Saturday, July 30, 2011

Impressions from a Twit

I've been on Twitter now for, what? A week or so? It's been a learning curve.

Unlike a blog, which is static, Twitter goes by fast as a one stoplight town. Blink and you've missed it.

Here's what I think I've learned so far.

1.It helps to know someone on Twitter. I have some real life people who Tweet and connecting with them made all the difference. I had someone to talk to, who already had followers.

Don't know anyone? Connect by searching for people who share the same hobby or interests, i.e. something other than writing.

You can follow me @MichelleMcCleod. I follow back and I will actually talk to you.  

2.There are precious few readers on Twitter. Yet I think every author on the planet is there tweeting away (because their publisher told them to). This makes Twitter great for professional networking, but good luck finding an actual, live reader. The odds are pretty good that any readers you do find are spam bots (I'm only half joking).

3.Some people are phoning it in. It's obvious they've scheduled  their Tweets through a service like TweetDeck and aren't actually online. How do I know? One, they don't talk to anyone and two, no one talks to them, but the stream of personal tweets never stops.

Don't do this. It's alienating. I mean, what is the point of 24/7 Tweets if you're never around to actually engage with people? I tried to talk to one of these people and they never responded, but continued to blitz me with random tweets. I unfollowed them.

Twitter really doesn't work as a one-way conversation. However, because of a tweet's short shelf-life (maybe 30 seconds if you're lucky) it can be easy to end up just shouting about yourself by yourself.

If you can, come up with Tweets that address people directly to try and get a conversation going. An example:

@CoolTweep  Can you eat ice cream and read at the same time?

4.Use hashtags to your advantage. Hashtags are Twitter's index. Use # with a word to create a tag that will link to everyone else who has used it. Click the hashtag to find those people. So #asthma would become hyperlinked in my Tweet and I could find every asthmatic on Twitter with it.

5.Participate in group memes. There are some regular events on Twitter that can be used to gain traction. Below are the basics of the big three memes I've encountered thus far.

Monday is Mention Monday and uses the hashtag #MentionMonday. Try to promote someone else. For example:

@AuthorName just revealed a gorgeous cover for their latest book. Link.

(Note the @ before someone's Twitter handle creates a link to their profile.)

Examples of Mention Monday tweets.

Tip: Have something worth mentioning ready to Tweet on Mondays. If you have close friends on Twitter, ask them to #MentionMonday your Tweet.

Wednesday is Writer Wednesday and uses the hashtag #WW. I'm still a little foggy on how this works but you can either promote other authors like so:

 #WW  Want a good scare? Try @AuthorName. Paranormal? Try @AuthorName Fantasy? Try @AuthorName

You can post excerpts, however, that doesn't seem to be commonly done (although it's not like you'll be shot if you do). Here's a search result on Twitter for #WW.

Friday is Follow Friday with the hashtag #FF and is exactly the same as Writer Wednesday only for anyone and everyone on Twitter.Examples of Follow Friday on Twitter.

6.Use Bitly. Bitly is awesome (and free!). It shortens links and then provides data on how often they are clicked . This can help you identify the best and worst time to Tweet as well as which Tweets are most effective.

You can either post to Twitter directly from Bitly or copy/paste into Tweetdeck (discussed next) to create a post-dated Tweet.

7.Get Tweetdeck. Tweetdeck has lots of great features (plus it's free), but I like it because it allows you to post Tweets on a schedule. Per my point in #3, don't do this 100% of the time, but there are times when pre-loading your Twitter stream is useful. I like to use Tweetdeck in the following instances:
  • I have a lot to say and want to space it out instead of posting 10 tweets in a row.
  •  Scheduling announcements. Remember, the shelf-life of a Tweet is very short it is not enough to tweet something once. You need to run an announcement at different times and on different days to maximize exposure. (Try to make it interesting, don't post the exact same verbiage 20 times in a week.)
  • I'm worried I'll forget to post something or duty calls in the real world and I can't be online.
8.Reply to as may Tweets as possible. Interaction is often at a minimum from what I've observed and people can really respond if you have something relevant and pithy to say.

9.Retweet all happy news and charity events. Retweeting is good karma and people notice when you support them. (By the way, Retweeting is like forwarding an email, it takes someone's Tweet and broadcasts it to all your followers.)

10. Avoid the hard sell, be different, be you. There is so much marketing on Twitter that you can stand out simply by being a normal human being. Don't mention your book every 5 seconds. Maybe not every week. Try to promote other authors instead. Share interesting links. Talk about your life (within reason). Be funny. Be you and oh, by the way, I have a book out.

So that's everything I think I know. Did I miss anything important?

By the way, any spacing issues with this post are due to a Blogger glitch I can't seem to fix.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Revenge of the Unicorn Dogs

Those of you who've visited once or twice may have noticed a distinct lack of branding on the blog. No cool pictures. No design.

Why is that?

Because I am fixated on this picture.  Every time I think 'blog design' this is what pops into my head.

Can't you just see that as my blog header? I can't get the visual out of my head long enough to seriously consider any other picture.

Also, I have two dogs. That I could dress up as unicorns. Which would be too much fun. Then I could add them to the header and I would have the weirdest blog header the internet has ever seen.

I think it would be so visually arresting that people would be compelled to read my blog just to find out if I was crazy or not. Then they would see my books and buy them.

It could happen.

Or not.

Monday, July 25, 2011

A Very Marry Monday: One Night Stand, Date, Marry?

Okay, folks, it's time to map out your love life for the week. Who are you dating, sleeping with and marrying?

This week's options include...

Frodo, a sweet little Hobbit with a ring fetish.

Hercules as played by Kevin Sorbo. My, what a big stick he has.

Captain Jack Sparrow. Sure to love you and leave you...with a few bugs to remember him by.

So those are your choices and you must choose--no weaseling! I'll share mine in the comments.

Free Book Friday Winners

Free Book Friday got off to a slow start and never picked up steam despite a lot of support from various people (many, many thanks to them).

Which works out well for those who did enter as you all win a copy of Broken. I'll be attempting to hunt you down and get an email addy for you so I can send you the book asap.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Free Book FridayTGIF!

As of today, Fridays are forever changed because now, the end of the work week means free books. The inaugural Free Book Friday selection is Broken by David H. Burton.

Who's feeling lucky? Who's looking to score a good read? Don't be shy, step right up and leave a comment to win one of two Kindle copies.

Broken is a steamy fairytale with a strong female lead and engaging characters. It reads fast and reminds me of Gaiman's Stardust (which you should read if you haven't). 

What would you do if you found out your 'forever family' only took you in so you could be cursed to die?

If you want to know the answer, you need to read Broken.

Here are the Free Book Friday rules.

1.Comment on this post to enter the giveaway between now and Sunday.
2.Remember, there are 2 copies, so tell your friends.
3.Winners will be determined by
4.Winners will be announced Monday.

I have received no compensation for this post and the books will be purchased with my own money.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Please Squeeeee With Me

Here is the book cover for my novella Love Potions.

Sooooo over-the-moon happy. What do you think? This is the third cover and the second artist. Took me a while to get it right.

OH and don't forget to come back tomorrow for Free Book Friday!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Announcing the Book of the Week

Every Friday, I will be giving away a book (or books on a really good week). This week's Book of the Week is Broken by David H. Burton.

Broken keeps company with Neil Gaiman's Stadust, being a richly imagined Fey romance. The story is fast paced, innovative and deftly plotted. What would you do if you were adopted just so you could be cursed to die?

Come back Friday and leave a comment on the Free Book Friday post to enter for a chance to win one of two Kindle editions up for grabs.

Note: You do not need a Kindle to read the books. You can download Kindle for PC for free, which is what I use.

Monday, July 18, 2011

One Night Stand, Date, Marry?

It's Monday. Time to make some life decisions. Who is the one night stand, the boyfriend and the husband? You have to pick! My answer will be in the comments.

First up, Dumbledore from Harry Potter.

And for those who don't have cable, the guy below is vampire Bill from the Sookie Stackhouse books by Charlaine Harris. I like how he's already started to undress.

Last, but not least, Dr. Raymond Stantz of Ghostbusters fame. Who you gonna call?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

This Is What a Hot Elf Looks Like

Since there has been some question of how hot can an elf be....

This guy pretty much looks like the elven hero of my forthcoming novella, Love Potions.