I’ve been using Twitter for the past few months to connect with other writers, meet new acquaintances, and build a following for my writing. Some successful authors claim that their sales took off after they built a Twitter following, and I believe them. Based on my preliminary efforts, Twitter seems a more effective marketing tool than Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and other social media sites. This, of course, could change over time, as the executives at MySpace can attest. Other social media sites have their own benefits. In my opinion, Facebook is a better forum than Twitter to connect with friends and family who may be the only ones supportive of your writing at the outset of your career.
My quest to figure out what works on Twitter has been one of trial and error learning how to use Twitter effectively. The result has been good, so far, with my number of followers increasing more than 300 percent in December 2011 and already up by a third one week into January 2012 (thank you, followers!). One ebook giveaway I tried received several responses; an offer to purchase my ebook at a discount did not net any new sales. I will continue to offer a mix of incentives to attract readers until I find a strategy that works.
I’m slowly getting the hang of Twitter. I’ve found that unless you want to buy followers, it simply takes time to build a following. Buying followers is ethically suspect and defeats the purpose of building lasting relationships. Simply put, tweeting, or sending messages (tweets), takes time.
When you tweet, it’s important to:
- Follow others. The best way to gain new followers is to follow others. Search “Who To Follow” to find others who tweet about your interests and follow them. Twitter will then suggest others you might want to follow. Many will follow you back. Unless you’re a celebrity, you’re probably going have to knock on doors first.
- Post relevant content. I like to post links to breaking news articles related to my interests. I like travel, politics, and self-publishing, so many of my tweets focus on these subjects.
- Have a brand. Focus on what’s important to you and tweet about it. Those interested in finding you will. If your brand is based on a popular character, such as a protagonist in a book or your pet, and you have the right to represent them, you can set up an account for them and tweet on their behalf.
- Be creative. Those who have something interesting to share or assume a creative persona on Twitter tend to do well. Some cats have larger followings than most humans.
- Public thank yous. Thank followers publicly for following you by tweeting it. I have a small following and still send individual “thank you” tweets to new followers with a personal note attached. Some with more followers write “thank you” and list new followers in a single tweet.
- Retweet. Repost newsworthy items posted by your followers. When they mention you to their followers, thank them publicly.
- Direct messages. Send private messages to followers in order to cultivate relationships. Be genuine and sincere, not patronizing. I don’t think it’s a good idea to send a spam ad to new followers as a message, although some do. Product placement is okay as long as what you’re offering is of interest to your followers.
- Tweet frequently. Tweet as often as you can. Since none of us can tweet 24 hours a day, use a site such as BufferApp to program tweets to post automatically while you’re away. Keep them relevant. I started posting humorous “Your Friendly Sleeptweeter” tweets while I’m away that play up the fact that I’m still tweeting while I’m sleeping. Here’s an example: “Greetings from your friendly sleeptweeter. I’m just passing through on my way to dreamland to greet you with a hearty zzz.”
- Sell, but don’t overdo it. It’s okay to advertise something you’re selling such as a book, but do it sparingly. I’ve read that a 20:1 ratio (one advertisement per 20 tweets) is a good ratio. The more you look like a pusher, the more you will turn off your followers.
Only time will tell if these efforts will pay off for me. They seem to be working so far, and I’m looking forward to seeing whether these efforts bear more fruit in the coming year.
Follow me on Twitter at @m_g_edwards. I’m happy to follow back.
M.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thrill and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He recently published a collection of short stories called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories available as an ebook and in print on Amazon.com. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex. For books and stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com.
Posted by mgedwards on January 8, 2012
I spent much of the weekend experimenting with online media to determine my optimal mix. As I alluded to in some of my earlier posts, I am making the shift to full-time writing and investing, and this is a project that will set me up to transition smoothly. I haven’t fully launched my online presence yet but am now working on setting up the channels I want to use to publish my books and stories. It’s been an interesting learning process. Here are some friendly tidbits to pass along to you in case you’re planning to boost your online presence:
- Web site: My site is hosted by a large web business solutions company that I know won’t go out of business anytime soon. The web site registered three domains for me, www.mgedwards.com, www.worldadventurers.com, and www.brillianceequity.com. Why did I choose three domains? Each has a specific purpose. M.G. Edwards is my author’s web site, World Adventurers is my personal web site focused on our journeys around the world, and Brilliance Equity is my investment firm. The web development tool I’m using to build web pages is Adobe Dreamweaver, considered by some to be the gold standard of web design software. I have an older version that I’m going to update.
- Photos: Adding photos to a web page can be tedious work unless you use a dedicated web site designed to make batch publishing photos easy. I use Google Picasa to host my photos. I tried Yahoo’s Flickr but don’t like the space limitations. Google offers one gigabyte of free storage space – plenty of space for public photos. Picasa Web Albums has a nifty feature that will let you embed photo albums and slideshows into your web site. Simply copy the HTML code into your web page.
- Videos: Google YouTube is a great site for hosting video clips. You can upload video footage in a variety of formats (MP4 recommended) and then embed the HTML code into your web page a la Picasa. The embed feature is hidden in the “Share” option on YouTube (it took a while to find).
- e-Books: There are several e-book formats to choose from depending on which e-reader you use. Basic HTML web script, PDFs, Kindle (PRC or AZW) and Nook (PubIt) are options. You can post books or stories on your web page using HTML; Dreamweaver does this with ease. MediaFire (or Ziddu) offer free document hosting. I chose MediaFire for its slick, easy-to-use design. You can also embed HTML code from MediaFire into a web page to send readers directly to the site to download PDFs, Kindle, or Nook e-books. To sell e-books, try self-publishing on Kindle Digital Publisher. KDP converts PDFs into Kindle-compatible e-books and sells them on Amazon’s web site. Note that Amazon will add an additional charge of about $2.00 per book, so if you list the book at $2.99 it will cost the reader $4.99. To sell print versions of the books, try Amazon’s Createspace. While there are literally dozens of self-publishing options, Amazon is the proverbial 800-pound gorilla that has the most sales and marketing clout. To create PDF files, use Adobe Acrobat software or a free version called PDF Creator. To create e-book formats compatible with Kindle, use the Mobipocket Creator, which can convert both Word documents and PDFs to e-books). It’s a very cool free program.
- Blogging: I have blogs on both WordPress and Blogger (Blogspot), and both are excellent. I use WordPress more and am happy with its format. A link on my web site sends the reader directly to the blog.
- Audiobooks/podcasts: To create a rudimentary audiobook or podcast, you need a device to capture your voice. The Sony IC Recorder is a great compact voice recorder that costs about $40. It captures your voice in MP3 format that you can download to your computer and upload to any web site that hosts podcasts or audiobooks. At the moment I’m experimenting with Podbean using a demo MP3 I recorded of one of my short stories. The MP3 I produced is no frills and is not re-mastered.
- Social networking: Almost everyone on the planet who uses the Internet is familiar with Facebook and Twitter. These are good for driving traffic to the site; Facebook will let you set up a profile dedicated to whatever you want to publicize. I have a Facebook Author page. Other options in this category include MySpace and LinkedIn.
I just started experimenting with these media using some stories that I wrote. So far, so good. It’s been a bit of trial and error, and I wanted to pass along some of my lessons learned so you can check them out if you want to increase your web presence. It should save you some time.
Posted by mgedwards on May 22, 2011
I am writing this blog entry using my voice. I am dictating words into my iPad using speech recognition software instead of typing. I downloaded an app made by Dragon to my iPad, then I copied this text to another iPad app that links to my blog website and uploaded it to the web. This entire process took about 10 min., but I am happy that I could blog without typing. As I practice more, I think it will be a little to dictate faster and make this more seamless.
This is a small victory for technology and a big leap for speech recognition.
Posted by mgedwards on May 7, 2011
I just changed the settings on this blog to publicize on Facebook, Twitter, MSN and Yahoo and am testing it to see how it works. It will save some time cross-posting and drive more traffic to this site. Just another step on the way to a new future and new reality.
Results varied when I tried to cross-post this entry. Twitter was seamless, Facebook took a couple of tries, and MSN and Yahoo were lost somewhere in cyberspace. No wonder Facebook and Twitter are eating the traditional e-mail providers’ lunch in the social networking space.
Stay tuned for more posts! In the next month the frequency will increase, and I’ll start adding more photos and multimedia.
Posted by mgedwards on April 9, 2011
Technology is finally sophisticated enough to capture most aspects of one’s life.
Digital cameras take photos.
Video cameras record us visually.
Digital voice recorders can record one’s voice for posterity.
Speech recognition software lets us dictate our thoughts digitally.
Tablets such as Bamboo Pen enable us to write or draw without paper.
iPods and other MP3 players let us take music and other media with us.
Portable multimedia devices such iPhone or Blackberry let us call anyone near or far or download apps to our heart’s desire.
Karaoke equipment lets us sing and record music for entertainment.
e-readers such as Kindle and iPad let us carry a library’s worth of books while software such as Mobipocket allow us to turn our writings into e-books.
The Internet allows us to facilitate communication via e-mail or social networks.
All of these and more are enabled by a one computer or laptop.
With so many ways to use technology to capture, record and monitor our lives…
…why are we more disconnected than ever before?
Posted by mgedwards on October 9, 2010
Wow, this blog has had 300,000 hits since its inception in late 2004. That’s pretty cool! Thank you, dear reader.
World Adventurers used to have a higher readership but decreased to about 200 per week after it went on hiatus in 2008. Since I revived it late last year, things have picked up a bit. If you’ve stopped by to read this blog over the years, thank you. Your patronage is much appreciated.
Posted by mgedwards on April 9, 2010
I just bought a new computer with the Windows 7 operating system pre-installed. I like it so far. As many critics have pointed out, Windows 7 is a much better OS than Windows Vista. Windows 7 runs faster than Vista and has some improved GUI features that enhance the user experience. The little touches count, and the layman can tell that Microsoft spent considerable time, effort, and money to make Windows more user-friendly. Gone is the bootup DOS screen, and instead of using ALT-Tab to scroll through open screens, Windows 7’s taskbar has a dynamic feature that allows you to see the Windows when the mouse pointer passes over icons. I do wish that Microsoft would consider replacing CTRL-ALT-DELETE in a future OS with some other easier to use method of bringing up the intro screen and make it easier to find certain settings it changed from previous OS such as the “Show Desktop” feature on the taskbar (now hidden to the far right). Despite these mild critiques, I’m impressed. As my contacts at Microsoft know, that’s not easy to do. Microsoft will be happy to know that at least one user prefers its latest operating system to Apple’s Snow Leopard OS, which left me feeling as if I were driving on the wrong side of the road.
Posted by mgedwards on January 23, 2010
Microsoft launched a free software program called “Windows Live Writer” to make blogging more seamless. So far, so good. I like it. Anything that will make blogging easier is welcome. Coming from me, that’s a compliment, because as my cousin will attest I frequently criticize Microsoft for getting things wrong or “almost” right. As long this program doesn’t lead me to post Twitter-size blog entries, then it will have accomplished its purpose.
Posted by mgedwards on November 14, 2009