Tag Archives: twitter

The Plodding, Perilous Quest For Readers: Part One

© Andreiuc88 | ID 64280096

By Chris Hutton


          The quest to be read is a path littered with disappointment. If you are a writer and you are reading this, I probably don’t need to tell you that. If, however, you are just beginning your trek into the world of professional writing, then perhaps this may be of some use to you. Take it as a cautionary tale if you will, not to dissuade you from venturing forth to conquer the written word, but rather to aid you in stepping out that door prepared for the path ahead. As Bilbo once told his nephew, “It’s a dangerous business… going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”


Hello, Is Anyone There?

          Back in the nineties when I was scouring the Internet teaching myself HTML (because how better to spend a Friday night in the prime of your high school years?) there was a common exercise used in teaching. The web tutorial would cover a few basic tags, then instruct the learner to type in the phrase ‘Hello, World!’ Sometimes if the Tutorial was really fancy it would teach you to make the text different colors and blink.

           For me this is a fun little anecdote, a nice stroll down the proverbial Memory Lane, but it is also very relevant. If you write, and you put yourself and your writing out there, you are daily going to feel as if you are shouting this phrase, this blinking ‘Hello, World’ out into the void of an Internet that does not know you exist.

          Sometimes you may get lucky, you may receive a reply, a voice in the darkness letting you know that you have been heard, but more often than not your efforts will meet, at least initially, with nothing more than crickets. Try not to despair. Most writers become acquainted with the deafening silence of the non-response. If you are going to succeed you have to keep moving forward, often not even knowing if anyone is reading at all.


So What Are The Numbers?

          Okay, you’re pretty sure that you are being read, but how many people are reading you? No problem. You’ve got a 1,000 Twitter followers, 100 fans on Facebook, 150 Instagram followers and ten subscribers. So what’s that, 1,260 readers, right?

           Yeah, I didn’t think so. Believe it or not I’ve been in many professional situations where organizations try to calculate their reach this way, but a simple addition just doesn’t account for overlapping followers.

          Oh you’ve already accounted for that and you have 1,174 unique followers so that’s your readership, right. Well, no, not really. How many of those followers are clicking through to your site? Well first off a large chunk isn’t even active that day. You have to sort through a lot of noise to find average stats regarding twitter followers, activity, impressions and engagement. I’ll save you the burden of sailing that sea. We’ll use the following blog as our base for metrics:
https://meetedgar.com/blog/201407this-is-why-nobody-sees-your-tweets-2/

          Assuming the post to be accurate only 46% of your twitter followers are active on a given day, so let’s drop your 1,000 followers to 460. Only 34% check multiple times a day and let’s face it, your tweet isn’t reaching all 340 followers that check multiple times a day. I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt and say your tweet received 200 impressions, or 20% of your audience. That’s a huge benefit of the doubt as I’ve read some analyses that estimate only a 6% average impression or 60 of your 1,000 followers on Twitter. Still, we will go with 200. Great, at least you have 200 readers.

          Wrong. Many of those twitter users saw your post and did nothing about it. Setting overall engagement aside, what is the click-through-rate (CTR) on that tweet? We’ll use the average 1.64% CTR on your full 1,000 followers. That would suggest 16 clicks per tweet. I’m dubious of that average. If we apply that percentage to your impression audience I would imagine that might be more realistic, giving you about three clicks per tweet. Your results may vary of course as the average CTR is actually higher for accounts with fewer followers, decreasing as follower count increases (https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/twitter-increase-clickthrough-rate).

          Blah, blah, blah. Who cares about Twitter click-through-rates and how does that reflect my readership at all? Great point. A click is one factor (of many) that indicates audience engagement. We could go into stats on that as well, but I think we’ll save that for another day (unless you just can’t wait – https://www.google.com/amp/s/sproutsocial.com/insights/twitter-engagement/amp/; warning: this link is from a org with a Twitter analytics service. Great info, but keep in mind they have a product to sell). The point is clicks indicate some engagement and reflect how many persons click through to your site where I am going to guess you have writing available to read. Still even these clicks might bounce right off your site. Let’s assume you have a bounce right of 50%, which is actually not bad. So you have 1.5-8 one time readers from that click on your tweet. I am assuming it is the 1.5 as the numbers are more realistic. Now you just need that one time reader to become a returning visitor and you have earned yourself a reader!

          Depressed yet? This whole conversion can drive a writer to the dumps pretty quickly. Hell, many of us writers are the cliche, anti-social hermits. We barely socialize let alone like to market and this is the return on our invested time. It can be enough to make you walk away and call it quits for your blog.

          What about site analytics you say? Assuming they are functioning correctly you can get some measure of readership. I suggest looking at your monthly returning visitors. Still there is some measure of uncertainty. And that is the whole point even if you are being read, it can be extremely difficult to know if more than a few friends are reading your work. So, brace yourself for that.


Get Them Engaged!

          Yes, engaging your followers, building up a community can get you reads, but that is so much easier said than done. Moreover, everyone seems to have different ways to engage their audience, so what it means to engage can be somewhat unclear.

          Again, I’ll focus on twitter for now, but some of this will be relevant elsewhere. So first off, what does it mean to be engaged? What exactly is engagement? I like to use as many sources as possible, so let’s jump over to SEO Chat and Sprout Social on this one (http://www.seochat.com/c/a/social/twitter-engagement-measure/ & https://sproutsocial.com/insights/twitter-engagement/).

          Engagements on twitter include:

  • Retweets
  • @Mentions
  • Favorites / Likes
  • Follows
  • Replies
  • Profile Clicks
  • Permalink Clicks
  • Tweet Expansion Clicks
  • Link Clicks


          As a writer I’m thinking of the Follows (build an audience), Retweets (expand my reach), LIkes (pique interest), and link clicks (potential conversion to readers).

          Still to get those engagement metrics, I need to first engage the audience. There it gets trickier. There are a few tactics here: http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/twitter-tactics-to-increase-engagement/ and here: https://adespresso.com/academy/blog/23-strategies-increase-twitter-engagement/. I can’t vouch for all of them, but I’ll pull out a few that I’m currently exploring or actively using.

  • Tweet during daytime hours
  • Tweet on Saturday and Sunday
  • Use images in your tweets
  • Ask for retweets
  • Use hashtags
  • Include links
  • Calls to action
  • Engage with your followers and other users
  • Retweet others
  • Respond if someone tweets at you
  • Find out your peak hours
  • Twitter ads
  • Offer quality content
  • Space out your tweets
  • Ask questions


          Some additional ideas include:

  • Poll your audience
  • Know your audience / Target your content
  • Research your hashtags
  • Seek out the right audience


          We’re going to need more time to speak to that last point, because no matter how much you engage, if you aren’t targeting the right audience, you’re not going to convert a meaningful amount of readers. And that is the whole point of this, right? Finding readers. If you haven’t picked up on it, building a following isn’t enough. You have to create engaged followers that will read your writing, and that, that takes a lot more work than it would seem at first glance. Bear with me, because I’m still pushing through on this one.

          And now that I have completely dragged you down, I’ve gotta go. We’ll pick this up again in a couple weeks, after next week’s monthly status update, and I’ll see if I can’t pick you back up. More coming soon…

          Happy Writing, All!

Diving Into Polls

© Arbi Babakhanaians | ID 6533043

By Chris Hutton


          This week, we’re taking a break from my 7 Lessons Learned series to announce a new feature on the site… or, perhaps more appropriately, a new feature that I am exploring for my author’s platform. If you haven’t already noticed, I’ve created a polls section on the main navigation. Periodically I will be pushing new polls onto the page. My intention here is to provide the opportunity for my readers to more actively engage with the content creation for this site.


Topics:

          To that end, I will be asking about such topics as:


          Upcoming Story Types:

          My first poll provided the option to vote on one of my upcoming stories and whether it should be horror or science fiction and how long of a story you as a reader would like to see.


          Prompts:

          In the near future I intend to request story prompts, whether a line of dialogue, a title, or a phrase. After I collect a set number I shall post my favorites in a poll on which my readers can vote to choose the prompt for an upcoming story.


          Preferences:

          What genres do my readers prefer? What story lengths are most suited to their reading style? What content engages you in social media? Basically, I may poll about general preferences to better understand what my audience enjoys.


          Getting to Know You:

          Quick polls on topics such as preferred authors, favorite books, films, etc.


Why, Why, Why?

          Every time I think that I have begun to understand social media I slip just a littler further down the rabbit hole. That doesn’t quite answer the question, does it?

          I started looking into social media polling with one simple goal: engage my audience. I wanted to encourage a back and forth communication between myself and my readers and to help generate a sense of community. Polls seemed like a great way to do this. I could ask a reader what type of story they wanted to read next or if they enjoyed some types of content more than others. Essentially, I could allow my readers, you, to have a voice in what content I create.

          Sounds good, right?

          Well, it doesn’t work unless you can get your readers to take the survey. Or find your readers. I have a lot of followers, but that doesn’t mean I have a lot of readers. I wish it did. I’d be ecstatic to have some 3,000+ readers. Hell, I’d be ecstatic to have 100, or even 10 that I don’t know. I have plenty of followers, but very little evidence of how many people are actually reading my work.

          One kernel of advice that I came across recently suggested that it is better to have 100 engaged followers than 1,000 inactive followers – or something to that effect. I’ve seen this same sentiment in so many permutations in various blogs now that I’ve lost count. The point is that in building a community of actively engaged readers, you create a lifetime audience rather than a passive reader that maybe checks your site once or twice and then never again.

          Hell, I came across a whole article on how to get your first 500 engaged twitter followers (though coincidentally that had nothing to do with polls). Yet the point stands. Engagement is key. Polls are one way I am seeking to create that engagement.

          Is it working? Well, I just started so I can’t really say yet.I can, however, say that I am currently lost in a sea of polling apps and articles on online surveys and marketing. Personally I’d love some advice to cut through the noise. I barely know where to begin. So I guess, if you’re reading this, hopefully you can learn from my mistakes, and/or my progress depending on how this goes. Also, if you happen to know of a polling app that embeds polls directly in social media posts and websites across Twitter, Facebook, and WordPress, while sharing votes across all platforms, please let me know. That’s the current Holy Grail for which I quest.


Should I care?

          That’s all good and all, but why am I telling you this?

          That’s a fair question. I could have simply started a poll on my site and left it at that; but that doesn’t guarantee my interested readers would know about it. How often do you check a site’s main navigation to see if it has been updated? If you are like me, probably not too often. You look for changes on the front page (which I am still exploring), and you read the new content. So, dedicating a blog seemed like a good way to get readers aware that I had begun polling and why I was doing so.

          Plus, I tried to post it under the radar, but, well, it remained under the radar. I put out my first poll and received two votes (technically four, but two were me testing the polling system, so I don’t think that they count). The point is, my first week of polling did not go so well, and I thought that a blog post might at least raise some awareness.


Quick Resources on Social Media Polling

          That being said, if you’re interested in increasing your own social media engagement for your author platform, my primary advice is to do your own research. I’m just getting started, so what do I know? However, if that doesn’t sound so appealing, feel free to piggyback off of some of mine. Here are some articles for you. I’ll update this blog entry in the future as I explore the topic more.


4 Facebook Tools for Your Social Media Strategy

Focused specifically on Facebook, the article provides a brief argument in favor in polling then jumps into reviews on 4 different Facebook polling tools.


5 Reasons to Include Polling in Your Social Media Strategy

This one is more relevant to companies and brands, but most of its takeaways can still be applied to writers and bloggers.


11 Ways Marketers Use Twitter Polls

Quick callouts to different uses for polls and clear examples of each. I wasn’t convinced I’d find it useful when I clicked the link but after reading through it, I am already rethinking my polling strategy. I even just posted my first Twitter poll, so there we go. And in ten minutes I’ve had more engagement with the twitter poll than the one on my site had in an entire week. That’s something.


How to Use Twitter Polls to Engage Your Audience: 13 Examples from Real Brands

Another article on effectively using Twitter polls to engage your audience. Huh. There’s that keyword, again: engage.


How to Supercharge Your Social Media Presence with Online Surveys

An article reviewing the pros of engaging your social media audience with surveys.


          Anyway, I hope that this is useful to someone.

          Happy Writing (and Polling), All!

December 2016 Status Update

By Chris Hutton

          And on to status update number 3. This time I’m going to attempt a little more brevity.


THEN:

          Last month I built up my content.

    I had:

  • Drafted two new blogs posts
  • Finished my science-fiction short story, Inflow
  • Started and finished my horror story, Last Call.
  • Started my horror story, In Memoriam
  • Began releasing samples of my upcoming comic, Arcas
    I had also expanded my efforts in social media:

  • Joining Hootsuite and Manageflitter for aspects of social media management


NOW:

          Since last month, I’ve completed a few new items:

          So overall, I finished one story that I intended to finish, expanded my toolset for social media management, wrote two new blog posts, and expanded my presence on Scriggler. However, I failed to resume work on my spec script, did not finalize my partnership contract, and did not finish a second story (though In Memoriam was longer than usual) or a third blog post. As for the other items on which I intended to work…


PROGRESS:

          …well let’s jump into that.

Metrics for my author’s platform:

Facebook

  • My official page had a moderate gain of 26 followers for an audience of 156
  • My Arcas page held steady with a gain of one like for a total audience of 18 persons

Twitter

  • Gained 956 followers for a total audience of 1989 followers

Instagram

  • Gained 18 followers for an audience of 147

Scriggler Profile

  • Gained 12 followers for a total of 17
  • My stories have received 5165 views on Scriggler, with three posts surpassing 1,000 views

My blog

  • Has been visited by 393 unique users
  • Has had 1,130 pageviews

          I hit my goals with my twitter and Scriggler, but fell short on all other platforms. I’m still counting this as a win.


My Writing:

  • Finished part one of an original science fiction short story, Ablation
  • Am moving forward with my partnership contract
  • Began pages on a 3rd graphic novel script
  • Am pushing forward with Arcas promotion, releasing samples via my blog:

          That being said, I generally met my goals for writing specific to my website, but have yet to resume work on some of my offline projects.


NEXT STEPS:

          So let’s keep on rolling…

          I’m going to continue my twitter focus and aim to grow the audience of my author’s platform, while pushing out new original content for my blog, and somehow finding time to continue work on my non-blog posted writing (so the same as last month’s goals).

          In total, I aim to:

  • Increase my twitter audience by at least 50%, but will push to double it
  • Increase my Facebook and Instagram audiences by 25% each
  • Increase my Scriggler audience by 50%
  • Find ways to increase audience engagement on my blog
  • Finish writing Ablation
  • Draft at least two new short stories from scratch
  • Write at least 2 new blog posts on writing
  • Resume work on my next graphic novel script
  • Continue my work on my 3rd graphic novel
  • Resume work on my first horror novel
  • Continue compiling my horror short stories into a potential collection

          Despite not meeting all of my goals last month, I continue to feel ambitious


          Happy Writing, All!

November 2016 Status Update

By Chris Hutton

          The second of my monthly status updates…


THEN:

          Last month I had entered into the thick of managing my online presence.

    I had:

  • Created professional social media channels on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
  • Created a professional channel for Arcas on Facebook
  • Established a blog to provide content to my audience (You’re reading it)
  • Joined the Scriggler writing community
  • Completed a horror short story – Seeing is Believing
  • Drafted three blogs posts on writing
    I was in the middle of:

  • Establishing my online brand with audiences of:
    • 127 Facebook followers
    • 17 Arcas Facebook followers
    • 487 Twitter followers
    • 106 Instagram followers
    • 3 Scriggler followers
  • Building my presence on the Scriggler writing community with:
    • One Scriggler story post
    • Admittance to one club
    • 505 persons having read my work on the platflorm
    • Achieving a #12 ranking on the story chart for September
  • Building my blog audience, which had:
    • Been viewed by 133 unique users
    • Had 492 pageviews
  • Working on my writing with:
    • Ten pages complete on my next comic book idea
    • Two parts of a new science fiction short story complete
    • Forward movement on my partnership contract
    • Around 35 pages of the Arcas graphic novel completed by illustrator and collaborator, JC Thomas
  • And I intended to:
    • Double my social media audiences
    • Finalize my partnership contract
    • Finish the Inflow science-fiction short story
    • Draft a new horror story
    • Begin another serialized story
    • Resume work on my iZombie Spec


NOW:

          So how’d things go? Well, let’s see where I’m at completion-wise first. Since my last update I:

          So overall, I finished the two stories that I intended to finish, expanded my toolset for social media management, wrote two new blog posts, and expanded my presence on Scriggler. However, I failed to resume work on my spec script and did not finalize my partnership contract. As for the other items on which I intended to work…


PROGRESS:

          …well let’s jump into that.

Metrics for my author’s platform:

Facebook

  • My official page held roughly steady with a gain of 3 followers for an audience of 130
  • My Arcas page also held steady with no gain for a total audience of 17 persons

Twitter

  • Gained 546 followers for a total audience of 1033 followers

Instagram

  • Gained 22 followers for an audience of 129

Scriggler Profile

  • Gained 2 followers (up to 5 now)
  • Had stories admitted to 2 more clubs, spreading my presence across 3 clubs
  • Seeing is Believing has now been viewed by 714 persons, climbing to #9 on the Story charts for September
  • Inflow has now been viewed by 485 persons, climbing to #4 on the Story charts for October
  • Last Call has now been viewed by 223 persons (place on November charts unknown)

My blog

  • Has been visited by 293 unique users
  • Has had 857 pageviews

          As far as social goes, I hit my goals with my twitter, but fell short on all other platforms. As twitter was my focus for October, I’m counting this as a win.


My Writing:

  • Finished part one in an original horror short story, In Memoriam
  • Am moving forward with my partnership contract
  • Am pushing forward with Arcas promotion, releasing samples via my blog:

          That being said, I met my goals for writing progress beginning another serialized story, and am continuing progress on my contract and my first graphic novel.


NEXT STEPS:

          So where do I go from here?

          I’m going to continue my twitter focus and aim to grow the audience of my author’s platform, while pushing out new original content for my blog, and somehow finding time to continue work on my non-blog posted writing.

          In total, I aim to:

  • Increase my twitter audience by at least 50%, but will push to double it
  • Increase my Facebook and Instagram audiences by 50% each
  • Double my Scriggler audience
  • Find ways to increase audience engagement on my blog
  • Finish writing In Memoriam
  • Draft at least one new short story from scratch
  • Begin another short story
  • Write at least 3 new blog posts on writing
  • Resume work on my iZombie Spec
  • Resume work on my next graphic novel script
  • Resume work on my first horror novel
  • Begin compiling my horror short stories into a potential collection

          Despite not meeting all of my goals last month, I’m feeling ambitious once again and have definitely increased my goals for the month ahead. This ought to be fun.


Conclusion:

          So another month done, and my list-crazed mind has pumped out one more of these insanely bulleted updates. Eek. If you’ve read this far, well I guess you’re really interested in what I’m up to with my writing. Thanks. If not, well, you’ll never see this line anyway, so let’s just stop there.


          Happy Writing, All!


P.S. – I may be opening up a terrible can of worms here (or no can at all if this gets nothing bug crickets), but if you have any thoughts on what you would be interested in reading about for new blog posts, suggestions for methods of engagement that you would like to see integrated into the blog, thoughts on increasing my social media presence, or ideas around types of stories that you would like to see written, please leave me some comments. Thanks, again!

October 2016 Status Update

By Chris Hutton

          My blog and its subject matter is still a work in progress. It probably always will be. I have now spent nearly a month stumbling through social media, my brand, and my writing platform (this blog and other writing communities such as Scriggler). I do feel that I have come closer to an understanding of my method and of my path forward, but there is still much to be tested. So this week, rather than exploring a general writing topic, like the value of partnerships, the need of support networks, and the importance of social media in gaining an audience, I’m keeping its simple. Consider this the first in an ongoing series where I update on the state of my brand and my writing – a quick review of where I was and where I am now, what has been done and where I’m headed.


THEN:

          A month ago, I was doing my usual – working on a gazillion projects. The list is ridiculously large considering my minimal free time having both a full-time job and being a parent.

  • Finalizing a partnership contract with a writing colleague to move forward pitching some television pilot ideas as a writing team
  • Adjusting the Arcas script, for my upcoming comic, to meet certain rating criteria
  • Working on a horror novel
  • Collaborating on a science-fiction novel
  • Reviewing my latest pilot for rewrite notes
  • Watching every episode of iZombie and taking scrupulous notes, while preparing to write a spec episode for contest season
  • Doing absolutely nothing with social media, branding, or the internet in general


NOW:

          Thinking to where I am now, my first thought instinctively, and with a pessimism common to many writers that I know, travels to what I have not done. I haven’t finalized my contract, I haven’t finished my horror novel, my collaboration on the science-fiction novel has reached a necessary hiatus, my pilot rewrite has been placed on hold, and I haven’t finished rewatching and taking notes on season 2 of iZombie. It would seem at first glance, that other than my progress with Arcas, I am no further now than a month ago.

          That line of thinking is a load of bull. In the past month I have:

          This may not be where I want to be, but I tackled social media head on and began branding myself and that’s a big and necessary step. Additionally, even with all of the time that went into creating those channels and getting them up and running, I found time to complete a new short story and those three blogs. I think I’ll cut myself some slack on those things that I have not finished.


PROGRESS:

          So I’ve completed a few things over the past month, but as my audience you’re likely already aware of that. With that being the case, what’s the difference between where I’m at now and my progress? Well, basically what’s done versus how far along I am in other tasks. We’ve talked about what is done, let’s look at what is moving.

          First off, I created a brand, but where does it stand?

Facebook

  • Established an audience of 127 persons around my official page
  • Established an audience of 17 persons around my comic’s official page

Twitter

  • Gained an audience of 487 followers

Instagram

  • Built from scratch to an audience of 106 followers

Scriggler

  • 3 followers
  • Posted one story
  • The story has been admitted to one club
  • The story has been seen on this platform by 505 persons
  • The story has climbed to #12 on the Story charts for September posts

My blog

  • Has been visited by 133 unique users
  • Has had 492 pageviews

          Admittedly these numbers are low, but they did all hit my initial targets for month one, save for the Arcas official page, and I hadn’t even heard of Scriggler until near the end of September, so I’m ignoring those follower numbers for now. Additionally, my story post to that community has done well to climb up so fast, so on that front, I’m considering it a win for my branding.

          Next up, my writing. I have a few works in active progress such as:

  • Drafted the first ten pages of my next comic book idea
  • Finished two of three parts in an original science-fiction short story, Inflow
  • Am moving forward with my partnership contract
  • Have around 35 pages of the Arcas graphic novel illustrated by my collaborator and colleague, JC Thomas


NEXT STEPS:

          So what’s next?

          Over the past month I have been gaining an understanding of my social media strategy. I’ve been testing it, building on it, tweaking it, and I expect that I will continue to do so, but I have gained some understanding on a path forward for this blog. I will vary it with regular Monday and Friday posts, along with occasional Wednesday posts.

Mondays – new stories

Wednesdays – samples from upcoming works for publication (when available)

Fridays – blogs

          The blogs themselves will vary. Once every month to two months I will draft a blog encouraging support of peers and colleagues currently working on projects / or having finished projects to which I would like to draw attention. I will also draft a status update each month, like this one, to keep my readers up-to-date on my current work. Finally, I will fill in the remaining Fridays with topical posts on writing, comics, tv, film, and other creative mediums, and with guest blogs from collaborators when appropriate.

          In regards to my social media channels, I will continue to test marketing strategies and work on growing on my audiences. I would like to double each channel’s audience by my next status update, but will be focusing primarily on twitter growth during this initial phase of brand-building.

          Additionally, I aim to post two more stories to the Scriggler community, each after they have received a minimum of one week exclusivity on my blog.

          Moving on to my writing – the whole point of all of this. I aim to:

  • Finalize my partnership contract
  • Finish the Inflow short story
  • Draft a new horror story
  • Draft two more stories or begin another serialized short story
  • Resume work on my iZombie Spec

          I don’t know why, but for some reason, I’m feeling uncharacteristically optimistic that this is all doable.


Conclusion:

          Anyway, that’s that. Where I was, where I am, my progress with my current work, and my plan for the month ahead. Maybe you find this useful. Maybe you’ll want to skip these updates in the future. Your call, but they keep me grounded. As one of my favorite television writing professors used to always say, “Onwards and Upwards!”

          Happy Writing, All!

Social Media Explored By A Social Media Luddite

© Udra11 | Dreamstime.com – Social media

By Chris Hutton

          I have been eager to write all week. The second half of my Martian short story Inflow is begging to be told. I’m also eager to cleanup my house, read some new books, and just spend a little time with my family. So of course I find myself engaged in an endless exploration of social media, and while I believe myself to have some modicum of talent in media, I award myself very few points for my social skills. I am blindly blundering into the world of Facebook, Twitter, and that biggest mystery: Instagram, all the while stumbling through the dark grasping and trying to feel my way back to safety, as if edging my way through some insane hall of mirrors. And yes I mixed metaphors there.

          Essentially, I know crap when it comes to social media. I can find my way around Photoshop and digital software, maybe do some basic web design, etc., but when it comes to posts, likes, tweets, and whatever other insane messages are sent into the social ether, I might as well be a Luddite.

          But building on a theme from partnerships to support networks to just plain networking, I inevitably find that if I want people to read my work, if I want a publisher to take me seriously, and, moreover, if I want to actually one day be a “professional” writer, then I have to not just wade into social media, but dive all the way in. In this age of self-publishing where one person’s serialized web novel, becomes a self-published book, and then a traditionally published novel, and a best-selling one at that (I’m looking at you Andy Weir and The Martian), or another person’s online fan fiction becomes a modern day pop culture phenomenon (Fifty Shades of Gray), I have to admit to myself that to get recognized now, you pretty much have to have a pre-built audience. How do you do that? Social media, of course.

          And apparently you can’t just set up an account and expect the readers to come to you. No, there’s real work to do.

          So, over the past three weeks, I’ve set to work building my brand. I’ve created a professional Facebook Page for myself as a writer, a Facebook page for my upcoming graphic novel, converted my unused Twitter account to my writing Twitter account, created an Instagram account, created a blog, and joined an online writing community. And even that is just the beginning.

          You can’t just have accounts. You have to learn the method of the medium. How do you engage on Facebook? On Twitter? On Instragram? What builds an audience? How do you even get an audience started? How do you keep them engaged once you have them?

          These are all important questions, and hell if they haven’t plagued me for most of September 2016. So I set down and thought about what type of writer I am. I’m a genre writer, focused on horror and science-fiction. I inserted that in my bios where I could, made sure my background imagery reflected it for each account, and have tried to include corresponding hashtags into my posts to draw in readers.

          Even then, content is king. Let’s say my readers know that I write character-focused horror and science-fiction with a love for exploring individual psychologies, especially atypical ones. Great, but the audience still has to have something to read.

          That leads me to editorial calendars. I can’t just generate content the day of a posting. No, I drafted out a map from September through December. I laid out general guidelines, and altered them as test engagements showed gaps in my programming. In the end I settled on the following:


Mondays – Promotion of a new story from me (which requires I write a story every week)


Tuesdays – I make recommendations on books or comics that I’ve enjoyed and hope that my audience will like, and post an image to Instagram that looks at the daily life of being a writer.


Wednesdays – I talk about events or comic book issues that are launching that might be similar to the topic matter I’m tackling in Arcas.


Thursdays – Generally these are news days. I scour the web for articles on Science, Technology, Science-Fiction, Horror – things my readers might like – and I post an image to Instagram that looks at the daily life of being a writer.


Fridays – I promote my latest blog about writing (one more thing I have to generate)


          And that’s the skeleton, because apparently one or two posts a day don’t cut it, since for some reason one’s entire audience is not online at the same time every day, and you have to hit numerous times in hopes that a fraction of your audience sees your posts. Thus I spread out those promotions at different times over every one of my professional channels. Beyond that, I plug in random article posts, I retweet things my audience might enjoy, and I look for random happenings that might fit my brand.

          Yet again, these posts have to vary. Some should include links, others just be insights. Some should have pictures, some not. The visual layout of the posts have to have variety, and flavor so as to not bore my audience and hit them over the head with the same thing again and again.

          So wonderful, I have a basic content plan that requires two original photos a week, one original story a week, one original blog a week, one recommendation a week, one event to promote a week, random news and support opportunities that I can promote, and anything else that I can think of, bearing in mind that all of it must be suitable to lovers of sci-fi or horror writing.

          Once again, however, you’re left with the issue of gaining that audience. So that brings me to my personal networks. I reached out through my personal Facebook to every contact that I have and invited them to my pages. I searched for friends on every channel that I’m using and followed them. I search repeatedly for fans of science-fiction, horror, comics, writing, reading, space, Mars, etc., looking for people I don’t know that might like my work, and I follow them. And on and on. And then I make sure that for my biggests posts, I also share them on my personal accounts directing people to my blog or my writing community, or my other professional pages, so people who missed the invite but might be interested can see my work.

          But following and reaching out to friends isn’t enough. You have to build an audience that is beyond your actual social sphere. So I respond to every message I receive over any channel. I call people out in posts, I look for opportunities to start social media conversations, and generally try to engage as directly as possible, wherever possible. I retweet, I like, I share, all of it, because I like the material, and because practically-speaking, that is the hard work necessary to engage and build an audience.

          Yet with every day that goes by, I learn more about each and every channel, and I realize I really know nothing. Apparently there are whole websites devoted to helping you find audiences, like this one: https://manageflitter.com/. You can find potential persons to follow, you can see who has followed you back and who hasn’t, what accounts are spam, etc., so that you can clean up your feeds – and that’s just for Twitter. Also, there’s this other thing with creating lists so that can view different twitter feeds by topic areas… I haven’t even started exploring that one yet.

          It looks as though, I’ve just hit the proverbial tip of the iceberg.

          Hell, for a closer look at twitter engagement alone, see this article by Dmitry Selemir.

          What’s the point of this, you ask? It’s not about what I’ve done. It’s about the part of writing that we as writers often forget, one of the many things we overlook. If we want to be read, we have to get our content out there, and we can’t wait for that big deal or that big break – we have to make it for ourselves. The days of the hermit writer, if they ever existed, seem to be no more. Yes, I can still engage my audience from the comfort of my writing cave, but I do have to engage them. We all do. What’s more, that audience doesn’t exist until we reach out and find it, craft it, mold it, and let people know that we exist. Thus I’m writing free stories for the first time, forgetting about traditional publishing, forgetting about waiting to be signed, and just putting out my work, and hoping that the audience likes it as much as I do. That’s what we have to do as writers to get read.

          So if you’re still struggling for your big break, like I am, please don’t wait for it. Start engaging. Delve into whatever social media networks you can, and have a plan. Have a brand. And follow it. Be reliable. Be varied. Promote your peers. Find your audience. Engage your audience. And give your audience content, because that is what we are here for – that is we do: create. Yes, it’s a lot of work to build a brand, and mine is only now starting, but if we want to be read, and not just by our significant others, friends, and family, then we have to put in the hours to get our work in front of the right eyes.

          I hope that this doesn’t seem too cynical, self-serving, or unauthentic. It’s not. I am struggling to build a brand while maintaining authenticity, avoiding automated follow programs and automated messaging programs, crafting all my posts myself, and meaning every word that I type. I hope that any writer building their brand is striving for that authentic engagement. But the reality is that we have to build an audience, and engage them, in order to ever be read. And that’s what I want – to be read. Plus, I really am bad at this social thing, so tackling social media is something that I have to methodically plan – not something that comes natural for me (but my social foibles are a topic for another day).

          So anyway, I hope this isn’t too much of a rambling mess, and that if you made it this far, that you found something useful in my journey, some nugget of wisdom or moderately decent advice. It has to be hidden in this post somewhere, right?

          Anyway, Good Luck, Everyone, and Happy Writing!

          And while we are on the topic of social media, follows and likes are always appreciated.



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          Finally, if you have any tips, let me know, because this is all still very new for me, and I’m just beating my head against the wall trying to figure it out. Thanks, again!