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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Trying to be a better Tweeter

I'll admit, I've been slow to adapt to Twitter, and even now that I've been tweeting for over two years, I still feel out of my element and without focus when using the social media giant. I've been guilty of using Twitter to spam my book promos and haven't been a very interactive participant thus far. So I've decided to educate myself on using Twitter effectively and engaging with people, instead of just broadcasting lonely little tweets into cyberspace. I'm going to share my lesson plan with you here. These are not my ideas, rather a collection of tips I've picked up from all over the Internet, with a specific focus on Twitter for indie authors. My ultimate goal is to build followers through interaction on Twitter. Ideally, some of these followers will be interested in my books.

The directions below will be the road map I use to try and become a better Twit:

The Do List (some are painfully obvious, but I've been know to miss the forest for the trees):
  • Follow, thank, and reciprocate people who retweet (RT) your tweets.
  • Ask people questions (if you truly are looking for an answer, not just as bait).
  • Follow the '80/20 Rule.' Write 20% percent of your tweets about you and/or your writing, and focus the remaining 80% on others. RT, comment, share relevant content, recommend books and blog posts, etc.
  • Use hash tags, but no more than 2 per post. I've read that this is good Twitter etiquette (Twitiquette?).
  • Attach links to your tweets (Twitter will automatically shorten them). You can squeeze out a few more characters by shortening your link with bitly, Hootsuite or a similar tool.
  • Maximize your 140 characters. List your message, be concise, add hash tags, links, and/or pictures when possible.
  • Vary the content and presentation order of your tweets to avoid stagnation and repetition. Don't become predictable.
  • Tweet quotes from your best book reviews and link to the review or the book (in moderation).
  • Tweet quotes from your books, and link to where they can be purchased. This technique is like a mini-version of Bublish or Microcerpt. Again, use moderation.
  • Try tweeting in the afternoons and near weekends, especially Thursday and Friday afternoons. Reportedly, these are high traffic times for Twitter. I am using Hootsuite to schedule my posts during these hours, but I also plan to be available online at these times, to interact with any followers who respond.
  • Use Twitter Lists to organize your followers. For example, create a list of followers who comment about your book as a way to keep track of and stay in touch with them. Same thing for book reviewers, blogs, regular retweeters, personal favorites, friends, etc.
  • Check the Twitter Glossary when you're confused or uncertain.
The Don't List:
  • Don’t set up an auto-message that sends a tweet to everyone who follows you. Since I find these tweets annoying, doing it myself would be hypocritical.
  • Don't try to sell your book, especially with spammy tweets. This one is tough. Try to craft a creative tweet that is not a sales pitch and contains some value to the reader.
  • Avoid validation services, for the same reasons as auto-messaging. It's like telling your potential followers "my time is more valuable than yours."
  • Don't recycle your tweets. Nobody likes reruns.
Do you have Twitter tips of your own? I'd love to hear about them!

Author Update:  I'm  writing the first draft of Warlock & Wyrm, Book III of The Oxbow Kingdom Trilogy and recently passed the 46,000 word mark, which, based on the way I write first drafts is approximately 2/3 complete. If you'd like to try the trilogy, you can get a free copy of Crimson & Cream at Smashwords with this code: JH88U.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Stream of Consciousness

I was deep into my routine of Greco-Roman grappling with my inner daemons when nature called and I retreated from the mat with the latest issue of Interview (which, according to the front cover, retails for $12.00 an issue, yet I somehow manage to get for free). Inside, on page 142, much to my surprise, I came upon an interview with Ursula K. Le Guin. As I had only moments before been mentally assembling reasons why I couldn't sit down to write this evening, I found it serendipitous to stumble across a wonderful article on a much-admired fantasy author that snapped me from my writerly doldrums.

As I devoured the interview and succumbed to nostalgic yearnings to return to the land of Earthsea, one exchange in particular resonated with me. In response to the interviewer's (Choire Sicha) statement that "It's very important to have good counsel in this world." Le Guin responded by saying "It sure is, and that is where I sometimes tremble for the self-published people, who seem to get such various counsel that sometimes sounds to me lunatic. I hope people aren't being scammed and ripped off too much. 

And that struck a nerve with me so profoundly that I felt like describing my brush with synchronicity, so I sat at my desk and thought of a pithy Google+ blurb to post, when I decided to try and capture something more substantial--and meandering--to share with the people who actually take the time to read what I write on this blog.

I also read a post this morning on Indies Unlimited by Melissa Bowersock about Synchronicity (a word, which I must confess, I associate more with the Police album than I do with the actual definition). And after reading this excellent article about Synchronicity, I felt a smack of it this evening reading the Ursula K. Le Guin interview. It's very possible that without reading Melissa's post, I would never have used the word 'synchronicity' to describe my experience of having Ursula Le Guin's words snap me from my writing lethargy. After all, serendipitous is a very apt word for the occurrence as well.

So to bring my rambling narrative full circle, regarding the importance of good counsel to the self-published writer, in my experience--and this is going to sound like a plug, but it's really not, as I have no vested interest in the site--Indies Unlimited is the very best collection of indie authors sharing good counsel with other aspiring writers. So, if you, like me, occasionally flounder with counsel that sounds lunatic, take a breath and ground truth your concerns at a place like Indies Unlimited, where authors do watch out for each other.

And now I'm off to write some fiction...

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