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Posts tagged ‘twitter’

Bread on the waters (it brings out the fish)

‘See I’m more important than you!’ squalled the twitterati. “I’ve got more twitter followers AND more facebook likes. I’ve totally smoked you etc etc… to summarize the pursuit of irrelevance that Larry Correia blogged about here.

She was rating herself for the above reason as THE authority who should be able to tell this badthink man to listen to her little minion, who relentlessly kept up the usual garboil about how mean Larry was, and how he didn’t ought to badthink because that was evul. Evul along with, you know, guns and thinking human gender was binary. (and there I thought it was male or female. But then I guess I also think there are 10 kinds of people, those who understand what binary usually means and those who don’t).

I’ve always been confused by the non-logic of this sort of thing. If said person/s (and there are many of them) are really evul uncontrollable monsters because guns and badthink, then, well, why don’t they just shoot you and any other folk who pester them or dare disagree? It’s kind of like the feminasty clarion-call that ‘all men are oppressive monsters who would rape us and have us barefoot, pregnant and the kitchen’. Get real. Men are, on average, bigger, faster just as intelligent (on the mean), and have a broader bell curve of with extremes of intelligence and stupidity around that mean, are more prone to physical violence, and more capable at it, than women. Guns if anything help a little to equalize things, but men tend to better and more familiar with those too. If all men were what these feminists claim they are, then all women would be raped, barefoot pregnant and in the kitchen. As they’re not, I guess that one is merely ‘95% consensus’ –ie. Bull.

Still, the form of logic (which comes under the same umbrella as ‘If I buy Kippers it will not rain’ level of brilliant thought) that led the silly woman to conclude that because she had more twitter followers or facebook likes she was vastly important, and hadn’t even written a novel or translated. (Don’t ask. Logic, common sense, and quite probably sanity had left long before, on the last train for the coast) than Larry, she could tell him what to do and think. And then her friendies, having drunk the cool-aid were indignant that he could pick on her and show her how irrelevant she really was. It was just evul nasty badthink. See: her putting him down was good, and him putting her down was bad, because badthink, and probably guns too.

I’m too old for this drivel –i.e. I have a mental age of over 4 and will have to wait for a second childhood to be able to cope with it, and have my intellect to decline to under senile Labrador retriever to get it. But it did resonate with an interesting conversation I’d had with my young French cousin – a bright guy from a very different background. We were talking about the value of fans, conferences, twitter, facebook etc. And he came out at monetary value for Apple fans, and I found another for facebook followers.

Now, what’s the difference between a solitary guy (a) (like me, who will happily take on the sea (which you ought to know is a large vastly powerful entity, can kill effortlessly rather like a hippopotamus, but far far far bigger and more powerful and dangerous. You don’t play with hippos but somehow the sea is just fine, until it kills you) but battles to deal with crowds or large group socializing (I am a little deaf — diving and explosions I guess, and I have a personal space of about three yards, unless I am sleeping with you. Which counts all of you but the wife and cats out.)), (b) a person who hates the outdoors, and hates crowds and is introverted and likes to read, and (c) a cheerful extrovert who loves to talk to all her/his friends, all the time if possible? The answer, if all of them are writers, is that at present, (c) will probably enjoy the most financial success. (b) will write most books, and will write for the group who read most books, and (a) will catch fish. In reality (c) may have more skill in communication than the other two, but their free time to write is small (unless they write well, and fast). So it’s (b) for the logical win, but (c ) for the actual, and (a) to catch fish… so why?

Well, the fish part is easy because it’s all they’re any good at or for, and the other part has to come down to communication and actually letting people know the book exists. Which these days comes down to fan base, which in history meant publishing short stories, going to cons, and your publisher doing the publicity (and then (b) used to win) and now comes down to social media (There is a special piece of financial logic that says publicity is what publishers arrange when you don’t need it). Blogging, twitter, facebook, and next week something new – which, as it’s over to the author to do the work, mostly, favors (c). While authors take part in social media (and indeed editors do too, where oddly they always have time to respond immediately about trivial PC issues, even when they can’t deal with a book query in 18 months) it really is like using a brain surgeon for your plumbing job. He might be really good at it, or not, but it has the brain surgery queue getting longer.

Of course on average – there are always exceptions – (b) still produce better books for the audience and (a) more fish, usually for themselves. But publishers look at social media figures in making their purchasing decisions, and independents too do better because of them. Which means a whole lot of (b) and even some (a) who write are doing their best to do something they don’t do well or naturally.

Social media doesn’t usually work well for them (me) but even having the brain surgeon at your pipes is better than having the toilet overflow and drip through the roof onto the computer. And while rampaging herds of super-intelligent toilets are now ravaging the internet*, it hasn’t made me vast sales, but has made me some good solid friends and a fan. Oh, sorry fans. Both of them.

Seriously, those are very valuable people, and a vast hole in in the way data is used. You see we live – particularly publishers — in the age of the interchangeable widget. It’s all about the number of followers, as if these were all the same thing. There is a value in any kind of ‘follower’ – but they really are not all alike.

Take the twitterati who was arguing with Larry (please! Can we pay you?). She may tell her entire twitter and facebook following she has finally written the novel, and perhaps 1:100 will buy it. Maybe she’s sort of average readable, and her 20 000 followers add up to a respectable 200 sales. Given that she writes a book a year, her followers are worth at say 2.50 dollars a HC book – $500 a year, or about 2.5 cents a follower per year, and they’re often once off. I’m not knocking it, it’s better money than the guy with the fish. 1:50 is about my average response, and I don’t have 1K followers, but at least I can still eat fish. Larry Correia on the other hand (I’m making this up, didn’t bother to look) has say only 10 000 followers. However… Every last one of them will buy everything he writes and tell an average of least 3 friends. Say he also only writes one book – Each follower is worth $10 per year, and they’re yours, every year, or, conservatively, in financial terms, worth 400 times a year and probably 10 000 times a lifetime (hers are less likely return customers), what the Twitterati’s follower is – which was sort of what he was proving. However I still have fish. Hey Larry, you want to buy a nice fish? Or I can take you to shoot or catch them, which might not make me any money, but I’d enjoy it.

So the key here is reaching not numbers, but quality (and that, from the writers POV varies a lot, there’s the guy who will never sell many copies to his friends, because he doesn’t have a lot – but will provide you with priceless information about explosives, or fencing, and the other fellow who has 200 000 ardent true fans of his own, who is worth, financially, the rest of your list) and numbers – first you have to get that 1:100, but then keep them. Which means two things in turn, that even fishermen can offer – long-term relationships (which means regular and reliable) with readers/followers, and content that amuses/appeals to them. And that’s sort of my goal, barring luck and internet meme that makes me famous overnight (then I still have to keep those followers – which is easier if you have lots of content, and it is quite entertaining). So… yep if you want to follow me, davefreersf on Twitter, if you want a free sample. I believe there is a facebook page too, I’m not very good at this stuff, it does not swim, and last time I speared a computer it was ugly and not very tasty. I promise to very, very rarely tell you have a new book out, and occasionally say sarcastic things about just about everything, especially myself. And sometimes about fish.

Which is why I better go eat the fish, because it is getting kinda elderly now. You’re invited if you get here in time.IMG_1213

*AKA trolls, if you always wondered where they were spawned. They’re super-intelligent for toilets, not monkeys or human beings

Don’t be a butthead!

Amanda S. Green

Sigh. It seems like this time every year or so writers lose their minds. Not all of us. But those who do, do it very loudly and without caring who they tick off. They go off on facebook and twitter and in their blogs about things we were taught as kids not to discuss around the dinner table — religion and politics. All I can say is that there are times our mothers were right. . . and this is one of them.

Let this serve are your rant warning.

As writers, especially those of us who publish through small presses or who are self-published, we rely on sites like facebook and twitter to promote our books. These sites are easy ways to connect with our fans and give them an insight into us and our work. The problem comes when we don’t separate the private from the personal. With the latest rule changes from facebook, that is especially dangerous.

Let’s look at it like this: if you have a “real” job, do you want your co-workers or your boss seeing those photos of you from your weekend away where you are obviously impaired and doing something you probably shouldn’t be doing? Or do you want them reading the rant about how your cubical mate is a slob who needs to learn how to use deodorant and your boss is a douche who couldn’t find his head with both hands, a map and a seeing eye dog? Do you want your priest knowing about your one-night stand?

No? Then ask yourself if your readers want to know these things? Do they want to know you get foaming at the mouth stupid — at least in their minds — over politics? I didn’t think so.

The solution is to think before you post. It’s okay to post how you are going to support a candidate. It’s okay to say why you aren’t supporting a candidate — if you give a well-reasoned response. Don’t froth at the mouth. Don’t call names. Don’t follow the herd mentality. (If you don’t know what I mean, just go to facebook and look around. You’ll soon see what I mean.)

But ask yourself this: do my fans really need to know all this?

My response is a simple “no”. Your fans want to know what you are working on. They want to discuss your previous work. They want amusing anecdotes about your life. They want to discuss things with you but not, necessarily, incendiary topics such as politics and religion. So, once again, repeat after me, “think before hitting enter.”

The same goes for blog posts. If you have done nothing but writer about your current work in progress, don’t suddenly ambush your readers with a rant on politics or the sermon your priest/pastor/minister/whoever gave last Sunday. If you just can’t hold it back, warn your readers that you are about to rant on something and it might be offensive to some and then put it behind a cut. That way, if they don’t want to read it, they don’t have to and it isn’t there for all the world to see without actually clicking on the link.

More troubling to me is the trend of writers, usually newbies or those who just know they are so much more qualified or intelligent or whatever than everyone else, to hijack a blog in the comments. This can happen in a number of different ways. It can be a thread drift away from the original point of the post or it can be a badgering of other commenters that is nothing short of hitting. Or it can be the continual hawking of your own book/blog/whatever on that other person’s blog without their permission.

Hitting another commenter is the quickest way to start a flame war. The only folks who enjoy flame wars are the trolls who started them. There really is a reason for the phrase, “don’t feed the troll.” The more you try to discuss the topic with them, the angrier you get, the happier they are. You see, that’s when they know they’ve done their jobs. They’ve not only steered the discussion away from the original topic of the post, but they have now made themselves the center of attention.

So, don’t feed the trolls.

The next worse, in my opinion, is continually using the comments section of someone else’s blog to promote your own work without permission. Saying, “I know what I’m talking about here and you can read more about it if you buy my book” and then link to the book is bad. Saying “I know what I’m talking about, but let me explain it to you” is good. Think about it like this: do you want your company in the middle of the championship game to suddenly start trying to sell you a life insurance policy or funeral plan or new electric service provider? No. You want to watch the game. It’s the same principle with blogs. You are a guest of the blogger and folks are there to carry on a conversation with the blogger, not hear your sales pitch.

Now, before anyone gets paranoid, I’m not talking about linking to your work in your signature line. Although, that will get you in trouble on the Kindle boards. Nor am I talking about those times when someone has touted their latest work in comments that are on topic to what our posts are about — Mad Genius Club is a blog about writing. We are pretty lax about the link policy because we know how hard it is to promote yourself. Besides, none of you have been drive-by promoters. Which is probably good since most of us love to have target practice. 😉

So, as we get closer to the elections, as we stress more and more about sales numbers and how to increase them, remember this adage from Jim Baen: Don’t be a butthead.