah, that’s okay.
Raquel: but yeah, the, the Internet’s ability for self-promotion can be, very difficult and, and varied in in many ways too, just because what actually [00:25:00] gets shared isn’t 100% up to you.
It can be be up to the algorithms and attempting to tailor your content to appeal to these ever-changing algorithms and to to chase those SEOs scores can be such a losing battle cuz it’s always, always changing and it’s changing so quickly and they don’t really announce what the change is cuz they don’t want you to exploit it.
So how do you keep doing that? I can understand it if you’re doing some purely commercial work, like if you’re working as a journalist, if you’re working in marketing, you kind of have to, but I feel like for a someone who’s doing things more, for more to be creative and expressive like a fiction writer, I’m not really comfortable with that approach of trying to change this in order to chase the algorithm.
magencubed: No, it’s, uh, yeah,
Raquel: it feels like a losing battle.
Matt Keeley: Yeah, it’s a bugs game.
magencubed: it is. I had put out a book about, about two years ago in 20 [00:26:00] February of, uh, 2021. And, I kind of got hopped up on the, the self-published marketing juices. You know, listen to the wrong people. Usually I’m pretty good about ignoring really bad advice, but that was like, you know, “I have a new book out and spend a couple years.
I really need to make this a win and dig in and like, I, I chased the algorithm for like a year.”
magencubed: And trends because I just, I put the book out during the pandemic, I was trying to get it published, leading into the pandemic and then the whole thing got like, publishing just hit the wall and slid down in 2020.
Like it was bad. So I, I put the book out myself, a year into the pandemic and everything. And then, so I, I kind of was, listened to some really bad advice and chasing the algorithm. And like I said, I, I haven’t been promoting my books anymore, so I’ve been really, so it’s been, it’s been, it’s been a joy.
And to kind of circle back to your point about just the, the crushing nature of social media for, for writers. I’ve had this conversation with a few people, like comics, artists, people who do stuff on YouTube or original [00:27:00] series or whatever.
We have to constantly promote ourselves, like and each other, in, in the indie space and whatever your project is. Comics, novels, weird YouTube horror stuff, whatever ARGs. You kind of have to really promote each other and and all that.
But then it comes a point where you’re like, but if this goes viral, will I ruin my friend’s life?
Raquel: Oh God.
magencubed: You know? And I have watched a lot of really good creators just get overwhelmed and then destroyed, by virality, because they either reach such a point that like people will, as usual, you know, you reach a certain threshold of followers and people think you’re no longer a human being and they can just scream and throw things at you all day for fun.
Yeah, when you create something, then this fandom overnight, just a masses around it, and then now you’re up that you’re held up to standards for things that you have no ability to because you’re one person making something in your bedroom on a computer. You know, you’re not a production team.
So, the flip side of like,[00:28:00] when you want your own work or the work of other people to plug along and, and be popular, not popular, I guess I should say, be well received enough to sustain itself, to make the furthering the project worth it for you and for whatever small audience that you’ve cultivated with the work.
But then if something goes viral, it’s like, I don’t know if I wanna do this to somebody, cuz I know I don’t want it to happen to me. Cuz you cannot control, like you said, what makes it outside of like the, the escape threshold.
magencubed: And once you cross that, who knows? And then you end up one of these listical articles that you were talking about where it’s like “some asshole on Twitter” and you’re like, “well that’s it.
That’s my legacy now.” So yeah, it is this balancing act where you wanna help, you wanna stay relevant enough, to, to feed the project and, and keep working on it and keep your friends above water. But then, if this goes viral, then, man,
Raquel: Yeah. When something goes viral, it gets so outta control and people get [00:29:00] weird and they just sort of make up in their minds, “this is who I think this person is and I’m gonna get mad at that person.”
And that person’s not real, but they think it’s you.
Raquel: O, okay,
Raquel: I wanted this to happen today.
Now we gotta deal with this.
magencubed: Yeah. New problem. New trauma just for
Raquel: it’s it’s weird. There’s also, there’s also this other side to it, which I think social media can distort your ideas about what kind of media people actually care about.
Raquel: Like here’s the media that gets in online fandom versus here’s the media that people really find as significant or, or important.
I, I mean, I know Supernatural was a popular show, but I feel like the online fandom it gets as massive in comparison to the cultural effect it had
in the real world. In In the greater world, most people kind of, “yeah, I guess I’ve heard of [00:30:00] Supernatural,”
Raquel: but the amount of fandom works it has generated is just staggering.
It’s so much. And I’m like, really? I didn’t think it was that important show. And then I remember recently, I. There was this talk about James Cameron’s Avatar sequel. “Well, we don’t think it’s really going to go anywhere because it didn’t generate this big online fandom.” It didn’t leave a big footprint in the culture, supposedly.
Well, that turned out not to be true. It’s not a work that generated a lot of online fandom, it is, obviously, we saw the sequel was wildly financially successful. A shitload of people saw it. It’s just not fandom-y and and to be fandom ish, a work will have certain qualities that don’t necessarily always translate to real world popularity or, or aren’t necessary for real world popularity. And for one instance, I guess having very shippable leads, having two like [00:31:00] bland usually white, non-threatening guys for, for girls to ship kind of creates online fandom. And Avatar didn’t really have that.
But for a whole lot of audience members, they don’t care.
Matt Keeley: Mm-hmm.
Raquel: don’t care. And I kind of feel like if you spend so much time online and in, in fandom spaces, you forget that most people don’t care about that. It’s not that important to you. You kind of forget that most people will just watch an action movie and go, “yeah, that was pretty good.”
And then go home and not like dress up as the characters and write stories about them getting married.
magencubed: Yeah, like the presence of fandom in online spaces is so overblown, I guess. Right? Or maybe not overblown, but like the effect that they have because like I see people, it, it, it gets so crazy because I’ll sit there and I’ll be talking about writing, about my, my own, my own projects or a friend’s project, and then someone will start talking to me about [00:32:00] fan fiction.
And it’s just like, ” do you, do you think that every person that you encounter is in your fandom?” Because that’s a weird thing. Like again, we all have our thing. And, and I guess it’s like when you had properties , it’s like the supernatural situation and, and fricking shows like Teen Wolf that were living on the internet and feeding fans with queer baiting and crap.
People feel that, the fandom, you’re chasing the fandom. The fandom is the most important thing. Getting people to coalesce around your work and, and dress like your characters. Oh my God, that’s the most important thing. And like, and I have conversations with writers and before they’ve even finished the book, before they’ve even drafted the book, they’re like, “I just really want people to ship my characters and to draw fan art.”
And I’m like, yeah, that’s cool. People have done that for me and that’s really cool, but I’m like, that’s not sustainable and that has nothing to do with me. That’s something that y’all do over there amongst yourselves. That’s your friends. That’s, that’s not me. And this chasing of fandom and [00:33:00] saying that anything that doesn’t have 40,000 AO3 fics has no bearing on reality.
When like, everyone’s mom goes to see Fast and Furious and everyone’s mom goes to see the Avatar movies. It does truly distort, especially with the algorithm and, and fandom stuff and just nerd culture in general. It absolutely just distorts what you think matters, what you think anybody cares about.
Oh my God. I remember having some friends online who were arguing that nobody that, nobody went to go see the new Avatar because no one went to go see the first one because the only people that like it are racist and American imperialist, but then everyone I would see online talking about it
like, “this is not, this is an anti imperialist film.” And I’m like, you know what? I don’t, I don’t know man. I don’t know.
Raquel: I don’t know. I’m guessing most audience members were just, “it’s fun to watch the blue cat aliens beat up soldiers. It’s fun.”
magencubed: um, yeah, it was like
Raquel: Probably not that deep.
magencubed: Yeah. It’s like
Raquel: Apparently there’s a space whale [00:34:00] attacking dudes in spaceships. That sounds pretty good.
magencubed: Uh, yeah, exactly. We like mechs, we like sexy blue alien cat people. We’re, we’re easy to please.
magencubed: I don’t, I don’t need to think that deep.
Raquel: Do do the, do the spaceships blow up real good? Okay. Most people are gonna be pretty happy with that.
magencubed: Pretty much. Yeah. Which, I think it’s fine. I think it’s fine. I don’t think you have to like, This idea that you have to dedicate your life to a single art object and dress up as the characters, or it made no impact on you or society, I think is just kinda, it’s kinda weird as someone who used to spend way too much time obsessing about art objects
Raquel: Yeah, yeah,
magencubed: a reformed member.
Raquel: yeah, yeah. You kind of forget how to like things a normal way.
magencubed: Mm-hmm. Oh yeah. You do. You
Raquel: and and it’s very healthy to just like a thing, a normal way and normal amount. But that being said, why don’t we start talking about some of the different platforms with a focus on how, how valuable they are for writers with advantages and [00:35:00] disadvantages.
The first one we inevitably have to talk about it is of course Twitter. Book Twitter is a cesspool. But the thing about Twitter is it is one of very few text-based social media platforms rather than image-based or video-based, like Instagram, like TikTok, like YouTube. So that’s the appeal for writers and journalists.
You know, TikTok, you need to be photogenic and good at dancing, and most writers are not. Most writers aren’t hot. I’m sorry. Most writers are not conventionally hot people. Writing is an art that improves as you get older and saggier, not when you’re young and perky and photogenic. So Twitter’s good for that.
If you can fire off a short, witty remark, it can get a lot of, of mileage. But the downside is well obvious. It it, there’s a lot of harassment. And since it’s been bought by Elon Musk, it’s [00:36:00] just, it’s, it’s gotten real bad. It’s gotten all hell of a lot worse. It’s starting to feel like a dying mall.
magencubed: Yeah. And not like in a fun way,
Raquel: Yeah. In like a weird, gross way. Like, “who’s that guy hanging out over there? Security should get rid of that guy. Oh fuck. They laid off security.”
magencubed: Yeah. Right.
Matt Keeley: it’s a dying mall that’s got nothing, but bookstores that sell Mein Kampf and
magencubed: The asbestos is falling out of the ceiling.
Matt Keeley: Yes. Yes, yes.
Raquel: And I, and I’m curious as to will Elon Musk be forced to sell it before it goes just irretrievably down to hell? Or is it kind of just gonna keep dying and we’ll have to move on somewhere else? Because I’m, I’m looking at this as a writer, like, well, where else can we go? We talked about Facebook, and Facebook is useless for text and everything else.
These days, the algorithm sucks. You have to pay to boost posts or no one will see your posts. And it’s just, it’s not a good time on [00:37:00] there. I I, I definitely spend too much time on social media, but during the pandemic I spent was spending a long time on Facebook and I realized like, “I hate this.
Every time I’m on this, I feel slightly angrier.
I, this isn’t fun,”
Raquel: just deactivated my account and never looked back. It was a very good decision for me, and I do not regret it.
magencubed: yeah. I deleted mine three years ago and I’m like, yes, if I can commit to deleting Twitter, which will be soon, I’m pretty sure. I think I could, I could think I can descend and make my way to heaven, but you
magencubed: we’ll wait and see how that works out.
Raquel: Yeah. But I mean, the, the other side of it is that through Twitter, I mean, I, I met you through Twitter. I’ve met a shitload of terrific writers who I’m friends with and who’ve really helped me out. I, I meet a lot of guests for this podcast
Raquel: on Twitter. So it has fulfilled this very valuable networking tool despite the massive, massive, massive [00:38:00] drawbacks that I’ve had.
And I don’t know where to go after that. I mean, Mastodon, I just haven’t really found that with Mastodon. I think a lot of the trouble with the sort of Twitter clones is that they’re built to try to prevent that kind of crazy outsized harassment where one remark that you make that’s really intended for a limited audience of your followers escapes containment and people who aren’t really meant for it see it in sort of a poor context and go kind of nuts on it.
But, but Twitter’s ability to do that is also the virality. It’s also what makes it useful, which is that you can write some little silly posts and then like, 20,000 people are sharing your goofy joke or your picture of your cat that you never thought anyone else was gonna look at, and you go like, wow, that is really helpful. And, and the fact that these other platforms are trying to, in order to diminish harassment, try and prevent that kind of crazy [00:39:00] virality. What that means is it’s also a lot more limited in your reach, and it’s a lot more limited in your ability to promote yourself.
Matt Keeley: Mm-hmm. Yeah. I, I, I know the, when Mastodon launched, a lot was made about it being, oh, it’s decentralized.
Matt Keeley: it’s, it’s the torrents of social media, but it’s such a double-edged sword because Yeah, sure. But, And, and, and in addition to that kind of siloing off thing, you also get a lot of petty tyrants.
I had a Mastodon account really on, but then when Mastodon started being a thing and I tried to log into it and I couldn’t because whatever instance I was on blew up because, don’t know why, because I hadn’t checked it in years. But it might’ve been drama, or it might’ve just been the, whoever ran it didn’t want to pay anymore.
And so all of a sudden my account’s gone.
Raquel: [00:40:00] Yeah, and it’s hard to follow people who are in other instances.
Matt Keeley: Oh, it’s so poorly designed that
Raquel: It’s really awkward and hard and that’s tricky because I signed up originally years ago and just joined one random instance. And then a few years later, more recently, I decided, well, let me give it a go again. And found that a shitload of my friends were on a different instance and like it was really, really hard to just follow their accounts
Matt Keeley: Yeah, you have
Raquel: in that instance.
And it’s really hard to switch instances too. It’s a huge pain in the ass.
Matt Keeley: yeah, like they, they, instead of just being like, if, if you’re on another instance than I am, I can’t just follow you from that because I’m not on that instance, I have to copy your url, paste it into my instances search bar, and half the time that’s kind of janky and doesn’t work. And I have to figure out, oh, do I need to delete the https part or do I need that or, or what?
And I can’t just search. [00:41:00] Your quote unquote account, the at whoosie what’s at whoosie whats too. They make the instances can talk to each other do things the selling point, but none of it is actually designed so the instances can talk to each other. It’s like that’s the selling point. But from a design perspective, it’s like a secondary or tertiary concern.
And there’s that conflict and it just kind of makes it useless.
Raquel: Yeah, so we have Mastodon. There’s Tumblr. Apparently it’s still chugging along and I’ve heard it’s actually quite good now. Um, It, it, it also, it leans heavily toward text content. It’s a lot more quiet than it was in its heyday. And it still leans very heavily toward fandom. Again, not as much as it used to, but it still leads toward that in terms of writing. When people are talking about writing, a lot of the time they’re talking about fanfic and that’s just not, that’s not [00:42:00] my bag, that’s not what I wanna talk about when I want to talk about writing.
I wanna talk about sort of trad pub traditional writing type things. Not about what ship, what fandom do you like, here’s the list of Archive of Our Own relationship trope tags that you want. It’s just not for me. And I’ve, and I’ve heard it’s better than it was, but it’s kind of got that downside to it too.
And the other side of it too is I know there was a mass exodus because they banned pornography. And maybe that sounds silly for me to talk about that, but the issue of adult content, many of these platforms ban adult content, ban explicitly sexual content. Well, that can be a real problem for you if your writing is more adult.
If your writing is about human sexuality in any way.
magencubed: Yeah, I exactly, I, I had a Tumblr, I think I opened like 20 13, 20 14, whatever cursed year that was. And then again, when I bailed on [00:43:00] fandom, I didn’t go back for years and years. And then when things started to kind of go crazy on, on Twitter and, and, in this year of our Lord, yeah, I went back and dusted it off and I had, I’d been using a little bit here and there for promoting my last book that came out.
It is hard to get traction if you’re promoting an original work. And, and if you’re talking about writing and I know some people who are like, “oh, I have such a good time there, promote my stuff.” And I’m like, Yeah, but you write romance and YA and things that kind of lend themselves to that.
When you’re almost 40 and you have back pain and you write about divorce assassins, you know, it’s kinda like, I don’t think, I don’t think I’m, I’m the crowd for that. I don’t write, this is sexy Star Trek fan fiction anymore. That was a long time ago. That was a whole different me. So, while those things are definitely, they have their uses if you’re kind of just hanging around with your friends, Tumblr and, and some of the blogs and, and stuff.
But yeah, I, I just, for my own trying to keep like a writing blog kind of thing and talk about [00:44:00] writing processes and craft and trying to promote my own work. That was just, just kind of a no-go, you know? So,
Raquel: Yeah. I I didn’t really find it helpful for, for promoting original fiction. I just, I didn’t find it super useful for that, unfortunately.
Raquel: Um, let’s see. There is a new platform Co-host. It’s basically like a more mellow Tumblr. It’s like Mastodon for Tumblr. It doesn’t, it’s big thing is it doesn’t show like and re-blog numbers.
It’s very much built to go against virality. And while Co-host is actually nice, it feels very mellow and I believe they’re much more friendly to adult content. There’s like a ton of erotic furry artists on there. If you want a platform for erotic, furry art, Co-host is your friend.
And I mean it, it is kind of a nice atmosphere, but I think it’s ability for, for self-promotion, at least now is quite limited. We have had some decent engagement for some of our posts for, [00:45:00] for our, uh, our podcast. I think the one that got the most responses when we were talking about literacy education and how fucked up it is in the United States, that got a pretty good response, but by a good response.
I’m talking like 20 comments, which when I get a big response on Twitter, we’re talking hundreds.
Raquel: So that’s very, very limited and I was very pleased to see it get the response. It got there and it was, it was kind of nice and it was, know, good vibes, but it, it, it’s kind of hard to really launch a career off of that.
So I’d say like, yeah, it’s not a bad social network just just to be mellow on, but at the time, if you’re looking to, if you’re trying to be kind of like a shark to really build your brand and, and promote yourself as a writer, I don’t think it’s super useful for that. Although, maybe it’ll change.
magencubed: It was pretty funny. I was using it for like, I don’t know, a couple weeks after it blew up and they allowed me to post unfortunately. [00:46:00] It was kind of funny cuz like the first post that took off, I was thinking about Twitter and I’ve had that account for like 15 years and it’s all pretty bad and we’re all kind of looking for an alternative.
And then I got like a pretty good, like you said, a pretty good response, 20 likes, and then some like re reco, coat chost, whatever they call it, their retweet. And then next week, I know people, people I follow were just like, we need to stop talking about Twitter on here. And I’m like, you know what, man?
Just lemme have my feelings.
magencubed: I’m, I’m going through it. I was harassed on that site every day for 15 years and I’m gonna miss it. So, that was my Co-host experience. People being like, you, you freaking Twitter people are ruining our culture. And I’m like, the only culture I see is coders and furries, which again, that’s fine.
I’m not against coders or furries or both, but it was just like, I’m just here to post, man, leave me alone.
magencubed: live like yeah, I guess it’s like the, the Twitter invader hostility and a lot of other platforms has kind of, kind of kept me from moving around too much cuz everyone is just like, [00:47:00] ugh, they’re gonna poison our waters.
And I’m like, I poison my own water. Thank you very much.
Raquel: yeah. I mean, these sites too, they do have their own culture and kind of acclimating to the new culture can be a little bit different. The culture of Facebook is different from the culture of Twitter, which is different from the culture of Mastodon, which is different from the culture of Tumblr,
Raquel: and it can, there’s a different posting style. And it takes some getting used to that. So let’s see. Moving on to more visual platforms. There’s TikTok, which for all we know, it might get banned by the time this episode comes out. It’s got the visual emphasis, which isn’t great for anyone who’s not conventionally hot. I, I am not going to dance for you fucking people.
I am too old. I have a mortgage. I will not dance for your mo amusement. And I’m gonna point out it, it seems to favor the worst fucking books imaginable. Whenever you go to a bookstore and it has the little shelf of, like, “this is popular on, on TikTok.” You [00:48:00] pick it up and it is the worst goddamn book ever written.
Matt Keeley: Well, it wasn’t, uh, what’s, what’s that terrible poet, uh, Rupi Kapur
Raquel: Oh God. The one about
Matt Keeley: isn’t
Raquel: your fingers dipped inside me searching for honey.
Matt Keeley: That it’s not yours or that will never be yours or whatever. Yeah. And
Raquel: like that.
Matt Keeley: yeah, and I mean too that, like I admit, this is basically me. Old man yelling at cloud, but I just do not get TikTok. Like I, I, um, ended up talking with like a younger friend of mine, you know, and, and she was trying to explain it to me and I was like, and one of the weird things with that is that it tries to do, the algorithm is based off of things that you’ve engaged with, but if you don’t, if you don’t like things, it doesn’t know what to do.
So I would, I would try to use TikTok for, for my job when, try to find viral stuff and I [00:49:00] didn’t know that. So it would just be like, it would start since I guess I wasn’t feeding it cause I didn’t know I had to feed it because it’s not a tamagotchi
Matt Keeley: again, I’m old.
It would start showing me like this horrendous stuff.
magencubed: Oh yeah.
Matt Keeley: like. I would look through it and it would go like, oh, here’s someone with a horrible malady. Or here’s someone getting their arm ripped off practically. And it’s just like, and, but the thing is is since I would be like, I would look at that and go like, oh my God, it would, I would be a lot past the point where it counts it as a view.
So I would think that I would want more horrendous stuff.
magencubed: Yeah. You’re in there watching like faces of death and you’re like, no, no.
Matt Keeley: Exactly. Exactly. And, ugh, get off
Raquel: it a little [00:50:00] bit and it is, it is weird. It seems to think that I am foreigner, but I doesn’t know what my language is, so it keeps showing me videos from Spanish speaking countries and then Indonesia, and then just various nations where I don’t live, and these aren’t translated, so I don’t know what the fuck is going on, but it decides I should see that even though I do occasionally.
Occasionally I’ll get in there and, and I, there are a couple of creators I follow there who kind of have interesting or fun stuff, but. As far as promoting oneself, writing the nature of it, that it’s these very short videos that are very kind of peppy and, and cutesy and meme ish is not, it does not favor longer, more thoughtful fiction.
magencubed: Exactly. Yeah. Or, or it has to just be outright incendiary. If you just go up there and just call a writer a child abuser, then like, yeah, you, you’ll, your account will absolutely [00:51:00] blow up. But then you’re sitting there going, yeah, but you call this person a child abuser, sight unseen, and no one is like,
magencubed: and yeah, I, I had a TikTok for a little bit, I, a couple months I guess.
I wasn’t, I didn’t enjoy it very much cuz it, again, faces of death if you don’t feed it, uh, you end up on like the worst algorithm. But what I was looking into how authors were supposed to use it and have an account for every single thing that they were wanting to look at so that they wouldn’t screw up their marketing feed, uh, by like being a person and looking at things, I was like, I’m not having two or three accounts just so I can feed it.
Part-time. I have a full-time job. I’m not gonna feed the algorithm on all these accounts just to get someone to hopefully do a TikTok dance over the top of my book. Like I don’t care that much. If they’re gonna do the dance, that has to be out of their, like the love of their heart. I can’t make that happen.
Matt Keeley: Mm-hmm.
Raquel: yeah. I’m sure there are young, brilliant, [00:52:00] amazing writers who can effectively use it, but I’m, I’m too fucking old. I can’t, I’m sorry. Nope. I’m, I’ve made peace with that. I’m okay with that. So TikTok is out for me, and the government might ban it anyway. I don’t know.
magencubed: yeah. I have too much knee pain for that. So,
Raquel: I’m, I’m, I’m tired. I can’t, I can’t dance.
I, I got, I, I got tennis elbow from using my mouse wrong. Uh, so, so, okay. I started using my mouse with my left hand at work because I wanted to avoid getting pain in my right shoulder from using my right hand on my mouse too much, and finally realized that I’ve got this stiffness and pain in my left elbow and forearm from doing that.
So I got like, basically tennis elbow from posting and there’s zero dignity in that. I, it’s incredibly embarrassing and makes me feel like a frail old person. Like, cuz I was lifting weights and going, why does my elbow hurt so much? Why does this arm feel like shit? I’m not doing, I’m, my [00:53:00] form is fine. I’m not doing anything extra with this one arm.
Oh fuck, are you kidding me? It’s from my mouse,
magencubed: Oh my
Raquel: like an asshole. I got Poster’s Elbow, and now I gotta like wear my arm in a sling. Fuck. So, so TikTok is just, no, I don’t wanna know what embarrassing injuries I would get with my, my frail old ligaments by attempting a TikTok dance. So, YouTube.
magencubed: Oh boy.
Raquel: YouTube, again, visual and audio based, which doesn’t necessarily… it, it’s weird because it can be long form.
I know the algorithm of YouTube favors these insanely long videos, which can be kind of cool, but somehow that does not lead to depth. Instead, it leads to four hours of talking about something unbelievably weird and inconsequential. And I mean, there are some good book tubers. Our friend Chris Cauldron, who was a guest. Uh, Lola Sebastian has some really, really thoughtful videos.
[00:54:00] She does a lot of videos about people’s weird n need to try to do quote unquote, feminist retellings of Lolita. She’s great and and we love Chris. Chris is great.
Matt Keeley: yeah, I, I, I love, uh, Lola’s stuff like the Roger Fish Bite video, which is one of the terrible knockoff Lolitas of let’s, let’s, let’s rewrite Lolita, even though we don’t understand it genre.
magencubed: yeah. Lola’s great.
Raquel: Yeah. But again, YouTube really favors the people who are more visually oriented and conventionally attractive, which for many writers might not be the case. I’m sorry. And it has its own kind of gross bullshit algorithms too.
Matt Keeley: Mm-hmm.
magencubed: and, and I was just gonna say, I think it’s primarily more beneficial for like book reviewers and critics versus like authors
I suppose you could do a critical account and have your own, shill your own book on top of it.
magencubed: [00:55:00] Yeah.
Raquel: That would probably be a great way to do it. But again, that’s so much work and it’s like, oh, you have, you’ve just created this side job for yourself
to try to do the thing you actually wanna do.
Matt Keeley: Yeah. Like the only writer I can think of who’s really done anything with. Their writing is May Lietz, uh, aka Nyx Fears
a and, and by the way, like, Fluids is great, by the way. I just want to shout that out. But like, sh
Raquel: good to know.
Matt Keeley: Yeah. Honestly, I really liked it. I haven’t read Girl Flesh yet, but I’m looking forward to it.
But, but she would actually read the first five chapters on, on there, and I, I don’t know how necessarily that worked for her in terms of engagement, but usually it, her method is here’s a video essay about something else, by the way, buy my book, you know?
Raquel: Yeah. Yeah. Here’s a video essay on some incredibly obscure, horrible horror movie that eight people have seen. I’m gonna talk about it for [00:56:00] two straight hours. Like
Matt Keeley: I, I, I love that though.
Raquel: it kind of rocks.
magencubed: yeah, but, and, but, but with, with May, especially, I’ve been watching her since like,
Matt Keeley: Forever.
magencubed: like forever cuz I, I lived like down the highway from her when we both lived in Texas. I’ve been watching her forever. With her, it’s very interesting cuz she pivoted from being a critic and a musician and a, a short film maker.
I think she made several short films and then having parts and films and then pivoting to, to a writer and you’re like, yeah, that’s cool. But that was like a decade, you know? So props, props, uh, for real. But yeah, that, that’s, that’s rough. That’s a rough, yeah. Go of it. To start from, to start from zero and then try to do live readings of your book.
Matt Keeley: Mm-hmm.
Raquel: Yeah. Let’s see. YouTube, there’s also Insta, of course, which granted is not as popular as it used to be. I know a lot of young people simply aren’t on Insta anymore. It’s, it’s also getting shittier [00:57:00] because everything Zuckerberg touches just turns to trash after a while. And again, it’s very visual.
There’s a culture of books as aesthetic, which doesn’t lend itself well to depth. Occasionally a book that’s actually good, can kind of break through that. But it seems like it’s more a well-established book. There’s the dark academia aesthetic, and of course, Donna Tartt’s
The Secret History is a big part of that, but like Donna Tart didn’t need Insta to get big. Donna Tart’s book was already fucking huge. And the books that seem to do well that are starting from Insta tend to be a lot more sort of cute YA peppy AO3 tag, the same, the same old stuff. Which again, if you’re doing that, that’s awesome.
I’m happy for
you. But if you’re not doing that, it gonna do for you?
Matt Keeley: Yeah. And, and yeah, I think we’ve all seen how so many of the promos that seem to [00:58:00] be on Insta are of that AO3 thing, where it’s like “this book has enemies to lovers” and whatever other stuff that’s from TV tropes and, you know, or AO three tags, and it’s just “here’s more stuff from the pipeline.” And
if your book isn’t necessarily pipeline ready, I don’t see it really taking off there, and I don’t even know how much of those enemies to lovers type of ads even do, but I don’t know. It just, it bugs me. I’m, I, I– get off my lawn.
magencubed: Yeah, I, I, I spend a fair bit of time on Instagram. Like I said before, I made the mistake of drinking the Kool-Aid a little bit and following some marketing templates that do not work for me. And so you, when you’re on, when I did it on Twitter, it was a mistake. When I did it on Instagram is definitely a mistake cuz they’re way more primed for that, the audiences and such.
[00:59:00] Yeah, you can make the nice graphic and you can say the right things, but when they open up the book and you didn’t write the, the version of the book they had in your, their head because you used the tags and it said the thing, then it’s like, okay, you’ve lost a potential reader because you sold them the wrong
Matt Keeley: Mm-hmm.
magencubed: and you’ve alienated the people who probably would have clicked on it if you had
presented it more accurately, or faithfully for like, the content of the book and, and the ideas in it. Cuz you’re like, “enemies to lovers, I’m clicking off that shit.” So you’re like, you know, so if you had seen that ad, you’d be like, fuck that. And I would’ve lost the potential reader.
I’m not gonna say sale. Cause that’s like so mercenary. No, uh, a potential reader, you know? It is just a rock and a hard place because you, yeah. Those posts, those very pretty aesthetic posts get way more traction. But like, I’m not writing like a, YA queer romance with vampires.
Like, I’m just writing this whole other thing, this dirty, redneck, vampire thing, [01:00:00] you know? And, and the people who were looking for like, “oh yeah, I love near dark vampires.” They’re not gonna click on that because it looks like Cemetery Boys or something. And so I’ve, I’ve alienated one potential reader and then alienated another because I’ve given them the wrong book.
So it is really hard to navigate, cuz you, you can do the right thing, but yeah, you don’t really win at the end of the day. You get a lot of clicks and views, but you don’t really win anything.
Matt Keeley: Mm-hmm. It’s kind of the Head conundrum. It’s like the, the Head is the Monkees movie, which bombed horribly unreleased because it was actually this brilliant deconstruction of everything that, of the prefab Monkees image. It’s a complete deconstruction. It’s like this really great art film.
But the thing is, is that the people who really like art films wouldn’t see because ugh, it’s the Monkees movie.
And, and and the [01:01:00] monkeys fans were like, ” uh, this isn’t cute and fun wacky stuff, wacky slapstick. This is this dark and twisted, you know?”
Raquel: That’s amazing. I didn’t know that. That is wild.
Matt Keeley: oh, 100%. Go see
Raquel: That’s so funny. So, so for, for, for younger, for younger listeners, the Monkees were a boy band in the 1960s that were sort of like a watered down knockoff Beatles. The, the big hit is Daydream Believer and a lot of adolescent girls were really, really big into them.
And there was this scandal at the time because “they don’t write their own music, you know.”
Matt Keeley: Yeah.
Raquel: “they don’t write their own mu–” back, back in those days, apparently people gave a shit about that. They don’t really care about that anymore.
Matt Keeley: Yeah. And for what it’s worth, I love the, I love every aspect of the Monkees. Like the music was
Raquel: Daydream Believer is a banger. It’s
Matt Keeley: yeah. It, it turns out when you get the, the country’s top songwriters to make these readymade hits [01:02:00] it turns out they’re really good.
Matt Keeley: It turns
Raquel: Yeah, so they’re nowhere near as cool as the Beatles were, but like honestly, they’ve got some pretty solid little pop tunes. They’re real fun. I did not know they did a fucking art film. That is wild.
Matt Keeley: Yes. No, honestly, like it’s on the Criterion Channel, or at least it was. At least it was. I think it still is, but it’s a,
Raquel: That is amazing.
Matt Keeley: movie. It really is. By Bob Rafelson
Raquel: That’s like fucking the Backstreet Boys doing an avantgarde film. That is wild.
Matt Keeley: Yeah. It’s basically if Backstreet Boys collaborated with like, I don’t know, David Lynch.
Raquel: watch that. God damn. I would watch that.
magencubed: We gotta reconvene. We all have to watch it and then come back.
Raquel: That’s, God, that sounds amazing.
Matt Keeley: Seriously, it, it’s legit a great, great film. So,
Raquel: That really sounds fun. [01:03:00] So, so Insta, uh, anyway, has its ups and downs. Returning more to more text-based platforms. Again, there’s Reddit, there’s Reddit. There, there are two downsides of Reddit. One is that Reddit has some very strict rules against self-promotion cuz they don’t want people obnoxiously going, “buy my book, look at my website, look at my thing, blah, blah,” all the time.
Cause that can be really obnoxious. And the number two, although really the most important downside to Reddit is that it’s full of redditors. The culture of Reddit is not as gross as it was say five years ago, but, the, I mean, you look at the reading and writing subreddits, it’s, it’s not super deep. It’s a very kind of STEM lord rather shallow approach to fiction like r slash fantasy seriously believes that Brandon Sanderson is the great, or Brandon Sanderson is the greatest fantasy writer of all time.
So that kind of tells you what do you need to know.
magencubed: I [01:04:00] like, just like every time I look at the traffic from my, or from my Substack from like where recommendations are coming from and I see Reddit in there and I’m like, ” you all better be cool about this. This better be a normal thread. I can’t go verify.” So,
Raquel: Yeah, it. I mean some, there are some Reddit communities or the main Reddit writing and reading communities are terrible, but there are these little spinoff communities called circle jerks that exist mainly to shit post and make fun of the bigger communities. But ironically, they’re like way, way better and way smarter and more fun.
They’re still very Reddit-y, but like r slash book circle jerk is legitimately really funny a lot of the time and really irreverent. So you can have fun there and maybe you can kind of network a teeny bit, but I, I don’t know how the fuck you’d promote yourself through that. That’d be a little bit hard just because you, there are rules against that and, and Reddit is not like other social media sites where you have your profile that people [01:05:00] visit and follow.
People don’t really follow you. They’re part of these communities. So gaining a following there is incredibly difficult. It’s super, super hard, I guess, unless you’re a mod. But e even then, it seems like a really tough way to get your name out there so much. It, it’s more centered around engaging with content and having these discussions than it is about sort of following people.
So it’s got kind of limited, use, I guess, for a writer.
Matt Keeley: Mm-hmm.
Raquel: Now you did mention Substack you have a Substack I also have a Substack and I’m actually enjoying Substack a fair bit. It’s sort of a blogging slash email service. You have a blog, but it can also, if you have subscribers, they subscribe via email and when you write a new post, An email of it will be sent directly to their inbox.
So I’ve been using it as a monthly newsletter and also occasionally [01:06:00] putting up some little blog posts, little essays that I don’t really have another space for. And I am enjoying that. And I am enjoying writing longer content as, as per the older blogging days. But it’s a lot easier to follow things on Substack than it was to follow a bunch of scattered blogs back in the old days.
And I do kind of like that. They just unrolled a sort of Twitter clone feature called notes and I kind of, I dig it so far, but it’s really small and the owners have released statements saying they’re going to be very laissez faire about issues of bigotry, which I find kind of a concern.
Raquel: Because as it gets bigger, that can become a huge, huge problem.
Unfortunately, an unmoderated uh, social media site just isn’t really viable. Without moderation it turns into a cess pool pretty quickly. So they’re either gonna have to switch that policy if they want the com, the platform to be [01:07:00] profitable, or they’ll watch it turn into a swamp. That kind of chases away normal people.
And, and this isn’t just, this isn’t just sort of marginalized people. This isn’t just a matter of principle, it’s just that most people don’t wanna be around kind of gross, nasty bigots because it’s just not fun. It doesn’t feel good to be around it. It feels kind of gross. So if you’re normal, if you’re a respectable journalist or if you’re just kind of a normal engaging writer, you’re gonna look at that eventually and go like, ” No, no, thanks.
I’m gonna, I’m gonna leave.” So I’m on there for now and I’m enjoying it for now. We’ll see how it goes as it grows, how’s it gonna change if it changes for the worse. The one good thing about it is that I can take my list of current subscriber’s, email addresses, and just use it for a newsletter service from some other platform.
magencubed: Yeah, that’s kind of where I’m at with substack. Like notes is interesting. To your point about like normal people like it, it’s there aren’t, at least in my experience, cause I, I [01:08:00] kind of like run in an eclectic, eclectic sort of circle. Normal readers kind of aren’t there.
It’s mostly just content creators. So it is interesting. Yeah, it is kinda interesting to see the different people network and discuss things. It’s just, it, it does feel a little too much like a water cooler because it’s really devoid of the general context of the internet.
And so the conversations are really like weird and kind of closed off. I mean, it’s interesting cause like, watching a bunch of people that I follow discuss, I don’t know, Chinese animation from whatever decade is cool, but then , my readers aren’t here because they’re just normal people over there and they’re not following creators to follow them and, and then read, because they just read the, the substack you know, the, the newsletter.
They just read that they’re happy with that. So I, I’ve been trying to figure out who I’m talking to. If it’s just for networking, that’s cool. I, I, you know, I don’t mind posting a little bit about my stuff, but then it’s like, but none of my actual friends are here. So, so then I take my
sorry, self back to Twitter [01:09:00] because well, my friends aren’t here. But I do like the ease and the discoverability of substack and how easy it is to share things. Yeah. And things don’t go viral, but you can pick up a lot of comments and likes and shares. So I, I do like the ease of it and uh, yeah.
If it turns to shit, I will absolutely go to Button Down or one of the other clones cuz I don’t, yeah. I don’t need, I don’t need Nazis. I got enough problems.
Raquel: Yeah, so, so right now it looks like it definitely has the potential to be something really good, but it depends on how the, how the owners want to run it and, we’ll, we’ll see how that goes. I, I hope it goes well. I would like it to go well cuz they also have a podcast hosting feature too, which is pretty great cuz we, we put Rite Gud up on there as well, which is quite nice to be able to do that.
But I mean, who knows, it’s not 100% up to me. And the downside of all the social media stuff is that it’s not your platform. You don’t own it. You can’t really control it very much.
Raquel: And, and that, that kind of blows. So– Discord, of course we [01:10:00] have a discord. If you’re, if you subscribe to the Rite Gud Patreon, you get an invitation to the Discord.
And I, so far am digging Discord. It’s these small, siloed communities, basically group dms with a couple of more features in them. Uh, it can be a good networking opportunity. There’s kind of limited self promotional opportunity though. Kurt, uh, Kurt of Blood Knife, Kurt of Pod Side Picnic says he’s had a lot of success promoting Blood Knife that way because he’s in a couple of Discord communities that have interest in that realm.
And he’s sort of posted stuff from Blood Knife in there and seen it get a big response. And from there people will post it in other, other communities that they’re in. It is very much a siloed community thing, but that doesn’t mean there’s no potential. I mean, I’m thinking of the olden days of message
boards. For a really long time, Something Awful, which was a siloed off message board you needed– it had its unique culture,
it had, uh, an entrance fee of like [01:11:00] $10, — really was a huge shaper of culture. We have a lot of contemporary memes that are based on fucking Something Awful post from 15 years ago. If I say the phrase Grover House, both of you know what that is
and it’s, and it’s, from Something Awful thread where a goon, because that’s what you call Something Awful users, they’re goons, attempted to build an addition onto his house despite not really knowing anything about architecture or home building or vinyl siding or plumbing or electricity, or any of the things you’d need to know in order to make a habitable dwelling. And it just became this infamous thread of this guy making a series of increasingly even worse decisions, getting a lot of advice saying, “bro, don’t do that. I– please don’t do that.” And then doing it anyway and posting a photo of the results while everyone goes insane. To this day, if you mentioned [01:12:00] Groverhaus, people know what Groverhaus is. Something Awful, also birthed Slender Man. It came from that.
So it is absolutely possible for sort of a smaller, I mean, it’s not, it wasn’t that small, but closed off, siloed community to have immense reach beyond the bounds of the community.
Matt Keeley: Yeah, and I mean, I think we’ve all seen the memes going around where it’s the, uh, progressively larger dominoes and the smallest domino is low tax bans– what, what was it? “Low tax bans porn on SA.” And the biggest one will be “Donald Trump is elected president.” And the thing, the, the bizarre thing is it’s true.
Matt Keeley: It,
Raquel: it is. Yeah. It is somehow true in this very strange way.
Matt Keeley: You, you actually can draw that direct line. And it’s bizarre, but I, I can, yeah. It’s [01:13:00] so strange.
magencubed: and also not to, not to cut you off, but like, I, I think because of the open and dependent nature of social media is that we tend to forget that, even in closed off, siloed communities like a Discord or like a forum, is that those people exist in space. They have friends and they have coworkers and they, they know other people.
And, and so we kind of take those things for granted sometimes that like, “oh, I have to be on the, the, the most viral platform with no regulation and everyone has to see me all the time. It’s the only way I’m going to promote my work.” Yeah, but people, these are real people. And speaking to them in, in a more intimate, not that Something Awful is intimate, but like, you know, a slightly less twittery space might end endear
more people to whatever it is that you’re doing, whatever you’re promoting your work or someone else’s work. And then I think we sometimes take those things for granted, cuz I know even just hanging around like the, the Rite Gud discord for the last few [01:14:00] months, which I, I’m more of a, like, perpetual lurker, but that’s okay.
I’ve gotten closer to some people they kind of knew from Twitter, and had some really interesting conversations and got more eyes on my newsletter and stuff. So even just this, this shitting around that space has been a net positive, you know? So I think we take the, we take these things for granted sometimes,
Matt Keeley: And, And,
Raquel: and I’ve definitely made writer friends from it in ways that have been very, very valuable. Just from people in our discord, from people in other discords that I’m in. And I’ve definitely found because the culture of our discord is, is very particular, it’s been very good for me and I think very good for a, a good number of members in terms of motivating to just fucking sit your ass down and write.
Matt Keeley: Mm-hmm.
Matt Keeley: And I also would point out, kind of piggybacking off of what, uh, Megan was saying is that I think that the word of mouth, nature of [01:15:00] Discord, it’s slower, but it’s got more staying power
Matt Keeley: because sure, something might go viral on Twitter, but there’s such a churn with Twitter that, I mean obviously you have the main character of the day and there’s a few of the main characters who have stuck around.
Like I can mention Bean Dad and I think people will still remember, but people don’t know that Bean Dad was also the guy of the, the band The Long Winters or, or whatever. They just know he’s the guy who wouldn’t open a can of beans for his dang kid.
Matt Keeley: and I don’t think, and, but I think that with stuff that, like Blood Knife.
There’s been more of that and I mean, we can, I, I mean, not to toot your own, toot your horn, Raquel, but I mean, look at look at, um, Everyone Is Beautiful and No One is Horny
Matt Keeley: that pops up so much [01:16:00] because, not because of– I mean, it’s gone viral on Twitter repeatedly, but I think it kind of broke out via Discords and, and stuff like that.
And I think that’s why it keeps popping up. No one is replying to people on Twitter, now that it’s been two or three years, however long it’s been, and go like, oh, do you remember Bean Dad? I remember this Bean Dad. You know,
Matt Keeley: but you get that where it’s like, “oh, I read this really great article.
Maybe you should read it” and then, and I mean, like, haven’t people even sent that to you, Raquel?
magencubed: I know,
Raquel: Going “you should read this.” I said, “I did.”
magencubed: I know
Raquel: I did in fact read it while I was writing it. Thank you. It’s pretty fun.
Matt Keeley: So yeah, I think, I think that’s like the bonus of Discord is it’s, it’s, it’s the old word of mouth. It’s the sleeper hit kind of thing that you used to get with movies [01:17:00] before the, before the internet really. It’d be like, oh yeah, you’ve, it might not have gotten like a million views on opening weekend, but it keeps slowly growing and being worth it for theaters to keep the movie for months even.
Like, I, I, I just listened to a really great episode of You Must Remember This about Thelma and Louise where… Yeah, it, it, I didn’t bomb on it’s opening weekend, but it wasn’t, it was kind of a small niche film. But the thing is, is they kept it in theaters long after many of the stuff that opened with it had been out for, out of theaters for ages.
I want to say it premiered in like the summer, maybe like June, I think, but even in September when you have the fall season, it was still in [01:18:00] theaters.
Raquel: Oh wow.
Matt Keeley: Yeah. I mean, it ha
Raquel: is a weirdly long time.
Matt Keeley: Yeah, it’s, you get stuff like that that has the long tail and I, I mean, I know that that is like a marketing term too, but I mean, it really is true.
I mean, just among our own little like clique of friends, Nocebo, you know,
Matt Keeley: like, I don’t remember who watched it first. I think Cordy, right?
Raquel: I think Cordy,
Matt Keeley: And she’s all like, “Hey, there’s this really great Filipino film that you should check out.”
And then, I think you watched it next Raquel and you’re like, “wow, this is really good.” And then like,
Raquel: I, I, I think it wasn’t me next, it was one or two other people and they were talking about it, and I saw these discussions with these huge blocks of black bars to, to hide spoilers. I’m like, fuck, I, I wanna, I, I wanna, I wanna see what the spoiler is. I’ve better watched this fucking movie before I get it spoiled.
And I go, shit, this is really good. I’m gonna make everyone else watch it.
Matt Keeley: yeah, and then you made me watch it and [01:19:00] I made my folks watch it
Matt Keeley: and we all loved it. And so,
Raquel: And I, and I think that’s good. That kind of slow build probably seems like something that would favor slightly more thoughtful writing in a way that quick virality wouldn’t favor very well.
So that’s good. And I, and we’re not just saying this because we have a discord.
We’re not just saying this because for $1,
Matt Keeley: Yes.
Raquel: too can join the Rite Gud Discord on Patreon. But I definitely have found it one of the better social media sites or social media apps. I’ve definitely found it less soul crushing. I definitely spend way more time than I should on it, but in terms of the corrosion it, the harm it has inflicted on my soul and the time
it has wasted and stolen from me writing. I think it’s definitely got a better balance than many of the others because as much time as I’ve [01:20:00] spent on there, a a hell of a lot of that is, Hey, we have a channel that’s just about writing, and there’s a little bot function that you can use that can tell you, like, “sit your ass down and write for, 60 minutes.
Sit your ass down and write for 20 fucking minutes. Go, write, write. Just fucking write for 20 minutes and then post your word count.” That can be extremely, extremely motivating, and, and that has, can, and has been helpful. I’m not quite sure if I would’ve had quite as much motivation to put as much time into my novel as I’ve been putting into it.
If not, uh, being able to talk about it on Discord.
magencubed: Yeah, I, I am like in complete agreement and not just cuz I’m a patron. Um,
Matt Keeley: Thank you for your dollar.
magencubed: so thank you. Yes. Here’s $1. Thank you for letting me on the podcast. No, um, I, I always, I always tell my girlfriend, cuz she’s always like lurking around when I’m reading dumb stuff that like people are talking about.
And I, I always tell her this is the one place that I’ve found online where being a writer is taken truly [01:21:00] seriously, and everyone has so much passion for it. And everyone enjoys writing and talking about writing and thinking about writing. And it’s the one place that like I can look at and talk to people and even if I don’t like say anything, I do read the stuff that comes through, when everyone’s sharing their, their works in progress and stuff.
And it’s just so like you were saying, motivating and calming for me because like I go on Twitter and I’m like, “ah, I’m gonna die here.” You know?
you go on the right. Good discord. Somebody’s like, “well, I just wrote this really fucked up sex scene. Check out the sex scenes.” And I’m going, “I just wrote a murder. Check out this murder.”
And, and because, woo, come on. No, but like, and also it’s because it’s such a, a mix of people from different backgrounds and genres and working on different things and working on novels or short stories, or some people are traditionally published and people are self-published. And it’s cool because it’s like, it’s so relaxed, it’s so chill.
Everyone is so supportive. And it’s, even if you just wanna throw something up there and just be like, “oh my God, I, I, I wrote this, please clap.” Someone will clap for you. And it’s, and it’s, it doesn’t feel fake. I don’t [01:22:00] feel placated. I don’t feel like someone’s like trying to buy me off for a future favor.
It’s just like, oh, it’s, it’s, it is truly like a, like an oasis to me, a, a permanently crushed person on Twitter. Yeah. You’re welcome. You may accept my dollar.
Raquel: Yeah. Thank you for your dollar
and your praise.
magencubed: Yes, I do enjoy it. It’s, it’s a very nice space. So good. Good job. Good job friends.
Matt Keeley: In, in closing, give us a dollar.
magencubed: give us a dollar
Raquel: In closing, give us exactly $1.
magencubed: give a dollar.
Raquel: so, so we’ve been talking about this for about an hour and a half, and I think it’s time to, to wrap it up so that we can all get back to our lives. And by lives, I mean posting too much.
Raquel: I don’t know. Prob hopefully not posting. I gotta feed, I gotta give my cats their treat for the night before they start biting me.
Before we go, uh, let us know what are some things you would like to promote. Speaking of self-promotion, I will let Megan cubed go first.
magencubed: Why? Thank you. As long [01:23:00] as Twitter exists, you can find me there under, you know, at Megan Cubed. I have a Substack. Uh, it is a monthly newsletter. I talk about writing craft, media I’m engaging with. So it could be comics, books, film, tv, whatever. Um, that’s kind of like my, my project right now is my monthly newsletter.
You can find that at magencubed.substack.com. You can find links to all of my short stories, books of varying quality and genre preference at my website, magencubed.net. And uh, yeah, I’m lurking around the discord.
Raquel: Okay, now it’s Matt’s turn,
magencubed: Go, go, go.
Matt Keeley: Uh, well, I’d like to promote, um, the, this site called Kitty Sneezes, especially this, um, podcast. I d I don’t know if you’ve heard of it. It’s called Rite Gud. Uh,
Raquel: It’s spelled wrong. The person who runs it must be a fucking idiot. They can’t spell the word right. You shouldn’t take writing advice from someone like that. God.
Matt Keeley: but, but yeah. And, [01:24:00] um, like I’ve kind of said, I’m between gigs right now, so if you happen to need a editor for your magazine, uh, hit me up.
Raquel: Give, give, give Matt a job. Give Matt some. Give him some work, man. Okay, well thank you both for coming on and thank you all for listening. If you like what you heard, head to patreon.com/ritegud and subscribe. Subscribers can get access to the discord and or a monthly bonus episode. Until next time, keep writing good.