Showing posts with label twitter. Show all posts
Showing posts with label twitter. Show all posts

Thursday, December 13

How To Write A Twitter Story

How To Write A Twitter Story

Twitter is a new, challenging, medium for storytelling, one with its own set of quirks. Today I'd like to take a look at the subject of writing for Twitter. Not novels, not at this stage at least! But short works like short stories or flash fiction.

How To Write Good Twitter Flash Fiction

Gayle Beveridge in How To Write A Good Twitter Story gives three wonderful tips:

a) Your story must have a beginning, a middle and an end

Just like it's longer cousin a story must have a structure, there must be movement, an arc. Gayle gives the following example of a story without an end:
At an auction they bought a box of stuff and spent a melancholy evening reading the one hundred year old love letters of complete strangers.
Here it is with one:
At auction they bought a box of stuff, spent a melancholy night reading the 100-year-old love letters of complete strangers and loved anew.

b) Your story must have a character that needs something

Gayle gives the following example:
A full story will have a character who must deal with something. The following story lacks impact as its character is not challenged; she does not want for anything.
During El-Nino the angler fish rose to the surface. While her husband fished she found them, floating dead.
Add tension and a dull story about a fishing trip becomes one of a women struggling with a mundane life.
During El-Nino the angler fish rose to the surface. While her husband fished she found them. Floating. Dead. She sighed, "They are my life."

 c) Your story must be easy to read

Pronouns are your friend, don't omit them to squeeze more words into 140 characters. Again, here's Gayle's example:
Stonemason chips away at last job before retirement. Will be best.  Passion carved headstone. Written words of love, 'My beloved, my wife'.
Rewrite the story and test it by reading it aloud.
A stonemason chips away at his last job before retirement. It will be his best.  A headstone, carved with passion. 'My beloved, my wife'.
All quotations in this section are from Gayle Beveridge's excellent article: How To Write A Good Twitter Story

A Tweet Sized Story: Examples

In October a number of well-known authors were asked to write what may be the ultimate flash fiction: they were asked to write a story in 140 characters or less. Here are a few:

Ian Rankin:

I opened the door to our flat and you were standing there, cleaver raised. Somehow you'd found out about the photos. My jaw hit the floor.

Geoff Dyer

I know I said that if I lived to 100 I'd not regret what happened last night. But I woke up this morning and a century had passed. Sorry.

Jeffrey Archer

"It's a miracle he survived," said the doctor. "It was God's will," said Mrs Schicklgruber. "What will you call him?" "Adolf," she replied.

You can read the rest here: Twitter fiction: Twitter fiction: 21 authors try their hand at 140-character novels.

Also, if you want to read wonderfully spooky stories that are only 140 characters are less, click here: Scared Twitless.

Tweeting A Longer Tale: The Short Story on Twitter

i. Make the plot appropriate to the format

In 2009 Rick Moody published a short story in 153 consecutive tweets, one each hour. Moody said he tried to make his plot--a story about online dating--appropriate for the "merciless brevity" of Twitter. (See: Are Tweets Literature? Rick Moody Thinks They Can Be)

Brandon J. Mendelson, another Tweeting pioneer, agrees. He writes
If a character is mugged at 6am, you could post a police announcement on the Twitter novel looking for the perpetrator. What are the characters listening to on the radio? Is someone calling them that’s important to the story? Use Twitpic to show a photo of one of your friends or an actor to show the reader who is calling or what the mugger looks like. (How to Start a Twitter Novel)

ii. Have A Roadmap

Have an outline but don't let that limit your creativity. (See: Mary Robinette Kowal and The Mysteries of Outlining)

iii. Don't Be A Slave To The Machine

Use a service like Hootsuite to schedule tweets.

iv. Don't Overload Readers

Brandon recommends tweeting no more than 5 times a day while Rick Moody tweeted once an hour. Find what works for you and your readers. If you have a website perhaps put up a poll and ask them.

v. Move The Story Forward With Each Tweet

This is true for any story, but especially a tweeted one. Each and every tweet must advance the story. If it doesn't, cut it.

vi. Be Kind To Newbies

Brandon mentions that, with luck, you'll get new followers/readers as you go. Set up a page on your website--or create a simple website if you don't have one already--that contains all the tweets in the story so far, including the day/time they were tweeted, if that's important. Then put the URL to the page in your Twitter Bio so it appears at the top of the page.


- How to Write Twitter Stories (Tzvetan Todorov's five stages of narrative)

Other articles you might like:

- Why Your Story Should Have A Theme
- Hugh Howey's Awesome Deal With Simon & Schuster And The Importance Of Agents
- Turning Off Your Inner Editor

Photo credit: "[ Grand Style : Grand Light : Grand Hotel ] The Langham Hotel, London, United Kingdom @ Langham Place" by || UggBoy♥UggGirl || PHOTO || WORLD || TRAVEL || under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

Monday, October 8

What Is A Writer's Platform?

What Is A Writer's Platform?
This is the first post in a series on the subject of creating a writing platform. 

This is how I think of a writer's platform:
A writer's platform is a way, a vehicle, for reaching out to, and building, community.
Jane Friedman, editor and former publisher of Writer's Digest, tells us that editors and agents are "looking for someone with visibility and authority who has proven reach to a target audience" (Jane Friedman, A Definition of Author Platform).

So I guess the 64 thousand dollar question is: How does one develop visibility, authority, and the ability to reach out to a target audience?

Here are a mix of online and local activities you could use to improve your visibility, build your authority and improve your ability to affect your community/tribe.

Connecting Online: Social Media

There are many ways to connect online so I'm only going to discuss the main ones. For a full list see the wikipedia page on Social Media.

Website and/or Blog
I think having a digital home on the web, a place your readers can go to connect with you and discover your work is the single most important aspect of social media for a writer. Most writers that I know of have both a website and a blog--I recommend this--but some just have a blog and it works out fine for them. I do think it is a must for you to have your own domain name. That gives you control of your virtual home.

For why you probably want both a website and a blog see my article: How To Build A Platform: Why Every Writer Needs A Website.

For more information on setting up a blog see: How To Start A Blog.

Facebook & Twitter
If you want to build a platform I recommend you actively use either Facebook or Twitter. If you have the time, you can be actively engaged with both--and I do think it's a good idea to have both a Facebook and Twitter account--but writers are busy people. It's okay to pick just one to spend a majority of your social networking time with.

Which should you choose, Facebook or Twitter? It depends on you. If you're already engaged with your readership on Facebook then go with Facebook. If you prefer Twitter and have built up a list of followers, then use Twitter. I only actively use Twitter. I have a Facebook account but I rarely visit it unless I'm notified someone left a comment on my wall. (For tips on how to increase the number of followers you have on Twitter see: 19 Ways To Grow Your Twitter Following.)

Video presentation (e.g., YouTube, Vimeo)
I think Video is a vastly underused area. I first discovered Joanna Penn through her YouTube videos and, through them, found her blog. Here is an excellent article on how to get started: On Becoming A Multimedia Creative Producer. Joanna Penn Interviewed By Greg McQueen.

Write articles for popular websites
You probably won't be paid for this, but it's a nice way to build a resume and, if you provide a link back to your weebsite, an excellent way to get new readers. For more on this read: The Secret To Making A Living As A Writer: Work For Free.

Connecting to your local community

Go to book launches and signings
This is a great way to connect with the writing community in your area. While online contacts are wonderful, nothing can replace meeting with other writers on a regular basis.

Also, it can be advantageous to be included on mailing lists. Writers can be a generous bunch so you could get advance notice of which publishers are looking for what kind of books, upcoming contests, and so on.

Do public readings
Check with your public library. Sometimes they're open to writers, self-published or otherwise,  giving readings of their work.

This can be a great way to get publicity, but I wouldn't want to take this step myself unless I had already developed a following a local following, however small, or I had made connections with local writers whose readings I had attended.

Teach a course
In my city, individuals can submit course proposals to community centers. If you've written for a number of years, or are a publisher, editor, scriptwriter, or if you know something about blogging, or website design, and so on, why not create a course around what you know and offer it to the public?

I'm sure it wouldn't pay well, but it would be great for your writing resume and it would increase your exposure to your local community.

Be prepared when you meet potential contacts
Print out business cards. This is especially helpful at writers' conventions, anywhere you'll want to give out the address of your website or yoru email adress. For instance, I attend SiWC every year and have found it's been a great way to make contacts within the writing community, local and otherwise. Nearly everyone there has been friendly and eager to talk about their latest project and--amazingly!--eager to hear what others are doing.

Often pleasnt chit-chat ends in the exchange of email addresses and it is much more professional to offer your new acquaintance of buisness card than a scrawled address on the back of a napkin. (Been there, done that!)

Also, the back of a business card is a  great place to put a bar code that encodes a URL and can take someone right to either your website or the launch page of your latest book.

Other articles you might like:
- Jane Friedman: How To Build An Awesome Twitter Bio
- How To Become A Full Time Indie Author
- Penelope Trunk Discusses Time Management

Photo credit: Aleeir

Wednesday, August 22

Kristen Lamb: 5 Rules For Using Twitter Successfully

Kristen Lamb: 5 Rules For Using Twitter Successfully

Kristen Lamb gives great advice, especially when it comes to the no-man's land of social media, particularly Twitter and Twitter hash tags.

As many of you know, Kristen started the group #MyWANA as a kind of water cooler area for writers to hangout in and get to know one another. If you haven't dropped by yet, what are you waiting for? It's a wonderful virtual community that, now, is relatively spam free although, as Kristen shares in her most recent article, that has not always been the case.

What do we need to know about social media to be successful? Kristen says that the same social rules we learnt in Kindergarden still apply: be considerate.

Kristen's rules for social media success:

"RULE #1 Listening is as Important as Talking—We don’t need to tweet all the time, every hour to be heard."
Tweeting 24 times a day is too much! Of course whether you flood someones twitter account depends on how any people they follow, I try to not send more than 6 general tweets a day.

"RULE #2 You Will Be Graded on Attendance and Participation—NO AUTOMATION, PERIOD"
Kristen writes:
Recently on #MyWANA we had a link-spammer who would not stop spamming #MyWANA. I tweeted nicely and asked her to stop. So did at least a dozen other people. When nice didn’t work, we tried not-nice and tweeted “WHY ARE YOU SPAMMING #MyWANA? STOP!” I even blogged, then blogged AGAIN to make the mission and rules of #MyWANA clear and to gently discourage her behavior.

Still, she kept posting links…and more links…and, yes, even MORE links.

We finally blocked and reported her so much that Twitter shut down her account. What did she do? She opened a new one (or unlocked the reported account) and started link-spamming #MyWANA AGAIN, no matter how many times we told her that #MyWANA was for community.

Why didn’t she listen? Likely because she’d set up automation. Because she wasn’t present, she couldn’t see the fierce hatred we all had for her. Every time we saw her name, we saw red.

When I awoke yesterday to an entire column of tweets from this woman on #MyWANA, I took the fight to Facebook. This got her attention. She apologized and said she was only trying to help writers, that she had a good intentions, and I believe her but:

Good intentions + horrible manners = ticked off followers
"RULE #3 Each of Us Gets One Turn—We only need one identity on Twitter…really."
If you're a writer and you DO have more than one Twitter account, think about the trade-off you're making. The time spent in setting up and maintaining a second account versus time spent writing.

"RULE #4 Play Well with Others—Follow any #s we regularly use and pay attention to the Mentions column."
Excellent advice! And a great way to find useful articles.

"RULE #5 Remember the Golden Rule—Tweet Unto Others as You Would Have Them Tweet Unto You"
That says it all.

Read Kristen Lamb's entire article here: All We Needed To Know About Social Media Success, We Learned in Kindergarten.

Happy tweeting!

Other articles you might enjoy:
- 19 Ways To Grow Your Twitter Following
- 50 Shades Of Alice In Wonderland: Another Indie Success Story
- Kristen Lamb: Don't Let Trolls Make You Crazy

Friday, August 17

Jane Friedman: How To Build An Awesome Twitter Bio

Jane Friedman: How To Build An Awesome Twitter Bio

It is impossible to overemphasize the importance of Twitter in building my author platform. My Twitter Bio is my public face on Twitter, it's the first thing folks see and also what they use when deciding if I'm the sort the tweeter they want to follow.

Every writer owes it to themselves to make their Twitter bio the absolute best it can be. Enter Jane Friedman and her blog post

Jane breaks the Twitter bio into four components:

1. Photo
2. Name and handle
3. 160 character bio
4. Link

Jane Friedman goes into much more detail, here is the Coles Notes version:

1. Photo
- Clear and closely cropped image of your face
- High contrast

2. Name and handle
Name: Use your real name or a pen name. This is part of your platform so you want people to be able to find you easily.
Handle: You probably won't be able to come close to your real name, don't worry about it. Just pick something easy to remember and type.
Tip: Jane suggests not putting "author" as part of either your name or your handle.

3. 160 character bio
- Inspirational quotes or aphorisms
- Excess marketing
- A description that is so general it could fit anyone.

- Tell people what you do. If you're a writer, tell them that.
- Let people know what you'll be tweeting about.
- Add some personality. People like humor.

Jane writes:
As far as that third item [add some personality], it’s popular for people to mention their hometowns or states, the universities they graduated from, or other things we share in meet-and-greet environments. That little bit of personality is more often than not what starts a conversation on Twitter. For me, it’s bourbon and usually my city of residence. (I do highly advocate listing your location—again, it’s likely to spark more connections.)
 Jane's bio is excellent. Here it is:
I share links on writing, publishing & tech. Web editor for + former publisher of . Bourbon lover & Hoosier native.
Charlottesville, VA, USA ·  

4. Link
Leave a link to your digital home. For most folks this will be a website or perhaps a blog. If you don't have a digital home and you're a writer hoping to sell your work, what are you waiting for? Get one! (This article may help: How To Build A Platform: Why Every Writer Needs A Website.)

To read the rest of Jane Friedman's article click here: Build a Better Author Bio for Twitter.

Jane's article inspired me to revamp my Twitter bio. If you'd like to see it, click here. While you're there say hi, I love hearing from readers. :-)

Other articles you might be interested in:
- 19 Ways To Grow Your Twitter Following
- Twylah: Turn Your Tweets Into A Blog
- Aherk! Makes Writing App 'Write Or Die' Look Tame

Monday, July 16

19 Ways To Grow Your Twitter Following

19 ways to increase your Twitter following
Get More Tweeters In Your Nest

Yesterday a friend asked me how he could increase his Twitter following. As we chatted I realized some of you might wonder the same thing so I'm posting my answer.

When I began Tweeting I had no idea how to attract followers. I had about 20 and I wanted more because I thought that would be a great way to reach out to other readers and writers.

Today I have over 6,000 followers but I've learnt that it's not about the number of people following me, it's about the connections I've made along the way. The tips I'm about to give aren't meant to get you--as certain advertisements announce--5,000 followers in two days. You could do that, well you could probably easily get 5,000 followers after a couple of months, but I don't think it would mean anything because you would have no connection to any of those people.

What I'm going to discuss are ways you can use your Twitter account to build, as Seth Godin says, a tribe. A community.

1. Form a tribe
When you first start tweeting you aren't following anyone and you have no followers. Who are you going to follow?

I'm a writer so I followed the people I think of as mentors: Elizabeth Spann Craig, Joe Konrath, Dean Wesley Smith and Kris Rusch.

Chances are that the people your mentors follow, as well as the people who follow them, are going to be people you'll want in your tribe. Take a look at their tweets, look at their blogs, their websites. If you decide you want to make a connection with them then follow them.

An Example
Clear as mud? Let me give you an example of what I mean. This is an image of the top part of Elizabeth Craig's Twitter page.

Notice that, on the far right hand side (you can click on the image to enlarge it), three lists are mentioned:

1) The list of her tweets, labeled TWEETS (22,531),
2) The list of the people who she is following, labeled FOLLOWING (12,065),
3) The list of the people who follow her, labeled FOLLOWERS (14,710).

If you right-click Elizabeth's FOLLOWING list you'll be presented with a list of everyone she is following. Tale a look at a few of these folks. Read their biography, look at their tweets. If they list a website or blog in their bio then go take a look. If he or she seems like a person you'd like to reach out to, then follow them.

Don't expect your new acquaintance to follow you back, especially not right away. Read their tweets and reply when it feels natural and build up a content rich twitter feed. I've found that, most of the time, people follow back.

Note: I mentioned, above, looking at the list of people a person follows (FOLLOWING), but you can also look at the list of people who follow them (FOLLOWERS). Although this is more hit-and-miss since anyone can follow anybody, I've met some wonderful people this way.

Now that we are following a few people, and a few people are following us, what next?

2. Don't use the default portrait
This is a big no-no since many of the people who create bots send them out into the world with the default portrait. Besides, I think it's best to have the same profile picture for all social media and no one wants that to be the Twitter egg!

Ideally your portrait would be a picture of you but if you're shy, or on the FBI's most wanted list, you could take a picture of your hand or of your pet.

3. Have a biography
It doesn't have to be witty, just tell folks what you do and what you're interested in using 140 characters are less. If you don't have a biography a lot of folks will think you're a bot and you don't want that.

4. Include a link to your website
You're allowed to list a link just below your Twitter bio. This is a fabulous opportunity to let folks know who you are, what you stand for, what you're interested in, and in MORE than 140 characters! If you don't have a website, no problem. Include a link to your blog, Tumblr or Facebook account.

5. Include your location
This tip isn't going to apply to everyone, but if you're like, a blogger who talks about what is happening in the 604 area code, it can be a terrific asset.

6. Don't follow back everyone who follows you
I know this advice may seem counter-intuitive but if your goal is to build a community then why would you follow the guy who, in his bio, promises to tell you how to get 5,000 followers in 1 day, or how to make 10,000 dollars a month working from home? These are scams, the electronic equivalent of junk mail. We don't save junk mail, we recycle it.

Also, if you fill up the list of people you follow with scammers then Twitter will start to suggest your account to scammers as someone they might like to follow. On the other hand, if you only follow people you genuinely want to make a connection with then Twitter will pick up on that and start to mention your Twitter account to these kind of people. Nice!

Don't feel obligated to follow someone just because they've followed you. You know that not everyone you follow will follow you back. Folks understand this.

7. Interact with your followers
I've said this before, but it deserves its own point. Don't be shy about replying to tweets or joining conversations that are already in progress. If you're worried how your input will be received you can say something like, "I don't mean to intrude in, but ...".

Do reply to tweets if you have something to say. I love it when folks, whether or not they follow me, reply to something I've tweeted. Feedback is great and it's one of the best ways to build a community.

8. Don't just tweet, retweet
If you find a tweet you think your tribe would like, retweet it. It's also a great way of thanking someone for retweeting one of your tweets.

Twitter trivia: If you include a tweeters name (@theirname) in your tweet then Twitter will let them know you mentioned them in your tweet. BUT if you include a tweeters name as the very first thing in your tweet it will only be visible to anyone who follows both you and @theirname.

9. If you like a tweet and want to remember it, mark it as a favorite
This is convenient--you'll be able to find it again--and Twitter will tell the person who tweeted that you liked it. Win-win!

10. Participate in events like #FF (Follow Friday) 
This is your opportunity to acknowledge those tweeters who have influenced you and say thank you. These can be people who follow you, but they don't have to be. Also, since you're using a hash-tag (more on this later), your tweet will expose you to new people.

11. Use hashtags (#)
One of the most powerful ways to grow your audience is by using hashtags (for instance, #writing #publishing #amwriting). Since people can do a search on hashtags, or build up a list on the basis of a hashtag, using hashtags allows you to get your tweets in front of people who do not follow you.

For more information about hastags head on over to or do a search.

12. Don't spam
Don't try and sell something, even if you have something to sell. Just be yourself. Twitter isn't for hocking a product it is for connecting with people. Asking them to buy a new and improved widget won't do that.

You have a link in your Twitter bio to your website/blog/webpage that has information about your books--or whatever it is you'd like folks to know about--don't try and sell anything in your tweets.

That's not to say you shouldn't send out the occasional link to a good review of your book or announce that your book has gone on sale, etc. After all, a good review is omething you feel great about and you'll naturally want to tweet about it. On the other hand, if someone lets their followers know for the 14th time in 20 tweets that their book is on sale for $4.99 at Amazon, people are going to tune that person out and unfollow.

I read somewhere that a ratio of 1 self-promotional tweet for every 10 tweets is a comfortable ratio. Sounds good to me.

13. Link to your social media to your Twitter account
Don't forget to link to your twitter account from your other accounts. For instance, Facebook, your blog/website, Tumblr, and so on.

Also, if you're chatting with people in the real world, and they seem interested, don't be shy about mentioning you're on Twitter. If you're a writer this is especially true. I've found that at writing conferences nearly everyone brings business cards or bookmarks to hand out--it sure beats struggling to find a pen and a piece of paper!

14. Tweet pictures
People love pictures. If you doubt this, look at the popularity of Pinterest. One of my most popular tweets was of a gorgeous picture named, "Church of Trees, Belgium". (Here's a link to the blog post.)

Church of Trees, Belgium
Church of Trees, Belgium

You can tweet any media you like, even video. Mix it up, variety really is the spice of life.

15. Run a contest
Many writers have used contests to grow their email lists but this can also be used to grow ones Twitter following.

For instance, you could offer to send everyone who follows you on Twitter in the next week a free ebook. Or, in conjunction with your contest to help grow your email list, you could say that to enter folks would need to subscribe to your website and your Twitter feed.

In order to do something like this, though, you'd probably need to offer an attractive prize, perhaps something along the lines of an ereader. Also, folks generally don't like to be manipulated so proceed with caution.

16. Learn from your mentors
At the beginning of this article I talked about your mentors, people who are successfully doing what you want to do. Study their tweets.

What kind of tweets do these people use? Text, pictures, video? If they use video do they use Vimeo or YouTube? Do they have their own website or just a blog? Do they use Blogger? Tumblr? If your mentors are craftspeople, do they tweet much about their shows, and, if so, pay close attention to what they say and how they say it, especially when it doesn't work (in other words, when it seems like spam).

This is like the advice given to writers to read everything, the good, the bad and the positively horrible because it trains one to recognize what works for you and what doesn't. Chances are that if something seems spammy to you it'll seem spamming to a lot of other folks as well.

17. Use programs like ManageFilter, Tweepi and Hootsuite to help you manage your account
There are two main kinds of programs: managing programs and scheduling programs. Often one program can do everything, but not always.

Managing programs (Example: ManageFlitter, Tweepi)
Sometimes you may want to unfollow those who have left Twitter. If you have 10 or 20 followers it wouldn't take long to look at each account and see when he or she had last tweeted. If the user has been inactive for over, say, six months, then you might decide to unfollow them.

But what happens if you have over 100 followers? Over 1000? You could still do it manually but it would be a mind-numbingly boring task, and those things are best left to programs. I'm not saying you should unfollow these folks--life happens--but if this is something you want to do then these programs will help you do it easily, quickly and (depending on the plan you choose) cheaply.

Scheduling programs (Example: Hootsuite)
There have been times when I've come across six links that I've desperately wanted to tweet about, all in the span of 15 minutes. If I did that, though, my followers wouldn't be happy with me because--no matter how good the links were--they would consider it spam.

I usually tweet between five and six times a day and it works best if the tweets are more or less evenly spread out, so I use Hootsuite to help schedule tweets.

Note about pricing: All the programs I've mentioned, at the time of writing, are free to start, but usually you only get a limited set of features if you don't pay any money. This does, however, give you the chance to see firsthand what features each program provides, what the interface looks like, whether you find it easy and intuitive, etc.

18. Use lists
If you're at all like me you'll eventually end up following a lot of people. Some people are going to be your real life friends, some are going to be work contacts, some are going to be interested in your hobbies, some are going to share current news articles. How does a person keep up with all this information?

I use lists.

One list I use often is my News list. Here I've included writers who tweet about how to become a better writer and the publishing industry. When I want to read about those topics, I go to that list. (By the way, list management is something I find Hootsuite great at. And, just in case you're wondering, I'm not affiliated with Hootsuite in any way.)

Hopefully that will give you an idea of the power of lists. Also, lists can be public or private. Other Twitter followers can subscribe to your lists and this is a great way of finding people who share your passions.

19. Have fun!
At its most elemental level, Twitter exists as a way to relax, have fun and socialize. It can also be a powerful way to grow a network, even a tribe/community. But it's not going to work if you don't relax, be yourself and just have fun.

Happy tweeting! If you'd like to visit me on Twitter, click here: Karen Woodward's Twitter Page. Cheers!

Related reading:
- Tweepi: Helps You Manage Your Twitter Account
- Twylah: Turn Your Tweets Into A Blog
- Hootsuite for Twitter: 5 out of 5 stars
- Seth Godin: The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread

Thursday, July 12

Tweepi: Helps You Manage Your Twitter Account

I'm always on the look out for programs that allow me to spend less time managing my Twitter feed and more time enjoying it, so when I stumbled across Tweepi I had to check it out.

One thing I especially like is I can try Tweepi for free and, even using the free account, Tweepi helps me do everything I want. On top of that Tweepi has many tools for guessing who I'd like to follow. I always check these people out myself first, but having Tweepi make suggestions can be a real time-saver.

That said, I found the interface a wee bit clunky. A week or so ago I started using the Google Chrome app on the iPad to manage my Twitter feed and I have to say it has been very nice. One thing I especially like is being able to see, at a glance, a user's bio and their last three tweets. Convenient.

That's what I found lacking with Tweepi. You can get access to certain stats--number of tweets, number of followers, last tweet and Klout score, but nothing that helps you determine whether a particular user is interested in the same things you are.

Premium subscription
If you take out a premium subscription you can do things like unfollow users you followed more than a certain number of days ago but haven't followed you back. You can also unfollow users who have been inactive for over a certain number of days, and so on.

Unfollowing and the 20% limit
For anyone who doesn't know, sometimes a user has to unfollow folks who aren't following her if she wants to continue adding new people. Once a tweeter follows 2,000 people the number of people they follow can be no more than 20% of the amount of folks who are following them.

Clear as mud?

For instance, let's say 2,000 people are following me. That means I can follow no more than 2,400 people. In order for me to follow another person I have to either get another follower or unfollow someone who hasn't followed me back.

Twitter Tips
I don't use any software for following people. If I'm thinking of following someone I read that person's bio, look at their their tweets and, if I have time, visit their website. Everyone I follow is important to me and I want to get to know them.

Some folks use software to automatically follow people but I feel that's defeating the purpose of being on Twitter. It's a social network, a place for folks to meet people, to chat with them and form connections.

That's my 2 cents!

Cheers. And remember, don't let Twitter keep you from writing!

Monday, July 9

Twylah: Turn Your Tweets Into A Blog

I was surfing the electronic currents of the web when I chanced upon Elisabeth Spann Craig's Twylah page. It looks incredible! I signed up too and today received my own Twylah Page. I'm thrilled to bits.

For some time now I've been looking for a program that could do two things: first, show which of my tweets were the most popular and, second, display them in a blog-like interface.

Tweets and popularity
I've often wanted a quick way of determining which of my tweets were the most popular--I guess this is known as 'trending'. After all, I don't want to bore anyone! It's true, there are a number of programs that will tell you how many times a certain tweet has been retweeted (for instance Topsy Labs Social Analytics and Tweetreach) but, in my opinion, they lack clarity. That said, I love Topsy Analytics and use it all the time to find who is re-tweeting my tweets as well as interesting people to follow.

Blog-like interface for tweets
I'm not complaining about Twitter's interface. I like it that I can go to my twitter account and see a timeline of my tweets. I can't tell you how many times my cat has jumped onto my keyboard while I'm composing a Tweet and I need to find out whether it was cancelled or published prematurely.

That said, it would be handy to have an attractive visual interface which allowed a user to take in my most re-tweeted tweets at a glance.

I've only just received my Twylah page so all I can give you are my first impressions. I'll write again about my experience with the service after I've used it for a while.

If you'd like to try out Twylah, here's the link: Twylah. The service is still in beta so you have to request an invite, but I got mine after two or three days.

Other articles:
- Aherk! Makes Writing App 'Write Or Die' Look Tame
- Changes in Amazon's Algorithm: An Update
- Mark Coker, Founder Of Smashwords, Talks About Indie Publishing

Wednesday, August 24

Hootsuite for Twitter: 5 out of 5 stars

I'm stubborn, I like to do everything myself. So when I first heard about Hootsuite I thought, "Well, that's fine for some folks, but I don't need it."

Yea. Just like I didn't need a food processor. This is a true story. For years I put off getting a food processor because I didn't think I needed it. I mean, what does it do? It chops vegetables! I can do that. After I broke down and got one, I had no idea how I'd ever managed without it. It saved me a lot of time. Hootsuite is like that; for me, it is the food processor of the Twitter world.

Here's why:
1. Hootsuite shortens my links for me.
Before I used Hootsuite I would go to bitly or tinyURL to shorten my link and then copy and paste it in my tweet. When I started sending out more than a couple of tweets per day this process became tiresome. One of the features I love about Hootsuite is that it has a URL shortener built in. It works beautifully and I don't have to go anywhere else for what I need. For me, this is a big plus.

2. Hootsuite can schedule tweets.
When I decided that I wanted to tweet more than three times a day I started using Hootsuite's scheduler. Wow! Very nice. It doesn't work as well for tweets that are time sensitive -- breaking news, that sort of thing -- but for everything else it is a dream come true. Just cue up your tweets for the day -- or the week -- and you're done. Before there would be, say, three stories that I wanted to tweet about but I didn't want to do three tweets one right after the other. I would try to remember to do one every three hours or so, but I would usually forget. The scheduler is like my underpaid digital assistant who takes care of these things for me.

3. Hootsuite is Free!
There are a lot of other great things about Hootsuite, but one of the things I love about it is that it is free. Yes, there is a professional version which costs 5.99 a month but I have been using the free version and am very happy.

4. Hootsuite Hootlet
A couple of days ago I discovered a browser addon that will capture the title and url of a post and dislay it. Here's what the folks at Hootsuite have to say:

We call the Hootlet our secret weapon because it has the power to completely change how you use Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin. Want to share a link? Hit the Hootlet button, and automatically, the URL is shortened and text is grabbed from the site.

The Hootlet is truly great, I'm hoping they come out with something like it for Safari.

That's my review of Hootsuite. Other reviews I've looked at have given it four out of five stars and I'll admit that I only tried out two or three different programs before I settled on Hootsuite, but I am truly thrilled with the program and will probably at some point spring for the professional version.


Friday, August 12

A Blogging Start-Up Kit

You've never Blogged, Tweeted or Facebooked but now you're ready. What to do?

First, congratulations! This is a big step, it's a lot of work, but if you're a writer, or thinking about becoming a writer, building a platform is expected and essential.


It seems that the most popular blogging platforms are and I chose to use rather than because, while both are free to use, Blogger doesn't make one pay to take down advertisements. I know of people, though, who have a flourishing blog on Wordpress and couldn't be happier with the service.

Google Analytics. This is essential. It shows you, on a month to month basis, how the traffic on your site changes as well as what sort of traffic your site attracts.

You have your blog set up so it's time to get a Twitter account. In my opinion, if a writer had to choose between blogging and tweeting, I'd say tweet. After I tweet a link to one of my blog posts I get a spike of traffic that represents folks visiting my site to read the article.

Twitter drives traffic to my blog and my blog gives me a way to share longer pieces of content with my readers, but if I only had a blog ... well, who would read it? My friends and family, sure, but Twitter gives me a way to reach out to people I don't know. It gives me a way to connect with people looking for the kind of content I provide. Okay, that's my plug for Twitter. :)

Before I move on, here are some links to sites that help you gauge what sort of impact your tweets are having:

- Twitter Counter: While you're there, check out Twittercounter's Twitter Profile Checker and get recommendations on what to do to attract more followers.

- Tells you how many people your tweets have reached.

- Topsy Social Analytics: Tells you how many times your tweets were mentioned.

- Klout Score: Klout will give you a score that is based on your Score Analysis, your Network Influence, your Amplification Probability and your True Reach.

- TweetGrader: Gives you a grade out of 100

- Lots of interesting stats. For instance, looks at your tweets according to number of tweets and time of day

You've got a blog and you're tweeting up a storm, the next step is to take out an account on Facebook. I'm going to admit that I should do more with Facebook so this section is as much for me as it is for anyone.

A little while ago I wrote an article on how to set up a Facebook page. I like fan pages because it removes the uncertainty of whether a writer intends their page for real-life friends only or whether they are inviting anyone who is interested in their work to connect with them.

After you're blogged and tweeted for a bit you'll find yourself looking for new content. I've found the best source of content is other bloggers and news feeds. Below are the sources I've found most useful.

Joe Konrath: A Newbie's Guide to Publishing
Dean Wesley Smith
Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Passive Voice Blog @PassiveVoiceBlg

News Sites:
The New Yorker


Google Alerts. Interested in who is talking about you? Your book(s)? To start out with, create an altert containing your name and one for each title you have available.

This post is by no means in-depth. My goal was to give a person new to blogging and tweeting a few useful links, links that I wish I had known about when I started.

Cheers, and good blogging!

Wednesday, July 20

Flipboard: Best Free App Ever

Actually, Flipboard is one of my favorite apps, whether free or paid, and the one I use most often.

I love the way the app displays twitter feeds like a virtual newspaper, taking the links tweeted and displaying the first part of the article so I can easily scan it to see if I'm interested in viewing the whole thing.

From Flipboard's description in the App Store:

Named Apple's iPad App of the Year and one of TIME's top 50 innovations of 2010, Flipboard is a fast, beautiful way to flip through the news, photos, videos, and updates your friends are sharing on Facebook, Twitter, Google Reader, Flickr, and Instagram. See your social media in a magazine layout that is easy to scan and fun to read. Catch up on the latest stories, videos and posts from popular publications and people such as National Geographic, The New Yorker, Wired, Rolling Stone, Oprah, Forbes, Robert Scoble, and Brain Pickings' Maria Popova. Share articles and photos, comment on posts, and like or favorite anything. Customize your Flipboard with sections created from your favorite news, people, blogs, and topics.

Well said. I know this might sound like a paid advertisement, but I'm not receiving anything in exchange for this review. Truth is, I was going through my feeds on Flipboard and having trouble coming up with a story or topic that grabbed me when it came to me: Blog about Flipboard! It really is, for me, a killer app and the unbelievably great thing is that it is free! Something that is important to me as a starving artist. :)

If you're interested, go check it out at the iTunes store.

Flipboard at the iTunes Store