The second part of my 3-part science fiction adventure, Liquid Blue, is now available at the retailers listed below.
In addition, check out the cover art for Part III, which I hope to have complete in September.
If you’re a frequent user of Twitter, you probably don’t need me to tell you how to use it… or maybe you do. Anyway, I’ve seen some egregious tweet abuse lately that led to this article.
We’ll start with the…
1. #Don’t #overuse #hashtags – I’ve seen this abused fairly extensively of late. Hashtags (placing the # symbol before a word for the newly initiated) can be great tools for getting your content found, or vice versa. However, when I see a tweet with a half dozen glowing hashtags, it makes the text unreadable. Keep it to 3 and don’t let them cloud your message. See this example: “Check out my blog post on Social Media for #Authors webaddress.com #writers #indies”. While I’ve managed to include 3 hashtags, I’ve also kept my message clean and readable.
2. Me! Me! Me! – This happens when folks look at Twitter as a message board and not as a place to have a conversation. You don’t like walking into a store where everyone is trying to sell you something, why would you want to have the same experience on Twitter. In this case, it’s a safe bet to use the 80-20 rule. For every post about your book(s), you need to have 4 that are about anything but you. Share some industry news, a recent book you read, the view from your writing space. Heck, share a picture of the coffee your drinking. Ok, don’t overshare, but you get what I mean. No one wants to talk to someone who talks nonstop about themselves, so don’t treat Twitter like Craigslist.
3. Don’t just retweet – I can’t tell you how many times I want to return the favor of a retweet, go to that person’s feed and discover that retweeting is all they do! They have entire weeks go by between posts that they’ve created. This is almost the opposite character from #2. You’re not sharing enough of you. How do I know who you are if all you’re doing it regurgitating what others have posted?
4. Don’t have a vague bio – This one really bothers me. You’ve followed me. I don’t just automatically follow back. I want to know that you and I have something in common. I go to your profile and get “The dusty wind blows through many a tree, but only touches a few leaves.” Ummm…sure. Moving on. Not gonna follow. Twitter is all about getting your message across in as few words as possible. This includes your bio! Tell me who you are and what you do! Here’s a bio that I’m guaranteed to follow back: “I’m a writer.” In those three words, you’ve already said more than my made up dusty wind blather. Tell me something!
5. Keep it relatively PG – Listen, I’m no prude, but I check my twitter feed at work all the time (shhhh). I can’t be having your half-naked erotic romance cover popping up on my screen. Sorry. Also, I’m not a huge fan of swearing in publis, so keep the language to a minimum. It can put off so many potential readers, it’s just best to avoid anything that’d make your mother blush.
Ok, onto the…
1. Have conversations – Talk to people. Believe it or not, folks are listening and want to chat. You can create whole new relationships with people through Twitter.
2. Be helpful – Tweet helpful content and be helpful in general. A lot of people look to Twitter for answers. By being someone who provides answers and support, you’re doing more to establish yourself as a resource. People remember resources.
3. Be thankful – If someone favorites or retweets your tweet, send them a thank you, or mention them in a group thank you. I usually wait till the end of the week and lump them together with a #FF (follow Friday) hashtag. Doing this also allows you to introduce similarly minded folk.
4. Be poignant – Twitter isn’t easy. You’re limited to 140 characters. If this paragraph were a tweet, we’d be nearing the end already. And that’s without a link. You have to catch your audience with your first few words. Conserve characters! Get to the point. Also, don’t (shoot, I guess this would be #6) abuse the English language too much. If you’re 3 words into your tweet and you’ve already had to chop letters and punctuation out, I’m more than likely not going to read the rest of the post.
5. Have fun! – Twitter can be a great platform to develop your own community of like-minded folk. It can be the kind of place where you go to laugh, share, and learn. Go to Twitter with a smile on your face.
I hope you found these points helpful. If you have additional DOs and DON’Ts, feel free to add them in the comments below. 🙂
I’m pretty much done with Facebook. I gave it one last shot recently and was disappointed once again. Now, mind you, I was working with a much smaller base, but still, the results were pathetic and uninspiring. For those of you who are considering building a platform as an author, be aware that Facebook is no longer the place to start. It’s a sham of what it used to be, which was a place where you could build a following and get some decent organic interaction. Now, it’s a place where posts go to die and conversations only happen between you and five people…even if you have hundreds or thousands of “followers.” In order to have any reach beyond 1% to 2% of your followers, you need to pay to “boost” your post. That’s not a typo.
So, you might say, “Scott, you’ve only got 71 followers on your Facebook page. That’s not exactly a good example.” I say, true, but I also have a Facebook page with more than 400 followers for my Andy Rane pseudonym and I’ve seen the same results there. I posted there the other day. Out of 429 followers, I reached 29 (that’s 6.8%). I guess I should be happy, right? I broke beyond the 2% barrier. This time last year? Text posts were reaching 85 to 100 of my followers on a regular basis without paying a dime. And, assuming I didn’t have over 400 followers at that point, that means I was reaching upwards of 25% of the folks who like my page.
I cannot tell you how frustrating this is. THEY LIKE MY PAGE! Why do I have to pay for the people WHO ALREADY LIKE MY PAGE to see my content! It’s a scam, so I’m not doing it anymore. My Twitter feed now populates my Facebook page with content, but I’m no longer going to post there and I’m certainly not going to spend money there ever again. As an independent author, my resources are limited. I need to see results when I spend money.
While I understand the need to monetize your business, Facebook is becoming its own worst enemy. Twitter has begun allowing the little folk to promote tweets and accounts and such. I’ve used it, with some success. The minute I feel like I can only reach my followers by paying for it, I’ll leave them too. Pinterest is headed in that direction as well (I’m sure you’ve seen the “Related pins” appearing in your feed). I hope they hear the uproar over Facebook and do the right thing. I’ll certainly be keeping an eye on it.
While I wouldn’t be so quick to call it the best book on self-publishing, it’s very resourceful and a good place to start if you’re at square 1. Guy Kawasaki does know about social media and marketing, and he brings that knowledge to this book. And, you can never beat free (though I’m guessing they’ll make you give you’re email address to get access to it.) 😉
If you’re a writer of any sort, I don’t have to fill you in on the whole Hatchette/Amazon business. And, if you’re up on things, I probably don’t have to inform you of a recent letter from some of the top big name authors requesting letters be sent to Amazon’s Jeff Bezos in order to save authors and writing and literature and to let Hachette get its way. There was then an equal response thrown together by Hugh Howey, Joe Konrath, et al, (independent publishing’s loudest voices) suggesting authors take a good look at what exactly is being fought over and realize that the only thing at stake is authors rights.
That being said, Hugh and Joe have written follow up articles regarding the possible need for a Writers union and out of all of this, I clung to one particular statement of Joe Konrath’s: “The only two groups required in a reader and writer relationship is the reader and the writer. Everyone else is a middleman that needs to prove his value.”
I’m sure I’ve read this before from Joe, but it finally found its mark,
I guess. Can you name the publisher of the last book you read (assuming it wasn’t self published)? Maybe you can. Maybe you’re one of those people who know that kind of thing. Me? I have no clue. I couldn’t tell you a single one. And, you know what? It doesn’t matter. When I open a book, my relationship starts with the author, not the publisher. When I turn to the first page, I am assuming (perhaps wrongly) that I am entering into a world and reading a story created by the author.
So, where does the role of the publisher stand in all of this? Are they really the gatekeepers of quality writing? Are they the protector of readers everywhere, defending them from bad stories and driveling tomes? Is that their primary concern? I doubt it. Publishing is about making money, and if your story won’t make money, then it won’t be
published. That’s the cold hard truth and one that readers should understand when they see a book on a shelf versus a self-published book online. The quality of the writing had nothing to do with where these books were published and whether they would make a corporation money did.
Readers need to know this. Authors are about writing stories and good stories can come from anyone. We shouldn’t put all of our trust in “gatekeepers of quality” when those gatekeepers have a financial stake in the results. It means bias is applied at the gate and not the kind of bias that guarantees a well-written, interesting story.
(Most) Authors write for their readers. It’s what we live for, to tell stories that people like to read. It’s what always motivates my writing. It’s a great relationship to have and a simple one at that. Write good stories for readers who like to read good stories. Where is the need for a third party in that relationship? There isn’t one.
I hope you’ll think about this the next time you’re looking for a new book.
This post could have the subtitle of “The Debate Continues.” At least in my head, sometimes. I’m a self publisher. I love being self published, but let me tell you right now that it’s a tough road to hoe and I’m not making money (for now). It’s ok, I’d still rather be self published and confident about retaining possession of my ideas than traditionally published and know that I’ve signed away a part of my soul. Ok, that might be a bit melodramatic, but it’s not too far from the truth.
That’s not to say that I don’t get a little itch when I see fellow writers getting contracts and talking about their agent and it was worth all the hard work. But, then I wonder how happy they’ll be about all that in five years if their book doesn’t sell out the advance and has been relegated to the bargain bin. What then, when they have no way of controlling what happens to it? I have no delusions of grandeur. I’m a storyteller. I’ve had people tell me I tell a good story. I’ve had some negative feedback on my writing as well. It comes with the territory. But, unless you’re in the top echelon of writers, I get the feeling that a traditional contract is just going to suck your soul out in the long run.
I don’t want you to think I’m biased. I know that self publishing is in my comfort zone. It’s the right thing for me. It’s not right for everyone. You have to have a bit of salesman in you to succeed most times. A little bit of charisma helps. But, the more I read about the current state of traditional publishing contracts, the more I worry about just how much folks are signing away. As a midlist author, you can probably do as much, if not more, promotion for your book as you will receive from a Big 5 publisher. They just don’t put their money into anything that doesn’t guarantee a return.
These points aside, there’s also the whole signing away your book for your life plus 75 years. Yeah, not a big fan of that. What? You didn’t realize that’s what happens? Sure, when you sign a contract and take that 5-, maybe low 6-, figure advance, you’re signing away the copyright for your lifetime plus 75 years. And, for most books that go out of print, that’s it. Done. Unless the author fights to buy back (yes, spend money to get your own work back) his/her backlist, those books will sit and collect dust, or worse, have no reader exposure whatsoever.
If you’re on the fence about becoming a self-published author, I recommend doing your homework. Read the authors who are the true experts on this (Hugh Howey, Joe Konrath, and David Gaughran are all well-versed in regard to self publishing). Be sure to read the dissenting voices as well (Scott Turow comes to mind). Make an informed decision. Just remember, you can always go back and start over with self publishing. The same might not be necessarily true of traditional.
Both of the suspense/thrillers that I wrote under my pseudonym (Andy Rane) are on sale through Amazon for the next week (7/1 – 7/7) for just $0.99 each. Hope you’ll take advantage and pick them up or pass the word along to someone you think might like them. They are full-length novels and books #1 and #2 in a 3-part trilogy. Just a word of warning, they are not YA, and thus why they were written under a pseudonym. They aren’t gratuitously violent, but the language is definitely R-rated.