Things are pretty bleak out there. The Musk man is destroying Twitter, the algorithms on TikTok and Instagram are unpredictable and, frankly, toxic, and Facebook HAHAHA. A dozen new platforms have sprouted up that don’t seem like viable long-term Twitter replacements, yet we’ve all spent hours creating profiles and following the same people over and over again while dreading how long it might take to build any sort of equivalent platform. Even Threads isn’t doing so hot a few weeks out. YouTube Shorts are also a thing, I guess, as is Pinterest and Tumblr, and I manage my reader group on Facebook Groups and Discord. But should I create a Substack now? What about Patreon?

Things are pretty bleak in here, too. *Taps on skull.* In a frantic tug of war for my dopamine hits, these platforms have murdered my attention span and sabotaged my self-esteem with algorithms that make me feel shadow-banned and invisible—except for Twitter, oddly enough.

I’ve been hiding behind my deadlines for book 4 for about a year now, putting off figuring out how to make it all more manageable. Which isn’t the worst thing, I guess. I’ve been prioritizing my writing, which, as an author, matters most. I’ve also been taking on freelance projects in video game writing, which is an absolute blast.

But I still want to engage with readers online, so I can’t delay thinking about this forever. And now that I’m off deadline for a couple weeks, it’s time to make some decisions. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far.

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1. Focus more on my email list and blog.

Mostly because then at least I’ll own the content and distribution channel. Twitter recently deleted one of my friend’s accounts for no reason and no warning, and all the valuable threads she posted over the years disappeared into the ether. That can happen to any profile on any platform at any time.

I also miss having more space to write out my thoughts. I’ve been using Instagram as a blogging platform, but always have to spend time condensing my captions to fit their character limit, and that text isn’t searchable—not via search engines nor Instagram itself—so it only gets discovered upon posting. And if their algorithm decides not to show that post to my own followers… welp. I cringe to think of all the time I’ve wasted on that.

Going forward, all of my emails will be cross-posted to my blog for easy, searchable access. I’ll also transfer some of my best Twitter threads and Instagram captions over to emails/blog posts.

I’ll keep my blog on my self-hosted WordPress site and continue to use HubSpot to manage my emails. I’m lucky to have a HubSpot friends/family account since I used to work there; this is extremely rare. No Substack for me. I can imagine transferring things over to Substack, and then poof, it goes away, or comes under new leadership that destroys it a la Musk, or doesn’t apologize for a major misstep (*cough*BlueSky*cough*). Nuh uh. I need to own my own content.

2. Combine my reader group and email list.

My main email list is a mishmash of readers and authors. When I first launched my online presence, I had no fiction published yet, so instead I’d talk about writing and publishing *for* other writers. Then once I published a short story to grow my mailing list, I advertised it on my existing blog posts about publishing, and… well, mishmash.

I’ve also been managing a reader group (a.k.a. street team) via an email list, Discord server, and Facebook Group. They’ve been getting first dibs on ARCs, early access to my preorder incentives, and more regular content from me. Over time, that group grew to more than 500 members, in addition to my main mishmashed mailing list of thousands. And having a street team that big means I’m no longer able to provide everyone early access to ARCs.*

I haven’t been sending content to either list at all while feverishly working on Book 4. But now that I’m ready to dive back in, managing two separate communities is simply too overwhelming. In fact, that overwhelm is what made me go nearly radio-silent while writing Book 4. And that’s a shame! I’d like to send people who care enough to opt-in content throughout the year, not just when it’s time to promote a new release.

Therefore, I’m merging the two communities into “Diana Urban’s Thrill Seekers.” Now everyone will be able to join one email list and have access to the Facebook group and the Discord server, if they’d like to join those. This is a reader-focused group where I’ll provide fun facts about my books and process, early access to content and preorder incentives, and, of course, newsletter content like this one.


Insights from my publishing journey and author life will bleed through from time to time, but they’ll be more about my personal experience rather than tips/advice. If you are an author who signed up to receive publishing tips, feel free to unsubscribe any time.

Of course, there are many wonderful resources for authors already out there. I recommend checking out BookBub’s Partners Blog, which I used to write for when I worked there, the Publishing Rodeo Podcast, and Susan Dennard’s Substack.

3. Be my silly, ridiculous self.

I will never be an influencer. I have no aesthetic. I don’t enjoy taking selfies. I don’t furnish my home with items from… I don’t know, Anthropology? I’m in pajamas most of the time. I have no aspirational vibe. I don’t drink my coffee on my porch while wistfully staring at the woods before writing. I have no porch. No woods. I live in a small condo in Boston with mismatched Ikea furniture. And when I travel or meet up with author pals, I prefer living in the moment rather than staging photos.

I am, however, a silly nerd who loves to play video games and figure out different ways to torture fictional characters. I love writing stories about messy nerds who make mistakes and become better people. I love movie/TV/video game scores and coffee and going for walks in Boston and learning to play songs from Mass Effect on my piano and generally being ridiculous.

So that’s it. No more trying to fit my posts into any sort of aesthetic. My goal with my videos will always be to make myself laugh. If you laugh too, awesome! For static content, I’m posting whatever, whenever, even if it’s a screenshot of a game I’m playing, even if it’s a silly meme that cracks me up. Sometimes I hesitate posting content like that because I assume nobody will care. But if you don’t care about me, don’t follow me.

4. Make content easy to cross-post.

My plan on which platforms to engage with most is a work in progress, and NOBODY knows how the social media landscape will shake out in the years to come. So for now, I’ll still have a presence on each of the big platforms: Instagram, Twitter, Threads, TikTok, and YouTube Shorts. Maybe BlueSky if they get their sh*t together, but I think that’d be more for connecting with fellow authors and game dev folks than connecting with readers.

While the algorithms on these individual platforms have been rough, the fact that I’m reaching different folks on all of them helps a bit. So, I’ll cross-post the important stuff (not everything, just the biggest updates). All the images I share will be 1:1 squares so I can easily cross-post them on the major platforms. None will fit any sort of aesthetic. No more essay captions. No more listing 30 hashtags. From now on, I’m silly and vibing.

All the videos I create will be created in CapCut, and I’ll cross post them to TikTok, Reels, and YouTube Shorts. Again, silly and vibing. Blatant book promo videos will be rare.

Also, one HUGE reason to stick with these platforms is because readers are finding me on each of them. And whenever they tag me or comment on one of my posts, and I see it and reply, they LOVE it. So it’s worth at least having a presence on each, even if I don’t post a ton there—you can find value in a social media platform without making it a huge time commitment.

5. Stop caring about the numbers.

I think this will be more of a mental exercise than anything. I can hide the like counts on Instagram posts, which is something at least, but GUH it bothers me when I spend forever creating a video for TikTok and then it bombs at 200 likes. I need to work on not letting this bother me so much. I need to stop deleting videos that don’t immediately take off. SILLY AND VIBING.

In conclusion…

That’s my high-level plan for now. I think consolidating my email lists and no longer trying to be “perfect” on any platform will take a ton of the pressure off and make engaging with readers online a lot more FUN. Because that’s what social media should be. Fun.

To hell with bleakness.

*Footnote: This is different for indie authors who can send out as many eARCs as they’d like, so you sometimes see street teams from indie authors in the thousands.

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