Social Media: What I’ve Learned So Far (Part 2 – The “Don’ts”)


In my last post I started talking about the “Do’s and Don’ts” of using Twitter, trying to focus on building an audience or just enjoying yourself. What I probably didn’t really get into is that those two things are one and the same. Yeah, if you’re going to be a self-published author, developing your audience and social media in general are going to be part of your “job”, but that doesn’t mean it should be dull drudgery. Twitter is something you can, and should have fun with. It’s full of delightful people, crazy drunken authors, and random (possibly smelly) vagabonds. Become one of them! One of us! (One of us! One of us! One of us!)

Really though. If you’re a pleasant individual with interesting things to say, you will get followers. It may be slow at first, but like anything else, if its worth doing it isn’t going to be easy. Sure, there are a so many “pay us for followers” things in any social media platform that it will destroy any hope you have for the world, but, like the Dark Side, this is the quick and easy path. Plus you won’t actually be able to choke those who displease you or fling them across the room with abandon.

If you go in for “purchasing” your followers, you won’t actually have an audience. They won’t give fuck one about what you have to say. Sure, you’ll have a nice big number next to “Followers” in your profile, but it won’t mean anything. In this case, 100 people who actually read what you write is better than 10000 who will scan over it on their way to better, more interesting content. Which, bring us straight into the “Don’ts” of using Twitter. Hang on, its going to be a bumpy ride.

  • Don’t be a dick. Wil Wheaton may not have said it first, but he certainly is not “internet famous” for Wheaton’s Law, “Don’t be a dick.” By all means, participate in conversation, even debate, but as soon as soon as you start attacking people, you’re going down the wrong path. Everyone has an opinion about something on the internet, but you’re not likely to change their mind in 140 characters, or even 1400. The likelihood that you’ll influence them decreases as your comments become more caustic. Be better than that. Please.
  • Don’t spam. You know what?  I shouldn’t even have to explain this one.  Nobody likes spam and if you do it, no one will like you.  If you have a Twitter feed that is nothing but advertisements for your book, or other peoples you have a Twitter feed that is as forgettable as the coupons on the back of a grocery receipt.  Do you want people to know about your new book? Twitter is the place to put that!  Your readers want to know.  What we don’t want is to hear about it, hear about it, hear about it and hear about it.  Would you call your friend 5 to 10 times a day to tell them about your new awesome short story?  Even after they’ve bought your book?  For weeks and months, end upon end around 16,000 times?  No? Why?  Because they’d murder you and they would probably get away with it.  If you don’t think your friend would appreciate it, why do you think you can treat absolute strangers that way and expect them to not stab you in the eye block you.
  • Don’t Abuse Direct Message. Just. Don’t. Do. It. Direct Messages are for conversations that you don’t want the whole world to see.  Sooner or later you’ll encounter someone who auto-DM’s you as soon as you follow them.  If you don’t share my utter contempt for this practice, then I’m afraid we can’t be friends anymore.  It doesn’t form a “connection” and if its just a robo-message its just more spam to mark as read, delete and then unfollow.  Congrats, you just drove away some of your audience.  Take a second and ‘@’ reply new followers with a “welcome” message if you want.  Read their feed and find something to talk to them about.  Start a conversation.  That’ll make a bigger impact than five rubber stamped direct messages and be much less infuriating.
  • Don’t Abuse Hashtag.  This is related to not spamming.  I love the ‘#amwriting’ hashtag.  There’s a lot of opportunity there to meet new people and read interesting thoughts.  Then, there’s shit like this:2013-08-27 22.30.02Every time you do this, you break that awesome flow of information.  I get it.  I really do.  You want people to see your stuff, and hey, there’s a ton of people looking at the ‘#amwriting’ hashtag.  But you’re not writing are you? No, you’re pimping your book.  See, what you’re doing there is called Spam.  Its filling my eye-holes with unwanted crap against my will.  There are plenty of other venues that are just for authors to showcase their stories.  Just because its there, doesn’t make it a forum for you to advertise on.  You spam, you get blocked because I can’t stab you in real life.  How should you use the “#amwriting” hashtag?  Here you go:
    2013-08-27 22.29.15
  • Don’t ask people to do stuff for free. You have followers. That’s awesome.  Go you.  Don’t abuse them by demanding they ‘Retweet’ your book announcement.  If this, “PLS RT” is anywhere in your message, you fail at social media.  No, really.  Want people to spread the word about your book?  Do two things.  First, write an awesome book.  Second, make some actual friends on Twitter by interacting with people.  If you’ve got some actual friends and have some good news, they’ll go and retweet it on their own.  Doing anything else is just treating your followers like a megaphone and I don’t want to follow someone who views me as just another number, potential sale or extension of my social reach.
  • Don’t retweet all willy nilly.  The other side of this is not to retweet crap like that.  Retweeting is awesome and fun and I love it.  Use it how its supposed to be used: To highlight someone else’s awesome tweets and to make yourself look better by associating yourself with someone smarter and better looking then you.  Don’t use it to further the schemes of some second-rate author who’s abusing the audience that you’ve gone to so much trouble to cultivate.

That should cover most of the major offenses.  Give me a second while I regain my cool and let the rage die down to a lower level.

Ok, I’m better now.   You’ll notice that I talked a lot about “developing an audience” but really, that’s the wrong way to think about it… yet also the right way.  If you’re thinking about it like increasing your number of followers for the sole purpose of getting a bigger megaphone to sell more books, then you’re being a bad person.  Social media is about being social.  It’s about making friends, keeping in touch and learning new things, terrible truths.  Approach it like that, with that goal, and you’ll accomplish the former goal along the way.  At the end of the day, you should be enjoying yourself.  Be someone that other people want to follow, and you’ll gain followers.  Treat them well, and you’ll gain more as those mindless drones new friends spread your name.

Also, this post isn’t exclusive to Twitter.  Apply it to Facebook, Google+ and what have you.

This post has included a lot of the lash, so now its time for a little carrot.  Want some good examples?  I’ll close with a few of my favorite authors on Twitter.  Happy Tweeting!


Writing fuel: Music for wordmaking

If you haven’t hit play on the video above, I’d advise you to click play.  I’ve listened to the above… I don’t know… fifty times?  More?  What you’re listening to is one of the main themes for Impervious.  Yeah, if you’re listening to the lyrics, you might notice a common word in there.  I’m not a big fan of rap normally, but there’s something about Eppic that I really like.  Combine that with the awesome violin skills of Lindsey Stirling and it couldn’t help but be writing fuel.

Any given story that I’m working on has its own playlist.  Impervious is heavily fueled by Abney Park (example forthcoming), but there are also additions like “By No Means” and  “Some Nights” by Fun.  What makes a song right for a particular story can vary from lyrics, to the overall feel.  What’s really important are the images that it conjures.  City of the Sorcerers featured a lot of Nightwish, Within Temptation and other symphonic metal (my favorite genre of music).  Done with “By No Means”? Here’s some Abney Park and their “Steampunk Revolution”.

I can’t, can not, write without music.  Hell, I’ve got a playlist for just about everything I do, but I need music to get the creative juices flowing.  Edge has even gotten its own playlist lately, featuring a lot of I Fight Dragons.  Not familiar with them?  I suggest you look them up or at least listen to the last video I post here.  I absolutely love that some many independent artists are able to bring their music to the masses through the internet.  Also, suck it RIAA.

What about you?  What music gets the creative juices flowing?  I’ll leave you with a little bit of I Fight Dragons.  I may or may not have posted this in a previous blog… Oh well.

Someone queue up a montage, please.

Hey folks! I know its been a while, but things have been…if not busy then distracting around here lately. I lost my job about a month or so ago and have been doing what I can to reacquire gainful employment, which includes phone calls, cover letters and teaching myself some new tricks.

First off, I hate cover letters. I understand their purpose, but it seems like such an antiquated notion in this day of digital communication. I find most things in the world of business confusing. Granted, the form of a cover letter is nothing compared to the impenetrable legalese of a contract or other legal document. I suppose I'm a bit biased, given that I'm an author and writing something that isn't pleasant to read and easy on the eyes causes me something very akin to physical pain. I feel a total lack of self expression when writing cover letters that I wonder how a manager could ever use it to get a proper sense of me, as a person or potential employee.

Second, and for the first time in this blog, we'll talk a little about code. Oye…this unemployment thing is making me feel old. I've been teaching myself the basics of MVC by developing a web application for building Magic decks (employers reading this, yes, I'm THAT nerdy). The process of moving my thinking from web forms to MVC has me thinking “but the OLD way was so much easier”. When no, it really wasn't, I'm just set in my ways, which is goofy since I've only been coding for six years or so. Either way, I dived head first into a completely knew way of doing web applications and it hurts my brain meats from time to time. That being said, I think I've got a pretty good handle on the basics and have even gotten some pretty neat things working in the Deck Builder application. Right now I'm working on my user system, trying to integrate it into the overall scheme early on so I don't have to go back and do it later, which is proving a little mind boggling. The world of computer programming is just so damn big! No matter how much I know or learn, there's whole realms of information that I don't even know about. And that's just in the .NET world!

Which brings us to today. I've spent enough time banging my head against programming concepts for the time being. Whether or not I wanted it, I've been gifted with what I've always wanted; plenty of time to write. So, from now on I'm going to split my time between bettering myself as a programmer and finishing Impervious. My goal was to have the first draft done by the end of the year, something that I was making decent progress on until the last month or two. Its at about 60,000 words so far, but that means I've got about another 90,000 to go before the first roughest draft is done. After that, the second draft is going to be, more or less, burning down what I've written so far and reforging it from the ashes. Its going to be a violent and frightening process, but I'm really, REALLY looking forward to the end result. I love the story so far, but there are things that I really have to play up in the next version, and other's that I'm going to have to drop. Its entirely possible that this first book will in fact become the first two books, I'm not sure yet.

Whatever. Before any of that happens though, I've got to finish it. And since I have the time, lets find out how long it takes me to punch out 90,000 words. What do you say? Now, I've still got plenty to do for Edge, and more to do aside from that (applying for jobs and what not) but writing is going to become something I do everyday again. Time to see what I can do.


Quick update – I’m Back

You know what Hawaii is? A trap. A diabolical trap meant to catch a person and not let him go. We escaped by only the narrowest of margins. Sadly, my hat didn’t make it, and we mourn its loss even now. But, to the task at hand! Now that I’m back and married, I find my mind able to focus once again on the business of writing. I’d love to write more of a post tonight on my wedding, honeymoons and what’s going to be happening in the next few months but that’s going to have to wait for another update. Tonight I’ve got a story to revise and get off to Glenn who’s been patiently waiting on my Edge short story so we can get the next ebook out. So, everyone have a nice night and I’ll get a better update out here this week.

The editing process…

Great googly moogly! I’m getting married in three days.  I’m. Getting. Married. In. Three. Days. I’m getting married in three days! Words do not do much to express to you the true extent of my excitement at this point because I don’t know if I’m capable of explaining just how happy I am.  Yeah, its ooey gooey sentiment, but this is my blog and damnit, I’m getting married.

You may have detected a theme there.  Marriage…excitement…yeah.  That’s making it more than a little difficult to get actual, real work done here, though I have been making honest efforts.  I’ve got a short story due to Glenn who’s chomping at the bit to get the next volume of Edge of December up on the Amazon marketplace.  I can’t blame him.  Poor man, I haven’t even talked to him in two weeks or so.  Still, I’m in the middle of my initial edits, which is where I print out my story, and then poor red ink over the entire thing.

Normally, I’m a huge proponent of doing things on the iPad, but this is just so much easier and quicker.  I’ve tried doing this initial editing pass on GoodReader (which is awesome) and another couple apps that allow you to annotate pdfs, but they tend to slow the whole process down.  I’ve found its also invaluable to have a hard copy to reference when you’re going through and fixing the unlimited number of things that went wrong with your first draft.

God willing, this will be done with before Friday, and I’ll have a bit to work on while I’m in Hawaii!  One of the things I like to do when I’m on vacation is write in interesting locations and I plan to do a little bit while I’m on the beach.  Probably in the evening before it gets too cold but while the sun doesn’t interfere with my iPad screen.  Hmmm… Though getting sand in my keyboard doesn’t sound like too much fun.  Either way, some writing will happen in Hawaii.  Probably.  Maybe.  Tell you what, I’ll play it by ear.  For now, though, I’m off to do some more wedding stuff.