I've read people saying that publishers check out how many followers an unpublished author has before they'll consider representation and therefore unpublished authors MUST have a media presence or they won't get published.
Hmm. Well, all I can say is Piffle.
There's no MUST about it. Yes, if you like doing these things, by all means go ahead and do them. I know of at least one person who credits getting her agent to her media platform (and that led to a publishing deal). I suspect the quality of her writing was more important.
Put simply, writing a good book is how you get published. No one is going to spend money on a rubbish book however many followers someone has. Having said that, if you have thousands of followers you must be able to write well and have interesting stuff to say, so it may look as though:
thousands of followers = the publishing deal,
but I think the equation actually looks like:
good writer and interesting ideas=thousands of followers=publishing deal.
And I think you can also write it:
good writer and interesting ideas=publishing deal.
Social media is a powerful tool to reach people, but many authors are unconvinced that it actually sells books, especially if you're conventionally published. I was told by my publisher about two years ago that I MUST go on Twitter, Facebook and start blogging. This blog, and my Twitter account (@sarahduncan1) were the result. Personally, I like Twitter, so I do that, and I like blogging (most of the time!) so do that too. Facebook I can't get the hang of (not helped by them changing the format often), and LinkedIn is just a step too far...
I think it's made a difference in the sense that I've been asked to give more talks and write more articles over the past two years than I had before, and it's probably sold a few more books. But what I know has sold most books has been getting shortlisted for prizes, getting good reviews, and getting selected for retailer special offers. All those come from the quality of the book (tho it has to be said that the cover plays a huge part in being selected for the special offers).
If you don't want to get involved in social media, don't. Every day people who haven't got media platforms or any followers sign publishing deals. Yes, it may make you more attractive to a publisher - especially an e-publisher - because publishers like authors who are good at marketing themselves. But at heart it's about the book. Always.
So, if your choice is writing a great book or building a media platform, then writing a great book wins every time.