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ImageThe two questions I get asked most by people starting out in writing are not actually about writing: 1.How do I publicise my work to get sales? 2. How do I use social media effectively?

More so by older writers which are new to social media. The five which I use the most are; Facebook, WordPress, Twitter, LibraryThing and Goodreads. There are many, many more obviously.

Twitter was the one of the last for me to engage in, even though lots of friends’ badgered me to join. I knew it would be another activity that could take up huge amounts of my time. It’s also the one I find certain people still most reluctant to sign-up to. Their main fear is: ‘I don’t want to talk inane drivel, tell people my diet or when I went to the toilet.’ This may sound risible but I can assure you it’s a true anxiety−the mundane ‘flash-tell’ of your life in 140 characters. The big mistake I made was not fully understanding it before I joined and consequently when people followed me−I did not reciprocate−big mistake, you want as much traffic to your feed as possible. If you don’t they will unfollow you pretty quickly, it can be a nihilistic world sometimes−but remember lots of people are on twitter for exactly the same reason as you−to raise their profile, connections and sales.

How are you going to connect to people? You need to use # for key words e.g. #writing #reading #illuminatinghalloweensocks, this will direct your tweet to those areas and @ for specific addresses e.g. @thewritingIMP @b0ringtweets (Which is an amusing ironic site that highlights some of the aforementioned drivel that some fear. When I started following this site 13K followed him, now he has 179K. Which just shows; there’s nothing better than a personal recommendation!  

Buffering−not something you might find in Lars Von Trier film (well you might!). But a way of staggering your tweets over a few days, so Twitter does not take over all your waking hours. There are many of these, they are quite straightforward to use and you just feed them directly into your own twitter address. This is also useful because if you consider twitter to be like walking down a High Street, and every window to be an individual tweet, you not only have to be passing the shops to look in, but you have to actually look in as well. Not everybody will be walking past your shop continually. Buffering is also great for exposure in foreign countries−tweet while you sleep.

Don’t just bombard people with pleads to buy your work, they will tire of you very quickly. One thing I did that has gone down well is quotes from the two books I have put out recently in my own name; these are often re-tweeted by others. Re-tweet interesting stuff you read, put links into other sites about anything you find compelling. Attach photos to your tweets−research shows people are much more likely to notice them. Do not feel the compulsion to tweet continually, you are not a 24 hour news agency!

There are many plug-ins, upgrades and apps you can buy that will assist you, but do some research before you shell out any money. There are many Kindle accessories ‘to boost your sales.’ If they sound too good to be true… well, they are.

I have a friend who runs the media for the Sharp Project (@sharpproject) in Manchester, England, which is like a mini BBC with associated small start up technology companies. He was telling me that when he first engaged with twitter for many months they only had about 200 follows and the number stubbornly did not move, within a couple of weeks they had jumped to 3K, and from this several substantial contacts were obtained.

Social media reminds me of that Malcolm Gladwell book ‘Blink.’ The third chapter is about a car salesman whom never dismisses people due to their appearance. He gets a yearly sale of a Lexus to a farmer, that initially turned up scrofulous and unkempt, other salespeople were not interested! You never know where the break you need might come from. From this blog last week I was contacted for an interview from a much bigger blog. Don’t make the mistake I initially made and turn down any exposure because you are too busy writing.

I apologise to a lot of you this is a busman’s holiday while sucking eggs with your grandma next to you as you sightsee in your own neighbourhood. But Twitter is the one social media area I get asked about most. When I reluctantly started out I asked my tech-savvy friends the most moronic questions−hopefully this has answered some of them for the novices−you soon get the hang of it. For Twitter substitute nearly all social media.

If there is an area of twitter you think I have not highlighted, please do not hesitate to contact me. It won’t be long before something substitutes it, until then keep twittering.

On a personal note I really don’t want to see you with a picture of your cat. It’s great you have one, but if I want to see it, I’ll ask.

 

Next week 8: What, more social media! I just want to write.

 

@thewritingIMP  www.ianmpindar.com

Ian M Pindar has just published the first two novels in The Robert Knight trilogy−which are both on special offer on Amazon. The third: The Space Between the Notes will be out in the Summer along with another two books.  

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