Tag: twitter

Not Shooting Yourself in the Foot With Your Online Image

I have a confession: I’ve been going to science fiction conventions since 1976.  My goal for many of those cons were to see actors.  Some of them were nice people and others I wouldn’t want to know.  One I became friends with.  He was always a gentleman and very aware of his image he presented to the world.  At one con, he did an interview for a horror magazine.  So when it first came out at Borders, a friend and I snatched up copies right away.   I called my friend, a little worried because the interview was laced with f-bombs.  We’d both read all his interviews in the past, more than 20 years worth, and he’d always kept it very clean.  We debated about it and wondered if the writer had added the words for that magazine.

Nope.  The actor had gotten to drinking during the interview and said the words himself.  When he saw the interview, he was livid because he’d gotten the writer to promise not to use the profanity.  But the true problem was that he’d said them in the interview in the first place.

Concept image of a gun with the barrel tied in a knot against the backdrop of a grid.

There’s been a lot of that online lately from writers.  It’s like people have forgotten that they’re on public view.  Writer Unboxed just had a recent example of that.  It’s been taken down, but I saw before it was pulled (a discussion is on Absolute Write.  Scroll to the bottom post).  The writer in question took a fan letter from an eager fan that evidently offended her and explained how to “rewrite” it better.  The fan was guilty only of not being a skilled writer and probably being young.

Then there’s been the review meltdowns.  Writer gets a 1-star view or one that contains a reference to something not be good in the story (and sometimes it is very minor reference) or doesn’t give glowing praise.  The writer goes on the attack, ranging from telling the reviewer to take it down; getting the fans to attack the reviewer; or attacking the writer publicly.

I even got attacked in Twitter.  The writer asked me to do a review.  The book had been labeled as action-thriller/fantasy and looked like a detective novel in the sample chapters.  The pages didn’t give me action vibes, so I politely declined as being “not for me.”  The writer wanted to demanded to know why, saying things, “You say you’re an action-thriller writer.  Are you or aren’t you?”  Excuse me?!  I didn’t “owe” a review merely because I’m action writer.  I finally told him that it didn’t have enough action for me, and he had a meltdown in 140 words.

Maybe I would have read a future book from him, but now I’m never going to buy one because of his bad behavior.  No one remembers the good person before.  All they remember is the meltdown.

Our image is our words.  If we attack someone online for critique, a review, or because they don’t do what we want, that means we don’t have control of our words.

Getting angry and lashing out at someone online = bad writing

How have you been shaping your social media image?  Have you experienced a meltdown from another writer?

Writerly Adventuring

Cover from Darkness from Within showing an evil face glaring at youMy short story “A Soldier’s Magic” appears in the anthology The Darkness Within, available from Indigo Mosaic Publishing.  It features two women soldiers who have to make a tough decision to save a lot of people.

 


Balancing Writing and Social Media

Writing a novel takes an incredible amount of time — often more time than I like!  But of the bigger challenges I’ve found is balancing my writing with social media.  Social media is becoming an essential tool of promotion for writers, both traditional and indie alike — and yet, what would be the point without a book to sell?

When I first got my feet wet with Twitter, I lasted about two months.  It was fun at first, but then it became a huge amount of effort to keep pumping out tweets to remain visible.  Between work, writing, and normal life things, it was overwhelming — and still can be.   Sometimes I want to run screaming from the computer!

Man clutches at his face and screams in horror!

So these are 3 things I do to help keep social media from consuming my writing:

  1. Use a Blog Reader. I subscribe to the blogs I read through a blog reader.  This gives me the ability to do a quick scan of blogs I to pass along to my followers.  I can ignore the ones I don’t want to deal with now and hit the ones I know will probably give me at least one link.  I also will drop in on at least one blog and post a comment.
  2. Schedule Tweets. I do Twitter early in the morning.  I don’t write that early (takes a while for the muse to wake up!), so it isn’t taking away from the writing.  I use Buffer to schedule timed tweets throughout the day.  Then I scan through HootSuite for the conversations and use that program’s timed tweets to send those out.  I also will scan for interesting links, and either retweet or post a comment to them.
  3. Prepare blog posts in advance. I have a Word file for my blog and one for Unleaded.  I reuse the file for the next post.  Word is so much easier to use then WordPress’ editor because I can run a macro to search out all the unnecessary words and weasel words to make editing speedy (if only it could catch my typos!).  I write my posts for the week over the weekend.  I’ve found it’s best to do them at one time — it gets too stressful when I remember that I have to come up with a topic for tomorrow and don’t know what to do.  WordPress handily allows me to schedule the posts, so once I’m done setting them up, I don’t have to think about them any more.

Right now, I’m running about an hour a day for Twitter, and the time it takes on the weekends for the blog.  But by grouping everything together, it frees up chunks of time in the evening for novel writing.

Your Turn: How are you balancing your social media time with your writing?  Do you have any other tips that weren’t mentioned?  I’d like hear them!  You can leave a comment by posting below.


WWW: When Anthologies Follow

This is a sort of open letter to the anthology editors out there looking to get a new anthology noticed and get the attention of writers.

Twice in the last few weeks I’ve found anthologies have started following me on Twitter.  Now, I don’t for a second believe that the editors of either are pouring over each of my tweets and finding them fascinating.  Not at all.  But there are multiple ways of using Twitter.  As a social media platform it lets users keep up with friends, acquaintances, and the occasional celebrity.  However, it can also serve as a self promotion tool through the power of the Follow button, and proper application of the Who to follow feature.

Neither anthology was one I had heard of before.  Both are now anthologies that I am considering future submissions to.  The purpose of the follows was not to engage in direct interaction on Twitter, but to serve as a sort of advertisement for the anthology in a hopes of generating submissions or sales.  Now, I’m not going to claim to be an expert on Twitter or have some sort of inside knowledge on how best to market an anthology looking for submissions, but from the perspective of a writer who has been successfully targeted, here’s what I want to see:

  • Follow me.  Don’t make me find you on Twitter, I don’t go looking frequently enough, and you’re probably hiding somewhere in the noise.  This can be accomplished by following a known circle of writers, and looking at the names “Who to Follow” brings up.  Look at the bios.  Look who calls themselves an author.  And to writers: call yourself an author in your bio!
  • @Reply.  Even if I haven’t directly inquired you, I like to look at feeds of anthologies and see a lot of @Replies to other people who have.  It means the account is actively updated by someone and isn’t just there to be followed and link to submission guidelines.  So keep an eye on that @Mentions tabs, and answer questions when asked.
  • Don’t spam.  If your only posts are daily or weekly “hey, these are our submission guidelines!” posts, I’m unfollowing.  Let me know what’s happening to the anthology, news about new artwork, notes about similar anthologies, even the occasional non-anthology note that can let me better get into the mindset of the editor and know what they might be looking for.
  • Link to your page in your bio.  It’s that simple.

I like to see this, I really do, and I hope that anthologies will pay attentions to what writers want out of them on Twitter, because that’s the best way to leverage it as a tool for getting a broader selection of submissions.

Oh, and as a bonus, here are the markets that followed me:

The Memory Eater.  Hurry up, the deadline for this one is coming up fast.  In concept it strikes me as similar to the Death Machine anthologies, in that every story must be tied to a piece of magic tech.  In this case it’s the technology to erase memories.  Deadline is July 15th, and payment is a profit split among the authors.

One Buck Horror.  One buck is the price point for the serial anthologies, not the payment rate to the authors.  Oh no no no.  This is a pro-rate anthology, nickle-a-word for up to 3,000 words.  First issue is due out at the end of the month.


WWW: WWW

Ah, the internet.  Born in the 60s, built in the 80s, commercialized in the 90s, it has become an integral part of life in the world.  It lets people reach out to other people across the country and around the world.  And other cliches!  The best part about the internet?  It gives everyone a voice and lets them speak and be heard in one of the most open idea exchanging media that the world has ever known.

The worst part about the internet?  Anyone with a computer can read it.

I avoided talking about the situation a few weeks ago where a self-published book author went off on an online reviewer in a very public meltdown.  But it’s worth looking at.  The situation made a lot of people look bad, not just the original writer, but other writers who piled on in a very unprofessional manner.  And now that’s out there.  People’s names are attached to it.  And some would-be writers have just made their path to publication that much more difficult because they decided to lash out under their name.

It’s the same thing we hear about all the time in the business world, how companies may now look up applicants on Facebook or Twitter to check out how they approach the internet, and whether they might not be the best fit for the corporation.  It’s a new world out there, and people are approaching it having been either insufficiently educated as to the ramifications of the internet, or just not caring about them.  Indiscretions are harder to slough off when they are associated with your name in a world-wide network that never forgets.  Not really.

We see these meltdowns all the time.  Most recently a famous cartoonist who I don’t care to namedrop was caught using a sock puppet account to go onto internet message boards and talk about how much of a “certified genius” he is.  He has chosen to now double-down and rant about how there was no real harm done.  But there is.  It’s reputational harm, and he’s suffered it.  And those writers who chose to unprofessionally attack one of their fellows in her moment of weakness suffered it.

It needs to be said: even if you’re not yet a famous author, if you have any hopes or aspirations of fame, you need to be aware now the kind of personality you’re creating on the internet, the self that you’re presenting to the world, the person that savvy internet users will be able to track down when they decide to learn more about you.  It’s worth thinking to yourself “what will they find.”  I’m not saying everyone is required to be a saint on the internet.  You don’t have to stay out of political or religious discussions.  You don’t have to moderate any and every opinion.  Just, be aware.  Be aware that your words will still be out there in a year, in five years, in a decade.  And be aware of what you’re saying, how you’re saying it, who you’re saying it to.

But have fun.  Network.  Tweet.  Provide status updates.  Blog.  For every danger that the internet creates, it also creates opportunities, the ability to connect and network, even the ability to connect today with fans in the future.  Create the self you want people to see, and create the connections that, in the past, required face-to-face interactions at conventions.  Just don’t forget that nothing on the internet ever completely goes away.  Not really.

And while I’m talking about blogging.  Over in my blog this week I’ve been talking about urban exploration, dead malls, Chernobyl, tasty Spanish food, and oh yeah, my latest Fortnightcap.


WWW: #SixWordNovel

That was the trending hash tag on Twitter yesterday when I got to work.  Creative types from around the internet were trying to be pithy with a six word limit.  Personally my favorite will always be the one (perhaps apocryphally) attributed to Ernest Hemingway: “For sale: baby shoes.  Never worn.”  In six words it manages to tell an entire story.  Certainly it could be bulked out, but it doesn’t need to be.  Within that story you can find hope dashed by despair not only of loss but of the desperate need for money.  But then I got to thinking.

Six word novel.

I’ve seen the Hemingway ultra-short called that before, but in the earliest versions of the tale it’s always presented as him attempting to write a short story in six words.  And even the most successful of the responses to the hash tag were still just short stories, while many didn’t even rise to the level of log lines.  In the end, it left me pondering just what we define as a novel in our modern literary society.  Or what should be defined as a novel.  I had intended to present a great exploration of the topic.

But I can’t.

In the end, it’s hard to feel worthy of such a topic as is tackled by professional writers and critics.  And how can there be an agreement on anything so vague.  How short can it be?  How long can it be?  What themes must it address?  What characters studies must be presented?  In the end, it feels like the only real consensus is that a novel is a work of fiction.  I was about to say “published as a book” but that even starts to run into questions about podiobooks that may never even see a POD publication.  Technology is changing what we’re willing to sit down with and accept as a novel.  Electronic publication is broadening the word range, as there are no longer economic concerns about printing something either “too short” or “too long” to appeal to the casual reader browsing spines on a book store shelf.

Even those things that feel like they should be universally not considered novels would have their defenders.  I would firmly argue that six words does not a novel make.  But who am I to say that?  And who’s to say the people happily tweeting their literary mini-pieces yesterday don’t have it right?

Words are odd things.  Concepts change.  Attitudes change.  Technology changes.  And as they do, what will be a novel will change and morph, potentially quite rapidly over the next decade.  It’s just a matte for us as writers to decide whether we feel more comfortable in the old paradigms or adjusting to the new.  Personally, I’m rather more set in my ways.  For me, a novel is a work of fiction, typically at least 50,000 words long, that tells a single narrative.  I don’t think that’s necessarily too restrictive of a definition, but others may rapidly disagree with me.  And I welcome that.  Or if you have your own six-word narrative (whether you want to call it a story or novel) share it in the comments.

Cross promotion time is going to come up flat this week, as my only blog post was three sentences long, and really just an over-long tweet.  Stay tuned on Tuesday for the next Fortnightcap, to be titled Paradox of the Crowd.

Lead image from snopes.com article about the baby shoes story.

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Wednesday Writerly Words

Nanowrimo has stared up again for 2010, and I know some of the members of this blog are participating in partial ways, and some not at all.  It’s always one of those exercises that’s a great excuse to write, but also needs to be tailored to the individual.  And really, that’s the theme of so much writing advise.  Some things work for some people, and not for others, and the reason things work varies just as much as whether they work or not at all.  Thankfully I’ve seen an evolution of Nanowrimo to recognize those facts.  It’s still about sitting down and just writing, but more and more of the community (and, like a lot of internet stuff, it is community driven) has recognized that amorphous nature of writing.

Early on in my involvement I almost got turned off of Nano completely thanks to the rule nazis.  There was a faction within the community a half decade or so ago that felt that the rules of Nanowrimo had to be very strictly interpreted.  You couldn’t write word #1 until midnight on November 1.  It didn’t count unless you finished the whole plot in the month of November.  There was even a small group that felt the ideals of the program were being undermined unless words 49,999 and 50,000 were “the” and “end.”  Afterall, isn’t the goal to write a 50,000 word novel, not a 50,010 word novel?

But there’s been a lot more leeway within the community of late.  There’s been the recognition that it’s okay if someone is bringing a work-in-progress to the table.  If they’re using the month to write short stories.  If they’re using the month the way they want to use the month because, damnit, writing is a highly personal activity.  It’s great that a large number of people get together as an online community once a year and write together, but that doesn’t mean that everyone should be constrained to the exact same process.

So get out there and Nano in the way that works best for you.  Because writing is a fantastic, just so long as it gets done.

By the way, if you are doing Nanowrimo and want some tips, this Twit showed up on my recommended follow list recently: @FakeNNWMTips

DL Thurston is the author of Rust, available in print, for the Kindle (US/UK), from iBooks, and in all other eBook reader standards. You can read his various exploits at his blog, follow him on Twitter, or watch him try to make sense of the War of 1812. He’s currently disturbed by the thought of just who wrote the song Johnny B. Goode, recently faced down rejection, but at least had some fun last Wednesday.


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