Facebook Sucks: An Opinion

It seems like every week there’s a new story going around about how Facebook has screwed over somebody else. From deleting accounts of trans people using their chosen names to deleting accounts of breastfeeding mothers to deleting accounts of people for no apparent reason at all.

But we suck it up and soldier on because Facebook helps us connect with our fans. Right? Well, not really. It turns out that maybe 3% of users who’ve liked your page actually ever see your posts. That means that 97 to 98 out of every 100 users that you’ve worked so hard to get on your page aren’t going to see diddly squat from you. It hasn’t always been this way — back in February 2012 this number was as high as 16%. But Facebook went public that year and had to keep Wall Street happy.

Facebook, you see, makes their money selling advertising. They have an algorithm that decides what to show on your fans’ timelines. More and more it’s deciding not to show your stuff. Facebook says it’s picking out the things that matter most to users. That may be true to some extent, but it’s also picking out the things that matter most to Facebook. By limiting the organic reach of your page posts, they push you into buying more ads.

I’ve heard Facebook ads can be fabulously effective, so maybe that’s not so bad. Except my books feature people who have sex. Women on the book covers sometimes have breasts. In short, my books are too naughty for Facebook.

That’s right. Facebook will happily sell ads to Russian agents trying to undermine American democracy, but boobies are dangerous.

Facebook sucks.

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How About Word Count?

It’s ironic that in this modern information age, sites like Amazon still list a “page count” on Kindle e-books. Given the range of devices and font options for e-books, the size of a page is entirely arbitrary. I might need 300 page flips to read a novel on my old Kindle when someone with higher resolution and better eyes could do it in 100. That makes it a pretty poor unit of measurement. It’s like — just as a wild example — using a person’s actual foot to measure distance. We stopped doing that hundreds of years ago, and for good reason.

Page count is obviously meant to help print readers relate, but the fact is even in the print world page count is sketchy. Font size, margins, line spacing, all these things can cause page count for the “same” novel to vary widely. If you’ve ever read a Science Fiction Book Club edition, you know that it’s possible to cram a whole lot of words onto a page.

Even the folks who compiled the Christian Bible knew pages couldn’t be depended upon. They numbered chapters and verses — the actual content — rather than tracking the medium that the content was printed on. That’s why to this day, virtue signalling Jesus fans plaster “John 3:16” all over the place and not “Page 900.”

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For my money, the best way to measure a book is with words. Word count describes the length of a book, regardless of how it is presented. A Kindle e-book, a mass-market paperback, a trade hardcover, a large print edition, all have the same number of words.

Of course, readers aren’t as familiar with word count, but it’s been used behind the scenes in the publishing industry forever. NaNoWriMo uses word count to decide when you’ve written a novel: 50,000 or more. The SFWA Nebula awards say a novel is 40,000 words (a novella is 17,500 to 40,000 words, a novelette is 7500 to 17,500, and a short story is under 7500). They don’t use page count. They use words. It’s a proven concept.

So I would encourage anyone who finds themselves in a position to report the length of a book to go ahead and tell people something meaningful. Tell them how many words are in it.

Les Miserables 655,000 words
Atlas Shrugged 645,000 words
War and Peace 587,000 words
The Lord of the Rings 481,000 words
Shogun 429,000 words
Lonesome Dove 365,700 words
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 257,100 words
Dune 201,000 words
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 198,200 words
Catch-22 174,000 words
Fifty Shades of Grey 155,000 words
Last of the Mohicans 145,500 words
To Kill A Mockingbird 100,400 words
Hunger Games 99,750 words
Nineteen Eighty-Four 88,900 words
Neuromancer 79,000 words
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone 77,000 words
Catcher in the Rye 73,400 words
Brave New World 63,700 words
Lord of the Flies 59,900 words
Fahrenheit 451 47,000 words
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe 36,300 words*
Animal Farm 30,000 words
Of Mice and Men 29,160 words

 

*Note that my book, The Lesbian, the Bitch, and the Bathrobe has 40,000 words. It’s clearly a much better bargain.

An Open Letter to America

Dear America,

We promise we are not your enemy. Have we ever hurt anyone? No! Then why the fear and distrust? We’ve had such good times together. We’re pretty sure you like us. Sometimes it seems like you can’t get enough of us. But then you turn away like you’re ashamed we even exist! We were there for you when you were weak and vulnerable, but now what do you want? We should just disappear?

Please accept us as we are. Don’t be afraid.

Sincerely,

Boobs