Tweets and Twits.

(Warning: This post contains some fucking bad language at the end.)

Writer’s blog: stardate: 17.05.2013

Part 1:

Self-publishing has dragged me, if not kicking and screaming exactly then somewhat reluctantly into the modern technological age. As well as the computer skills that I have had to master – things like formatting the text of a novel, constructing a table of contents, uploading files and the like I have had to get into social-networking. (As an anti-social misery-guts, just the term social-networking makes me want to punch someone. I feel like such a shameless, hypocritical fraud sometimes, even though I have to admit that I’m enjoying myself immensely. But how it eats up the time. Take this blog-post, for example. I wrote it last night and I’ve proof-read and edited it at least five times. Why? Because it’s important. [I bet that there are still mistakes that I will find after I press publish.])

I’ve had a Facebook profile for a few years but it’s not something that I’ve wasted much time with. It was only created so that my two grown-up children and I could keep abreast of each others’ lives and in touch as we moved apart geographically. Quite ironic really then that almost as soon as I upped sticks and moved abroad they both blocked me from having access to their profiles.

With the decision to self-publish came the pressure from all good sources to create and maintain an online presence: a poor-man’s website, aka a WordPress blog. I really wasn’t keen. What on earth would I write about? Who the hell would be interested? How does it work? What does that button do? (Oh, crap. I just deleted my account.) But I have come to love my blog as much as any of my books. I am in the habit of writing once a week on my self-publishing adventure and when I look back on it, it really does remind me of things that I might otherwise forget. And that would be a shame. I’ve written over fifty posts. Each is a good few hundred words and I feel like I have a lot more to say.

I believed and hoped that that would be it – that a blog would be enough. But it isn’t. I’m already feeling that blogs are becoming somewhat passé. These days anyone who is serious about getting noticed for anything must have a Twitter account. I swore I’d never have one. I couldn’t see the point of ‘tweeting’ and being restricted to a hundred and forty characters. What could anyone say that was worthwhile in such a limited number of taps of the keypad?

A very kind and helpful reader of my books suggested that I should get a Twitter account and then get using it. So I have. And I think that, like most things in the right hands, it has the potential to be a brilliant tool. Essentially, I’m still ‘tweeting’ to myself, like in the beginning I was blogging to myself, but these days I get regular daily traffic on my blog from all over the world (incidentally, I find that quite fantastic). I can see the potential that Twitter offers if one should want to get heavily proactive (I haven’t yet) or followed by a few influential ‘tweeters’.

I see Twitter as a reflection of the short-attention-span-generation: little gobbets of information being pinged about (tweeted and retweeted), everyone in a hurry, quick remark and on to the next. I write a blog-post and it’s there for a week in pole position. I ‘tweet’ something and in an hour its old-news, superseded and buried in an avalanche of ‘tweets’. But the instant reach of the ‘tweet’ is not to be underestimated as a tool to garner attention and links and contacts and to generate interest. I just need to break into some of the cliquey (?) circles. (Will that be a chicken and egg thing? What comes first, success as an author and then a Twitter following, or success as a Twitterer and then an author following? [There’s something wrong with that sentence, but I can’t work it out. Still, I’m sure that you know what I mean.])

The biggest challenge that I’m finding with all this extra interest is where to find the time it takes, or rather the time I’m spending on it all. Every day there are things to check. As well as emails, I now have my blog comments and stats, my Twitter account, my Amazon download figures and comments on the books on Amazon and my Smashwords account. If someone’s got in touch then I respond (strangely not because I feel that I have to, but because I want to [see previous post]). I’m getting up half-an-hour earlier just to see to it all and sometimes that’s not enough. I ‘tweeted’ this this week and it’s true: Q: How do I split my free-time between self-promotion of self-published #RomneyandMarshFiles and new writing? A: Work twice as hard.

I need to become more disciplined. At the moment, every time I find myself near a computer it’s all of Lombard Street to a China orange that I won’t be able to resist logging on to all of the above – getting a quick fix and then getting cross with myself for my vanity, my weakness and my lack of self-discipline. I might as well be smoking again.

I hope that next week there isn’t something new to get my head around.

Part 2:

I had my first 2* comment this week. It was for Rope Enough – my free download. It didn’t make me happy. I really could accept a 2* comment with good grace if the person who left it provided an intelligent and valid reason for it – something to do with my writing. It still wouldn’t make me happy, but I could deal with it like a man. The reader in question downloaded the book, read it (?) and discovered it wasn’t what she expected.

‘Thought I would like this coming from Romney Marsh, but it’s not really what I was hoping for. I don’t recommend it.’

I wonder if you can hear my teeth grinding at that. I wonder if Christopher Fowler has to suffer comments like that for his Bryant and May series.

‘Thought I would like this having worked in a match factory….’

Maybe Colin Dexter has had to deal with his fair share of misguided comments for his Morse books.

‘Thought I would like this seeing as I used to work in the Signal Corps…’

Doubtless, Tom Selleck has had to deal with communications from angry viewers who tuned in to watch a programme about fucking ice-creams to be confronted with a fucking Private Investigator masquerading as a fucking seventies porn-star.

Just to be clear for anyone who might have sensed a bit of a tone here: Romney Marsh is the name of a little corner of Kent in England (see map above). It is a place and not to be confused with Romney AND Marsh who are fictional characters working out of Dover as quite fucking clearly stated in the fucking blurb of the fucking book.

Serves me right for trying to be clever, I suppose.