Expanding My Platform: My Thoughts

BeFunky Collage

I even attempted Pinterest, but I could never get into it.

As some of you know or don’t know, I’ve joined Instagram, so that’s another thumb tack to add to my ever-widening travels around the social media sphere. Throughout my three years of being an author on social media, I’ve come to develop favorite platforms that I prefer to use much more than others. Even though I’ve just started Instagram, I can tell it’s probably going to be among my favorites. So here are my thoughts on the ones I’ve used so far:

  1. Facebook. I actually have a short post about Facebook here, but it is my least favorite platform to use. I like platforms that are easy to maintain and don’t require pulling teeth, but this platform does. You have to work unreasonably hard to receive views from your primary followers. Never mind that FB WANTS you to spend money so that way you can up your views–and it’s not even going to be from people who follow you but glorified spam bots. So I simply keep all of my social media connected to it and let that do the updating for me.
  2. Twitter. Though I try to regularly attract more followers, I can’t get into this platform. I understand there is so much you can do with it, like joining chats being hosted and being able to host one of your own, but Twitter isn’t exciting enough for me. I’ll manually update it–unlike my Facebook–but when 99% of Twitter consists of spam, it’s hard to develop any zest for it. Plus, I don’t like the sparse interactions. I don’t like being limited to a certain amount of words, though, as an author, this is advantageous, as it forces me to compress what my book is about into a few bite-sized words. I also dont like how spiteful followers can be. If you unfollow them for whatever reason, than they’re as likely to unfollow you back. But as far as interacting with others, I can think of better ways to establish a much deeper connection than what 140 characters allows. This isn’t to say I won’t start a Twitter chat of my own, though.
  3. WordPress. Obviously I love this platform, or else I wouldn’t keep it updated and would probably just spend most of my time re-blogging others’ posts. I love that you can connect this to your other platforms to receive more views. I love the SEO function since you can tag it with keywords so that others can find your posts through search engines. I used to spend a lot of my time gathering followers, but I realize followers don’t matter, insofar as your posts popping up in their inboxes. What matters to me, more than anything else, are the views and unique views my blog receives. You can have thousands of followers, but if you can’t even manage to scrape 50 unique views daily or have more than 30 re-blogs or even likes, what are those followers doing for your blog?
  4. Tumblr. This is my number one favorite platform and my most popular. Just about every post I write now goes viral and collects me an ample amount of followers. However, what’s interesting is that the posts I write are seen more by non-followers than my actual followers! One post I have has over 7,000 notes, and I don’t even have that many followers. More like 5,000. I also love the fact that Tumblr is very, very simple. You actually want to explore the different tags since Tumblr makes it so easy to do. And because followers are far more willing to explore tags versus other platforms, your posts can be seen more often by people who aren’t following you. I take loads of pride in my Tumblr and all of my super-supportive followers.
  5. Youtube. I love, love, love this platform, but it is so time consuming and very high maintenance. Yeah, you can just use your webcam, record something, and immediately pop it into Youtube, but if you’re like me, you’ll actually want to edit your videos. For this reason, I haven’t updated my Youtube in forever. With wanting to keep up with my other platforms and the fact that being a writer isn’t my only job, it’s rough. I would love to jump back into it, but doing so isn’t feasible at this moment.
  6. MailChimp. I love this platform for creating newsletters. It’s super easy to use. I didn’t even require a tutorial to jump in and start using it. It’s also super easy for people to sign up and receive your newsletters. I want to get back into sending a monthly one now that I have a job again as an author. It’s really hard to keep it updated when you have no news about your writing life.
  7. Instagram. Though it’s new for me, I’m super loving it. It’s simple to use and requires the least exertion among any social media platform. It’s fun to use since you can think of exciting, creative ways of presenting the pic you want to post. Just snap a pic, add a caption, throw in some tags, and there you go! I also love how easy it is to find book bloggers and establish connections with them.

If you don’t use any of the platforms I’ve listed, you’ve at least got to use Instagram.

Writers: How to Use Tumblr Effectively

Recently I have been re-vamping how I use my social media platforms, WordPress being one. I have Heather Hebert of AEC Stellar Publishing to thank for this. I have been doing informative posts on WordPress lately, and I am seeing the benefits of doing so, as well as using generic tags that register me in the WordPress reader and tags that will make my posts appear in people’s search engines. Because it’s difficult to interact with other people’s blogs on WordPress, all of my posts on here will be about providing a service to you.

In any case, I have noticed that generic writing advice on Tumblr receives the most attention for my blog. I never did generic writing advice on WordPress, as I know WordPress is used by more adults than teens, so I wanted to go beyond generic writing advice in terms of my audience. Teens, however, spend a great deal of time on Tumblr, and teen writers are no exception; therefore, I want to help out teen writers in any way I can. They pretty much treat Tumblr as the entire internet itself, and Tumblr might as well be–you can find ANYTHING on there. I can type in any anime, and I guarantee you that a lot of the pics that pop up in the images on Google will all be from Tumblr.

While we writers are expected to have platforms now, and we are overwhelmed by the various social media options out there, I argue that Tumblr is one social media site you cannot ignore. And I am going to tell you how to effectively use it.

To start, here is a picture of a post I did on Writing Effective Action Scenes that has received a sudden influx of attention. I posted this two days ago. When I last checked it, it had about 45 notes. Now it has over 200 and is still receiving attention as I write this very post, so the picture I’m showing you is actually outdated, even though I took it several minutes ago (also notice how short it is):

action scenesLook at the very bottom. Notice that little heart and the number before it? That heart is your notes indicator, which includes re-blogs and likes. The number before it indicates my total notes, which is 274. The great thing about Tumblr is that people do not like and re-blog to like and re-blog. Their likes and re-blogs are genuine. I wrote a post before this with generic writing advice that received over 400 notes. I didn’t know this until I checked the post a week later. Needless to say, I was completely astonished. So how did my post receive this much attention?

  • Tags. You cannot underestimate the importance of tags on Tumblr. The good thing about Tumblr is that everything you need is right on your dashboard. If you want to know what popular tags are, type in a certain word into your search bar, and you can go through that tag and see how popular it is. With WordPress, you have to go to the reader to see what your followers are doing. Not with Tumblr. Now the screen capture above is via thewritingcafe, so thewritingcafe only tagged it as #fightscenes. However, when I tagged it, I used writing, writers, writing advice, writing tips, revising, editing, editing tips, revising tips, authors, teen writers, and so on and so forth. Tumblr does not limit tags like WordPress does. When you’re typing in a tag, Tumblr will recommend a popular tag to you as well, but make sure that tag is relevant to your post. Don’t try to use Google search SEO tags, because Tumblr isn’t about that. A good post on Tumblr has the chance to receive more notes than the followers you have, so it’s unnecessary to try to use Google SEO tags, not when generic tags can carry you far enough. Plus, when the right person spots your post, that person can create an SEO tag for you, if that person so desires, which brings me to my next point.
Tumblr photo

Thank goodness there wasn’t anything inappropriate when I screen captured this. Users don’t always censor themselves. But this is what a Tumblr dashboard looks like.

  • Getting the right person to re-blog your post. thewritingcafe is the reason why my post has received a sudden influx of attention, as this blog likely has many, many followers. All it takes is that one person to find your post, and your post can become a sudden hit on Tumblr. Feel free to re-blog your own post, too, tagging it with the same tags you used so that it gets right back into the tag. If you provide something awesome, that one right person WILL find your post and give you the attention your hard work deserves. At the same time, I think I MAY have followed this person on the writing tag before it received all these notes. Even so, if you write a quality post, regardless of whether or not you followed that person that made you a hit, that post is receiving much-deserved attention, so don’t think your hard work is riding on the back of someone else.
  • Creating content that provides a service. Many of my followers tend to re-blog a lot of pictures posts, but these are followers who are in it for the content and aren’t necessarily about creating content themselves. This is not a bad thing. This is a great thing. They are actively seeking content that appeals to them, so if you can provide that content, you are guaranteed re-blogs by these people who want others to see what you’ve created. As I am still an unknown writer, I have to create content that appeals to them. Someone like John Green can post whatever he wants and receive attention; he already has a massive fanbase from his books alone. Not me. So I have to work at creating content. As a writer, you need your Tumblr to be different from your other social media sites, so you want your Tumblr to be something that will gain popularity on this website. Peruse it and see what’s generally popular among writers and readers. You do not have to post generic writing advice like I do. I am a YA writer, so it makes sense for me to post generic writing advice to aspiring teen authors. If you write adult fantasy, for example, you need to tailor your blog around this and create content that will be popular.
  • Re-blog others’ posts that are relevant to your blog. I love going through my Tumblr feed. My followers post such interesting things, like gifs, text posts, videos, among other things. However, I generally only like these posts. I do not re-blog, because most of them are not relevant to the content I create. Even so, if a popular post shows up in my feed that is social justice in nature, I will re-blog it and add my own commentary that will boost the conversation and, subsequently, have my followers interacting with it as well. So when you do re-blog something, add text relevant to the conversation. This will give your followers a taste of who you are as a person based on what you re-blog. Try not be controversial, though. I made that mistake in the beginning, and it earned me some trolls.
  • Follow everyone back who likes and re-blogs your ORIGINAL content. Not only will this give YOU more attention, but once you post something, all those followers are going to be able to see what you post, granted their feed isn’t cluttered, which is the only downside of Tumblr I can think of. Then again, any social media site has the potential to be cluttered–Wordpress isn’t innocent in this, especially if people subscribe to mass amounts of blogs. Even so, Tumblr users will scroll and scroll and scroll through their feeds since Tumblr is so user friendly. *Note: You cannot individually thank all those who follow back; more likely than not, a mass amount of people will do so. 32 people have followed my Tumblr today, so I wrote a post thanking them.
  • Utilize your ask box. All you have to do is create a post encouraging people to ask you questions that are relevant to the content of your blog. Sometimes you don’t even have to do this. People will eventually start asking you questions of their own volition. Try to answer their questions. However, once your blog picks up in popularity, you may not be able to answer all questions. John Green certainly can’t, but he will still answer questions anyway.

That’s my advice on using Tumblr effectively. You can feel free to follow me on Tumblr if you are seeking writing advice. My Tumblr post tomorrow will be tips on brevity–cutting the fat, basically. My WordPress post on Wednesday will be updates on my author life, plus a picture quote from When Stars Die. Can’t wait to see you all then!

More Facebook Page Fraud: For Those Authors Considering Facebook Pages

I have over 1500 likes on my FB author page. These are genuine likes. I didn’t pay for advertising. Yet…out of all of those likes, only 14 are talking about it–whatever that means. Sometimes I’ll receive an influx of likes and my activity will rise to the 100s. But then just as quickly, it will die. I’ll admit I haven’t been that busy on my page. Recently I started posting more: The original number was 5. Yet, even when I do post continuously, I can get, at most, probably 50 or 60 actually talking about it. Out of all those likes, that’s EXTREMELY frustrating. One time I had over 300 talking about it because there was a point where I just had a flood of likes, and I didn’t even know where they were coming from! But, of course, it died…fast. This video explains my frustrations perfectly and why I have considered abandoning my FB page numerous times. It’s not like my fans are really seeing anything I post. FB, after all, WANTS you to spend money on promoting your page, and it wants you to keep doing that.

Why Authors Should Not Have a Facebook Fan Page…Anymore

I have something very sad to report. I am no longer using my FB fan page. I have 1,537 likes, but only 32 are actually interacting with it. It isn’t my fault. I know it’s not. Generally when I receive a huge influx of fans for whatever reason, I’ll see about 300 interacting with it, then it begins to drop steeply, despite my continuous updates on the page geared toward my fans (updates on my personal life, writing life, ect). Do you know how I know it isn’t my fault? Look up authors like John Green. He has about 614k followers, and only 54,000 are interacting with it. Big number, right? So what’s there to complain about? Do the math. That, I believe, is about 11-20% (to be frank, I can never remember my percentage formulas, so, math wizards, do the calculating for me). But that is far less than 50%. That is abysmal for someone as prolific as John Green, who has more likes than even Stephen King.  

Zoom in or click the picture for proof.

Zoom in or click the picture for proof.

I’m going to bring in facts from this post–rather thread from AbsoluteWrite–to convince you that having an FB author page is a waste of time. A HUGE one, one that does a disservice to both authors and fans of their pages. And I’m going to tell you what you can do about this, and what I am going to do about it. Everything I’m about to write uses the above post to support my argument, so this is an argumentative piece, not an opinion-based piece. I will no longer be doing opinion-based pieces.

Read this post, too.

Facebook claims it is a free service, and it is–for those who simply want to have an account and socialize. However, things become more complicated if you’re a business owner, social media marketer, run a charity, or are an author/artist of some sort. If you have read the first link, you will see that people have spoken about their experiences with FB before it began to scam its users of fan pages. Before, all fans were able to see the posts these pages created, and these pages didn’t have to boost their posts for their fans to see this. Now that is no longer the case. If your fans are not interacting with your posts in some way, be it likes or comments, they will eventually never see what you post again.

Facebook wants you to boost your posts, so they can make money off of you. So now you’re probably thinking ‘Well, spending the money might be worth it if it means keeping my fans happy and engaged.’ Unfortunately, spending money doesn’t guarantee this at all. In fact, only a tiny percentage of your fans may see it. The rest may be bots who end up liking your page, as proven from the first linked post above, where one user spent money to boost a post, but received zero activity, thus leading up to the assumption that the only things that could have seen it were bots. After all, if you boost your post, someone is going to have to see it, and it may not be actual people. It’s like Weebly’s stats. The unique views stats are not accurate because many of those views could have come from bots.

As I’ve said, I can’t remember the formula for percentages, but probably 5% or less are actually seeing anything I post, and I am not about to spend money on boosting my posts. Those 5% or less are regulars on my page, people who actually enjoy my work, or people who just happen, by sheer luck, to be on when they see my post. So what do I think you should do?

If you don’t have a fan page, don’t even think of starting one. Concentrate your efforts elsewhere. I would go with Google+. I would also find groups on FB that are geared to both writers and readers and have them friend you on your personal pages, because you will always see their posts, whether or not you actively engage with them (and I hope you will, if you are able to see a post from them at the time you are on FB).

If you are an author with a fan page, basically, and I hate to say this, you should just ditch it. For about a week or two, ask your fans to friend you on FB. Probably do this three times a day. Then you’ll have a good grasp of how many people are actually able to see your posts. Those who have never seen your posts again are not missing out on anything, because if they were truly fans, they would look you up on the search bar to see any updates on your fan page. I do this with John Green. I will look him up to see what’s going on because I am a huge fan of his (and I will also do this with my publisher and a few other AEC authors, as well as Month9Books). John Green is probably the only author whose work I actively look out for. I frankly cannot wait to see what his next book will be. As with those who don’t have a fan page, concentrate your efforts on Google+, join non-promotional groups on FB, and instead join groups dedicated to readers and writers, and make friends there. Engage with them on your personal FB page when you are on and see a status from those people. This lets you know you care about them as people, and this will strengthen your relationship with that fan. Readers nowadays expect interactivity with authors now, and it is especially crucial for those building platforms.

So what am I doing about this? Google+ and FB groups. I am also going to let my assistant take over my FB page so it doesn’t disappear into obscurity (because I did work for those 1548 likes), but I will no longer be an active participant on it. I am frankly disgusted that FB would scam and punish those with pages, especially businesses, and punish those who have liked those pages.

I wouldn’t mind spending a few dollars for my FB author page if ALL of my fans could see everything I posted, but as FB is not doing this, I am moving on. And you should, too. Apparently this is a recent development, but I have seen it in the past with me. Masses of people will like my page, and 300 or 400 will be talking about it, but then those numbers start to severely dwindle, and I know it isn’t me, because it is even happening to big-time authors; however, these authors continue to receive likes, so it may benefit them a little, but those interacting with their page are often way lower than 50% of their actual numbers in terms of likes. Look up Stephen King. Look up any big-time author. Less than 30%. That is neither good nor fair. So big authors like that may benefit from having FB pages, but, even then, I think they’re better off using Twitter or some other strong social media that doesn’t scam money out of its users’ dollars, but actually puts those dollars to good use that benefits its users.

facebook-do-not-like-buttonIf you need further proof, let me use my Tumblr as an example. I have 788 fans. Now, not all my fans are going to see what I post because Tumblr is a continuous stream. However, I can tag my posts, and strangers will see what I’ve written. A month ago, I wrote a post about first chapters. Just the other day I checked out how many notes it received: 351 (and I don’t think this occurred over an entire month, but a few days, and then stopped for whatever reason), and the majority of this was from strangers, along with a few of my followers, as a lot of my followers aren’t writers, so I’m going to try to do posts that also lure in readers that I’ve followed. This has happened to a previous post, and it was simply an inspirational post, one from Stephen King: over 500 notes. Do you see where I’m getting at? It’s the same with John Green. Over 500,000 followers, and he’ll receive more notes on his posts than followers.

In conclusion, I URGE you to read what I’ve linked.

The Reality of What Indie Authors Make–It Isn’t What I Thought It’d Be

I added this old man in for laughs.

I added this old man in for laughs.

Rachel Thompson recently addressed the topic of the reality of how much indie authors can truly make. I apply this to people who are even traditionally published, be it with a small press or big press. First-time authors end up finding out that they have to use their advances to pay for the marketing of their book, but with the proliferation of the internet, there are some cheap alternatives to actually get your book out there, and there are plenty of authors who have found success with the internet alone.

Now I don’t know what sales on my book are, but they might be low, and they might not be. I’m just starting out, so I hope to get to where she gets one day. I mean, really, the reality she seems to posit is actually fairly good, compared to the reality of most indie authors, which is actually much lower for the average one. But I suppose you just have to be business-minded to find success with this market, and I am not–hence, why I have a publisher.

Rachel Thompson, on the other hand, uses much of what she makes to pay for travel to conferences, conferences, Google Adwords (which is such a difficult thing to use that her husband has made a business around it), still having taxes taken out of what she makes, paying money to market her social media effectively, editing of all books (which is understandable, considering she is indie), and the fact that she still has to have a day job–which, well, most authors do.

Okay, so let me break it down for you on the figures Rachel Thompson puts forth. She makes 36,000 dollars per eighteen months, which is about 2,000 dollars a month. Me being with a press and all, I could live off 36,000 dollars a year, 2,000 dollars a month, considering where I live, too–this is assuming I’m not having to sink money into marketing costs myself–also, the fact that I will be getting married to someone who makes about that much money, so our incomes combined would allow me to be a full-time writer. I actually use some of the money I make at my part-time job to pay for blitzes and other things that help increase exposure, as well as my publisher helping out with the marketing aspect of my book.  So perhaps this post is preaching more toward people who are with small presses or traditional houses, where they don’t really have to sink too much money into their own books.

In any case, after all costs, Rachel is left with 7,000 dollars, which isn’t even the average advance a first-time author makes. In fact, a 7,000 dollar advance from a house is pretty darn good. She says this covers 3.5 months of rent, but if she’s working another job, she still seems to have 7,000 dollars left over.  She admits she isn’t complaining, but when I was going into her article, I expected the figures to be abysmally low for an indie author, and they’re apparently not.

I suppose what I’m trying to say is that I would kill to make 2,000 dollars a month for my book, even if I did have to sink it into the marketing of my book. If 7,000 dollars were left after it all, that’s extra money to me, extra money to do whatever the heck I wanted with–an advance, essentially. Now I will admit that money is not my priority, but I do want to make money off my books so I could eventually go full-time. However, I may never go full-time because there are other things I love, like editing and PR and all that, and I don’t think I could quit those, even if my writing alone afforded me to.

All in all, I thought the figures she would posit would be much lower–which is the whole point of this article. To me, she is very successful, money-wise, to be making 2,000 dollars a month, even if most of it has to go toward the marketing of herself and her books.

Now tomorrow I will talk about how much I do love marketing my own book–and how all authors, even with big houses, should do so. After all, that book is their baby, so why wouldn’t they want to help out with marketing it? You can’t rely on your house alone to do so. 

***In Other News***

There is a cover art contest going on–I think it is, you can’t really see the covers–and I would love it if you could all vote for When Stars Die. The top ten people will receive something awesome. So just click here. Thank you!

Guest Bloggers Wanted

kitty-typing Hello, everyone! I am currently seeking out guest bloggers to blog over anything and everything that they want. Even if you have already been a guest blogger, you can guest blog again. I am not putting a limit on how many guest bloggers I want. It’s just that I have become so busy with When Stars Die stuff that I have even needed to promote Mariah Wilson from beta reader to assistant–well, she’s been an assistant for a while now, but she’s even more assistant-y now.

If you want to guest blog, either leave a comment (and I will get to you) or e-mail me at thedancingwriter@gmail.com.

My Uncluttered Social Media Foray

4_social_media_393706Lately I have been doing some serious social media housekeeping–mostly getting rid of followers on Twitter, unliking pages on Facebook, unfollowing Tumblr users, and putting a pause on following people on WordPress. I am doing this because I am following writers who have thousands of followers on every social media platform they use but pathetic rankings of their books, and it isn’t because they’re spamming links to their books. It’s because they are following way too many people who are drowning in their feeds, and they can’t establish a strong social media bond with any one of them.

Let me begin with Twitter. Thus far, I have unfollowed over 400 people who link spam their books, re-tweet too much, have a high follow to follower ratio, and who don’t engage in conversation with other users because they’re following too many people.

I once read on Facebook that writers should follow 50 people a day, and I think that is a horrible idea because you’re not likely to chat with any of them. And if you do, you’re spending away too much time on Twitter when you could be using that time to write.

I am still unfollowing people on Twitter. It’s fine if people follow me. I’ll engage them in conversation, but I am extremely selective now about whether or not I’m going to follow you back because I want to make certain that you are a person I am going to regularly engage in conversation with on Twitter. Otherwise, you’re just crowding my feed. Social media is about interaction, and if I’m not interacting with you, there is no point in following you. I don’t feel like I owe anyone anything anymore. It is your prerogative to follow me, but I don’t owe you a return follow. However, if you engage in conversation with me, I’ll be happy to engage back, and that may lead to a follow from me. Maybe. I no longer want thousands of people crowding my feed. I now understand why people with a crap ton of followers only follow back a few of those people (I don’t have a crap ton, but you get my point). This has lost me followers, but those people probably weren’t interested in me in the first place. I am still following people, but only after I’ve engaged with them in some type of chat, like #yalitchat.

As for Facebook, I received a lot of my likes through Like groups. Authors post links to their pages, and we follow them and expect a follow in return. I am now unliking a great deal of the pages I’ve liked because, frankly, I’m not interested in the books, and authors create Facebook pages to further their careers, and if I’m not contributing to that, I see no reason to keep that page on my feed. It’s just cluttering it when my Facebook is supposed to be about my friends and anyone else who chooses to befriend me. If people unlike my Facebook page because of this, they probably weren’t interested in my book to begin with–or me, or anything I had to say.

Tumblr hasn’t been as bad because a lot of the content posted is often interesting and Tumblr makes it very, very easy to post something or re-blog something or follow someone or unfollow someone, so its interface is very smooth and I am not made to feel like my feed is cluttered when I follow someone new. I am just following writers and readers now and cleaning out those who are not interested in either.

But I no longer feel like I owe anyone a like or a follow because I feel like my book should do that for me. You can have 10,000 followers, but if you’re only getting 100 to respond to anything you put out there, then it’s absolutely pointless to have all those people cluttering your feed. I am not following people on WordPress anymore for this reason. I already wrote the blog post. That’s my product. If you follow me because you like my product, I don’t owe you a follow in return. I’ll do the polite thing and look at your blog, and if I REALLY like what I see, I might subscribe, but I can’t have e-mail subscriptions crowding my box when I have to make room for other, more important e-mails.

But the point is is that too much clutter makes for inefficient use of one’s social media time. I can create all sorts of e-mail accounts and other accounts for the purpose of containing the clutter, but why bother? I’m likely to not visit them. Ever. I want to make efficient use of my social media time now so I  can spend more time writing and creating a product that people want. I just think it’s so maddening and petty that people actually use apps to see who unfollowed them. Why do we expect anything at all when it comes to social media? If you go to the store and buy post-it notes, you don’t expect a thank you letter from the company who made the post-it notes, so why do we expect the same with social media? I wrote the post, you read it and enjoyed it and got something out of it, so what more do I owe? I love to look at people’s blogs and comment on their stuff, and I love to reply to their comments to my posts, but it’s like we expect this, that it’s our obligation as bloggers to do this when our only obligation, I think, is just to write the dang post in the hopes that someone gets something out of it. Life is too busy for us to worry about whether or not these people are going to follow us back or whatever.

I would rather just write and make my writing what I owe people. Of course social media is very important anymore to sell books, but people expect too much, which leads to clutter, which leads to frustration. Social media is about interaction, and clutter doesn’t allow for much of that.