Back to Twitter–Tweet, Tweet


My on again, off again relationship with Twitter is back on! A few posts ago, I wrote about reassessing my social media platform for book promotion. The discussion that followed this post was engaging and useful.

Peter Mallet commented: Twitter is very social. You won’t see value if you only tweet buy my book, or service. Instead, do those kinds of things rarely. Do have your link to your site in your profile but then try to be useful. It does come down to being social. These aren’t ad platforms, so if you’re social first you’ll find people being more interested in what you do. It’s harder, but it’s what works. It’s like speaking first (providing a service) and then having a book table at the back.

Check out Peter’s own post on this subject – Gaining Attention Without Losing Ground

I’m back at Twitter and actually enjoying it! Here’s how I’m currently making it work for me.

First, I seriously honed down the number of people I was following – probably by 100 or more and that process is ongoing. If it isn’t working, folks – change it up. I stopped following people for a number of reasons.

  • People who re-tweet other people over and over in a short time frame – say five minutes. (My impression is that they must have a reciprocal arrangement with these people. Maybe I’m the crazy one here, but – you tweet me and I’ll tweet you – defeats the purpose of being socially genuine.)
  • People who tweet or re-tweet things I find questionable. I’ve dropped most people who use foul language or mentions private body parts in their tweets. Really – is there a need for this? (But no hard and fast rules either – if it’s a funny use of profanity, there’s no reason to over-react, right?)
  • People who tweet about how many people they have unfollowed in a given time frame – who cares? (The argument here is that you must follow everyone who follows you or extreme circumstances will befall you – crap to that.)
  • People whose tweets are overflowing with mentions and hashtags – so blue, I can’t determine the purpose of the message.
  • People whom I have never seen tweet anything but – BUY MY BOOK or avail yourself of MY SERVICE – boring.

With those changes in place, I am enjoying my Twitter feed more and more. But I also needed to take a serious look at the way I was tweeting and change my own habits.

I still tweet out a link to my book on Amazon, or to let people know if I have a new review, or if I’m going to be appearing on a blog, or if something exciting happens to me in my self-publishing life. But that isn’t all I tweet (and, by the way, it never was!)

I’m now working hard to be much more social. I pull off a brilliant one-liner in response to someone else’s tweet, re-tweet other people’s blogs or articles, tweet out some value-added information. Recently, I took three days to tweet my whole dirty dozen list of bad communication styles from my Saying What Matters Blog.

And some days, I just tweet for fun.

Here’s a link to a excellent post I found today on (you guessed it) Twitter – How not to annoy your Twitter followers. Belinda Pollard at Small Blue Dog Publishing has this subject nailed and if you follow the link to her site, you’ll discover this for yourself.

And another I discovered while participating in a great sharing event, Tidbit TuesdayTwitter Prose: The 411 on Crafting Good 140’s

It’s all about attitude. Social media platforms don’t sell books. Books sell books, one reader at a time. If you’re only on the social media bandwagon to sell stuff, you’re bound to be disillusioned pretty quickly. I love the way Peter Mallet says – be social first, but you can still have the book table in the background. That’s me – social foot forward, and if you’re interested . . . I did write this book . . .


We even get social here at the lake now and then Open-mouthed smile

Reassessing a Social Media Platform for Book Promotion


“The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.” (Leo Tolstoy)

I’ve been doing some thinking about the massive amount of time and effort book promotion through social media takes and weighing that against the so-called results. Hmmm . . . It is clearly time to reassess.

Considering the above quote, I have to admit – social media as a way to promote myself as an author seems like much ado about nothing. It often feels manic and not like me at all. I need to break the whole thing down into its components and see which ones work for me and which don’t, because the package deal is getting more than a bit overwhelming.

What do I like?

Blogging – definitely! When I have the time . . . lately, with going away and having company and the demands of summer, (eeekkk – I love the garden, but geez, I’d love it more if it would rain only at night and I didn’t have to water!) I feel as though I’m not putting my best foot forward. Blogging takes a lot of time if you’re going to do it well. I’m seriously thinking about the slow blog movement. Better to write one blog per week that is well thought out, than three slapped together pieces because I don’t want my stats to suffer. And I want the time to develop real relationships with those who interact with me on the blog. That means reading posts and commenting and taking the time to be present.

My author Facebook page – I love sharing tidbits on this page, and the opportunity it provides to interact with people in a different way. What I hate is anything to do with following that stupid little chart that says interest in me is plummeting and then feeling as if I need to boost myself. Fancy way of saying – pay for more exposure. I’m also finding that I want to be careful when it comes to getting involved with too many Facebook groups. A couple of well-chosen forums are more than enough. Unless I have the time to be present in a group, there is no point in being plugged in at all.

I have come to realize that Twitter is almost a complete waste of time. I’m now at the point of following around 500 people with 400 people following me. At any given moment, when I have a chance to check the Twitter feed, I’ll probably see tweets by a handful of people – the same thing over and over and over. If I look back through my own tweets, I’m just as guilty – only on a smaller scale. I tweet far less than most. It all boils down to the same thing in the end – my book is great, buy it! How boring is that?

To be honest, I don’t even check out the other platforms (LinkedIn, Pinterest, Goodreads) on anything like a regular basis. I don’t have the time or inclination.

So – where does all of that leave me when it comes to promoting my book through social media?

I have read more than a couple of posts and articles over the last month (I’ve been too busy to jot down links – I think that’s a bit unforgiveable!) that stress the idea that indie authors need to think more about gaining readers (here is where the patience and time parts come in) than about sales figures. We win over readers one by one. And a reader won over to my book will attract other readers. (I have Linda Gillard to thank for that idea.)

More and more recently, I’m coming back to the idea that selling myself as an indie author is a marathon, not a sprint and anything that feels like sprinting is not for me. I just want to turtle may way through the social media whirl. I’ll do the things I know mean real connection and leave the rest by the wayside. And believe me, I know the difference. The loyalty many of you have shown to me in the blog world since Disappearing in Plain Sight was published has stunned and overwhelmed me! I don’t know how to thank all of you. It’s been like having my own cheering section 24/7.

I think the best thing to do is simply send out sincere thanks. Which I do! And a commitment – I will remain true to myself. What else really matters?


Web-less Wednesdays


Be it resolved – I will have web-less Wednesdays. It’s hard to even type those words, but necessary and they do have a certain ring to them. A day’s fast from the internet – from checking my current ranking on Amazon, from dropping into my favourite Facebook groups, from checking out my WordPress stats and reading posts by all the bloggers I follow (and by the way, find totally fascinating), from keeping up with emails, from Tweeting, or popping into Goodreads, or LinkedIn, or any of the sites that have become part of my daily agenda.

No web on Wednesday – period. Wherein lays the anxiety? What do I worry about? That I’ll miss something really important that requires me to reply online within moments of hearing?

Come on – how likely is it that George (@strombo) is going to read one of my tweets (he has over 300,000 followers – can you imagine how fast his Twitter feed must move) and then go to my blog and then follow the link to my book and read it while he is waiting at an airport or flying around the country (seemingly weekly) and then decide that he wants to interview me on his very fabulous nightly CBC George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight Show and I must respond the second he sends me a direct tweet?

Well – he did favourite one of my tweets on the weekend – I said his news website rocked, but seriously, all you guys should check it out – the guy literally has his finger on the pulse of trending.

Someone told me that if I’m going to dream, why not dream big – something like this: The popular US talk show host Jon Stewart asks me to be on his show. But come on – I’m Canadian, hey! And George and I are like connected – he follows me on Twitter. Where there is life (and a Twitter follower) there is hope. After all, I often ask myself – What would George think? (or say, or do, or Tweet, or eschew)

But back to my question – how likely is it that I would need to respond to anything that fast? You are absolutely right – not very damn likely!

A web-less Wednesday means time to spend walking, thinking and reflecting, cooking and taking time to eat what’s cooked with enjoyment, interacting with real people (and maybe even this decrepit old dog), and writing – yes – writing!

I have heard from a few people who say the very best promotion for a first book is to produce the next book in a timely fashion. Without time to just slow down and ponder, I’m not sure how that will happen. Drawing a line firmly in the sand to allow a break from the exciting and hyperactive world that is always streaming on the social media platform seems like a good start. And what’s one day – right?

If you see me on the internet on Wednesday – give me what for and I mean that!

thomas-merton-infinity-quote & loneilness

Twitter: The Ongoing Saga


It’s been about six weeks since I entered the world of Twitter. I thought it might be time for an update on how it’s been going.

I started off searching out everyone I could find who had anything to do with self or indie publishing. I was following about 70 people and had about 35 people following me. Then I got disillusioned by all the tweet, tweet, retweet, retweet stuff I was seeing. I had somehow gotten trapped into a circle of people tweeting themselves and each other’s work over and over and over again.

I dropped a whole bunch of people and then a whole bunch of people dropped me and that’s where things sat for a bit.

In the meantime I started following a ton of CBC reporters and radio shows that I like – soon my account was all news all the time. That wasn’t exactly what I had in mind when I started Twitter. It had turned into a one way street – news tweets coming in and not much going out. I did manage a couple of tweets a day but it was mostly retweeting interesting quotes or tweeting about my latest blog post.

I did have an exciting time when I heard that George Stroumboulopoulos (@strombo), one of my favourite CBC TV personalities, was in an airport somewhere. I sent him a tweet that said, “If you’re bored you could follow me. I don’t tweet too often, I’m not selling anything, I’ve always loved CBC – just wondering.” About a minute later I saw via email that he was following me. He has over 319,000 followers and follows 9,900 people himself – so I was pretty pumped by that experience.

For a while after that I was nervous about everything I tweeted or retweeted – always asking myself if George would approve. Thankfully, I got over that.

Then there was the day I did a really stupid tweet – I won’t even bore you with all the details. Suffice to say, I wasn’t meaning to sound racist – I simply didn’t read the original tweet properly. It was before I understood how to decipher a string of hashtags quickly and effectively. I responded exactly opposite to what I would have wanted to say. By the end of the day there were a string of people wondering what was wrong with me. That slowed me down for a bit and I’ll probably never tweet to that site again.

But, I screwed my courage to the sticking post, as old Will the Bard would say, and got back on the horse that threw me. I began to find people to follow by entering hashtag prompts and seeing who came up – things like #amwriting, or #amselfpublishing, or my latest great find – #writingtip.

I’ve tweeted 204 times and have now built myself up to following 170 people with 84 people following me – this ratio of approximately two to one seems to be OK for now.

I’ve discovered how to screen who I follow by checking out the last few tweets they’ve done – if it’s all buy my book, buy my book, or buy this person’s book over and over, I’ll skip them.

The group of people I’m following now is an interesting and eclectic mix. I’ve started picking up WordPress bloggers who have an option on their blog to follow them via Twitter. Lots of good contacts have come to me in that way. I’m finding other people’s blogs to put a tweet out for and that’s great – my posts have been tweeted a few times as well.

I try to tweet at least three times a day. I’ll often tweet my most recent blog post twice because the medium is moving so fast, I think it can bear a repeat. I try to do some type of interesting update and maybe retweet a good quote or two.

I’m only beginning to understand twitter etiquette, so I apologize if I’ve offended anyone. I read somewhere that I should acknowledge anyone who retweets me or favourites something I have tweeted – I’m still figuring out how to track all that information in a timely fashion. When I get that down, I might be able to be more polite.

So – all and all – a bit of a rocky start, a few hiccups along the way, but I really like the twitter world. It’s fast paced and interesting and I’ve found links to a ton of great articles and blogs on writing and self-publishing. Here’s just a taste of what I discovered – The Self-Publishing Tool Kit. Every time I see a tweet about a new article on this site, I pop over. The current article was on how to win with twitter – if you’re going to be self-promoting your own novel you’ll find these tips helpful.

Twitter is win/win my friends. If you’re not out there tweeting yet, don’t be afraid – it’s a forgiving world – maybe because it moves so fast. Anyway – I’ll tweet you later – OK?


Spring is coming!

Like a Bird on a Wire (or a wooden bench)

Bird on Wooden Bench - Stanford Campus, CA

My unquenchable desire to spread my social media platform beyond the confines of the known universe had me turning to Twitter this week. I have always thought that Twitter was the exclusive purview of people with fancy little cell phones who had mastered the art of typing on tiny keyboards. I put this comment up somewhere on a discussion and a few people told me that they Tweet from a laptop or home computer. I decided to give it a try. Like most things out in the social media world – getting signed up was no problem.

Things happen fast, fast, fast in the Twitter world. I managed to follow a few news sites almost immediately. Found a great Indie authors site that offered this bloggers connect up thing. That meant I had to add a Twitter follow to my blog. I managed that. I started connecting with people in the World Literary Café. I’m not sure what I did there, but people started following me back to my blog. Good, so far!

For the most part I was just watching the Tweets mount up on the screen without having much of a clue what they meant. They looked like strings of gibbeley-goop. But then it all started to make sense. Like when you watch the loading bay at a large factory – everything seems like random activity. Trucks are coming and going, forklifts all over the place and people buzzing around. Then all of a sudden, a pattern emerges. It all falls into place – fascinating!

I started following George Stroumboulopoulos around – I’ve been a fan for a while. Bruce and I had a chance to see a live taping of his previous show – The Hour – at George’s studio in the CBC building in Toronto. That was back in 2008. George was amazing – full of energy, humour and generosity. He stayed for at least an hour after the show was wrapped up – just interacting with the audience and answering questions. There is something a bit incredible about seeing George tweet that he is in the Ottawa airport and being able to reply within a few seconds – I feel sorry for all the time you spend in airports, George. Pseudo-intimacy for sure – George and I are not buddies. But he is fun to follow around.

Last night I actually figured out what a hashtag is and from there I tapped into a trend. I haven’t laughed so hard in ages – tears were streaming down my face as I read through tweets that were arriving in groups of 40 or 50 at a time – #ImSoSickOf – I had no idea that Twitter could be so much fun. This was my favorite – I’m so sick of how ten years ago we had Steve Jobs, Bob Hope and Johnny Cash – now we have no jobs, no hope, and no cash. I jumped on that one right away and was the 76th person to re-tweet it.

I think I’m starting to get a handle on the social media world. What I’ve learned so far leads me to think the following:

  • Facebook – for interaction with friends (real friends – the kind of friends you would want to show pictures of your grandkids to or share your home renovation projects with – OK, let’s just leave aside for a moment the issue of whether friends are ever interested in your home renos.)
  • Facebook Fan Page – people can like me or follow what I’m up to without me having to accept them as a friend who can see pictures of my grandkids and home renovation projects – sounds good – fans, not friends.
  • My Blog – the place I get to share who I am with whoever wants to read (and hopefully someday be able to say – here’s my book, guys!)
  • Pinterest – a place to see and share beautiful images, mostly with strangers (also a place to link up blog posts – especially if they contain great pictures.)
  • LinkedIn – the place for professional networking, establishing credibility in terms of education and past work experience (also a great place to link up blog posts and connect with people from times in my life gone by.)
  • Twitter – fast connections with total strangers about anything and everything (a lot of people are using Twitter for crass and in-your-face promotion – I figured that out quickly. Glad to say, that’s not my style and most of it is easily ignored.)

I guess in closing, I would say – don’t be afraid of social media platforms. Don’t write off opportunities to connect with others before you even give them a whirl or a tweet for that matter. I am not a techie or a computer whiz woman. I’m just a regular computer user and I am able to maneuver my way around. Maybe I’m like the person who buys a pricey microwave oven with all the bells and whistles and only ever uses it to heat up coffee – but still, I am using it! You can, too. Give it a try. Then we can tweet together, like a couple of birds on a wire (or even a wooden bench, but you can be the drunk in the midnight choir. I’ve never been a great singer.) Sounds like fun – right?