#TeamFollowBack and the Curse of Low Self-Esteem

By , August 15, 2011 12:00 am


I follow back!  Like me and I’ll like you!  Buy my e-book and I’ll buy yours!


If you interact with any writers on Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc., then you see messages like these on most days.  When I first joined Twitter, I ignored them because I was too busy creating my content to worry about people’s caring that I exist.  Once I started blogging and had a FB fan page, however, I suddenly felt the sweaty palms and clammy skin of writer’s panic.

“Indie Hate” by MMRule

What to Do?


I wondered what I would do if no one liked me.  And as every second of my despair continued, I kept getting those messages from my peers saying, “Like me and I’ll like you!”


Stand Proud!


An online presence should exude confidence and professionalism.  Twitter, FB, blogging, etc. are social, yes.  But for us writers it is more than that.  It is our chance to create a public image.  Are we the sniveling new kid with too short pants who tries to sit at the cool lunch table?  Or are we the one person at the party who can look cool wearing sunglasses after dusk?


Give Back on Your Terms


I want to give back.  I really do.  But I don’t want to contribute a series of meaningless gestures.  I prefer to give my thoughts, creativity, and sweat to the online writing world.  Likewise, when I share a blog or recommend an author, I want people to know that my opinion is worthwhile.  Because I don’t like everything!


Automatic liking back and following shows a lack of confidence in yourself and will only give you an artificial sense of your success.  Rejoice in those who love what you are doing, and continue to create a product that will draw in an audience.  If no one cares about what you do, try delivering something new!


Are you part of #TeamFollowBack and hate when you don’t see others doing for you what you do for them?  Or if you don’t follow back, what methods do you use to inspire people to like you?  Start the discussion under the comments for this post!

16 Responses to “#TeamFollowBack and the Curse of Low Self-Esteem”

  1. Nancy Kelley says:

    I don’t do #teamfollowback. Half the appeal of Twitter is that it isn’t mutual. I follow people I’m interested in, they follow people they’re interested in, &etc. Do I want to be followed? Of course. But you’re not likely to hurt my feelings if you don’t.

    As for trading book purchases, reviews, and the like, that just feels fake and desperate. Tell me what your book is about; interest me in it. I buy books, and I review them–but at my own discretion.

    Great post!

    • MMRule says:

      Writers on Twitter do seem to band together, but you’re right to say that follows and likes shouldn’t lead to hurt feelings. I love when people work hard to make me excited about their writing or blog. Thanks for commenting! If half the appeal of Twitter is that it isn’t mutual, I wonder what would you say makes up the other half? ;-)

      • Nancy Kelley says:

        Well the other half of course is the immediacy of the contact. I’ve made some very good friends through Twitter, simply because we were both there at the same time. In fact, I launched a website with one–indiejane.org.

  2. See Elle Oh says:

    I vigorously agree with you. Also, while I’m sure many of us want to build a supportive network of like-minded writers, the “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” isn’t what will sell your book. It’ll sell it to a few dozen or a few hundred people, whose books you’ll then have to buy. It’s a vicious, incestuous cycle and it won’t bring in the kind of readership you really want and/or need. What the “follow-me-I’ll-follow-you” writers on Twitter should be doing is trying to make their follow circles less insular, by attracting not just writers to their feeds. Granted, I (obviously) have no idea how to do this.

    Thanks for posting this!

    • MMRule says:

      Excellent point about attracting those who aren’t writers to our work! I also wonder how to branch out and do this well. There are so many aspiring writers on Twitter that it is attempting to look for them first, but just because someone likes to write doesn’t mean that they are part of the target audience for your book. Thanks for your thoughtful comment!

    • Nancy Kelley says:

      I was lucky here. My book has a built-in audience. It’s a Jane Austen sequel, so the first people I connected with on Twitter were other Jane Austen fans. Some of us also write, and we help promote each other’s work via Twitter, reviews, blog posts, etc. Since we all know the larger (AKA non-writing) JA community, our combined voices really encourage people to buy and read the books we’re recommending.

  3. Brian says:

    Good advice for the so-called real world as well. This reminds me of elementary school. “Do __ for me and I’ll be your best friend!” I’m sorry, who are you to dictate my friendship pecking order? You alrealdy could be my best friend and not even know it. I’ve always been much more a fan of these things being even and mutual, but I also may have issues. It’s one of the reasons I’m not a huge fan of Twitter.

    I got away from your point, but I did want to highlight your idea about liking yourself being most important. Follow yourself first; be friends with yourself. I hear a self poke every once in a while can be nice, too.

    • MMRule says:

      Thanks, Brian, for applying the post to other aspects of life–friendship should be mutual but freely so! I like your idea about the Facebook “self poke,” but I would consider a different name for it. :)

  4. Richard says:

    Maybe it depends on who you are or where you are in the writing journey, but I tend to agree with what you are saying. I’m losing interest in Twitter mainly because it seems to be 99.9% desperation and crap and only rarely offers anything of value (like the tweet pointing to this blog). There have been a few other interesting tweets (which is why I haven’t given up on Twitter entirely), but generally the signal to noise ratio is just way out of whack for it to be that useful to me, so I see no point in following for the sake of building numbers. Besides, I’m sure when I win the Pulitzer I’ll have all the followers I could ever want. ;)

    • MMRule says:

      I hope to see you with the Pulitzer–I’m just hoping for a place as a NY Times Bestseller ;-)

      I also have been overwhelmed with so many tweets about amateurish work. No one is perfect, of course, but not everyone who likes to write needs to try to “make it” in the publishing/indie publishing world. Twitter isn’t the one tool a writer needs! I think that reading, writing, education, etc. come first, and then you can tweet about what you have accomplished with those real (ongoing) tools for success.

      • David Nelson says:

        Me: “Damn, was she talking about me?”
        Myself: “No David, she’s talking abou . . .”
        I: “Shut up M’self you’re going to get us in trouble!”
        In the middle of the kitchen, the shadow shakes its head from side to side.

  5. Shelley Koon says:

    Oh thank God I am not alone in not following people back for the sake of following! I like to follow people:

    a.) Whose writing I enjoy
    b.) Who share great info about the publishing biz in general and in the YA genre more specifically
    c.) Who are genuine and honest in their book reviews
    d.) Those Saints who help us all understand social media as it pertains to writers

    and when someone follows me or ads me on Google+ or FB – I go to see if they fit into the above description. Yes there are exceptions to that rule – but if the follower is a software developer for the farming industry – then no add.

    I also find it humorous when I stop following someone because they are spamming 20 times a day to buy their book and they never post about anything else and then a day or two later they stop following me. As stated above – no one has need for followers who have no intention of having any real social interaction with their network.

    • MMRule says:

      Thanks for commenting, Shelley, and for sharing your criteria for following others. I felt bad at first about unfollowing those spammers, but I also want more than advertisements from my tweeps. If you can’t enjoy interacting with them, then there is no point to keep following them. The worst is when those book spammers clog up your feed with a tweet a second!

    • David Nelson says:

      So, how do know if the software developer might not be able to link you upwith readers?

  6. David Nelson says:

    I sent a like me I’ll like you DM to @webbiegrrl who bit my head off, and I loved her response she unfollowed me and said she only wanted to be liked if I actually liked her writing. I come from a marketing and law background, where life is a contest to see who is the bmoc. And the realization that it could be about the writing was such a relief. I follow tons of everyone l’m interested in everything. Amd I unfollow whenever I find too many retweets in a row about who is following them today. I also block porn and foul language.

    Besides, if you have 20K followers but all you ever say is who followed you, then you’re not leading anyone anywhere. Forgive the cliche but one blind man cannot lead another, they will both fall into a ditch.

    My wife plays violin @RinaldiStrings and she would never donate to the arts “I don’t support the arts, the arts support me.” So, I’ll read your blogs and excerpts and put up my shorts and socks for you to tell me they smell like roses in a mention or DM and say they stink.


    • MMRule says:

      Big props to @webbiegrrl for making such an impact on you! I agree, of course, that you should follow people who you like/love/respect and who can add something of value to your feed–links, support, coolness, kindness, etc. And it is great that it isn’t too hard to find tweeps who are in it for those reasons and who share good info.

      BTW, hooray for DMs where we can add a new dimension of micro critiquing ;-)

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