Why have I written this?
Some of you out there will wonder why I’ve bothered writing this. Well, it’s because when I published my first novel, I thought I knew about Twitter. I had been using it for another business for years – and I just didn’t get it. I thought it was a waste of time.
Before I launched my novel, I had just 9 (yes – NINE) followers, and so I have been on a steep learning curve. I certainly am a long way from being an expert, but I’ve found tools that work for me, and now I GET IT!
I’ve met quite a number of authors on various discussion sites who write about not getting any interest in their books – and they say that they don’t use Twitter. And it’s really for these people that I have written this.
The post is in 3 parts – from the most basic to a few tools, but I hope that the parts answer the following questions:
Click on any of the above links – and I hope you find it useful.
Twitter? What’s that?
I must start by declaring loudly that I am NOT an expert. This is all about my own experience, what I have learned, and what I wish I had known first. But if you are thinking of becoming an indie publisher you may find something useful here. At least, I hope so. This post is aimed at the people I have met on my author journey who do not have a Twitter account, and don’t really understand what it’s all about.
It’s a recognised fact that if you are going to be successful with your indie publishing venture, you need to create a PLATFORM. So what does that mean? I will quote Joanna Penn of The Creative Penn – “The author platform is how you are currently reaching an audience of book-buying people, or how you plan to do so. It is your influence, your ability to sell to your market. It is your multi-faceted book marketing machine!” You can check out The Creative Penn blog here – it’s full of useful information.
Twitter is not the only answer to creating your platform, nor is it the complete picture. But it’s a start, and it is an incredibly powerful way of communicating with your potential readers. The good news is that there are some clever tools that you can use to help you build the right followers, create interesting content and stop following people who are not really interested in what you have to say – ie they don’t follow you back. So don’t despair.
When I published Only the Innocent, I thought I had been very clever. I had created a website, set up a Facebook account, and created a Twitter account. But that was it. I’d set them up. I’d done nothing with them. I’ve still not done much with Facebook, to be honest – but that’s another story and we’ll come back to that. I published Only the Innocent with just 9 followers on Twitter.
And the reason? I just didn’t get Twitter at all. So this first post in a series of three is about the basics. What Twitter is, and what it can do for you. If you’re already up to speed with this, move on to the next post.
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The basic terminology and etiquette of Twitter.
Now you have your twitter account, you’re going to want to start tweeting.
One of the first things you need to understand is about the length of tweets and the impact this has on any web link urls that you want to add into your tweets. There are various web shortening sites that will do the job for you. I use bitly.com because it not only stores the addresses, but I can get some useful analytics as well which show how many times my links have been clicked. All you do is paste in the url that you are going to add into your tweet, and it will produce a reduced length version. Click on the ‘copy’ button, and paste it into your tweet.
When you look at other people’s tweets, you may see that there a lots of # tags incorporated. These are really useful – and you need to understand how they work …
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Twitter – Using the tools
Social networking is a very time consuming occupation. When I first got going, I was clicking around all over the place trying to find people to follow, making sure that I followed people back, writing tweets at certain times of the day – like every 10 minutes. It was hard work. But you know what? It doesn’t need to be.
I’ve sorted myself out with three different pieces of software, and an occasional use of a fourth. There are loads and loads of different Twitter apps out there, and it all depends on what you want to achieve. But for me, these three/four work perfectly.
The first thing that I got was TweetDeck. This is free. I have got the desktop app – but I understand that there is an online version if you use Google Chrome as your browser. I haven’t investigated this, but you may want to. What TweetDeck does is present you with all the information regarding your Twitter activity in a number of columns side by side on the screen. You can organise the columns any way you want, and you can add more for specific purposes (explained later). Hootsuite does the same thing, and is a much more attractive user interface in my opinion. But at the moment it doesn’t show your new followers, and I use this feature a lot in TweetDeck because I often use it to find out more about my new followers. I don’t use it to follow back (although I could) because I use other software for that.
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It’s important to say at the outset that isn’t a book about religion – which is what I thought when I saw the title. It’s actually about a young girl called Faith, and the first part of the book focuses on her early life with her twin sister Charity, flashing between the present and the past – but beautifully done.
The novel starts with a remarkable opening line: “The first time my sister died, we were three years old” and builds steadily and consistently from this point, creating a sad tale of two young girls brought up in an apparently loveless home. It continues until Faith is in her early twenties.
It has a mixture of styles, from heartbreakingly sad to tense and scary, and Christine Dougherty carries them all off well. In places, her writing is superb and her use of imagery excellent. Although it’s not the usual action thriller style that is my preference in books, I found it totally compelling.
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Harvest of the Heart begins with the murder of Elsa Danforth’s mother on her fourth birthday. This would be traumatic enough for any child, but Elsa has a strange connection with her mother, and this bond results in Elsa experiencing the horrors of her mother’s brutal murder through their psychic connection. Elsa’s mother is just the first victim in a killing spree that lasts for years, and the serial killer becomes known as The Harvester. The killings happen in September or October each year, and the FBI are struggling to understand the motives of the killer, and what is so special about this particular time of year.
Meanwhile, young Elsa is growing up. She becomes a strong and spirited girl who excels at running. The story follows her life as she grows, and gradually it becomes clear that her principle objective is to kill the Harvester, so that he can’t destroy the lives of any more young women.
A young FBI agent has similarly developed an obsession with the Harvester – but despite some intricate planning and warnings to people to stay off the streets in the danger period, the Harvester continues to elude him.
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