Category Archives: Twitter

My ‘ramblings’ about the pitfalls of using social media to promote your

So, for my twentieth blog post, I thought I should actually ‘ramble’ about something that is directly relevant to the purpose of this blog and to the reason that I am on social media: the promotion of my novel ‘Only an atheist can help God save the world’. That is, after all, the main (but not the only) reason that I write this blog and why I am using Twitter, and having recently reviewed several non-fiction books, I realised that I really should try to post on relevant topics more often. This time I am talking about the pitfalls that indie authors like myself can fall into when using social media in an attempt to find an audience and to convince said audience to actually read the work that they have produced. For it is not an easy thing to do so here are my thoughts on how to do so with a little grace.

Now, I am hardly an expert in the use of social media to promote your work, but I do feel that I have learned a thing or two since engaging with this medium and in the past few weeks I have had a few interesting exchanges that have increased my knowledge and actually changed the way that I have been using it. As many others do, but to a lesser extent, I follow accounts in the hope that they will follow me back and if they choose to do so, I then take the opportunity to tweet them an advert for my novel. So, I have carefully crafted this tweet to be upbeat and friendly and I have had far more positive responses to it than negative, but still it doesn’t always work out that way. On the positive, sometimes I will be told how stunning the cover is and that opens up a conversation nicely. But I do still I get the occasional bad reaction.

One such reaction came when I tweeted at one of my followers and they responded immediately with an unpleasant retort and then blocked me. I thought that was more than a little harsh when a simple unfollow would have sufficed but what can you do? Another reaction occurred when I followed a fellow atheist, they followed me back, I tweeted my greeting and they expressed their annoyance at me ‘shilling’ my book to them. Now, this is not the only reason that I follow people, but it is the principal one, and I can hardly complain when I was doing exactly that. This person then asked me (somewhat indirectly) to unfollow them and I obliged for I am not trying to piss anyone off. Still, the exchange left a somewhat sour taste though I was still glad they didn’t block me. But it left me wondering how I could refine the way in which I use twitter and since then have I reduced the number of times per day that I send out my tweets about my book.

So, I am again struck by the delicate balance that Indie, self-published authors like myself have to strike between advertising their works to their audience, and not pestering them too much and thus driving them away. I followed an author in the past few weeks whose time-line was an endless stream of thank you messages to their new followers that completely dominated my feed and so I quickly unfollowed them. But I am also aware that the time immediately after someone has followed you is the best chance to say hello, let them know about your novel and to show them the book cover. I know that my cover image is one of the best things that I have when seeking to advertise my book, along with short excerpts and highlighting the reviews that I have been given, and I know that I have a truly memorable cover, but the line between someone seeing this image enough times to snag their interest and being annoyed can be quite thin. And no matter how good your cover image is, your followers are likely to get tired of it eventually. I know that I would in their shoes.

In the past few weeks I have also taken to trawling my list of people that I am following in an attempt to remove those who have recently chosen to unfollow me. I am still trying not to expand my following list too quickly and this allows me to remove those who no longer have an interest in my novel and replace them with others who might. I don’t blame those who do so as it must become tiresome following an author who is using Twitter for promotional purposes, and actually I am now more aware of how many times some of my followers must have seen my cover image, and so I am grateful to those who choose to stay. I recently noticed several of my followers had chosen to leave and I was very sad to lose a few of these accounts, including someone who is a tiny bit famous and who’s work I admire and who followed me despite having little reason to do so, but there is nothing you can do once they choose to leave.

As ever with these things, you have to take the good with the bad and accept that you are using twitter for a purpose and that sometimes people you follow will not like what you are doing. I am aware that popular opinion writers for newspapers and magazines that I read have it far worse than I do (though I have received a little bit of that flack from time to time when tweeting about their articles) and I know that I have relatively little to complain about. I am also aware that this may change as more people read my book and I am still waiting for the day when someone religious reads a novel in which God comes to Earth and the only person who can help Him is an atheist. I am certain that it will happen and also that that will be an interesting day for I am very curious as to what they will make of it!

Next up, either a review of the brilliant comic series Mind Mgmt by Matt Kindt or Owen Jones’ ‘The Establishment’, I haven’t decided which yet. And yes I know that my staying focused on writing about being a indie author didn’t last very long. Oh well 😉

 

My debut novel, ‘Only an atheist can help God save the world’, is available now from all electronic retailers. Also check out my other “Rambling” blogs posts for articles on being an indie author, comics, politics, and reviews of books and movies! Also follow me on Twitter @onlyanatheist1. Cheers!

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Thank you to my followers, retweeters, and most importantly my readers and reviewers!

So, having recently published several entries to my blog where I review either for a non-fiction book or the recent Star Wars movie, I think it’s time for something a little different. This entry is talking about some familiar themes: being an Indie author, the relationship that I have with my followers and readers, but more than anything it is a big thank you! Thank you to those who follow me, to those who retweet me, and especially a HUGE thank you to those who’ve chosen to buy and read my book! And if you’ve written me a review, then you get an even bigger THANK YOU! As an indie author the only means that I currently have to persuade people to read my book is through social media so if you’ve read and reviewed my novel you have my gratitude. I also think it’s time for a little reflection on the past few months…

Right, so, my book was self-published at the beginning of July 2015 and since then I have amassed a following of around 1300 people, most of whom I also follow. I am aware that I could’ve pursued this more quickly and aggressively, as I see other indie authors doing, by following many more accounts but to do so would be somewhat missing the point. I’ve tried to engage with as many of you as I can, though I have doubtlessly not done so with everyone, and I have enjoyed the majority of these interactions. In 7 months I’ve only had to block one account and have in turn been blocked by a small number, some of whom have turned out to be rather unpleasant characters, but at least one of which was down to my own stupidity. And being blocked by fellow atheists is quite a strange thing! There are lessons to be learned in the art of using social media to promote your novel and I feel I have learned them well!

I’ve also talked before about the relationship between Indie authors and their readers, yet every time I have a conversation with one of my followers who is reading my novel and they tell me how much they are enjoying it, I am again struck by how utterly unique this relationship is. Recently one of my followers tweeted me to tell me that they had bought my book and for someone like me that is always a good day indeed! Then, a short while later they again messaged me to inform me that, although they were very busy working, they were trying to find the time to read it when they could. They told me that they were “enjoying it immensely” and that they thought I “really out did myself”. This has happened a couple of times now but the days when I receive a message like this are truly wonderful. I am also eagerly awaiting the message that informs me they have finished the book and what they thought of it…

So, every time this happens, every time someone messages me to say that they have enjoyed my novel I get the feeling that this entire endeavour is worthwhile. I experience a small sense of satisfaction, and I know that, regardless of the number of books I have sold so far, I am glad that I am doing this. Then it happened again with one of my followers messaging me, someone who had previously told me that they thought my blog was “excellent”, to say that they had bought my book. Each time this occurs I am a little bit astonished and incredibly grateful. I am starting to get the feeling that I am getting somewhere, that this process is getting a little easier and that the next sale will be easier than the last. Yet I am not quite sure what has changed or why I feel like this and I shall have to have a think about it! Hopefully this feeling will continue and my sales will also do so!

Finally, I’ll end where I began with a thank you! Thank you to all of you who have followed me and seen my adverts for my book and then retweeted to help me reach a wider audience. To those of you who have taken the chance and actually either bought my book or grabbed it when it has been offered for free get double thanks! I know that doing so is taking a risk on an unknown author and I am immensely grateful to those who have done so! And even more gratitude to those who’ve finished the novel and then messaged me to tell me how much you’ve enjoyed it, and left me such lovely reviews on Amazon and Smashwords (you can find them here: http://tinyurl.com/pgjd68z and http://tinyurl.com/pu46r2b). Your comments keep me going and I know that I owe you guys. You know who you are and you have my gratitude! Indie authors cannot be successful without the support of their fans and so I offer you one final THANK YOU! Now, onwards…

 

My debut novel, ‘Only an atheist can help God save the world’, is available now from all electronic retailers. Also check out my other “Rambling” blogs posts for articles on being an indie author, comics, politics, self-publishing! Also follow me on Twitter @onlyanatheist1. Cheers!

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Ramblings : the unique relationship between self-published authors and their readers…

In this week’s blog post I’m ‘rambling’ about the relationship between indie authors like myself and those who choose to read and review their works. So my novel, ‘Only an atheist can help God save the world’ has now been live at all electronic retailers for a few months and in that time I have managed to sell a few copies, expand my twitter following to more than a thousand and, most importantly, garner a small handful of very positive reviews from my readers, which I then use to promote my novel. Most of these can be found here (http://tinyurl.com/pgjd68z) and the latest review I received was prefaced with a tweet that simply said “brilliant! loved it.” in reply to one of my tweets advertising my book. Since beginning this process, I am slowly realising how unique the relationship between indie authors and their readers really is.

What strikes me about the relationship is how personal it is and how, in the case of these (rather lovely!) reviews, I know who wrote each of them. Well, I know which Twitter account is attached to each review anyway. Some of my readers even kept me updated with their progress through the book as they read it and when they reached the end, each of them has contacted me to let me know how much they enjoyed the novel. I find that this is a very nice thing indeed! Now, as I’m not an author published via the traditional route of finding an agent who then finds you a publisher and thus your book is released into the world, I can’t comment on that relationship. I tried that route and didn’t get anywhere, mostly because (I think) my novel is so hard to categorise, and I’m also sure that these authors get positive feedback from their fans when they meet them in person. But something about this relationship feels unique and I doubt I am the only indie author to think this.

The first time someone (my wife) read through my novel I was very nervous. Gradually, I learned to manage that feeling and since then the novel has had many read-through’s and edits so it is far more polished than the version that she first read. Friends and family have also read my book and given me feedback, but there is only so far that you can trust the words of those who love you and are likely to be nice about your work, even if it is not working. I trust those reviews to an extent, which was why I self-published, but having done so I waited to hear what other, unbiased people thought of it. Obviously hearing from strangers who have read it can go a variety of ways. They might love it, they might not. And a bad review can leave a very sour taste. My worst review (so far) is this: “didn’t work for me” which left me more than a little amused. First, I wish it had worked for them. But, given that it didn’t, they still gave the book 3 stars, suggesting that is wasn’t THAT bad. Unfortunately, I don’t know who it was and so I cannot ask.

Now, I am still hopeful that my novel will take-off and reach a much wider audience than has happened so far but, even if it does, I will still treasure those first few, rather lovely reviews that I received. And if you are one of those reviewers (and you all know who you are) then I thank you for taking the plunge with an unknown author and for taking the time to let me know what you thought of the work. It is a truly wonderful thing to hear back from those who have read and enjoyed your book and, should I become the world-wide smash-hit author that I am surely destined to become (hah!) then I will thank each of you in person when I meet you on my world-wide tour. Until then I shall enjoy the reviews as they come and continue to be immensely grateful for my readers and reviewers! Cheers!

 

Check out my other “Rambling” blogs posts for articles on comics, politics, self-publishing and my novel, ‘Only an atheist can help God save the world’ which is out now at all electronic retailers! Also follow me on Twitter @onlyanatheist1. Cheers!

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Ramblings: Twitter and its uses for self-published, independent authors…

So, for my latest blog post, I want to talk about the use of Twitter, as well as other social media websites, for self-published, independent authors like myself. Now, I’ve only recently discovered what Twitter is and how it can be useful. Prior to using this website for promotional purposes I did not really see the point in it, I even mocked it. Then I changed my mind, I created a personal account and began to get involved. I followed some people I like; authors, bands, comic book creators, columnists for the newspapers I like to read, that sort of thing; and I began to see how it could be useful.

Since creating an account I have had some interesting experiences. I heard about a few events on Twitter before anywhere else. I experienced the news of the death of Terry Pratchett through this medium and saw the reaction of many people I respect. The Cecil the Lion story was in my feed before I saw it on the news. Actually, I think the only reason that this story, and many others, made the news was due to the reaction on social media. I realised that one story would often dominate my Twitter feed for the entire day as it bounced around the network and I began to see the power of this medium to influence the world around us. There were many others but that is not the point of this post. The focus is on the use (and pitfalls) of social media for self-published authors, so onwards!

Now, I am hardly an expert at the use of Twitter for promoting your work but I do feel like I have learned much from my short time using this medium. My formula is this: I send out a small number of tweets a few times a day, advertising my book, I post quotes from the novel to give a flavour of the work, I tweet out a link to my blog with a description of this week’s post, and I try to draw attention to the nice things that people have already said about my book. I am not the first person to advertise in this way but I am also quite careful. I do not tweet endlessly about my book for that would bore people very quickly indeed. I have unfollowed other writers for doing just that. I am also not looking to increase the number of people that I follow too quickly as I actually like to engage with those who choose to follow me. And it works the other way too. Were I to have millions of followers it would not be possible to engage with the majority of them but that is not a problem I currently have. Not yet, anyway 😉

On the whole, the people I have interacted with have been nice and often willing to retweet my inanity. In the first few days of having an account I was fairly obnoxious. I tweeted at a considerable number of people who had not chosen to follow me and though many ignored me some, very kindly, retweeted my advert about my new book. Eventually I realised that this was not really acceptable behaviour and I refined my formula and now I only tweet at those who have chosen to follow me. And even some of those have immediately blocked me. But I am also having fun with the medium. I have managed to get myself retweeted by some people whose work I very much admire, even if my tweets were promoting their work. Still, it is always fun when that happens.

And I’ve undoubtedly made some mistakes. I’ve waded into conversations that I should’ve left well alone and I’ve been duly rebuked. I’ve been blocked by a few people for being a bit stupid. Never for anything serious, but, for example for saying things that seemed funny in my head, but clearly did not read as such to the person receiving them. Eventually I learned that text carries no inflection or intonation and so you must be very careful with what you say. I’ve run into some very unpleasant people with views that I consider repugnant and we’ve had some interesting discussions. But so far I have yet to block anyone who has not blocked me first. I doubt this will last. I’ve also been blocked by someone I had a conversation or two with and very much liked and I have no idea why they did this. The discovery was quite perplexing and I was left wondering what I had done. Clearly they had not liked something that I had said but then that is what happens when you put your opinion out there. Others will not always agree.

I have yet to really encounter my first persistent troll and have found that the best way to end an argument is to simply stop replying. Now, this may give the person with whom you have been arguing the feeling that they have won the discussion but sometimes that is simply the price to pay to get out of a spiralling debate. And those discussions are usually worth leaving as soon as you can.

So far, to a small extent, my use of social media is working. I now have several people among my followers who have told me that they have read my book and have then given me rather lovely reviews (you can find them on Amazon http://tinyurl.com/pgjd68z). I also know of some others who are reading the book and letting me know whereabouts they are and I hope to hear their thoughts on the novel in due course. And it is a wonderful knowing that you have managed to persuade even a small number of people to read your work and knowing that somewhere out in the world people are (hopefully) enjoying the novel over which you slaved! 😉

I also recently discovered Reddit, another useful tool for those wishing to promote themselves and their work. I actually discovered it by accident when someone else posted a link to one of my blog posts. I got around 300 visits that day, far more than I had ever had in a single day before, and I so rushed to the site to work out how I could repeat the trick. This site is also not without its pitfalls but I have been able to draw more attention to my blog than I had without it so I recommend that you give it a go if you have a book or a blog to promote. It might help!

Now, I know that all of this doesn’t exactly amount to a coherent strategy but as I am making it up as I go along that is not surprising. I also don’t know if I will get the success that I wish to achieve with my novel through the use of Twitter and other social media but I know that I would not have a chance without it. Without the backing of an agent and a publishing company, independent authors will get nowhere without some means by which they can promote their work. And I feel that I am making ground and gaining traction, even if the process is slow. Really, bloody slow. Still, it’s better than nothing and without it I doubt anyone other than my friends and family would have read it. It’s an uphill struggle but for now there’s nothing I can do but keep on climbing!

 

Check out my other “Rambling” blogs posts for articles on comics, politics, self-publishing and my novel, ‘Only an atheist can help God save the world’ which is out now at all electronic retailers! Also follow me on Twitter @onlyanatheist1. Cheers!

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