I remember when Myspace and Facebook were competitors. Most people believed Myspace would be the winner. Facebook won, but now it’s becoming a ghost town.
What Facebook Used To Be For The Indie Community
Not that long ago, in 2014, I started my journey to becoming an author and writer. I was still getting used to Facebook entirely. I had no obsession with social media. Becoming at least accustomed to it was necessary. But slowly, I understood you needed Facebook to become an author and succeed in the indie community.
People on Facebook showed me so much kindness. They welcomed me with arms wide open. I was talking about my first book, and the following authors I saw were in the same genre I wrote. K.M. Scott was so sweet and gave me advice. Diana Greenhalgh, an artist, monitored me on Facebook a few times so nobody would take advantage of me. Louisa Bacio was also a prominent supporter and so positive and shared my love for Disney.
Then, there were a few others, like Dora Esquivel, who I am very close friends with and who work with me at Gothic Bite Magazine. She’s a best-selling author in the LGBTQ+ community. LaSasha Flame is a prolific and professional author, and we’ve been friends for a long time. She always gave good advice and was always reliable for counsel. Kat Valentine is a reviewer; authors know her in the indie community circuit. She supports all the authors she can by sharing reviews, liking, and posting everywhere.
At the bottom line, everyone supported each other and was happy to help one another. There was no ‘me’ because they knew we had to be a team to succeed in the field. I wasn’t a published author yet, and I helped as much as possible.
Facebook Slowly Started Changing, And We Noticed
We flash forward about three years, and I finally was a published author with my novella, Mrs. Blackwood, from the Lord Impaler Series. In 2015, I met someone special who would become a sister to me, Tara M. Clapper. She taught me everything I needed to know to start my webzine Gothic Bite Magazine. Tara is the founder of The Geek Initiative and a larp—live action role play—game designer, quite a big deal in her field. She’s the best editor for me. But she’s also the best there is for SEO and social media analysts.
Through The Geek Initiative, as a writer, I met Heather Feraco, who was their graphic designer. I met another fantastic paranormal author, MJ Vieira, who did the cover of Gothic Bite Magazine, and we became friends.
I’ve met the talented JA Stone, who is always there, to this day, for all indie authors. I also met Eileen Troemel, a fabulous author who introduced me to her book cover designer, Dazed Designs. Dazed and I are very close, despite living on different continents.
Those years were incredible. As an artist, it allowed me to give a drawing workshop and privately help James Vaughan. He is a writer for Gothic Bite Magazine, but first, he wanted to learn to draw. We then became friends, and now he’s my best friend.
Facebook back then really allowed people to connect and develop friendships. Now, it’s more like a high school cafeteria where every click has a table, and heaven forbid you sit at the wrong one.
What Was The First Sign Of Facebook’s Downfall?
Gothic Bite Magazine was doing great. The daily webzine was growing and attracting people day by day. My sales for my books were good, and Tara had another novella of mine to go through. Those were the days when everyone would go about their routine, and weeks later, rumours about Facebook changing happened.
#SharingIsCaring began. Every indie author agreed that every Wednesday of every week, we would post the hashtag and share it on our personal newsfeed and professional page and group everyone’s links. We did so for a long time, and we grew our readership. Engagement in posts in groups or on pages was great. We fixed it, or so we thought.
It worked for months until Facebook’s algorithm reported it as an issue. But we, the indie authors, didn’t give up just yet. The #SharingIsCaring would stay, and we changed the day from Wednesday to Sunday. It worked again for months until Facebook found out again. But this time, it was over.
Helping each other was growing harder. Even helping ourselves would become heavy. Authors would create group chats to figure out how to help one another while helping ourselves, and that created groups vs. groups. Some of us avoided the mean algorithms. But every trick we had would only last for so long.
Targeting the hashtag that helped all indies was Facebook’s first mistake.
What Did The Facebook Algorithm Do To Have People So Jaded?
Targeting helpful hashtags forced indie authors and the entire indie community to retreat and divide into groups and then subgroups. As I’ve said, chat groups would form with good intentions, but those groups wouldn’t share their secrets with others. It created harsh barriers that we weren’t used to.
If you’re a company or have money to spare and know how to work SEO, behind-the-scenes numbers, hashtags, trends, and analytics, more power to you! Facebook targeted helpful hashtags among the indie community to force each person to buy ads. But only those with money, an established name, a company, traditional artists, and authors can afford those ads.
Organic engagement also took a blow. Everyone noticed that ‘Likes,’ ‘Shares,’ and ‘Comments’ dropped significantly. The ever-growing readership, fandom, reviewers, bloggers, and vloggers almost disappeared. What used to have an average of a hundred ‘Likes’ would drop to an average of five to eight ‘Likes.’ Forget about commenting or sharing.
What used to work for indie authors and artists on Facebook was to build their *Street Team, *ARC Team, *Beta and Alpha Readers Group, *TakeOvers, and *Cover Release Parties, Anthologies, among other events. Whether we like it, the indie community on Facebook created jobs and income for freelance artists and organisers. They often made those possible with the help of PAs, VAs, freelance editors, graphic designers, and illustrators.
The beauty was that the indie community would help one another through those events by sharing and participating. We would support the discovery of other authors and artists. None of those work because Facebook’s algorithm targeted #takeover #coverrelease #streetteam #arcteam #betareader #alphareader #blogtour and so on.
Facebook Killed The Indie Community Stardom
Facebook isn’t the only social media that killed the indie community, but they were the first to pull the trigger. They became greedy. The people in charge needed more than just the money from big-time sponsors. They wanted to squeeze the ones standing in the shadows of those big-time sponsors. It didn’t work because it killed most of us.
The indie authors and artists discovered we cannot trust Facebook anymore. They watch our every move, and algorithms become so sophisticated with time that we can’t hide or dodge one of their bullets. Authors now don’t help other authors. Instead, they turned one against the other and reported each other, putting them in ‘Facebook Timeout.’
Is the bottom line from Facebook: ‘If you don’t buy an ad from us, you’re in timeout?’ Because it sure feels like it. I witnessed authors I friended turning against others and becoming more irritated with every day passing by. Many went through depression because they were so crushed they gave up on their craft.
The day Facebook targeted the indie community was the day it tested each of us indie creatives. How would we stand up to ‘the man?’ Sadly, most people went their separate ways and focused on publicising their work and ‘screw the rest of you!’ Can you blame them? I thought over time, the indie community would realise we are stronger together as a shield wall than go with David vs. Goliath or ‘if I can’t beat them, I will join them.’
There must be a ‘French Revolution’ on Facebook where the indie community stands together. That’s Utopian thinking. Facebook did it. It killed us.
But What About Reels And Video Opportunities?
Facebook was an excellent platform for interviews, live events, and more! We could even record our screen! It was so simple and user-friendly! But with the many changes Facebook applied, it also created many problems and obstacles targeting the indie community. Again.
Meta made everything complicated and ten times more exhausting to work around. Everything has a price, and the algorithm goes as far as targeting posts from indies that dare share a link on their posts. To read the article, we must write, ‘Look for the link below.’ But people don’t read if you don’t add an image and so on. We also have to be careful with hashtags.
The organically growing indie community is lucky to have one to five likes on anything. Facebook isn’t the place to grow anymore. Facebook is a decoration on indie authors’ and artists’ websites and stores. It’s a link, but it leads to dead groups and pages. Soon, Facebook will be a giant scroll of ads and sponsors from big-time companies, celebrities and other big corporations and brands. Nothing original.
TikTok and Reels are an option but best shared and done outside of Facebook. If you do it on Facebook or share it on Facebook, there are risks to your content. Someone will report you because yours appeared on their page, and theirs aren’t showing. The other reason not to do it is that it wastes time.
Facebook’s algorithm is so good now that the list of ‘Favourites’ doesn’t appear on newsfeeds. Instead, they show you brands and pages that paid appear as you scroll instead of your ‘Facebook Friends.’ Only one percent of ten percent of those who see you might see your video or reel.
In Conclusion, Facebook Killed The Indie Community But Maybe Killed Themselves Too
Now Facebook shows posts out of order and has no more chronology to the scrolling. They work only with sponsored pages and brands. One has to go on their friends’ pages or newsfeeds to see what is happening in their life.
This is causing the indie community of authors, artists, and creatives to move on to other platforms. They scattered us all over the place. For some, Instagram is better than TikTok, YouTube, Pinterest or Discord, Twitch, Reddit, DeviantArt, or a Group Chat. What used to be so good and hopeful for humanity once came from Facebook for the indie community. Now it’s a toxic waste plantation.
In this overconsumption era, supporting the indie community is crucial. Platforms like Gothic Bite Magazine try to spotlight as many indies as possible in the paranormal, gothic, horror, and anything creepy side. We are many, and Facebook can’t take us all down. We’ll move around every time.
This article allowed me to vent and show how big of a disappointment Facebook truly is to the indie community and me. Their ‘Timeout’ is good because it detoxes people from their shit and addiction. It used to be a good place for me as an introvert, and now it’s so filthy I need to take eight showers to get rid of the dirty money they keep receiving.
Just remember, encourage the indie community, and stay away from Facebook. There are better platforms out there. Facebook is dead. Facebook is a relic.
* What Do They Mean?
Street Team: A group of readers or enthusiasts of an indie author or artist coming together to share news about their work. They would often participate in their groups, pages, other social media, sometimes physical libraries, or coffee shops to leave pamphlets or business cards to that person.
ARC Team: ARC stands for ‘advanced reader copies.’ Those are copies of the author’s manuscripts given to trusted readers. This allows the author to get reviews on their social media and the readers and increase the likelihood of sales. Those people are the first to get copies, usually one to three months before the public release.
Takeovers: This usually occurs when an author celebrates a book release. They would create an online party inviting other authors to their Facebook group. The Author would give those authors a set time to promote their work, play games, live videos, or engage the group members.
Blog Tour: As the name suggests, revolving again around an author releasing a book, that book would do the tour of a selected number of blogs. A PA or VA who knows often organised which blog websites would do best for their author’s book. Usually, it is for a month and a few days between each blog, so there is no overlap.
PA and VA: Personal Assistant and Virtual Assistant. Those became very popular when Facebook became an excellent platform for the indie community. With the growth of all the social media artists had to be a part of, there was no time to write or create anymore, so PA and VA became essential. They would offer tasks they would perform to the author’s needs and work for them and their success.
Beta Readers and Alpha Readers Groups: Those groups comprised solid, if not professional, readers. They would point out every single problem with a book. While the Beta Readers would ensure no plot holes, loose ends, fluff, fill-in, etc., the Alpha Readers are different. Alpha Readers are the last to touch the manuscript before it gets to the ARC Team. They happen after the editor’s rounds and the corrections the Beta Readers suggested. They correct the last misspelling, add or subtract comas, and little overlooked mistakes. Those people’s rewards for their help would often be gift bags. Often, the author would also hold contests and give out goodies.
Book Cover Release Party: As straightforward as it can be. Those parties often involved authors slowly revealing their book covers like a slow unwrapping. The author would hold the unwrapping on their page and group or newsfeed. It would usually last for a week. On the last day, there would be a contest for the person who predicted the cover, what primary colour it would be, or other themes along those lines and win a prize.